Some would call it cheating. My dad would call it “just a joke.” Either way, the crowds grew incredulous as my dad and I backed another long pace away from one another. Most of the contestants had fallen out. There was egg everywhere: yolk and splintered shells in the grass, remnants on the fronts of t-shirts, even in people’s hair.
A few of us were still in it. For many, the annual egg toss at our week-long Campmeeting retreat is the climax of Big Saturday’s games. Two lines of contestants and dozens and dozens of eggs. More than a hundred people participating and even more gawking. My dad had just caught our egg. With another two paces between us, he reared back and let fly with an underhand zing. Our white egg soared through the air, tumbling end over end, as I made ready to catch it over a hundred and fifty feet away.
The trick is to extend that catch as long as you can, to meet it high over your head and zip your hands back as quickly as you can, so that you slow the egg rather than catch it. A proper snag occurs over a very long distance. These are techniques honed over decades of Campmeetings.
Another solution, of course, is to simply hard-boil your egg. Some call this cheating. My dad found it funny. If the goal is to keep the egg intact, many might call it prudent.
Speaking of prudent, I’ve seen authors caution against putting all of our eggs in a single basket. This can refer to Amazon, where some authors opt for KDP Select and Amazon exclusivity. It can also refer to self-publishing, which people warn of doing exclusively; many think authors should go hybrid and diversify their publications. I see a huge problem with both of these eggs-in-the-same-basket arguments: Our eggs don’t break.
As a scare tactic, the eggs-in-basket approach is pretty effective. You get people worrying about their precious cargo, and suddenly they’re willing to offload it to anyone. But the analogy is flawed. As long as you own your eggs, that is.
Let’s say a new party emerges to supplant Amazon’s dominance as a book distributor. Or book streaming and lending companies become more lucrative than retailers. It doesn’t matter if all of your eggs are in the same basket; you can simply move them. It takes a few clicks. You own those eggs. Nobody can break them.
Books are now forever. Print on demand, e-books, audiobooks — they’ll never run out. And since you own them, you can re-paint them if you want. Put a new cover on those babies. Change the price. Control the DRM. Tweak the metadata. These are your eggs.
The only way to permanently put your eggs in a single basket is to give up ownership. When you sign that contract, those are no longer your eggs. For the rest of your life (plus another 70 years), those eggs belong to another. You want to get them into library baskets? You’ll need to ask permission. Maybe even beg. Want to get them streaming? Or remove DRM? Or lower the price? You don’t get to decide. Those are no longer your eggs.
Baskets come and go. Put all your eggs in the basket that treats them best. Even if that’s a single basket. Don’t let your fear of falling get in the way of your success; if your eggs go spilling, you can dust them off and try again. They won’t break. Fear-mongering can’t crack them. This invulnerability isn’t a cheat and it’s no joke; it’s just the hard-boil nature of digital distribution. So rear back and let fly. And only worry if someone is offering to buy your pretty egg for a lot less than it’s worth.