Friday, December 17, 2010

The Reviews Are In

I received the review of dad's book from my new friend, the CBI Hump Pilot. He had some corrections of details in my section about the Cabua, India base as well as further information about flying the "Hump" (Himalayan Mountains) during the war. I am very grateful for his input, and will now double check some of my facts while he comes up with a quote for the back cover. Finally moving again on this book, though not too fast with the holidays rushing up so quickly!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Getting My Slice of the Pie

On Saturday I attended "Getting Your Piece of the Publishing Pie", an all day conference put on by the St. Louis Publishers Association. The point of the meeting was to help us publish smarter and more profitably. Who doesn't want to do that? I found the day to be chock full of helpful information. Lucky for me, my husband got me an iPad for my birthday recently, and I was able to take all my notes on it. Plus tweet while the conference was taking place! For once I felt like the cool kid in class!

First up for the day via Skype was Mark Coker, founder of the highly successful e-book publisher Smashwords. Mark spoke at Publishers University in May, and I was excited to hear from him again. He did not disappoint. Mark shared that 33-40% of all e-books are read on a computer, and 8% of all book sales in 2010 are e-books. He said that e-books are consumed differently than p-books, so we need to think about that as we design our books. On pricing of e-books, Mark suggested that we price them lower than print books but not too low. Pricing them too high encourages piracy. In summation, Mark stressed that the power of publishing is shifting to the authors and small publishers. Indie e-books are the equalizer.

Marion Gropen of Gropen Associates spoke next about the need to build a budget for your publishing company. An interesting concept she brought up is that we should be paying ourselves as a publisher separately from paying ourselves as an author. There is a cost to your time when you function as a publisher because then you are not writing.

For the luncheon panel, Davis Scott of McNaughton & Gunn printing company offered advice on preparing your books for the printer, while Sue Sylvia of Staircase Press and Christine Frank of Christine Frank & Associates discussed book design and editing. Lois Mans of Big Ideas Studio talked about the creative ways she has marketed books, including book events and novelty items they sell which tie into the books.

The final speaker of the day was Plumb Web Solutions Deltina Hay, covering all aspects of the social web. Some of the areas were ones we all tend to think of, such as blogs, social networking sites, and micro blogging, but she also delved into social calendars, social pages and hybrid sites. The goal of utilizing all of these areas is to increase your reach on the Internet. It is about relationships and building trust with your potential market. She had so much great information that my head was spinning by the time her two hours was up. I purchased her book, A Survival Guide to Social Media and Web 2.0 Optimization, and can't wait to dive into it.

All in all, the conference was great and I learned a lot of new information. But another benefit of the meeting was not on the itinerary. And that was the opportunity to network with others in the publishing industry. We are lucky that in St. Louis we have a community of individuals so willing to share their experiences and expertise with others. And that is something you can't put a price tag on.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Second Review

I am still awaiting the second review of my dad's book. I emailed my hump pilot veteran just to make sure that he had indeed received the book in the mail. He quickly emailed back that he did receive it, but that he has been traveling and hasn't had a chance to look at it yet. I'm not sure when he'll get to it, but at this point I am really not in any hurry. I've been thinking that I may want to time the release of the book to a particular military event anyway, like the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Obviously I missed the boat (ha, ha) for having it ready in time for this Veteran's Day.

On an unrelated topic, I have Google Alerts set up to notify me any time something having to do with house history research is published on the web. Yesterday and today I received a lot of hits, and a number of the articles concerned organizing your house history research. As that is a topic which is covered both in my book and in an article that I wrote, I was interested in what this author had to say. Imagine my surprise when I clicked on the first article and found my ezine article quoted nearly verbatim! As it turns out, all of these articles had the same lady's name as author. So tonight I have been systematically going to each website where the article appears and leaving first a comment to the "author" to cease and desist, and then a second comment to the host of the website telling them to either take the article down or give credit to me as the original author of the article. Of course she has no website of her own or contact information listed so that I can communicate with her directly. She has a long list of articles she has supposedly written, and I can't help but wonder if she stole all of the others as well. I can't believe the audacity of some people!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Critics Corner

Yesterday in the mail I received a nice sized packet from Harry, my WWII navy veteran friend. As promised, he included a few pages from my book which included the red markings of his questions and/or comments. His comments were thoughtful and kind, and fortunately included a sentence where I had neglected to fill in a number. You can never have too many sets of eyes looking over your manuscript!

Also included in the envelope was a stack of Ex-CBI Roundup magazines. While the magazines themselves list dates ranging from 2003-2006, they are actually reprints of the magazines that were written in the 1960's. The Ex-CBI Roundup was established in 1946 as a way for the troops who served in the China-Burma-India theater to reminisce and keep in touch with one another. I wonder if my dad ever knew about these? Anyway, Harry thought that I might enjoy looking at them and perhaps gather additional material for the book. God bless Harry!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Book Review

Two weeks ago I mailed copies of my dad's book off to the two veterans who offered to review the book for me, and hopefully write a quote to be used on the back cover. I was getting a little nervous as I had not heard back from either one of them. But tonight Harry, who was on the transport ship with my dad both to and from India, sent me an email. He had indicated he would have his red pen handy when he received the manuscript, so I wasn't sure what to expect from him. But in fact he told me the book required little editing as it is well written and I must have used spell-check.

He is mailing me a few comments along with some additional newsletters that he thought I might find of interest regarding the CBI Theater. He also provided a nice paragraph for the back cover. It is a little heavy on the USS Anderson ship, but that is his frame of reference after all.

One review down, one to go!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Was it Worth it?

The Big Read on Saturday began at 9:00, but I wasn't needed at the booth until 10:00. Publicity for the event was about nil, which is typical for St. Louis. If you aren't shooting someone or crashing a car on Interstate 44, you just don't make the news around here. I got to the booth at my designated time, cooler containing water and my lunch in hand. We had a steady, if small, stream of event goers throughout the day. Not too many seemed interested in purchasing books, but perhaps that was due to the book fair a few booths down where you could purchase books for a fraction of their once new price. It also hit 87 degrees so I think the turnout was down from previous years.

At 2:00 I helped at the main stage where the SLPA contest winner would be revealing her book cover and giving a reading of her newly published first novel. I had brought along my camera, so I also took some photos to put on the SLPA facebook page. While I know that Mandy was nervous about speaking in front of an audience, she was a natural and did a great job. She first spoke about how she had come to write the book (NaNoWriMo), and then how she found out about the SLPA and the contest. Following that she read from the book, and then headed back to our booth to sign copies of her book. She did well, selling around 30 copies I would guess.

I, on the other hand, sold exactly 1 of my books, and that was to Mandy! She is interested in house history and in fact her novel is a story involving genealogy and an historic house, so we have a lot in common.

Having said that, do I think that having a booth at The Big Read is a waste of time and money for myself and the SLPA? Not at all, and here is why. We had a nice number of people inquiring about the organization and our upcoming meetings, so it was good exposure for SLPA. And for myself, a realtor asked me about the possibility of buying my book in quantity to give out as house warming gifts to her clients. She would never have known about my book had she not seen it at The Big Read. So even though I spent 6 hours of my day at the event and didn't sell enough books to cover the cost of having them in the booth, I still got exposure for my title and you can't put a monetary value on that.

