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SELF PUBLISHING

THIS IS BOB SPEAKING
, and let me assure you that I'm no computer wizard or skilled author. Same goes for Marge. We're just ordinary people whose next book will be entitled A Couple of Kids from Kansas. It's our own story, begun nearly a decade ago and scheduled (finally? hopefully?) for completion in 2015 or thereabouts. Don't send in deposits--it's just for family.

My degree is from Art Center, the design school, where skills like writing were taught in Saturday classes that were generally viewed as an opportunity to catch up on sleep. Marge had to settle for a high school diploma and the "opportunity" to pay my way through Art Center doing menial work. I'm a right-brain conceptual fellow, Marge is a left-brain detail person, and we both love to read. What a team!

We had wonderful and successful careers and have been retired for more than two decades. Writing is my hobby. Marge's is genealogy. Learning curve turned us into self publishers. Hey, there's nothing very complicated about it. If you want to write an article or a book, just start scribbling or punch the keyboard on the subject at hand, and keep writing as long as you find it interesting. Computers, love 'em and hate 'em, make it easy to go back into what you've written and tidy it up. I generally go through six to ten drafts on a book, not counting endless revisions along the way.

Maybe you'll just print out what you've written and put it in a three-ring binder for your kids. That's great! They'll treasure it.

If you find you've written something you believe to be worthwhile to a larger audience (I wrote three complete books before making that decision), publishing is worth thinking about. You can go the traditional route and submit your opus to one of those big publishing houses, who will almost certainly reject it. Or you can utilize what's called the "Vanity Press," so named because they sign you up for expensive printing and minimal publicizing. Sometimes that works.

Or you can self-publish. Google it--a hot item on the web. Or buy Dan Poynter's books on the subject.

This is the way most books get published these days, and of course, most fail miserably in the marketplace. Failure has always been the default option of writers. Selling more than a couple of hundred copies is generally considered "success" and by that measure, I'm a successful author. A better measure, in my view, is whether my books recover all their costs, and they do that. On average, they've more than doubled their cost, generating "profit" which in the scheme of things--considering the time and effort--is chicken feed. We donate all such profits. Unless one is a professional, best think of writing as an activity done for personal satisfaction and the hope of creating something others find useful.

Scan the list of dozen or so publications shown on the sidebar. Nothing profound. Noted publishers have not come calling. I'll bet you have equally interesting and useful things to say, and would like to do so if you could find the time. My Great-Aunt Hulda (see book "C." on the list) opened her book with an apology. "I feel there really is nothing much to write about, since my life has been only the ordinary middle class, mid-western drab life of thousands of others ..." True enough I guess, yet Hulda and her husband Dick raised a fine family and prospered in the American middle-class way. Her book is a great read, and nothing she left behind can equal the value to her descendants of the stories she bequeathed.

They say "you can't take it with you," but most of us do ... take with us those precious memories we failed to leave behind because we "don't have time" to write 'em down.

Please. Don't take it with you.