By Kitty Merrill
Mark Penkower has wanted to write a book since he was 11 years old. The electronic age made that possible. An IT expert, he said "I didn't want to be typecast as a guy who helps people with their computer problems. I wanted to be more."
Shortly after New Year's 2012, "I was thinking that I hadn't accomplished enough in life. I then decided to sit down and write the book."
A part-time Springs resident, Penkower, 46, had been reading books on Kindle since the technology first erupted. "I noticed a lot of independent authors on there," he said, explaining how the idea of self publishing was born.
Aware that it simply wasn't economically feasible to self- publish a book the traditional way, Penkower began researching online. He found copy editors on a site for an editors' guild. He found proofreaders online as well. He had an artist friend craft a cover by photoshopping royalty free art he purchased.
It took him about two and a half months to write Tanya's Predicaments, which he categorizes as a spy novel/ action/adventure. It took another three months to complete the rewriting and editing process and get the 91-page novel ready to upload.
The author described the story: "Tanya is a tall, fit blond. She looks good and handles herself well. She is also a world-class mathematician and an excellent problem solver. How she came to her current position is still a bit of a mystery. She had once wished for a simple existence, but her interests breed complexity. Follow the international whirlwind and see how she deals with her predicaments."
Penkower thought he would spend between $500 and $600 to complete the project, but figures he ultimately shelled out about $1100, mostly for editing and cover art. His book is available on Amazon, Apple, and the Barnes & Noble websites. Amazon gives authors 70 percent of domestic books sales for offerings costing over $2.99.
Asked whether the novel has achieved success, Penkower was succinct – "It's not selling very well." His marketing plan was comprised of paying a blogger to review the book. She posted a less than stellar critique. "I let it stand," he said. "I felt even bad publicity is better than no publicity at all."
Undeterred by the tepid response, Penkower is writing a sequel to Tanya's Predicaments, that he expects to release by the end of this summer. In fact, he said he would recommend other would-be authors give publishing an ebook a shot. "But they have to understand, when you're starting out, you can't expect economic success. You have to write for other reasons," he said.
Penkower wrote Tanya's Predicaments because, "I wanted my readers to have that sense of being taken away. I have had a few of those responses, but not enough."
According to the website infodocket, data from the Association of American Publishers reported the sale of ebooks comprised nearly 23 percent of publisher net revenues in 2012, up from 17 percent the prior year. In 2008, ebook sales accounted for just one percent of net revenue. Children's ebooks made the greatest gains last year, up 120 percent to $233 million.