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Big Read

Tomorrow is The Big Read in St. Louis, a free festival designed to inspire people to pick up a good book and read. Authors will be signing their books and doing readings, the St. Louis Publishers Association will give a presentation on how to publish your own book, story book characters will roam the crowds and other entertainment will be provided. There are also booths displaying their wares, and the St. Louis Publishers Association offers the opportunity to its members to have their book(s) available for sale. I had volunteered to help staff the booth, and also will have copies of my book "Who's Been Sleeping in My Bed(room)? Researching a St. Louis County, Missouri Home" in the booth.

One of the things you always have to be thinking about as an author, particularly a self published one, is marketing your book. I try to be on the lookout for unique opportunities to find readers. Because my book definitely has a niche market, traditional book stores are not where I find my buyers. Instead I have been more successful in selling through specialty shops such as the Webster Groves Historical Society and St. Louis Genealogical Society stores, and the Missouri History Museum gift shop.

Because The Big Read attracts educators and libraries from across the area, I'm looking forward to being able to talk up my book. Unlike some authors, I welcome the chance to have my book in the libraries. Because it is set up in a work book fashion, I think library patrons will want to go out and buy their own copies once they have a chance to see the book.

If you are a self published author, I encourage you to seek out these alternative marketing venues.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Picture This!

This weekend I buckled down to revise some of the low DPI pictures for the book. The only problem is now Windows won't let me open the ones I have worked on. It keeps telling me that I don't have permission to view the photos. Hello!!! It's my computer! My computer guy came over tonight and the best that he could work out was to install Picasa on my computer and have it be the default for opening any pictures from now on. The only problem is that it won't open the corrupt ones either, so I have to re-scan those documents and images. In looking at the forums online it appears this may be a Windows 7 issue. Grrrr... It's always something.

I also cleaned up the book and printed out three copies this weekend: one for Jay from the Hump Pilots organization, one for Harry from the USS General Anderson organization, and one for the book designer. I mailed Harry's and Jay's copies today; I won't send a copy to the designer until I get the photo issues resolved so I can send him everything at once. Harry has already alerted me to the fact that he will have his red pen ready as he is a bit of a writer himself. Go for it Harry!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Cover Up

I have been giving more thought to the book cover, in particular the back cover copy. I did go ahead and email the CBI Hump Pilots organization, and Jay replied back that he would be happy to read the book and write a comment for the back cover. That is exciting news as I believe it will lend credibility to the story. I have also emailed Harry Lagerstedt of the USS Anderson group to see if he will do the same for me. Since he was actually on the same voyage as my dad, I thought it would be fun to get a quote from him. The Anderson website is unavailable right now, so I hope that doesn't mean something bad has happened. Harry has been so sweet and helpful to me, and I know he is not a youngster. I probably need one more person to provide a quote, but I'm not sure who to approach. Perhaps someone from the Delhi veterans group in Cincinnati since that is where my dad was from.

After I get that all settled, I'll need the back cover designed. Katie did a great job on the front cover, and I can probably email her the information and she can do it from school. Worst case scenario I can hire Camp Pope to do the work for me.

This weekend I will be re-working the photographs and other documents in the book that don't meet the minimum DPI standards. Hopefully this will not be too big of an ordeal. This is when I really wish Katie was still at home to offer some guidance.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

You Can Take the Girl Out of Iowa...

After reviewing 30 proposals, I have selected the designer of the book about my dad's war service. I chose Camp Pope Publishing because they have worked on a vast number of nonfiction, historical books. Quite a few of their books contain numerous photographs. Since my book has 160 photos and other images, it was important to me to hire someone that can arrange the photos to their best advantage. The fact that Camp Pope happens to be located in Iowa is just a happy coincidence, as is the fact that my designer also graduated from Iowa State!

I had a lengthy phone conversation with Clark yesterday, specifically about my images. As it turns out, many of them are not at the correct DPI for reproduction in print. Ugggghhhh!!!! I now have to rework them in Photoshop, and perhaps even re-scan original documents. There may be nothing I can do to improve the photos I downloaded, with permission, from the Internet however. We'll see how this all turns out. More delays...

Since I have some time I may send an email to the CBI Hump Pilots Association I found online and ask if they have a veteran who would be willing to read my book (draft copy) and make a comment for the back cover. Clark made that suggestion, and I think it is a good one. I also may see if my friend "Swede" from the Andy E. Anderson Association would give me a quote for the cover while I am at it. It is not like I am trying to make a deadline for distribution, so I might as well make the back cover the best that it can be.

Friday, September 24, 2010

By the Book

Knowing that I need a professional to design the interior of my book, I turned to the website This is an interesting site where you post the work you need done, and people then submit proposals to do the work for you. So far I have received 30 responses to the job posting, with bids ranging from $50 to $810. Wow! It was easy to wean out some of them: throwing out the high and the low came first, and because I prefer to deal with someone in the United States I eliminated all the foreign proposals. I also don't want to be someones first elance job, so if they had no jobs posted they came off the list. If the proposal did not contain a portfolio and have good reviews from previous clients, then I threw those out as well.

The next thing I did was look at all the portfolios of those who remained on the list. If the designer had not done projects similar to mine, them they were removed from consideration as well. This might not be the best way to narrow things down, but my book has 160 images (photos and documents) in it. I need to know that the designer can treat those with care and some style.

I now have the list down to 3 possibilities. Of those, one guy is using Creative Suite 4 (CS4) and the others are still working with CS3. The only time this would be an issue is if I (meaning Katie) would want to make any modifications. We have CS5 on our Macs, and the software only allows you to go back one generation in terms of being able to open older documents. I'm not sure that this is a huge deal, but I have emailed Katie for her input. Of course the guy using CS4 is quite a bit more expensive than the other two, so that just adds to my sense of wanting to make the right choice here. I'm willing to pay for his expertise in this matter if it will make a difference down the road.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Heavy Medal

Yesterday I received a surprise in the mail. Here's a hint: it was from the U.S. Air Force. Believe it or not, it contained three of the medals my dad received in the war. Considering that the National Personnel Records Center here in St. Louis had only forwarded my request (made to them in January) on August 27th, this was a fast turnaround time indeed. The other medals and citations my dad received are out of stock. The paperwork enclosed advised me to write back in 180 days and request the other medals again. Seriously??? 180 days???

While I am exceedingly grateful that we can request the records and medals of our war ancestors, the whole system is way more painful than it needs to be in this information age. I know this is the government we are talking about, but they make the process harder than it has to be on everyone.

I simply cannot afford to hold my dad's book up any longer waiting for things that may or may not come from the government bureaucracies. Next step? I'm going to get some quotes off of e-lance for designing the book's interior.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Burn Baby, Burn

So yesterday I received the long-awaited correspondence from the National Personnel Records Center. Judging by the size of the envelope, I knew it was not going to be good. Basically they regret to inform me that military records up through the letter "L" in the alphabet (our last name begins with "K" - lucky us) burned in a fire in St. Louis in 1973. Guess there is no sense trying to light a fire under someone at that office - sounds like someone beat me to it!

