My Journey Through Book Publishing, and Beyond

book on a table with a pair of glasses and a cup of coffee.

A copy of my new book, proudly displayed, and soon to be read by millions!     
(photo by WebChick _ Lancaster OH)

        My book, Hitting the Road Without a Map was finally published!  A proud moment for any author! Soon the accolades would start rolling in, and I might have to change my phone number just to get a moments' peace. The book was available in softbound, hardback, and on e-readers like Kindle. It was available through online retailers like Amazon, and on the websites of major 'brick & mortar' retailers like Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, as well as the websites of many independent bookstores. Ingram was the distributor - recognized, sanctified, and utilized by booksellers everywhere. Therefore, my book had tremendous credibility! Without a doubt, a phone call from Hollywood was not out of the question! Brad Pitt would surely want to play the part of my driving partner Todd. Michael Keaton would not be a bad choice to play me in the road trip movie of the year. The script was right there in the book itself! I would soon have to deal with interviews on television, or on Fresh Air on National Public Radio, and in the newspapers. I shuddered at the thought of my face being on the covers of glossy magazines by the grocery checkout. Without a doubt, I would do event readings at bookstores across the country. A grueling book tour would be my burden to bear. All this, I would handle with grace, humor, patience and tolerance!
        Ah! The mind of a writer! Or maybe visions of grandeur of one who is a bit delusional. Probably a bit of both! That was back in February, and percolated in my mind for months to follow - until reality began to intrude. What a buzz-kill! All that potential fame and fortune! What happened?

writing background
        Writing has been a form of expression and pleasure for me over many decades. Most of what I have written has taken the form of true narratives of events in my life, and are like essays. Other than sharing them with my family,  none of them have been published. For about ten years I was the editor of a newsletter published by a small river history organization, and occasionally I wrote articles for their parent organization, The Son & Daughters of Pioneer Rivermen, in their quarterly magazine called The S&D Reflector. Those were the only general public readers exposed to what I put to paper, and they were supportive of my efforts. My wife was encouraging as well.
        An opportunity to take a low-cost trip across the country presented itself in the form of helping a friend who needed her huge RV motorhome driven from Ohio to her new home in Oregon. An acquaintance volunteered to do it, and when I expressed how cool that might be, I got volunteered on the spot to assist. Self doubt immediately set in, along with guilt about heading off across the country without my wife. Long story short, the mission of mercy eventually took place, although when it did the whole thing was spur of the moment. After hearing various snippets of the tale, my wife declared that something had happened to me on the trip and she wanted to know what it was, and that it might make a good book as well.  I did concede that there certainly was a short story to be told, but I seriously doubted whether the journey, or me, had what it took to make a book.
        The first draft reached about forty or fifty pages, and I realized that there may indeed be a book possible. By that time, I had been able to envision a story arc that went beyond merely recounting a trip. I gave a rough draft to some friends who travel frequently, for an early critique. Basically, they liked it, but agreed it needed much more, and thought the direction I proposed would make it more interesting to a wider audience. His wife wanted more specifics about what and where we ate!
        The next draft went up to 103 pages. I had been writing steadily for about a month and a half, and I thought that was it, so I took the manuscript to a quick-print shop and had them run off five copies. That was a rather expensive proposition, in spite of the cheap spiral binding. However, ego knows no bounds, and I was sure close family and friends would cherish this holiday gift forever. The responses were mildly encouraging, but no one asked whether I was working on another book. To be sure, no lives had been changed by reading it! My mother was disappointed by some of the crude language, and my mention of smoking cigarettes.
book submission process
            I re-read my book after the holidays. There was a good story there, but it did indeed need work! The task of editing and re-writing was at hand! In the meantime I had run across a website called authors publish, hosted by a group in Canada. It had a bunch of helpful hints on editing, finding publishers, creating a pitch, creating a submission letter, how to submit to publishers, and lists of publishers. This information provided me with the first realistic glimpse into the world of publishing and how to navigate it.
        The first decision to make was whether to self-publish or have a traditional publisher do it. There are a tremendous number of companies out there who are willing to publish anything submitted to them, as long as the check does not bounce. Researching them took some time, as I became aware of additional companies. The quickest route was to look closely at their websites. Some of the products were more amateurish than my 'book' from the quick print shop. Others had extremely convoluted pricing structures, or cumbersome work-writing sites to deal with. All of them ultimately came with a very hefty price tag, especially since I had reached the conclusion that I wanted to include a large number of photographs in the book. Marketing would be up to the author, or could be dealt with for another big fee. I decided to pursue the traditional publishing route, where a company paid for the actual printing, and hopefully would take the lead on the marketing and promotion.
        Next came the task of finding publishers to whom I would submit my creation. One step was to visit book stores and look for books similar to mine and look inside to see who published it, then jot down the contact information. I also perused book catalogues in search of the same type of information. Back home, on my computer, I looked up the prospective publisher's websites to find out what submission requirements they had. Many publishers do not accept unsolicited submissions. Others will only accept a book proposal through an agent. Still others only accept unsolicited proposals during a very limited timeframe each year. It was all very interesting, and also very frustrating. Publishers should have been calling me by now! 
        Once a promising publisher had been identified, the mind-boggling task of actually making the submission began. Submission requirements vary widely, but most companies have a few key aspects, such as the query letter, a brief synopsis, sample chapters, and a curriculum virte, also known as a brief biography, including previous published works. Having to learn Latin as part of this process was totally unexpected. There were other requirements frequently encountered as well, such as: email query letter only, email submission only, submitting through a third-party system called Submittable, the first three chapters, the first fifty pages, double spaced only, and what my marketing plan consisted of - including how many "followers" I currently had on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. The answer to the last three questions was none!
        Crafting a good query letter and an enticing synopsis took time, and went through a number of revisions. The query letter has to grab the attention of the prospective publisher or agent, and therefore has to be some of the best writing an author has ever put on a page - while adhering to the specifics stipulated in the submission guidelines. No pressure here!  
        All the while this research and submission process was going on, I was also editing and re-writing the book. In all, the book went through the editing process eight times, and the finished product is much the better for it. Sometimes it was simply to restructure sentences or paragraphs, other times it was to make all the syntax match. Occasionally I added whole new parts, and other times I hacked through the manuscript with a straight razor. Word usage and spelling error corrections occurred with each and every pass.
        Over a period of eight to ten months, the book was submitted to twenty seven publishers. Typically there would be no response. Of the few rejection letters received, most were permutations on the theme of "not our type of book". But sometimes the rejection letter would be encouraging, saying they liked what they read, but it was not their type of book. One of these resulted in my changing the title of the book, which originally had been called RV TRIP WEST, which was not very original at all. But the subtitle was Hitting the Road Without a Map - and Other Miscalculations, and the first part of that subtitle is what the prospective publisher called it. Gaining a better title also proved that something can be learned from rejection.

