By Tara Umm Omar
10 March 2011
Taken from original post on my other blog, Future Husbands & Wives Of Saudis
Mark Ehrman describes his book as follows: “a book…an idea…an aspiration…an attitude…a lifestyle for expats, wannabe expats, digital nomads and the geographically unhinged.”
From the summary on the back cover of the book: “Many people are thinking about it. This book shows you how it’s done. Whether you find the government oppressive, the economy on a devastating course, or if you simply want adventure, you’re not alone. Over 300,000 Americans emigrate each year. Getting Out walks you through the world of the expat: the reasons, the rules, the resources, the tricks of the trade, along with compelling stories and expertise from expatriate Americans on every continent. Getting Out shows you were you can most easily gain residence and citizenship, where you can live for a fraction of the cost of where you’re living now, and what countries would be most compatible with your lifestyle, gender, age, or political beliefs. So if you’ve had enough of what they’re selling here and want to take your life elsewhere — well, isn’t that the American way? At any rate, it’s not illegal. Not yet, anyway.
The above picture is my copy of Mark’s book, Getting Out: Your Guide To Leaving America. He kindly sent me two copies (my sister in the US has the other one for sake keeping) for contributing to the first edition. As I got out of America, it made its way with me in my luggage across US States, oceans, continents and finally was unpacked in Saudi Arabia. Now as I read my statements in Mark’s book from five years ago, I marvel at how much my life has changed since then and I get nostalgic for a place I used to call home for two and a half years; Bahrain.
Mark is working on the second edition of “Getting Out” and would like to complete it by the end of the month. He is looking for participants so you’d better hurry if you’d like to be a part of this excellent resource. Mark explains that, “Even if you just write the story of how you got your visa or what it was like bringing your German Shepherd with you. The more, the better — I try and make a place for anything and everything people would find helpful, useful or inspirational in their own decision and process of leaving the US. Also, if you contributed to the first edition and can simply update the material we used (adding, deleting, changing where necessary), please just send it that way, since we’re trying to keep that material in the same place it was last time. If I haven’t sent you your first edition material yet, please let me know.”
You can contact Mark at email@example.com and he’ll send you the questionnaire which is in .doc form.
I am honored to promote his book and grateful to him for taking the time to answer my questions. Thank you Mark, for all your efforts to educate Americans on the expat experience. I pray that your book becomes a global success. Tara Umm Omar
Can you tell us a little about yourself: Me? I’m just a humble writer with an idea.
Give a brief description of your book and its purpose: The book is a resource for people who are thinking of leaving the U.S. to live abroad but don’t know where to begin. It will give them a) confidence that their goal is something that can be accomplished, b) a way of focusing their efforts toward the solutions that would be right for them, c) tons of helpful information about that will help them answer their basic questions and d) point them in the directions of further resources to help them achieve their goal.
Who is your target audience? Anyone who is thinking about leaving the U.S. but doesn’t know how to go about doing it. While people of certain political persuasions seem more likely to find the book appealing, the book does not really have a political message or political point of view. Indeed, the contributors and customers come from all across the political spectrum.
The title of your book is very unique. Non-citizens want to immigrate to America to pursue the “American Dream” and American citizens rarely want to leave “the land of opportunity”. Did you face any challenges trying to get your book published or was it well received by editors/publishers? Quite the opposite. The publisher kept bugging me saying, “C’mon Mark, are you going to do this book or not?”
Your book was published in 2005. Have there been any new editions since then? Late (Nov/Dec) 2006, actually. The first go-round was quite exhausting but we’re finishing the update now and a second edition will be out by the end of the year, I hope.
What kind of reviews did your book receive? The book was announced a week before the Congressional election of 2006. Immediately there was a flood of interview requests by newspapers, NPR, etc. Then the Democrats took back the Congress and I guess the pessimistic message inherent in such a book no longer had media appeal and all the requests evaporated. Mostly, I received reviews in alternative newspapers in the U.S. and on blogs. The reviews were positive and it was also nominated for an independent publishing book award (ForeWord 2006) and received an honorable mention, which sadly meant that there was no cash prize. As for criticisms, there’s a few on Amazon.
What are some of the reasons the subjects of your book give for leaving America? Any and every reason you can think of. Some people think that the Christians are taking over America. Others think that America isn’t Christian enough. Some gay people think that America doesn’t tolerate their lifestyle and feel more comfortable in Europe. Many people were concerned about the erosion of civil liberties. Black people mention racism a lot. Others anticipated (correctly, it would seem) an economic collapse. Now, four years later, that concern quite a bit higher on the list. But overall, there really is no one profile. That’s why I wrote the book to appeal to everyone (or as many people as possible, anyway).
Did you leave America and why? Yes, I live in Germany. The idea of living in Europe always appealed to me, but certainly the Bush years gave me the incentive to follow through.
Did your immediate and extended family support your decision? My family is used to me doing nutty things. This wouldn’t seem out of the ordinary to them. Besides, my parents were born in Europe.
How is Germany different than America? Considering its size and the problems it has to deal with (poverty, immigration, etc), I think the Germans have managed to form the best possible government that balances the needs of business, social welfare, public order, etc.
Do you ever plan to return to America? At the moment, no. I can’t say what I will do in the future, but for the time being, life in Germany suits me fine.
Your book has a chapter on Saudi Arabia. Did any of the contributors state why they chose to reside there? Adventure in a culture very different than the one they left in the States, for one. More often, though, it’s about opportunities for certain skilled workers to live and work there for a couple of years and bank some money.
Have you ever visited Saudi Arabia and what were your impressions of the country? Well, it’s not a simple matter to visit SA unless it’s for work, business or hajj.
Did you learn any valuable lessons while composing your book and after its publication? Yes, when you write a book, you will work very hard, make very little money, but occasionally you will get very nice emails from strangers thanking you for your efforts.
What are your goals for the future? Another book in the works? Well, right now I’m busy finishing the second edition. I plan this time around to have more of a web presence and social media (Facebook, twitter, etc) presence than I did the first time around. It doesn’t come naturally to me and I still don’t understand a lot of it, but I have some help and hey, you got to change with the times. So Facebook here I come. [Tara Umm Omar: see the last question for the URL address of Mark’s Facebook page].
Use this space to tell us anything else you would like us to know about you or your book (including blogs, websites, contact information): You can find Getting Out on Facebook. I set up a Facebook page here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Getting-Out/365774971266 and a Facebook group: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=365388787342
Photo taken by Tara Umm Omar
11 March 2011 Update: Mark would like to ask for specific help with his book…
“I wanted to ask you, btw, if you knew any Americans working in Saudi. I think it would be nice to get someone into the book who can be a kind of typical example of an American who goes to Saudi for work. Not too wealthy or executive. Maybe a computer programmer, oil worker, construction, that kind of thing. Perhaps he or she is there for a 1-3 year contract, maybe longer. I would like to talk about what they do, why they do it, how they live, etc.”
If you consider yourself in this category, please contact him at his email in the post given above. Also please forward to other Americans working in KSA who you think would be interested in participating. Remember that the deadline for submission is end of this month (March 2011). Thank you! Tara Umm Omar