Wouldn't you think that when I sent in the request back in January that a staff member could have immediately looked at the dates of service and then at the last name and fired off an email to me stating that the records no longer exist? Why drag it out so long? That serves no purpose for anyone. While the letter advised that fortunately some records can be reconstructed using other sources, it gives no indication of what those sources might be. Gee, thanks for the help!

But they were pleased to inform me that my request for duplicates of dad's medals and citations had been approved, and they sent the appropriate form off to the Air Force. Again, this was all part of my request to them back in January. Why couldn't they have at least submitted that to the Air Force right away? God only knows how long it will take to hear from the Air Force now. The inefficiencies in our government system never cease to amaze me. Somebody needs to hold their feet to the fire.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Frustrating Times

The week before last I went to the National Archives in Washington, D.C. to do some research. I knew that they have information about the different military units from WWII there, including pictures and videos. Though I had reviewed what was available ahead of time, I was disappointed to learn that the military material is located in another location 45 minutes away. Since I was on a fairly tight schedule I did some other genealogical research instead.

The promised records from the National Personnel Records Center here in St. Louis have yet to arrive. The last correspondence said they would be mailed to me on July 27th. I contacted the office via email again, and now they are telling me that the records will be sent September 20th. I am beginning to think that every time I write them I get pushed back to the bottom of the pile. I believe it is time to find out who is in charge of this office.

Meanwhile I have now missed the opportunity to have my daughter lay out the book for me. She will be heading back to college next weekend. Of course, at the rate the personnel records center is going I may get the records in time for her Christmas break!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

More 411, Please

The information I requested from the National Records Center in St. Louis back in January is anticipated to be mailed to me on Tuesday, and I am supposed to allow 5-7 days for it to get to me. I am not holding my breath on this one. Although that might be a welcome relief from breathing all this humid air in St. Louis. I haven't been around this much hot air since my brother visited last month. Har, har.

We are going to Washington, D.C. next month so I am making plans to visit the National Archives. I am doing some preliminary research here on what is available so I can make the most of the one day I'll have to spend at the repository. I guess what I'm hoping to accomplish first and foremost is to gather additional background material for my dad's book. It sounds like I might be able to look at records concerning the Air Transport Command, which my dad was part of, as well as photos and discussions of the China-Burma-India Theater. Some of the stuff is searchable online, so I'll do that ahead of time. Then if time allows I will also do some other genealogical research. You can't bring any notebooks, photos or photocopies of historical documents into the research center. You can bring handwritten notes, however, as well as cameras and computers. My Macbook does not have my genealogical software on it, so I'm not quite sure how to handle the 1100+ names I have in the database. I may just print off the family tree and hope they'll let me in with that.

I am anxious to receive the military records on my dad. I hope there is something in the packet that I don't already have. I hate to think that I have waited 6 months only to find nothing new out about his time in the service. And I hope I find some good stuff at the National Archives to enhance my dad's story.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Gathering Background Material

My sister and I recently traveled to Cincinnati to visit relatives. I took advantage of the road trip to check on a couple of the military bases where my dad had contact during WWII. As I have worked on the book about his military service I have tried to add pertinent information about the places he was stationed. Photographs always add to the story as well.

Our first stop was Fort Knox, Kentucky. When dad returned home from India, his papers were processed here and it was his last stop before heading back home to Cincinnati. The Patton Museum is located on the Fort Knox base, and it has a wonderful collection of military items from the Civil War to current confrontations. Seeing the WWII tanks and other memorabilia really brought things into focus for me. Because Fort Knox is still an active military base, we were not allowed on the actual base itself, much to my disappointment.

We then drove north to Fort Thomas, Kentucky. Located a mere 6 miles or so from Cincinnati, nearly all the men and women from the Cincinnati area were inducted through Fort Thomas. While there is still some military activity in the area, it is no longer a working base so we were able to drive around and take photographs. I imagine that the processing took place in the gymnasium, and that dad may have taken a meal in the mess hall. I'll try to verify this information, but at the very least I was able to see buildings that definitely were in existence at the time my dad was there.

I'm still waiting on the documents I requested from the federal government back in January. If they are correct in their shipment date, I should be receiving the information at the end of this month. Then I will be ready to have the book laid out, which I think my daughter is going to attempt. I have every confidence that she will be able to do a nice job for me.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Home is Where the Books Are

On Sunday we opened our home up for the Webster Groves House and Garden Tour, benefiting Haiti. In the write-up about our house it mentioned that I would be signing copies of "Who's Been Sleeping in My Bed(room)? Researching a St. Louis County, Missouri Home", with a portion of the sales being donated to the Haiti Fund. Having co-chaired house tours in the past, I know that most people on the tour are simply interested in the houses, not purchasing items. In fact, most don't even carry any money on them. I wasn't really expecting to sell any books, but exposure is always good so I propped a book on its stand and took my position in the kitchen to answer any questions the tour-goers might have.

Imagine my surprise when an elderly lady rounded the corner and headed right for the book. "THIS is why I came on the tour!", she exclaimed. "I want to buy this book!" Wow - heady words for an author. We talked about the house she lives in and her desire to find out who the previous owners were. Another man stopped to tell me that he had purchased my book at the local bookstore, and he thought it contained a lot of useful information. In the end, I sold four books and another lady from the tour stopped by my house today to buy the book for her dad as part of his Father's Day present. So five books sold plus numerous people who flipped through it while on the tour. What an added bonus to all the awesome compliments we received on our house and gardens. You can sell your books in your own backyard - literally!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Book Expo America Day 2

I've been delayed in posting this because my flight home from New York was canceled and I had to spend an extra night with a total stranger in a hotel by LaGuardia - but that is a whole different story covered in my personal blog at, if you are interested. Back to Book Expo...I attended the adult author breakfast first thing in the morning. While standing in line waiting for the doors to open three men came down the stairs of the convention center. The center man began yelling, "Yes! Yeess! Yeeesss! This is going to be great!" The ladies in line ahead of me had to inform me that he was Jon Stewart. Being a person who spends way more time in front of a computer than a t.v., I did not recognize him. But I could tell it was going to be fun to have him moderate the roundtable discussions. And fun it was! He kept the audience in stitches during his monologue as well as his introductions of the other speakers, which included Condoleeza Rice, John Grisham and Mary Roach. My favorite Jon line was "Hope you enjoy the show, the boat show comes in at 2:00 so get the hell out!" Although his reference to our "breakfast in a bucket" (referring to the fact that breakfast consisted of a few muffins and bagels served in a basket) was pretty amusing as well. And you could just tell that as the other speakers gave their presentations he was gathering fodder for the next "Daily Show".

Condoleeza Rice gave a poignant talk about her upcoming book, which describes how she went from being a poor black child in Alabama in the '60's to working in the White House. She describes her parents as being extraordinary ordinary people. When she concluded, Jon Stewart said, "Don' like you!"