a publisher is interested!
            Finally, I received an email from a publisher that wanted me to send more! This request was based upon a query email letter I had sent two months earlier. The next step was to send the first four chapters, an annotated chapter outline, and two sample photographs. Two weeks later they requested my pre-publication and post-publication marketing plan. Fortunately, I had read about this sort of stuff much earlier, and had even put a plan together to satisfy some other publishers who requested such fairy tales as part of their submission process. I had an eight point plan, and for good measure, an Excel Spreadsheet to go with it!
        Having all these components ready was the direct result of reading the helpful advice on the writer's group website I had joined, and having to create this sort of stuff to satisfy other publisher's submission requirements. The point being, save all the various permutations of strange requests because someone else may ask for the same thing, or something very similar. Templates for letters, and planning ahead, saved a lot of time later on in the submission process.
        All the requested information went off to the interested publisher, and a little over a week later, I had an offer to publish my book! I was ecstatic! This was a publisher whom I had stumbled across while doing a Google-search for another publisher. I checked out their website and it looked professional, the books had well designed covers, and their main objective was "to give voice to new and emerging authors." It was a small woman owned (their phrase) independent publisher, located in an adjoining state. We had a brief phone conversation to get to know each other. Their books were distributed through Ingram, the two ton gorilla in the publishing/distribution world, and thus would be available through all major booksellers. The publisher would assist with some marketing, but most of it would rest on my shoulders, and a standard contract would be sent directly. Fame and public esteem could not be far behind! If fortune was part of that package, I would accept it graciously!
        Being a nerd often gets me a lot of flack from people when I provide them with information they asked for, but did not expect it to be coming from me. I am interested in all types of subjects, and took a wide variety of elective courses in college just because I was interested. Over the years my continuing self-education has paid off in many ways. One of those ways was about to occur. The contract appeared to have missing paragraphs, and possibly a missing page as well. When contacted, the publisher said it was the one she always used and none of her other authors had complained. I pushed back and stated I would not sign an incomplete legal document. She seemed rather miffed, but a complete contract popped up in my email the next day, except it had the wrong book title and someone else's name on it. Again, she seemed rather put out to have another serious error pointed out, and stated that she was "a creative, not a detail person." My reply that we were entering into a business and legal relationship, so details mattered greatly, did little to ameliorate the obvious strain in our brand new relationship. It was a foreshadowing of things to come.
        The legal stuff got ironed out, and an electronic file of the book was sent to the publisher. A few weeks went by, and then several mock-ups for the cover design arrived. I had submitted a proposed design for the cover using a photograph I had taken. What I received was the same photo greatly enlarged to the point of total blurriness, with wacky pulp detective novel style font splashed the title across the cover. It looked like something someone created on their I-Phone while killing time at the airport. I stopped short of telling the publisher that, but did explain the serious nature of the book, as well as the rationale behind my original design. A much improved design was returned, with no comment. So, it seemed this collaborative process would consist of emails, but no real communication, which I thought could get rather tedious. For some reason, I believed my submission would magically be returned as a highly polished tome suitable for display on a coffee table. I realized I would have to take a very active part in the whole process, in order to assure aspects of design, tone, and quality were maintained to my exacting standards.
        An editor was assigned, and we began the collaborative effort to get the text ready for publication. At the start of this process I again defaulted to assuming I was in the realm of a seasoned professional, and I may well have been, but it soon became clear that the tone and themes of the book would be lost if I did not push back and defend the 'why' of what was already written. Some of my dialog and descriptions have a definite Appalachian tone and style, which the editor did not understand, and these parts were either removed entirely, or re-written in the King's English for grammatical correctness. That is not how my friends and acquaintances talk. Finally she just gave up, and searched for spelling errors and punctuation issues, and there were not many.  This was a good sign, for it meant that all my efforts at editing and re-writing prior to submission had paid off. The editing process took about two weeks.
        Several weeks later, a "printing proof" version of the book arrived via email. The photos and captions had been re-inserted into the text body, along with the captions. The font style had been changed, and the size of the print had been slightly enlarged. The total page count was now up to 286 pages. Impressive. The publisher included a note directing me to re-read the whole book, and make any changes I deemed necessary, for this would be my last chance before it went to the printer. I complemented her on the design and feel of the nearly finished product, and then set about to eagerly read this work of art! It was astonishing how many errors still existed. Something about the new typeface revealed these blemishes of poor sentence structure, grammatical errors, and misspellings. I was shocked, but glad I had not puffed up with pride and informed the publisher that our work was complete. Seven pages of corrections were sent back a week later. Six or seven months had passed from the contract signing to the final proof corrections being made. 
        Another couple of weeks passed, and then the 'author's proof' copies arrived in the mail. As part of my contract, I was to receive five free copies of my book, to utilize how I saw fit. Instead of being pleased, I was extremely disappointed! The photo reproduction showed clear indication of scan lines from a digital printer, and were very poor quality. One of the unique features of my book was the ability to visually follow the story through the photographs, so quality was imperative. Also, the spines of the soft-back copies did not have the complete book title! A strongly worded letter expressing my dissatisfaction went out to my publisher. She said she would correct the title issue, but there was nothing she could do about the photographs. It was the nature of the beast, and if I wanted out of my contract in six months in order to find a new printer and publisher, I was welcome to it. Whoa! Basically kicked to the curb before the book was even released!

