Preface
      When I finished writing my novel, The Bridge of Dreams, in 1998, I sent a query letter (with the first three pages), over a period of months, to more than thirty publishers (including all of those listed in Writers Market whose names I recognized), and received the response almost universally (I now think of it as gradually becoming one big publishing company out there, probably named Time-Life) that they wouldn't even consider a query unless it came through an agent.  I then queried half a dozen agents and their response (generalizing) was that they only represented authors with a strong record of publication.  I did send the full 480 page (192,000 word--24 chapters, each twenty pages long, opening with a sonnet) manuscript, as requested, to one small publisher in California, and, after limited correspondence suggesting reduction by half (and that I might then pay half toward publication), I could see that nothing would come of it, and decided to self-publish the novel, as I have eight shorter books since I retired in 1994.  But I didn't want to take on the full 480 pages all at once, either, so decided to self-serialize it, publish a chapter a month for the first two years of the twenty-first century.  Once I got that idea, I really liked it--so that is what I plan to do--serve as my own editor, right here in Topeka.

         Then, as our computer-literate youngest son told me about some of the things he was doing on the Internet, I thought, "Well, if he can show me how, why not try to reach out beyond Topeka--say a third of the way around the world to the West to Tokyo, Japan (the greatest theatre city in the world), and a third of the way around the world to the East to Fifth-Century BC Athens (where I've spent much of my life), as I'd like to imagine, with my novel?  So I intend to publish it here--on the World Wide Web--as well, Bridge I, "Samson Agonistes," in January 2000, then a chapter a month for the next two years.   I had thought of offering the following months only by mail at $1 a chapter (as I will copies in Topeka to those who aren't yet on the Internet), charging another $1 for postage if I had to put the copy in an envelope and  mail it--but I could see that, if I sold many, it could become a real nuisance, so I decided to put the whole novel on the WWW free (as so many of the things I am using are--fair is fair).  Those surfing the web can then read it or not, download it, copy it, pass it around--whatever they want, so long as they don't start selling copies themselves on the black market ("But who can stop them from doing anything they can conceive of doing to your text," I hear Shakespeare saying to himself, "once it's out there in the wide, wide world?").

 Robert N. Lawson, Topeka, Kansas, January, 2000.


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