John Grisham didn't really talk much about his new book but instead described how the idea for the only (?) non-fiction book he has written came from a newspaper article about a man who had been on death row was found to be innocent and set free, only to die a few days later of a disease. This got him wondering about how many other innocent people are on death row, and he now works for an organization trying to help death row inmates.

Mary Roach is an author I am not familiar with, but she was hilarious. Her new book, "Packing for Mars", will be out in August, though we were given an advance copy. She commented that if you think it takes a long time to send a man to Mars, just try waiting for a response from NASA when you send them an email with the subject line reading "Intercourse in Zero Gravity."

Best advice from the Q. & A. session:

Grisham: Until you are writing a page every day, you are not a writer. Have a routine.
Rice: Seek your mentors as people who are interested in you, not people who look like you.
Roach: Trust your instincts, believe in yourself.

Following the breakfast basket, I again made my way through the exhibit hall. I met with some fantastic authors, enjoyed my time chatting with other attendees as we waited in the lines, and picked up some interesting marketing materials from publishers and authors. As I had an afternoon flight (or maybe I should say what was supposed to be an afternoon flight), I only was able to spend half the day in the hall before shipping my prized autographed books home to St. Louis. Book Expo America was a fantastic experience and now that I know the ropes I will be able to get the most out of future BEA meetings. Congrats to all on a great meeting!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Book Expo America

Today began early with a children authors rountable breakfast beginning at 8:00. I arrived at the convention center at 7:30 to find a long line already assembled waiting to get into the meeting room. (People really need to get a life - we all had tickets to get in!) We were treated to an original, patriotic song performed by three men and one woman from the military, which brought the crowd of 1,000 to its feet.

The moderator of the roundtable was Sarah Ferguson, and I have to admit that I really liked her. She wasted no time in referring to her latest media disaster by saying that it was a challenge to get to the Javits Center as a number of people got in her way on the drive there, referring to the media. "But you might have heard about that," she said. She poked fun at herself by saying she should take a page out of one of her own books, mentioning "Ashley Learns About Strangers". Author Cory Doctorow talked about how he became a young adult author, being influenced by his father's love of telling stories. Mitali Perkins followed Cory and mentioned how libraries had influenced her love of books. And Richard Peck finished his presentation by stating, "The only way we can write is by the light of the bridges we left burning behind us." The speakers were all excellent, and I hope that the adult authors breakfast tomorrow lives up to this one.

I spent most of the rest of the day visiting the exhibition hall. Oh, my! It truly is overwhelming for a first timer, despite all the tips given out by Dan Poynter yesterday. I have more autographed books than will probably fit in my suitcase, and I still have tomorrow to get through. A few of the authors I read we here, so it was an honor to get to meet them. And to get exposed to some new authors (at least new to me). My book is displayed in the IBPA booth, and I have to admit it was a thrill to see it there. I finished up the afternoon with a panel discussion on "Are E-Books Good for Authors". The panel consisted of an agent, three publishers and an author. An interesting mix, I thought. Why weren't there more authors on it? And in fact when they were asking about the demographics in the audience (agent, publisher, book sellers, etc.), they didn't even ask about authors until prompted by someone. At least the moderator sheepishly said, "That's what you'd expect from a publisher, right?" It was indicated by most of the panel that in the new digital world the author would receive a smaller piece of the pie, and the publisher a larger piece. I know what I was thinking - No, more authors will just self-publish since there are services available to help us. And the author on the panel? He had the guts to pretty much say just that. Good for him!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Day 2 of PU

Wow, I don't know how to describe the information overload I am experiencing right now. The day began at 7:00 a.m. with Ask the Experts. The tables in the Grand Ballroom each had a person with a certain expertise assigned to it, and the attendees had the opportunity to sit down and pick the experts brain before moving on to the next table. I started with a publicity expert, who offered some suggestions for marketing my book that I had not considered. The other people who sat down at the table were so interesting that I ended up staying in one spot longer than I anticipated. As I changed tables I could see that others were getting wrapped up in their discussions as well. It was so much fun to hear about all the different projects people are working on.

For my first session I again chose one dealing with marketing since that is where I feel I need the most assistance with my book. Dan Poynter (pictured above) spoke for this one and a half hour session, and he began by telling us not to define our business as a "book business". People buy books to learn something or solve a problem. We can help them do that. One of the most thought provoking things he said was that large book advances are just thinly disguised political contributions. Hmmmm.... One of the funniest things he said was when he motioned to a lady in the room and smirked, "I see you brought your Apple Maxipad with you!" He took on the vanity press companies when he threw out that they are in the business of selling books to authors. Dan ended on an upbeat note by saying that the future of self publishing is very bright. We should invest now and reap later. "Write your book," he urged.

For the second session I chose a panel discussion on social media marketing with a couple of gals from PR by the Book and a man from PassPorter Travel Press. They offered a lot of good tips for maximizing your return with social media, and Dave from PassPorter added how important message boards have been in his success. There was a subgroup of a subgroup on the Disney message board who latched on to his Disney travel book and ran with it. One good suggestion was that we all set up a calendar for our blogs, listing the topics we will cover each month. That will help with your organization as well as take some of the pressure off on what you are going to write about next.

Next was lunch followed by the headline act: Seth Godin, who was named America's Greatest Marketer by American Way Magazine, and who also has the most popular marketing blog in the world. You might not necessarily like the message that Seth is spreading with the changes in publishing from p-book to e-book, but you had to admire his delivery. He is an excellent speaker with a great stage presence. Seth suggested that we find our tribe - the people who care about topic, and then get their permission to talk to them. We need to treat readers as an asset and publish for them. "Find writers for your readers, not readers for your writers."

I had to miss the last session after lunch because I needed to head to Javits Center to pick up my badge and breakfast tickets for Book Expo America. The counter there was only open until 5 today and doesn't reopen until 8 tomorrow morning. Since the breakfast rountable begins at 8, that wasn't going to work for me. After all, I didn't want to walk in late on Sarah Ferguson, who is the moderator. Assuming she doesn't do anything to get arrested between now and then, that is...

PU finished up with a hospitality hour at 5, during which I met a couple of other publishers I hadn't connected with yet. This day and a half experience has been one that I am sure will change the direction of my publishing company, and perhaps myself as an author as well. So to the IBPA, my heartfelt thanks for providing me with this opportunity. Write on!

Monday, May 24, 2010

The E-volution of Books

This was day 1 of Publishing University. At noon the recipients of the scholarships to P. U. got together for a meet and greet. There were 13 of us, and quite a variety of experience from the one book (so far) publishers like myself to one company that has 60 titles under their belt.

Dominique Raccah was the opening keynote speaker. She started Sourcebooks in 1987 and has grown her publishing company into the largest female owned publisher in the United States. Her topic today was the digital revolution in books. She captured my attention right away with the following comment: "I don't care how I feel about the content [of a suggested book]. I only care about what the customer thinks about it." And she basically is not interested in what I would call one hit wonders. She only wants to publish authors who have multiple books in them.