book marketing plans
      During that period, in addition to working on the book, I also worked on the marketing plan database of bookstores and media outlets across the country - region by region, and it was far from complete. A dive into the mysteries of book marketing, occupied a lot of my time as well. Internet groups, podcasts, and blogs provided the majority of the information for free. There exists a large number of similar entities that will provide the same info for a hefty fee, along with "guaranteed results". 
    All this advice, distilled to its essence, pretty much all said the same thing. Book marketing today is on social media, and the goal is to get as many 'followers' as humanly possible, on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, so that when one's book gets published the followers will all buy it and it will be an instant best seller. They also suggested getting mentioned by so-called 'influencers' who have the power to lead their obsequious minions over a cliff, if they want to. The big major publishing houses have staff to create this tidal wave of social media excitement. Authors with small publishing companies, like me, or self-published writers, are left to do this task by themselves. The alleged "best selling authors" who were beating this drum all seemed to have written fiction, not non-fiction like my book. A sampling of their books showed striking similarities in both covers and themes. Vampire romance was especially popular, and shirtless cowboys fondling swooning dames appeared on many of the book covers. Maybe my next books should be a vampire cowboy romance novel! A guaranteed winner! 
    Since many of these self-published book covers are available from an illustration stock company, for a fee of course, I ran across the same cover, or the same shirtless cowboy on several occasions. The vampires began to look eerily similar as well. Obviously, very little about all this advice had anything to do with me. I doubted many of my potential readers wanted to see photos of my favorite coffee shop - where I do not do any of my work because I use a desktop computer at home. For my book, I used maps and brochures from the trip, along with a journal I had kept, for my primary sources, so "fun selfies" of a balding guy hard at the task of writing was not a real viable suggestion either. 
        Clearly, once my book got published, I was going to have an uphill climb to get the attention of potential readers and buyers. If I believed what all these 'book marketing experts' were touting, this process had to include doing things which went completely against my values of personal integrity. Conceding that there was probably some value in a few aspects of the social media side of marketing, a Facebook page and a website for the book were definitely in my future. The rest of my marketing plan would be low-tech "old school" mailing of introduction letters, accompanied by brochures and bookmarks, sent to bookstores and newspapers across the country. I had already started collecting this type of data - names, addresses, email addresses, plus any other pertinent info, and put it in a spreadsheet. Prior to my retirement I had become rather adept at creating useful Excel spreadsheets, and I had not lost my touch. I took no, nor did I post, any selfies of me doing this! 

