How to Self Publish
1-Wading upside Down
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First Self Publishing attempts
Wading Upside Down
My first self published books consisted of a series of quarterly booklets called “The Dirty Book.”
I wrote the articles, took the photographs and copied some graphics, in addition to keying into my computer all necessary storylines. Writing and editing was not a problem to me because the content had to do with computers, pseudo-pornographic software, and a lot of “tongue-in-cheek-randomly-put-together-from-the-seat-of-my-pants” streams of words. (No 4-letter words)
For this discussion, the subject matter was not important – because this was an example that if you have enough money to throw at something – then, something will happen – the books got out, a lot of egos were pumped up – and of course it was a marketing failure.
However, I finally realized that I was quite ahead of my time – each computer magazine in which I advertised, began to terminate my ads for not being "family oriented." Needless to say, I gained a few free writeups in adult mags such as Playboy, Genesis, and a few others. What a treat! One must appreciate that those were the early days of Pacman. It wasn't until many years later, that I realized that I had been the first international King of Computer Porn.
Forget That! Today those books would only be rated with a half-X. The important thing is that I had the opportunity to learn something about selecting subject content and creating alluring title names. I also learned how to format pages as prescribed for magazine presentation. Combining text and cutting and pasting photographs and graphics were also lessons learned. Needless to say, it wasn't until some 15 years later, that my next attempt at my first “real” book effort took place.
With semi-retirement and a fixed, limited income, I launched my first research endeavor to learn the history of the Mississippi Gulf Coast. With passing time, this has become an ongoing project with no end in view. Regardless, I began with baby steps and applied myself to select slices of the immediate coastal communities that lay before me.
Needless to say, this measured diatribe is about publishing – not writing. Not in the least way am I schooled in authorship, but I do have a certain flare to make reading somewhat effortless -- with my light and easy rambling. Result, I approached a publisher/editor of a weekly tabloid and requested that he allow me to submit a column insert pertaining to local lore. Having been a history teacher in my youthful years had taught me to be one chapter ahead of my students. And so it was, that I was one column piece ahead of my weekly deadline. Something else I learned as a young professor was that the best way to learn – is to teach. It puts a fire under your hind-side when faced with everyday deadlines – and lo and behold – gratification is returned by the glowing interest displayed by enthusiastic students. I have to admit – I was a darn good teacher.
Okay, all I can tell you is that you have to read elsewhere if you need “Attitudinal Development,” or if you need to learn the “Skills of Writing.”
I restate, herewith, we will pursue my earliest and later processes that came into play as they involved publishing, marketing, distribution, and in creating a business that could be affordable and somewhat profitable. You heard it here, I'm not a Mississippi John Grisham, or a Louisiana Anne Rice, and not even a Louisiana/Mississippi Stephen Ambrose. That is to say, my books sell one at a time – not by tonnage. But, who cares, as long as the joy and vivre is there to make it a compelling art form and a most gratifying past-time for myself.
Elsewhere, in my self-published obituaries, you can find more about living on the Mississippi Gulf Coast as a Louisiana transplant -- and thriving as a monk in my Monk's Haven. Not without coincidence, I first decided to write about my coastal town of Pass Christian. After I moved here permanently in 1994, I was convinced that I would be selling my first book release by many thousands. But, when I was mid-way through, and having construed a decent history of the town, I realized that the city of only 5000 population wasn't ready for a resident out-of-towner to produce their history in regard to authenticity.
I decided to tuck that book deep within the recesses of my hard-drive, and looked a few miles northward to another community of 5000, which consisted primarily of New Orleans transplants like myself. I approached the manager of the Property Owners Association who introduced me to the POA chairman. They liked the idea as long as they didn't have to lay out any cash or make any commitments or endorsements. The community was about to celebrate its 25th Anniversary, so I named the book “Diamondhead Jubilee.” It took about six months of research including numerous interviews that altogether blossomed into a tidy 165-page book. In the mean time, I had put forth scores of queries in seeking a publisher – but found nary-a-one to be interested in handling a regional history.
I had a nearly completed book and no publisher, as I was about to have egg on my face if I didn't produce it.
I shall make a short digression. Realizing that I was unpublished, and I was not ready to inform the world that I had published three issues of “The Dirty Book”
in prior years – I decided to produce a small booklet. The fact that I had continued writing a weekly column for the local tabloid previously mentioned – I gathered all my material and filtered through to formulate a twenty-page booklet entitled “Gulf Coast Mississippi - A Panorama.”
Actually, it is an interesting booklet that describs a smidgen of all the cities along the Coast. It's what I called my Chamber of Commerce book. After completion, I printed it out on 8½x11 paper that was formatted sideways (landscape). To create a two-page-fold, I cut the pages in half and glued them on blank pages in rearranged order so that sequential pagination would occur from page 1 through 20. Not having a copy machine, I used the one at the local Chamber of Commerce with a promise to give them 20 free copies that they could distribute. I provided the paper, they supplied the equipment – and I did the work. I used green parchment paper as a cover and then had the books stapled at a local Speedy Print. Since it was so labor intensive, I would only print twenty books at a time and offered them for $9.00 each – but actually, I gave most of them away in promotion. I also distributed one each to ten coastal public libraries and to a number of neighboring churches. Ta-Ra! I became a local published author and I autographed each booklet. This feat cost me three reams of paper – not counting my time.