After talking about changes in printing books such as digital print, print on demand and e-books, she asked the question "We are morphing from being book publishers to what?" Because really, when is a book no longer a book? She said that we are in the business of delivering our content to readers, and we need to remain flexible on how we do that. Her summary? We need to be able to connect author and readers anytime, anywhere, and in any format.

Her presentation was a great segway to the next general session entitled "E-Magination". Moderated by Chris Kenneally of the Copyright Clearance Center, the illustrious panel included Mike Coker of Smashwords, David Hetherington of BLIO/Baker & Taylor, Jack Sallay of Vook and Sara Nelson from O Magazine. Each of the panelists gave a short synopsis of their company and how they approach the e-book market, and this was followed by Q. & A. Vook's approach takes the e-book concept and expands on it by embedding photos and videos into the book as well as offering communities for the "readers" to connect with each other. This is where you begin to see the relevance of the question "When is a book no longer a book?"

For the final session of the day I elected to go to the session "What Kind of Printer Do You Want to Be?" That's a pertinent question for me, but also Dan Poynter was one of the speakers. His bible on self-publishing was crucial to me as I brought my book to life, so I was very interested in hearing him speak. Also on the panel with him were Steve Carlson of Upper Access and Danny Snow of Unlimited Publishing LLC. Dan did not disappoint with his presentation, and even though a lot of it is covered in his book it was still great to hear him live. Favorite quotation made by Dan - "Publishers buy authors, they don't buy books."

Tomorrow's schedule has many great choices on the agenda. It will be hard to decide which sessions will be of the most benefit to me. But I'm up for the challenge!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Dear Diary

Can't remember if I wrote about this or not, but on the CBI Theater website I came across a woman who had submitted information about her dad's service during WWII, specifically in India which is where my dad was stationed. Her dad kept a diary of his adventures, and he was transported to India aboard the USS Andy E. Anderson on the same day as my dad. I sent an email to Glenda telling her how excited I was to learn of her dad's diary, and she emailed me the pertinent passages from the voyage. It certainly put words to the pictures I have gathered about life on board the "Andy".

Over the weekend I contacted Glenda by phone, and we spent an hour discussing our dad's war service and what we are doing with the information we have gathered. While I am writing a book about my dad's military days, she is compiling a book about her family. This of course led into a lively discussion about genealogy. No one in my family has much interest in my other pastime, so it was fun to have a conversation with someone who shares my passion. I hope to remain in touch with Glenda in the future.

On Sunday I leave for New York to attend Publishing University. I received an email from IBPA (the sponsor) requesting that the email recipients meet at noon on Monday to introduce ourselves and get acquainted. The email didn't say, but I am assuming this will be a gathering of the scholarship winners. Hopefully I will find someone I connect with so I have someone to hang out with during what little free time we'll have. My goal is to post my thoughts and observations about the seminar on twitter, facebook and this blog. That is assuming I have access to the Internet, so fingers crossed on that. I hope to be inspired by the other publishers, and perhaps gain some perspective on where to go with Provenance Publishing.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Our Tax Dollars Not at Work

I wrote (well, applied online per their request) the National Personnel Records Center in January asking for copies of my dad's service records. I know he kept a lot of papers, but I thought there might be something that I don't have but should be included in the book. The website indicates that it might take six weeks for a response, but that they are working to get that down to seven days. Since it is going on three months and I have received nothing, I sent another email just to make sure that they indeed have my original request on record. Here was the response:

"Thank you for contacting the National Personnel Record Center. We have
received your request for information and we are obtaining the
appropriate records. The estimated date of completion is approximately
7/27/2010. Please allow 5-7 business days mailing time."

I guess that shoots the seven day turnaround goal all to heck, doesn't it? Seriously??? Ironically, the Record Center is located in St. Louis, but you can't go there to copy the things I want. So my decision now is if I want to hold up the book, which is essentially ready to go to the book designer. If some pertinent papers end up showing up in a few months, I'll be mad at myself that I didn't wait. On the other hand, I hate to hold the whole process up. Maybe I'll contact a designer and see if it makes sense to do a layout now knowing that additional papers might be added later.

With regards to my other book, yesterday I stopped in at Pudd'nhead Books to see how sales are going. They actually had sold nine of the copies I had originally left with the store. Nicky wrote me a check for my portion of the sales, and also took an additional eight copies. We also talked about setting up a time for me to do a presentation on house research at the bookstore.

Today I mailed off two copies to the Midwest Library Service, which had sent me a purchase order in the mail. Interesting - I wonder how they heard about the book? And tonight I attended a genealogy lecture which was sponsored by the Clayton History Society. I took advantage of the opportunity to pass out business cards and show them my book. I also let them know I am available for speaking engagements to discuss how to research the history of your home. I figure I need to seize every marketing opportunity that presents itself.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Publishing University

Recently I received notification that I have been selected as the scholarship recipient to represent the St. Louis Publishers Association at Publishing University next month in New York. While I will be responsible for my flight, hotel and other expenses, the scholarship pays the not insignificant registration fee to the two day conference. Publishing University (I sure don't want to call it PU!) is a conference by publishers, for publishers, designed to bring you up to speed on changes in the publishing industry and to help you grow your business. Even better is the fact that the workshops are broken down for those who are just starting a company, those with a company already established, and those looking to take their companies to the next level. Marketing guru Seth Godin is a headlined speaker, and he should be awesome. I'm looking forward to an information packed two days, and need to decide if I want to stay on in New York for the BookExpo America. I wasn't seriously considering it until I learned that Barbra Streisand is the opening night speaker. Wow!

Okay, back to reality...The Webster Groves Historical Society called and requested more books. They sold the five copies I left there on consignment. I am donating 20% of book sales to the society, so they have been really helpful in pushing the books. As a member, it makes me feel good to give back to them as well. I dropped off ten more copies on Thursday, and they made me aware of a genealogy presentation this Wednesday that is sponsored by the Clayton History Society. Free and open to the public, I think I'll attend with copies of my book and business cards in hand. This society might be interested in having me as a speaker down the road.

In the mail on Saturday I received an order for two books from Midwest Library Service. Apparently they purchase books for resale to libraries. Interesting...I wonder how they heard about the book? With their order, I have now sold 50 books and have 25 additional copies out on consignment. Not too bad...

I have my computer set up for "Google Alerts", and I get an email every time my name, my book's name or my website are mentioned on the web. Mostly I just hear about my new posts on my blogs, but the other day I got an unusual alert. Apparently someone listed my book for sale on Amazon, at more than the retail price. Good luck with that one, pal.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Good Day - Presented and Sold a Few Books

Today was my first formal presentation on how to research the history of your house. The Webster Groves Historical Society, as the sponsor, provided wine, cheese and crackers for the attendees. One of the members sat at the table near the entrance and collected money from the book sales for me, so that was really helpful. I donated 20% of the sales from today to the Society, so they had extra motivation to push the books. We ended up selling 6 books. Considering the audience consisted of about 20 people, some of them couples and a few who I knew had already bought the book, that was pretty good. It was a comfortable size in terms of number of attendees as I got fairly decent audience participation.