        My publisher informed me that the book had gone to the printer, and that Amazon would start accepting pre-release orders late in November, with an actual book release date of February. She posted this information on her publishing company Facebook page. This certainly meant the publisher's promotion machine was suddenly coming to life. I now had image files of the front and back cover of the book, and they looked great. According to the experts, this pre-release period was a critical one for generating buzz. Massive pre-release orders could create a tsunami of orders upon the actual release. This was the time for an intensive marketing effort. Little did I know, but this would be just about the extent of my publisher's efforts to promote my book, and to this day I still do not appear on the website profiling the stable of fine authors published by this company. Apparently I really pissed somebody off!
        A Facebook page was created for the book, announcing the pre-order phase and the approaching release date, using the cover image as the inducement to generate a buying frenzy. The Facebook page was free, and that was just about the last free thing involved with the marketing of the book. The guy who does my computer repairs suggested I check out a local website designer, with the  recommendation of, "she knows her stuff and is really good." Coming from Crazy Steve, that was high praise indeed! My email to the designer was answered the next morning, with a website design flat rate of over one thousand dollars for a basic site, plus the domain names. Having no prior knowledge of the cost of such things, I figured it was probably reasonable, especially since I had researched her other sites and they were all rather good in appearance, style, and functionality. A flurry of emails followed, and after she understood what I hoped to achieve with the site the price was lowered because it would be simple to create. All I had to do was make the payment and send her the images and text I wanted to include. Next was the design of a rack-card and a bookmark, along with text. Another local, Lancaster, Ohio vendor was used for this task. I had worked with this printer on several previous projects, and was confident in their ability to produce a quality product. An order of 1,000 of each was placed, and it was not cheap, but the end result looked great, just as I anticipated. Then came envelopes and stamps - mo' money, mo' money, mo' money! Any visions I had of my book being a financially viable concern left the building, along with Elvis.
            The point-of-sale rack cards and bookmarks started going out in the mail to bookstores and newspapers by early December. Those mailings continued pretty much nonstop for the next several months, and targeted the Midwest, East Coast, Pacific Northwest, and northern California, as well as states and cities along the route of the actual trip described in the book.
        A feature article on my upcoming book was printed in a local paper, and appeared above the fold in a Sunday edition in late January. Surely more articles would follow in affiliated papers across the region! A best seller was in the making, and a soon-to-be-famous author was in their midst! Alas, no other newspapers took the bait.
        If the responses on the Facebook page were to be believed, friends and family had pre-ordered ten to fifteen copies. On release day, my publisher posted the news on her company Facebook page. That was the last of the assistance I would get from the publisher! It was still a bit disappointing, but I had been forewarned. Nevertheless, the whole purpose of having a publisher was to utilize their expertise, and hopefully their connections in the bookselling world.
    after the book release        
        Two days after my book was released, I checked its rankings on Amazon. It was listed as number 839 in alcoholism and recovery, and number 1,200 in travel and adventure books. This was rather exciting! Apparently more than my small sphere of friends and family had purchased my book! The question was who, how, and why? From a marketing standpoint, these were critical questions for me, because that way I could focus my efforts on what had worked. Those questions nag me to this day. I have no idea what I did to influence an apparently surprising number of sales, although I did not actually know what those numbers were. Therefore, I decided to keep on doing what I had been doing, which meant mailing out more cards and bookmarks to bookstores and newspapers, as well as personally visiting area bookstores.  A couple of months following the release of the book, I had exhausted my supply of rack card brochures and bookmarks, and had to place a re-order. Another major cash outlay.

