BROOKSVILLE — Much of the world has gone digital, and Faith Evangelical Presbyterian Church and its pastor have done likewise.
"Something happened in our culture that's much broader than our church that triggered our desire to go digital," the Rev. Matthew Everhard said. "That is that amazon.com began selling more digital books than hard-copy books for the first time in history. This year, they started selling more digital books than even paperbacks, which is a shocking reversal of thousands of years of history."
Two years ago, Faith Evangelical began publishing some of Everhard's books in traditional paperback. The cost of producing books that way became limiting, so embracing the success of digital publication seemed like a great idea.
"That clued us in that we were going to miss an opportunity if we didn't learn how to do digital publishing soon," Everhard said. "We realized that we could do it faster, more effective and far cheaper to the church without any overhead costs."
The links at the bottom of Amazon's website leading to Kindle Direct Publishing (under "Make Money With Us" and then "See All") made it simple and cost free.
Once an account is opened, authors fill out an online application, then directly deliver their content to Amazon via its website.
"You have to format your book in such a way that the Kindle program reads it correctly with spacing and layout," Everhard explained. "It's a little bit tricky, but it's nothing that the average person couldn't master if they spent just a little bit of time."
Authors and publishers set their own price. Everhard kept the price of his books low.
"I wanted to do it in such a way that anybody could download it and read it online on the airplane or whatever. I wanted to make (the books) available as cheap as possible."
Un-Precious: An Invitation to the Joy of Christian Missions is the third and most recent digital book Everhard wrote and published at amazon.com. It sells for $5.99, as does his second book, Magnify Christ: Short Essays for and About the Reformed Church.
The church published Christ Our Supreme Joy: Encountering the Glory of Jesus Christ in paperback in 2010. In February, it was the first of Everhard's books to go digital, and it contains a series of messages about the concept of joy from the Gospel of John. It costs $2.99 in the Kindle edition.
To purchase Christ Our Supreme Joy in paperback would cost almost three times that.
"It's almost always cheaper for both the publisher and the purchaser," said Everhard, 35.
The writer must decide how he or she will divide the royalties from the book with Amazon.
"You can choose between about 30 and 70 percent royalty," Everhard said. "If you want to keep 70 percent, then Amazon does virtually nothing to get your book out there for you. It assumes you are going to do all the promotion yourself. If you choose a lesser royalty rate, then Amazon will help you in terms of searching by keyword or by having it as one of their featured books in the Kindle catalog. You have to determine what your goals are as a writer and how broad you think your market is going to be."
Everhard, who recently began his fifth year as senior pastor at Faith Evangelical, sometimes considers himself a writer/preacher and other times a preacher/writer.
"I write out all my sermons; I'm constantly writing," he said. "I've advised other pastors to follow that route. It makes complete sense to save everything you write and to make it available to the whole world — everything you've poured your blood, sweat and tears into to get onto paper."
It's important to Everhard, who is also on Twitter as @matt_everhard, to make his work accessible to everyone. His weekly sermons are available on the church website.
"Everything we do here at Faith church, and certainly my passion, is to proclaim the saving name of Christ to the world," he said. "He is our everything, our reason for living. He's the reason and the subject of everything I've ever written or said — my love, my joy, my treasure, my everything. So digital publishing is just another way to share the Gospel with the world."
Other "paper and glue" books by Everhard include Rock Solid: Helping Teens Discover the Truth of Christianity by Reformation Press, 2005; Abortion: The Evangelical Perspective by BIBAL Press, 2007; The Children's Catechism: A Parent's Resource for Scripture Memorization, published by Faith Church Publishing in 2010; and Hold Fast the Faith: A Devotional Commentary on the Westminster Confession of Faith of 1647, which will be released later this year by Reformation Press.