Peter Lewry is a UK music historian and researcher who has written several books including ones on Fleetwood Mac and Linda Rontsadt. He has also written many liner notes and magazine articles on Johnny Cash. In 2001 he published the extensive I’ve Been Everywhere in which he documents his meticulous research showing nearly every public appearance of Cash, from concerts to TV appearances ranging from his early days to his mid-1990s resurgence.
After a few years the book went out of print due to unfortunate circumstances. Lewry had the rights returned to him and decided to publish the book in a digital format.
“I’ve Been Everywhere was originally published in printed format and when the time came to update I heard the tragic news that my publisher had passed away,” he says. “I decided to produce an updated version as an eBook, which has proved very popular. Linda Ronstadt-A Life In Music was due to be a printed book with the same publisher but I decided to have the rights returned to me so I could still publish it as an eBook [available here].”
While many authors now turn to Amazon as their publishing platform of choice, Lewry decided to take a different track. by releasing his books as PDF’s via his Web site.
“As I had built up a large following through the fanzine and my Web site/Facebook pages I felt it would be more beneficial to offer my work through these outlets rather than Amazon,” he says of his Johnny Cash book. “I placed my Linda Ronstadt book with a company which has worked well. However, this was a text based book whereas my Johnny Cash work is a mix of text and photos. These do not work when converted to the popular eBook formats and, as I spend many hours working on the design and layout of my books, I did not want them to be altered when converted to the popular eBook formats. Keeping to PDF maintains all the layout.”
The lesson to be learned here for aspiring authors is that your platform counts, but that’s something for a different series, perhaps.
The fanzine he speaks of is Johnny Cash: The Man in Black, a quarterly magazine publishing news, interviews, research, and reviews of all things Johnny Cash. He started the ‘zine in 1994 as a paper magazine distributed to fans through subscriptions sold through his Web site. In March of this year he made the decision to make Johnny Cash: the Man in Black available in only a digital format.
“The decision to go over to electronic format (PDF) was a tough choice, but due to high increases in printing and postage it was the only option I had,” he recounts. “Although we have lost a small number of subscribers the response to the PDF has been very positive and we have even gained more subscribers since moving to digital. There have been many advantages including being able to include color throughout and the fact that all subscribers receive their copy on the same day, no more waiting for the post to arrive. From the editorial point of view it means I can work on the magazine right up to publication so it contains all the latest news and reviews.”
Further taking advantage of the digital format Lewry has converted the paper back issues and converted them to PDF’s available for purchase. He has also taken information from some of the older issues and created digital products. the first was The Man in Black – The Collection 1994-2010, which collects some of the interviews, reviews, research, and essays from past issues into a sampler of sorts.
The second is the recently released Johnny Cash – The Fanzine Interviews that includes a good number of the interviews included over the years in the fanzine. “The idea behind the Interviews book was to collect them together in one volume and make them available to those fans who may not have subscribed to the fanzine or didn’t have all the early issues. I was also aiming at those people who may not be Cash fans but have an interest in the people featured,” he says.
Find out more about Peter at www.johnnycashfanzine.com