dark secrets of book distribution and book selling
         As I contacted book stores I began to hear terms I was unfamiliar with - at least as they pertained to authors trying to market their books. One was a policy many independent booksellers employ to place the books of unknown authors, like myself, on their shelves. That would be consignment. The author supplies the books to the store, and receives a discounted amount back when the book is sold. I could buy books from my publisher for a 40% discount off the list price. The stores will stock my book and give me 40% of the list price sales - so the author profit is ZERO! What a great country we live in! But desperate times call for desperate measures. I held out as long as I could, then I caved and agreed to do it.                     
        More discussions with sellers occasionally yielded other trade craft - not that there is anything wrong with it, but it came as a revelation to me, a new author trying to get my book on shelves. Apparently a 30% to 40% discount from the distributor to the ordering bookstore is considered normal. However, my distributor, which is the one all stores primarily use, was only giving a "short discount" of 10%! Unless the book was a guaranteed best seller, no store was going to stock my book because of this low purchase discount issue. I complained to my publisher, who acted unaware that this was going on, but did say the distributor was hammering all independent bookstores like this - so she did know about it.
        At the end of June it was time for a mid-year settling up with the publisher, which was announced by a statement in the mail. Since publication in early February, through the month of June, over 500 copies of the book had sold. Not knowing what to compare that number with, I was nevertheless mildly pleased. The subsequent check, which arrived a week later, was not 'chicken feed' either. By the way the sales were broken down, it would appear that most of the books sold through stores, as opposed to primarily on Amazon, which did not make sense in light of what I had learned regarding the various discount rates, etc. Therefore, my book was selling through the online portals of regular bookstores, not off their shelves. A sale is a sale, but I was still at a loss as to how this was happening. All I could do was to keep on doing whatever it was that I was doing.
        As another expense, I had been creating Facebook advertisements. They provided detailed data on how each ad campaign had worked. One of the metric numbers that fluctuated a lot was something called "impressions". I still have no idea what that means, but high numbers of impressions seemed to be the goal. How that translates into potential sales, I have no clue. However, I did understand comments, but most of them were regarding whatever photo I used and not about the book. Several campaigns did especially well in Puerto Rico and some states in Mexico, based on the number of impressions and comments. One of the ad criteria had been the continental United States and Canada only. Due to the language barrier and the distance, a book tour to Latin America had never been remotely considered.
            Another trade secret came from a manager at Barnes & Noble, the big kahuna in the brick & mortar side of bookselling. When a clerk or manager searched on their database for my book, many times they would agree to order a couple of copies because they could see the standard discount. However, when visited later, the stores would not have the book, nor had it ever been in the store. What was going on? The staff would not say, and put on Oscar worthy performances of mystification. Finally, one manager spilled the beans. My book was flagged as "POD", which stands for Print On Demand, and as a policy, Barnes & Noble does not stock a POD book. They are more than happy to sell it on their website, which is cool, but put it in the store? No way! The reason is due to the rise of self-publishing platforms on the internet, which are rife with print quality and distribution issues, plus they may not want their shelves packed with various books all sporting the same shirtless cowboy. My book is POD by the largest legit distributor in the book business, but it made no difference. How many other book retailers have the same policy is a matter conjecture. 
            The point being, a number of unanticipated hurtles were now in the way of getting the book into the hands of people who love to leisurely browse a bookstore as their preferred way of discovering new books. I do not blame my publisher, for they did what they said they would, and at the time I did not know what kind of additional questions I should ask. Now I do!
        The primary reason I had been sending the promotional items to newspapers was the hope to get the book reviewed. Eventually the arts & entertainment editor of a nearby large metropolitan paper informed me that absent a close personal connection with an editor, the only books the staff reviewed were those submitted by the large publishing houses, or had been written by a well-known best-selling author. Everybody else would not be given the time of day.
            So where do those reviews come from, which are plastered all over many new books, or included in book blurbs in the newspapers? That is what I wanted to know, and the way to find out was to do more research. I was saddened by what I discovered - they were paid for! And it ain't cheap! The fee does not guarantee a rave review, at least that is what their websites say. The pricing structure provides, at minimum a short paragraph, or a full page, to a whole dissertation which is then funneled to the media as included in the exorbitant price. It also made sense, for I have read many a bad book that was touted by one of these services. A full-service package can be bought, and the author can pick and choose the excerpts from the review to utilize in their book's promotion. All it takes is one good sentence, plus the well-known name of the source of the review, and the impression of a fine book has been made. Cha-Ching! Sale! This was just another demoralizing hurtle encountered, and it seemed the publication gods were conspiring to make sure unheard-of authors, published by small independent publishers, never saw the light of day. The quality of the work was virtually irrelevant, because the fix was in.

