Father-son Team Launches Publishing Enterprise

Father-son Team Launches Publishing Enterprise

Matthew and Glen Robinson look over cover art for their books.

One has been writing for 40 years; the other has hardly started. One wrote a book about brain injury; the other suffered from it. One is a word person; the other deals exclusively with images.

They say opposites attract. In this case, opposites are related. But at first glance, it is pretty obvious that they are father and son. And now Matthew Robinson and Glen Robinson are partners in one of the newest local businesses in Johnson County—independent publishing.

Dr. Glen Robinson, professor of communication at Southwestern Adventist University and editor of the University’s magazine Southwestern Spirit, is also an accomplished author. With 10 published books to his credit, Robinson continues to write constantly in a variety of genres. He has been published by both Review and Herald Publishing Association in Hagerstown, Maryland and Pacific Press Publishing Association in Boise, Idaho. But in the past few years, he has been considering going out on his own, publishing books under his own name.

“The Internet, social networks and the ease of independent publishing has leveled the playing field,” he says. “It used to be that authors would write a book, get it accepted by a publisher, maybe attend a book signing or two, and that was it. The expectation was on the publisher to promote the book. In many cases, publishers today expect authors to come with their own following of readers already established. With that being the case, there’s more and more reason to self-publish.”

Having been a book, newspaper and magazine editor himself, Robinson seems to know what he is talking about. For the past five years, he has been working on several book manuscripts, a couple that didn’t seem to fit the typical genres that established book publishers liked to market. According to Robinson, not fitting a category can be just as much a kiss of death as poor writing.

 

Prevail Publications

The final step happened in December, 2011, when son Matthew Robinson came back to Texas. A 2002 graduate of Southwestern in video production with a MFA in film, Matthew had spent the past two years in Nebraska with his wife and infant child looking for work. When he decided to return to Texas, his father suggested they go into business together.

“Dad told me right at the start that we probably wouldn’t be making any money for quite a while,” Matthew says. “But I am just glad to be putting my creative abilities to good use.”

Together, father Glen and son Matt have started Prevail Publications, an eclectic blend of secular and Christian publishing.

Glen does the writing and editing, as well as writing all the advertising copy. Matthew is responsible for designing covers and book trailers for promotion. Together they help promote the business and their products on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Book trailers are a new trend in book publishing, with more and more authors turning to them to help promote their titles online. “They’re just like movie trailers, the kind you see at the beginning of movies or videos that you rent,” explains Matthew. “The biggest difference is that the final panel displays the book cover and tells readers where they can get it.” Matthew’s background in video and film production is a definite plus in this area, and Glen is happy to have him.

“I feel confident writing books and even advertising copy,” says Glen. “But I am at a loss when it comes to images. Having Matthew on the team makes a world of difference.”

The book trailers are displayed on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and at the business’ homepage at http://prevailpublications.com.

 

The Secular Side

So far they have launched two books on the secular side of things. Tom Horn vs. The Warlords of Krupp is a tongue-in-cheek western set in 1899 with a steampunk and alternative history twist. The story includes actual historical figures, including Tom Horn, a marshal/outlaw who was hanged in Wyoming in 1900, Theodore and Eleanor Roosevelt, The Wright Brothers, Thomas Edison, Mata Hari and even an 8-year-old Adolf Hitler.

“I play pretty loosely with history,” says Glen. “As far as I know, none of these people ever met each other, but it’s all in fun.”

The second novel, The Kiss of Night, is a darker story about a virus that causes sleepers to be unable to reawaken. Set in Chicago at the mythical Fairchild University, it follows a college professor who finds the people around him falling asleep and has to assume responsibility for their lives and the few survivors around him.

“The story gives me the opportunity to explore how people feel about death, especially those of us who view death as being like sleeping,” says Glen.

Both of those books are available at Amazon.com.

 

Christian Publishing

But Glen is mostly known for his Christian books. His first book, 52 Things to Do on Sabbath, was published in 1983 by Review and Herald and has since sold more than 30,000 copies. During his time as an editor at Pacific Press, he wrote four books in the children’s series “The Shoebox Kids,” ghostwriting for series founder Jerry D. Thomas.

Glen’s seventh book, Not My Son, Lord was published in 2004. It was a bittersweet moment for Glen. The book follows the true account of Matthew’s automobile accident in 2002 on I-35W south of Burleson and his subsequent traumatic brain injury. Matthew spent 13 days in a coma and two months in the hospital. Doctors advised Glen and his wife, Shelly, to “institutionalize” Matthew, and told them that taking him home to care for him was beyond their abilities, but the Robinsons would have none of it. Two long years of personal care, therapy and creative healing followed, but eventually Matthew returned to the point of being able to attend graduate school in Florida. The event impacted not only the Robinson family but the entire Keene Seventh-day Adventist Church, where the Robinsons are members.

“Reliving that ordeal in order to write the book was one of the most difficult experiences I have ever had,” says Glen.  “But having the opportunity to work side-by-side with Matthew today is reward enough.”

 

If Tomorrow Comes

In 2000, Pacific Press published his sixth book, If Tomorrow Comes. It is a fictional tale of a family caught in the events of the last few days of earth’s history, and runs parallel to events predicted by Ellen G. White in The Great Controversy. The book showed promise, and got good reviews, but was taken out of print by Pacific Press two years later.

“Even today, I have academy and elementary students and teachers tell me how much that book means to them,” says Glen. For Glen, having the book taken out of print amid such promise was eye opening. He realized the days of letting the publisher do all the promotion were over. That was probably the advent of his idea to update and republish If Tomorrow Comes, which today is available in a 2012 Edition.

“The biggest differences today between mainstream publishing and independent publishing are advertising dollars—which today are often few and far between—and access to bookstores. But bookstores are hurting today as well, with the recent bankruptcy of the Borders bookstore chain a demonstration of the ongoing change. More and more people are shopping locally, then buying online.”       The Robinsons hope to have books available both places. Each of their self-published books is available both as an e-book (thanks to Smashwords.com) and a paper book (thanks to CreateSpace.com). Instead of maintaining a huge inventory in a warehouse somewhere, the paper editions of the new If Tomorrow Comes will be available as Print on Demand.

Nevertheless, the Texas Adventist Book Center has agreed to carry the book, and the Robinsons hope they can convince other ABCs around North America to make it available as well.

In celebration of the 2012 Edition of If Tomorrow Comes, Glen Robinson will hold a book signing at the Texas Adventist Book Center in Keene on Friday, April 13 and Sunday, April 15. Copies of his other Christian books will be available for purchase there as well.

Other projects they have in mind for coming months include the release of a Christian book trilogy directed at teens entitled The Champion, a graphic novel version of the same books, and an audio book version of If Tomorrow Comes. Another exciting marketing plan they have involves collaboration with a graduate student in Poland who is an accomplished painter and will provide a cover for Tom Horn that can also be used for online promotion.

“It’s a brand new world,” says Glen. “And it’s a new endeavor for both Matt and me. Other Christian writers have told us that they are watching how things go with us and hope to learn from us.” He smiles. “I know there are going to be mistakes. And I hope we learn from them before anyone else does.”

 

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