Jim had volunteered to come with me, which was great as he advanced the PowerPoint presentation for me. We had a moment of silent panic at the beginning when my computer froze. We had arrived 30 minutes early to set up the equipment and make sure all was in working order. Of course at the critical moment it would fail. I made a joke about technology and then quickly restarted the laptop. Fortunately we were error free after that. I'm pretty happy with the slide presentation as a whole. There are a couple of other graphics I would like to add for next time, but overall it flowed nicely. Feedback from the people who came up to speak with me was favorable, so that was good to hear. Bring on the next one!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Point Me Towards the Presentation

As I mentioned earlier, a couple of months ago an organization invited me to give a talk about how to begin the process of researching your home. They said they would do all the promotion and provide refreshments, and that I could sell my books as well. Sounded like a win-win. The promotion has not been forthcoming. There was a brief mention of the talk in their winter newsletter, which goes out to the members. It didn't say where the presentation was being held or who to call for more information. A few weeks ago the President told me she was going to mail postcard reminders to all the members, and those never went out.

Of course I told the reporter from the Webster-Kirkwood Times about the meeting, and thankfully she put that info in the article she wrote about me. The talk did appear in the calendar section of the Times today, albeit in the Saturday listing and not Sunday. And the organization took out an eighth page ad, spelling my name incorrectly and not mentioning what I will be speaking about. Hopefully people will get the gist from the title of my book, if they can read it in the minuscule ad. I am very concerned that there will be a very small turnout due to lack of publicity.

Despite all this, I have been diligently working on my PowerPoint presentation. Since Katie is home she was able to show me how to do a screen capture so I can put information about the St. Louis County website into my slides. That was cool to learn. I'll probably have her look at my slide show when I'm done as she may be able to pretty it up for me. No matter what the turnout, I needed to get this presentation prepared anyway. We'll see what the response is to it.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Great Article in the "Times"

The article about researching house history and my book was in the Friday issue of the Webster-Kirkwood Times. Marty Harris did a wonderful job of explaining how I went about the research to receive my Century Home plaque, and why I felt compelled to write a book to help others with the search. She also put in a nice plug for the presentation I will be giving Sunday on how to begin the research process.

I am extremely happy to have that advertisement since the Webster Groves Historical Society, which is sponsoring the talk, has done little to promote it. They had a little blurb in the winter newsletter, noting the date and the time, but it didn't even mention where the program would be held or who to call for more information. A post card was supposed to go out to all the members, but I haven't gotten mine yet. It is a little frustrating as I was assured they would do all the promotion for the program. These types of presentations are where I believe my books will be sold in greatest numbers, not through individual bookstores.

Speaking of sales, I sold another book at the St. Louis Publishers Association meeting last Wednesday. And the Missouri History Museum Library and Research Center purchased a copy for their facilty as well. I was hopeful that once they purchased a few copies to sell in the Missouri History Museum gift shop that they would decide they needed a copy for the library as well. Because their library offers a House History 101 course, that will be great exposure for my book.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Good News Today

The Missouri History Museum in Forest Park called today, and they want to purchase three copies of "Who's Been Sleeping in My Bed(room)?" for their gift shop. It's a start! Hopefully the Missouri History Museum Library and Research Center will be the next to order a copy for their library.

Friday, February 26, 2010

A Sign of the "Times"

The assistant editor of the Webster-Kirkwood Times and one of their photographers came to my house this morning to talk to me about my book "Who's Been Sleeping in My Bed(room)?" The photographer snapped a number of pictures outside in front of our house, and then more inside at the dining room table with me holding up my book. The she headed out for her next assignment.

Marty Harris immediately put me at ease as she began by talking about the history of my house, and my adventures in trying to obtain a century home plaque. This then led to a discussion of why I wrote the book. I explained the long, sometimes tedious process of searching for appropriate records, and the lack of anyone or thing to guide you. She asked for some how-to pointers that she could put in the article for others who want to get started in the process. We talked about the other properties I have been researching, and she asked if I was doing this as a business. I told her I have enough to do with the other businesses we own. (Put in a plug for ORMI if she ever needs a resource for composting.)

In preparation for Marty's arrival I finally came up with a Media Release I am somewhat comfortable with, so I gave her that along with an author bio. I also gave her a copy of an article I had written several years ago on how I researched my house, and provided her with the information about my talk on March 21 at the Webster Groves Historical Society. Hopefully we'll get a little plug for the meeting.

All in all, she was here over an hour and we covered some good material. I'm a little disheartened though, because I think she is going to put this article in the Real Estate special section that they do once a year. No one reads that except people looking for a house (and how many are out there right now?) and realtors. Bummer! But what are you going to do when it's free?

Friday, February 19, 2010

Another Shipmate

I was looking at the CBI Theater website, which is a great resource containing lists of other websites discussing the China-Burma-India theater during WWII, and I began perusing sites that contained pictures of the area. Lo and behold I came across a woman who had placed her dad's pictures on the web. And guess which ship he traveled on to get to India? Yep, the USS General Anderson on the SAME voyage as my dad! I quickly looked for a way to contact the author. Finding none, I did a search of her name on the Internet. I found a woman with the same name who had written a genealogy article. Right woman? Deciding to take a gamble, I shot her an email. Bingo! She is on vacation in Colorado right now, but she had her dad's journal with her. (Only genealogists travel with all their relatives in the suitcase. You never know what you might discover on a trip.) She emailed me his day to day entries on the "Andy". What a find!

We are going to talk by phone when she gets back home to Boston so we can compare notes. I doubt that I have much to offer her, but I hope she'll let me put her dad's thoughts on the voyage in my book. His words paint quite the picture of life on the ship. Isn't the Internet great?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Marketing 411

I have been inundated lately by people asking me how the books sales are going for "Who's Been Sleeping..." While I was rather pleased by the sales in November and December, I haven't sold a book since. Could that be because I haven't done any marketing since then??? Yes, I do believe there is a direct correlation. I have a marketing plan for the book. And the reason I have a marketing plan is because I completed a book proposal. It's not a failure to plan, but rather a failure to implement the plan. I got caught up in developing my second baby and left my first born to fend for herself. Shame on me!

Today I emailed the Missouri History Museum to inquire about the possibility of selling the book in their gift shop. I attached copies of the book cover (front and back), and suggested that the manager visit my website. Then I nonchalantly threw in that the Missouri History Museum Library and Research Center is mentioned several times in the book, and that one of the librarians there helpfully reviewed Section Two of the book. Hook, line and sinker? Hopefully. A second email with attachments was sent to the Missouri History Museum Library and Research Center in the hopes that they will purchase a copy of the book for their library.

I still believe that the best way to really get my book out to its intended audience will be through giving talks on the subject matter of house research. I am excited about my first presentation to be held next month at the Hearth Room. The Webster Groves Historical Society is the sponsor, and will promote the talk and provide food. What a great way to get this adventure off the ground!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Hooray for Harry

All the "Anderson News" scans were emailed to Harry, and I assume he received them. They didn't bounce back to me, but he has not said anything about them yet. I had also sent him an aerial photo of a ship that I found in dad's things, asking if he knew what kind of ship it was. Harry did reply to that, indicating that it was a freighter. So I can now label that photo in the book. I guess I'll have to email him again and make sure he got the other 17 documents okay.