so now what?

            Discouraged, and sometimes demoralized, I decided to press on - albeit without some of the 'new author' vigor. The book is still a good book, and it is available everywhere in cyberspace! So I will not give up! Some aspects of marketing, such as in-person readings, were derailed by COVID-19. However, the virus is not to blame for all the issues. Bookstores schedule authors they know, or who the big publishers are pushing, so they are the authors doing the ZOOM readings for a fee, and other such events. A lot of the on-line writer's groups, while initially interesting and educational, really turned out to be platforms for desperate authors such as myself. Through them I located a podcaster to interview me, which was then posted to YouTube, and viewed by six people. I encountered many people who offered to review books for free - if I would send them a free copy. I only fell for that scam once!
            Scams targeting new authors abound on the internet. Most of them offer some sort of cheap, or free advice, if you send them an electronic file of your book. I really could not figure out the angle on those, because I could not see where their payoff would be beyond getting free stuff. Other come-ons were upfront about the costs, but guaranteed results. All this stuff magically appears in one's email in-box as soon as pre-publication order dates are posted. I did not have to go searching very hard to encounter those who wanted to relieve me of my dead Presidents, or creative product.
            A street fair, in front of our house, seemed like a fine opportunity for my wife and me to set up a tent in our yard and sell stuff to the masses. It was one of those rare public events that actually occurred post summer wave of COVID, and widespread vaccinations in early autumn. My wife sold her handmade jewelry, and I sold my books - ten of them, to be exact. It was fun, and much more profitable than consignment sales in a bookstore, but when calculated by the hour - I was workin' cheap!
            A moment of desperation gripped me one day, and I signed up for a paid review. It was less expensive than the two primary reviewing services, yet still a familiar presence in the book reading world. All I had to do was pay, and send two copies of my book, or somehow pay for the ebook version on Amazon and send that to them. While I am somewhat technically competent, I chose the US Mail option because I understand books and mail. In the grand scheme of things right now, it seemed like a viable option, since all the normal options appear to be unavailable for an unknown author published by a small independent publisher utilizing a print-on-demand printer/distributor. Time will tell whether this was a total waste of money, or just somewhat of a waste.

final thoughts

           This particular blog post is a cautionary tale for new and aspiring authors. It is not gripe against the publishing or bookselling industry - it is simply my experience with this particular book. If by chance, Hollywood does come calling, there is no doubt my next book would be a completely different experience!  
          It has been ten months since my book was published. During that time I have learned a lot about the publishing and bookselling world.  I am sure there is much more to discover. Probably the most pertinent question is whether I am glad I did it? To that, my answer would be yes. That response is primarily an ego response - I am now a published author, and I am not ashamed of the finished product. Another question is whether I would do it the same way again? Not if I could help it! The challenges post publication have been, and continue to be very frustrating because they are completely out of my control, and totally baked-into the industry.
            Money, or the lack thereof, initially drove most of my thought and decision-making processes when this book publishing project began. A very different looking book, and high quality in terms of photograph reproduction, design and layout, could have been obtained through a hybrid publisher, which would have cost approximately $15,000. Marketing, distribution, and warehousing were all additional costs, and they said their distribution network was not real strong beyond the tri-state area. But it would have been an eye-catching book, and would have eliminated some of the challenges encountered later.
            Do I have another book in me? Yes, probably several! However, it is highly unlikely they will ever get published or read. Hold on! The phone is ringing! Sorry, it was not Hollywood! Apparently the campaign to support nearsighted groundhogs needs a financial contribution, and anything I can give will mean a great deal to so many of these poor suffering animals.

< finis - for now, at least >

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