Authors click ‘e-book’ option

Published 11:44 am Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Staff Writer

The “e-book” revolution is hitting home.
Some local authors are taking advantage of Internet publishing, opting to cut out the literary middle man by self-publishing online.
One of these writers is Jerrie Oughton, a Washington resident who has enjoyed success with traditionally printed novels and a picture book.
For her latest novel, “The Good Hostage,” Oughton elected to target her audience by reaching out online, publishing her 300-plus-page novel on the Internet.
According to Oughton, “The Good Hostage” takes place in a small river town, not unlike Washington.
The book traces events surrounding the life of the fictitious lead character, Thelma Wooten, who has an 18-hour volunteer job at a local food bank. By chance, Wooten gets caught up in a hostage situation that changes her life.
Another self-publishing author who has ventured into e-books is Angela Beach Silverthorne, who co-authored a novel, “Depression Cookies,” with her daughter Tia Bach.
Silverthorne’s book, available in print locally and in e-book form online, follows a highly-mobile corporate family that moves back to eastern North Carolina.
“Depression Cookies” is written in two different voices and follows two characters, a mother named Abby and her 13-year-old daughter Krista.
The female characters in “Depression Cookies” find unity, emerging from an environment wherein education and independence weren’t valued, Silverthorne said.
“It’s kind of a coming-of-age story for both of them,” she said of the mother and daughter. “I don’t think we ever stop coming of age.”
Oughton, who has been published by Houghton Mifflin, referred to the difficulty even established writers can have getting publishers to print their words. She suggested online publishing was a more direct path than the winding route to the printing press.
“It’s not easy to do that, but it sure beats having it sit under your bed collecting dust,” she said.
With the Internet as an alternative outlet, Oughton didn’t attempt to attract the interest of publishers who might have rejected “The Good Hostage.”
“I did not send this book out to anybody,” she commented.
To put the book online, Oughton, a self-described low-tech writer, enlisted the aid of her husband, Paul, who is webmaster for a site that connects authors with schools to help students learn about writing.
“Paul, he’s the best editor I’ve ever worked with,” she said.
Retailing for $9.99, the book is available on, for reading on a Kindle e-reader, or on for use on a Nook e-reader.
Oughton said her online publishing venture cost her nothing but time, and that she gets 70 percent of the proceeds from every book sold, far above the usual royalties for a printed novel.
Asked whether she sees online publishing as the future of the industry, Oughton said, “People I’ve talked to do, other writers do.”
Around 450 to 500 copies of Silverthorne’s “Depression Cookies” have been sold so far, the co-author said.
“I would like to get more of it out there,” she said.
Silverthorne added she’s a member of the Pamlico Writer’s Group, and that many of the group’s members “have a story in their heart, and they’re writing it but they don’t know what to do with it.”
Getting books published online requires time, some money and professional editing, but it’s one way for authors give their works life, Silverthorne indicated.
“There’s some (authors) out there, they’ve written it, they’ve done it, they just need to cross into getting it into people’s hands,” she said.