I called my aunt one day last week to confirm a few facts regarding where my mom lived when dad took her back to Cincinnati before he shipped out. Other than that I have not worked on the book at all. My sister was staying here with me for a few days, so I got my normal work accomplished during the day but didn't want to leave her sitting alone while I worked on the book. She took off for home today, so I may squeeze in a little time this afternoon to work on the book a bit.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Brain Scan

Today's contribution to the book was having the ship "newsletters" scanned at my husband's office. When I tried to scan them on my 10 year old home scanner, the ink from the reverse side of the newsletter read through. Jim had just purchased a new high-end scanner/printer for the landscape architecture firm, so I decided to see what the new smart scanner could do. Not only do I want to include the newsletters in my book, if they are still legible when reduced to a 6"x9" format, I promised my new friend Harry at the USS General Anderson website that I would email them to him.

Because I didn't want to be the one to break a machine that costs more than the average family makes in a year, I had Mindy scan the documents for me. The plan was to scan them directly to my email. The machine is super-fast, so before long she hit the "Send" button. Failed. Are you smarter than a scanner?

Maybe my mailbox couldn't handle the file size? Super-expensive scanner did not store the documents, so Mindy had to start over, this time emailing them to herself. Failed. On the third try she scanned only six pages at a time to email to herself. She then put the documents on a thumb drive for me to bring home. Success! Now I just need to place them in the book, and see if Harry's inbox can handle this size file!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Ship Shape

In today's mail came a CD I have been waiting for. A book about the USS Anderson has been scanned and copies are available on CD. Luckily I had found a guy online who wasn't asking an arm and a (sea)leg for a copy. Several of the documents on the disk are pertinent only for navy personnel, and my dad was in the Army Air Corp. But the 95 page book on the CD is a treasure trove of information about the ship. Numerous photos accompany the text which describes life on board the "Andy". Ships logs are included for voyages 1-12. My dad traveled to India on Voyage 7, so we're covered there, but the book ends by stating that on Voyage 13 they headed to Karachi. Karachi is where dad boarded the ship for the return voyage. Bummer!

I emailed the man I got the CD from to inquire about a Volume 2. His response, were it a verbal conversation instead of text in an email, would have involved snickering. Apparently there are very few books out on these ship voyages, so I'm lucky to have found one on the "Andy". "That's all she wrote", he told me.

So, I count my blessings that I found this one (especially without paying $50 like some on the web are asking). I'll be able to add some nice background to my book regarding the ship transports. And some great photos as well.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Book 'em, Danno

Yesterday I spent a couple of hours at the St. Louis County Library headquarters. I want to add a little more color to a few of the areas in dad's book. I selected several nonfiction books about WWII to peruse. I struck gold with the first one, a short autobiography by one of the Hump pilots. The China-India-Burma campaign was involved with ensuring that troops and supplies got to China, which had basically been cut off by the Japanese. Utilizing air bases constructed in India, the pilots had to maneuver short runways quickly to gain enough altitude to clear the Himalayas in planes loaded with cargo. Hence the description of "flying the Hump". It was very dangerous, especially during the monsoons, and casualties were high.

My dad was not a pilot, but was the field supervisor at Chabua, the largest and most active air base in India. In reading the pilot's book, he really helped me picture the area and conditions these men and women lived in. He also took a couple of side excursions to villages my dad had taken photographs of, so that was interesting to read as well. It was disappointing to discover, though, that this pilot made no references to anyone else at the base during his long stay there except for the other pilots. I have to imagine that they all rubbed shoulders somewhere along the way on the base. It was in the middle of tea plantations, not a large metropolitan area. Nevertheless, the book was a nice find.

The other books on the CBI Campaign and the history of the Army Air Force were not as useful (or as interesting, for that matter). None of the books mentioned the particular unit my dad was in. I'm having little luck learning about the 1333rd unit.

I feel the need to comment briefly on a couple of the other patrons at the library. I sat in the reference section, because silence is golden in that area. While that does include cell phones, apparently bodily noises aren't covered by the sign. There was an elderly man with a runny nose a couple tables away. Sniff, sniff....crinkle, crinkle (his newspapers), sniff, sniff, etc. Seriously pal, go into the bathroom and blow your nose! But his annoyance factor was usurped by the oriental guy who plopped down at the table next to me. All of a sudden the silence was broken by the sound of a fart hitting the wooden chair. I about broke my neck swinging my head around. But no one else was looking, guilty or otherwise. I went back to my reading and shortly there was a repeat performance, and I knew it had come from the table next to me. I have to give the guy props for his demeanor. He kept his head down and went on reading. Seriously, pal, go to the bathroom if you need to do that. And take old man sniffles with you!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Soldier Boy

Today's contribution to my dad's book was filling out the e-form to request his military papers from the National Records Center, conveniently located in St. Louis, Mo. I think I have all of his papers, but I figured it doesn't hurt to ask. Besides, this was also the way to request the awards and medals he received. Believe it or not, all of this will be sent to me for free! My tax dollars at work for me for a change!

Because I am requesting the papers of someone other than myself, I had to print the form off so I can attach a copy of my dad's death certificate or obituary. Plus I had to sign the form because that proves I am who I say I am. Really? I'm sure no one would ever lie on the form since they have to sign their name to it. {says sarcastically} It will be interesting to see what comes in the mail.

I also found a guy online who has scanned the 95 page log book of the USS A.E. Anderson ship. For a contribution to a the restoration of the USS Slater, he will burn me a copy of the CD and mail it to me. Sounded like more than a fair trade, so I made a donation via Paypal and he will send me the CD tomorrow. Can't wait to see if there are some other goodies in there I can add to the book. Anchors aweigh!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

You Just Never Know

As I have been going through my dad's book hitting the delete button on anything that might land me in a $150,000 pile of trouble, I came upon the section about the General A.E. Anderson. This was the ship that not only transported my dad to India in 1944 but brought him back home in 1945. There is a great website about the ship, maintained by the men who served on the ship or descendants who are interested in this part of their family history. A couple of photos from the ship and copies of the ship's log from my dad's two trips had made their way into my book. Keep or delete?

I had tried to contact the organization via email a few years ago as I have some original "newsletters" from the return trip. Apparently someone on the ship typed up interesting tidbits and pieces of information the men on board might want to know, including their current location. I can just see the poor guy sitting at a Royal manual typewriter trying to time his down strokes with the up motion of the ship. And then how did they make the copies? But I digress...I never received an email back from anyone at the organization at that time.

So it was with little anticipation that I emailed both the CEO and Secretary of the organization last night. I explained what I was doing and what I would like to include from their website in my book. At 1:42 AM my time I received a response from the CEO. I point out the time not because I was up to read it then, but he certainly was up to send it! You know what they say about our sleeping habits as we grow older...

