Local writer makes the transition to electronic publishing – News – Journal Star

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Jack Mertes is a type of impression. You only have to walk to his home office to find that: Stacks of books, magazines and records are everywhere.

Open the closet of his house in Peoria and there are more records – in this case, old 45s, and then there is this stack of famous movie scripts.

But Mertes, 74, does more than pick up paper. he writes on it. Or at least he used to do it. Now he has joined the growing crowd of writers to publish an eBook edition.

Faced with a world of publishing in transition, the local writer goes electronic

Jack Mertes is a type of impression. You only have to walk to his home office to find that: Stacks of books, magazines and records are everywhere.

Open the closet of his house in Peoria and there are more records – in this case, old 45s, and then there is this stack of famous movie scripts.

But Mertes, 74, does more than pick up paper. he writes on it. Or at least he used to do it. Now he has joined the growing crowd of writers to publish an eBook edition.

Mertes just released “River’s Bend,” available at amazon.com/kindle for $ 9.99. “It’s not the kind of book that is written anymore,” he said, suggesting a resemblance to the 1950s pot, “Peyton Place”.

“I went back to my salacious roots,” said Mertes, who first caught the public’s attention when his paperback, “Bobby Sox Sinners,” was banned in Chicago in 1960.

“Germantown’s author of a banned and blocked paperback on sex, 22, tears up ‘Puritans’,” read a Star Journal article on Mertes at the time.

But it was not his first literary effort. Mertes noted that he wrote “Yellow Rose of Texas”, a scorching 300-page effort at the age of 14.

“I still have the rejection slips. That’s when the editors got back to you. Now they don’t even recognize you anymore, ”he said.

The East Peoria High School graduate always had writing in mind when he worked at the Peoria Public Library and at Hiram Walker where he worked for four years.

He then toured on both Channel 19 and Channel 31, producing commercials and promotional copy before deciding to go out on his own as a full-time writer.

In 1982, he published “The Empress of Desire”, a historical novel set in ancient Rome. “It was based on ‘Quo Vadis’. Movies have always been my influence, ”he said.

Its collection of cinema magazines bears witness to this. Among the titles I spotted were several copies of the 1953 3-D magazine (including one with an article about 3-D on television). “I bought them in 1953,” Mertes confessed.

Some of her other efforts weren’t as successful as “Empress,” he said.

“I wanted to write a book on the film ‘Gone with the Wind’, but I was told that there were already too many books on the subject. Since then, I have seen at least half a dozen books on the subject, ”he said.

“I’m sick of people telling me that (what I write) won’t sell. So I decided to publish myself, ”Mertes said.

As Mertes can attest, things have changed over the years on the book scene. Self-published titles made up 25% of the best-selling books on Amazon last year, according to the Wall Street Journal.

In the new world of publishing, independent authors can now sell Kindle copies by the millions. “The publishing world is afraid. They should be, ”he said.

But a transition to the Internet required a better understanding of new technologies. “It’s a new world, and I don’t know if I like it,” said Mertes, who enlisted the help of Web Design, a company located in Junction City, to make his copy compatible with the computer.

Now he’s working on a sequel, “Return to River’s Bend”.

While he’s busy spreading the word about his new book, Mertes just can’t forget some of his unpublished efforts.

“I had so many projects that just died. Rejection – it bothers me – but I get up, ”he said.

Among the works that have yet to be published is an account of Marilyn Monroe’s 1955 visit to Bement, the small town in Illinois where she judged a beard contest. “In the 1980s I went to Bement and talked to a lot of people. They all remember her, ”he said.

About five years ago, Mertes also wrote a play about Mary Todd Lincoln, a sympathetic treatment focused on her troubled life after her husband’s murder. “She may have been one of the first emancipated women,” he said.

Although Mertes found no takers for the play when he shared it with community theater and history groups in the Peoria area, the play will be performed at a high school in Batavia next month, a- he declared.

Although he lives in a house with his knees in books and magazines, Mertes understands the way things are. “I was drawn into the 21st century, but I am here,” he said.

Steve Tarter can be reached at 686-3260 or [email protected] Follow his blog, Minding Business, on pjstar.com and follow him on Twitter @SteveTarter


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