My husband Joe and I went to Stanford to meet with Dr. Clayborne Carson, the director of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute.  After a yummy lunch of arapas and Gouda cheese with salad http://southamericanfood.about.com/od/breads/r/arepasbasic.htmearch  at the Energy and Education Institute, we found our way to his office through the crush of buildings being erected and the hammer and buzz that go with creation of more three dimensional puzzles.

Always looking for an easy answer (and rarely finding it) I hoped Dr. Carson would put me on the path to sales success for my book You Came Here to Die, Didn’t You.  The Institute is at Stanford. As a Cal grad I was a bit nervous about entering enemy territory, but I figured the future of my book was worth it.  At Stanford I would find if not THE answer, an answer that would bear fruit.

Imagine my astonishment when he pointed out that he has the same problems I do.  This transition stage of books to digital isn’t disturbing for new writers like me, it effects seasoned professionals.

  • Publishers are overwhelmed with the ocean of books being offered and can no longer control what gets published.  I knew that!
  • Universities don’t want to stockpile papers any more – or pictures or posters from the KKK.  They have run out of space and they have no staff.  Whoa!  My journals and documents will find no home in some academic setting.
  • There are very few newspapers left that do or encourage book reviews.  I knew that!
  • If a college or university takes on a book project on Martin Luther King, Jr., they LOSE money.  ON MLK!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I’m flabbergasted!

I am a one book person – not liable to get  a lot of attention from agents or publishers.  Dr. Carson on the other hand has written:

Martin’s Dream: My Journey and the Legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., a memoir tracing his life from teenage participant in the 1963 March on Washington to internationally-known King scholar.

Carson first book, In Struggle: SNCC and the Black Awakening of the 1960s, published in 1981, remains the definitive history of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the most dynamic and innovative civil rights organization.

In Struggle won the Organization of American Historians’ Frederick Jackson Turner Award. His other publications include Malcolm X: The FBI File (1991). Carson also co-authored African American Lives: The Struggle for Freedom (2005), a comprehensive survey of African-American history.

In addition to The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr., Carson’s other works based on the papers include The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. (1998), compiled from the King’s autobiographical writings, A Knock at Midnight: Inspiration from the Great Sermons of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. (1998), and A Call to Conscience: The Landmark Speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (2001).

And his best advice to me: LEARN TO USE THE INTERNET!  If libraries don’t want it and book stores don’t want it, the Internet does and books posted there are protected forever.

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