Harry was delighted about my book, and said to go ahead and use anything I want off of their site. Then he dropped a bomb on me. He was on both of the trips with my dad! What are the odds? First of all that he is still alive, as my dad would now be 92. And second that he was on both voyages with dad. He is going to look through his stuff and see if he has anything additional for me. He also asked that I send him information about my book as he would like to include something in the member newsletter about it. How about that?

Sunday, January 17, 2010


There will be an ISBN on my dad's book I've decided, after much deliberation and input on the LinkedIn Forums I belong to on the Internet. That means I have to step up my game on the design of the book though. As it will be published by my company, Provenance Publishing LLC, I want it to look professional and not like I did it in Microsoft Word. Which is what I did.

Katie came up with a nice cover design, I think. She did it in a 6" x 9" format as she understood that was the size I was doing the book in. I actually had decided to go with 8 1/2" x 11" because of all the documents I have in the book. I like the smaller size idea because I think it fits the type of book better; I'll just have to see if my illustrations are legible in that size.

On a different note, I just secured my first speaking engagement for my "Who's Been Sleeping..." book. The Webster Groves Historical Society has invited me to give a presentation on how to research house history on March 21st in the Hearth Room behind the Hawken House. They will provide the marketing and the refreshments; I just have to bring books to sell. Sounds like a winner all the way around!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Numbers Game

As I review dad's book to determine what copy needs to be cut in order to avoid a $150,000 copyright infringement judgement, I have also been giving some thought as to whether I should put an ISBN number on this book. At first glance the answer would seem to be no. If the book is only going to my family, there is no need to have an ISBN on it. But what if the Cincinnati library wants to buy a copy? Or the Delhi Historical Society? I posted the number question on the discussion boards of several author/publisher groups I belong to on LinkedIn. The responses have been overwhelmingly positive for putting a number on the book.

As one woman in Canada stated, "Who knows what roads your book will travel?" Another added that there is a lot of interest in WWII history right now, and felt sales would come from not-so-obvious places. A third woman advised that a book she wrote about her daughter's recent service in the military has sold surprisingly well on Amazon. Who knew?

The bigger issue for me is not whether I want to use one of my precious ISBN numbers on a family book. It is that in using a number the book then becomes published under my publishing company. And anything that comes out of my publishing company needs to look good. I don't want a book that looks home grown to have Provenance Publishing's name on the inside cover. Because I don't have the skill set to lay this book out in a more interesting manner, that means hiring a designer. Which brings me full circle. How much money do I want to invest in a book that may only be purchased by a few family members?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Copy Write

Last night the St. Louis Publishers Associations monthly meeting covered the topic of copyright. Two attorneys discussed the concept of copyright, public domain, fair use and a new area called creative commons. It got to be a little confusing and, as the attorney joked, you can see why he will never have to worry about being laid off as a specialist in copyright law. It seems there are a lot of gray areas.

This topic was covered last year as well, so I was very careful in writing "Who's Been Sleeping..." to make sure that I only used pictures that were owned by me, the descendant of my homeowner who had given me written permission to use her photos, or photos I had taken of books that are now in public domain, i.e. published before 1923.

I have a different issue with my dad's book. In order to really flesh out his story, I have found photos of the ship he was transported on and the various bases he was stationed at online. There is also good information about the history of the camps on the Internet. I mistakenly thought that if I was only making the book for myself or a few family members, then I didn't need to worry about the copyright issue. Wrong! Obviously the information I have obtained is not in public domain yet, except for any information that the government puts out, which is not copyrightable. So I will need to either cut the information from the book, or seek permission to reproduce the photos and/or text. I probably can find government sites to fill in most of what I found on private sites.

I guess the bottom line is that as authors we can't have it both ways. If we want to make sure that our work is protected, we have to respect the protection of others as well. Besides, I can't afford a $150,000 per violation judgment!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

G.I. Roy

I've been diligently working on my dad's book about his service in WWII. I have a few more photographs that I want to fit in, then I want to take one final look in my genealogy files to make sure there aren't any other documents that would be appropriate to include. Then I'll print it out and see if everything flows okay. My niece has agreed to read it over since she also talked a bit with my dad about his war years.

In the meantime I have been playing around a bit with Booksmart, which is a free book layout software program I found on the Internet. Obviously the people offering the software are hopeful that you will then upload your book and have them print it, which I may ultimately do. But I have already struggled with getting the program to accept my Word document. Apparently it is not happy that I have the photos and the text in one document. I'll either need to copy and paste, or separate out the photos. is always something. This is why the book designers get the big bucks to lay the book out for you. I didn't mind paying for the service on my house research book, but this book is only going to go to a few people in my immediate family. I just can't afford to put any money into design and layout. I really wish that I knew how to use InDesign, but I am afraid the learning curve on that program would drive me batty. We'll see how the template goes first.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

I'm Excited!

Tonight the President of the Webster Groves Historical Society called and asked if I would be interested in doing a talk on house research for the society. Would I, would I? Peg leg, peg leg. Oh wait, that's an old joke. They would like to hold it in the Hearth Room behind the Hawken House, and of course they would want me to have my books available as well. They will take care of all the publicity. She said she thinks it is a really interesting topic, and mentioned how great it would be for the audience to hear about it from the author. That's me! How cool is that?

This is exactly what I want to do with my book - help people get started with the researching process. I always figured that I would be able to sell more books with presentations than through a book store, and I really enjoy public speaking. Weird, I know. I used to do it all the time at my old job, and still give classroom presentations to kids about composting. But I love working with adults, especially if they are interested in the topic. (Not always the case in my former job - doctors did not always like to learn about why they were being sued for malpractice.)

The calendar has not been set yet, so I don't know when my talk will be (somewhere between March and August was all she knows at this point), but now I have the proper motivation to get my presentation put together. Who's been sleeping in YOUR bedroom?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

My Dad's Book

Even before I was finished with "Who's Been Sleeping..." I had begun to put together a book about my dad's service in WWII. Because I have all of my dad's papers (as well as photographs, record albums, sheet music, etc.), I have an interesting assortment of items from his years in the military. It seemed like a shame to keep the memories in a box. I had talked with dad a bit about his service and fortunately I wrote a bit of it down. Building on my notes and his photos, I researched his army air corp unit (not much there0, the ship he was transported on, and all the cities and bases he had mentioned. It's all together now in a tidy little book.

I was debating whether to just run off a few copies for my family, which would be the easiest way to go about this, or actually publish the book through my publishing company so that I could possible sell a few copies to the libraries and historical societies in Cincinnati. If I go with the second approach, I would have some copyright issues. I have used some photographs of the ship, planes and military bases which I found on the Internet. I would need to secure permission to reproduce the photos if I do anything beyond making a few copies for my siblings.

In the meantime I have been looking at options for laying out the book. I obviously can't afford to hire a book designer for this particular book, and I just don't know how to use Indesign. As I was looking at options on the Internet, I came across a site called They offer a free book template which is fairly customizable. I downloaded the program last night and have begun looking at it. Of course they would like for you to print the books through them, and I certainly would be willing to check out their pricing. We'll see how user friendly the program is first. I'll keep you posted.