Tag Archives | books

green stuff

Yesterday was the 1st time I ran wholesale orders through my website.  and it worked great…no i mean it, it worked better than expected. Using the NEW CC processing, the money gets in my acct instantly.  having both the wholesale orders and the customers orders run through the same system, i won’t be losing any orders. I no longer have to use faxing service, though i may keep the number but shut off the service for a while. I can just order the products drop shipped to the customer which speeds up the process on so many levels. It was a good day. and I now have a positive balance…in paypal if not in the actual bank. I shudder to look at the bank acct, end of the money, you can play handball in that account.

I am spending a lot of time thinking about earning a living in the new place. Like the recycling, if i start as i mean to go on, then it won’t be such a trauma. I had to make a stupid 2+ trip yesterday so i had a lot of time to think about it. Driving helped. I will continue with the repair products and expand the line as i had planned to this summer…despite the failure of the US Census job…(they finally set the tags for their boxes) and i will finally have some money to throw into it, i am going to add some magnifying devices, some more paper craft knives, some more leather preservation products and so forth. There are a lot of of BIG houses that sell everything to everybody…University Products..which is weird cause i buy from them and they buy from me and we both sell to everyone else..very snake eating long tail. But my NICHE seems to be the people who only want a little. So back to the 4 ounce containers and the little of this and little of that. It seems to work for me.

greenhouse (1)

The history reprints I love, so despite the fact that they actually cost me time and money to create, i BELIEVE in the idea. The Merrimack Valley is too broken, from what i can see if i had a series of Pioneer Valley history books, there are at least a dozen places that may be interested in carrying them: Libraries, bookstores, department stores etc.. my idea of creating them for RESALE by third party organizations is the soul of the idea. it puts the selling of the books into the hands of someone else, and it puts the books out into the community in front of the consumer. If you can’t get them to come looking for the books, stick the books in their face. So as soon as I hear that the house is listed for sale, I am going to start in on the that line of books, so i will have them in my saddle bag when i get there. I still like creating the backstock books, the Pirate Wench, the New England cookbooks etc… it adds a little variety – but they are all offered as resale items.

On the THIRD hand, I still want to finish WRITING two or three books that i have started. But HERE, I have yet to be able to SIT for more than a couple of hours and work, before my phone rings and i have to go off and pull a cat out of a hoarding house or show someone the rail trail, or one of fifteen other crises. I think in another location I will be able to focus.

And FOUTH hand….I decided to be bold enough to look at everything, not just multiunits, as long as its in my price range I will look at it. IF,that’s a big IF,  I end up looking at something with more land than i feel comfortable with. I hate mowing lawns for the sake of lawns, i’m afraid my neighbors would hate me, i prefer the weeds and flowers to turf…. if i ended up with a little outdoor space, i will put up a greenhouse, 1st i will grow for myself until i have all the bugs worked out, but then i can grow some heirloom Veg for local sale. some heirloom tomatoes and squash and sell them to the local restaurants – perhaps get certified organic if that works out. It’s just good to have a plan to deal with whatever homes are showed to me. If you show me one with a store, i will open a store, show me one with a barn, i will raise livestock, it i have a garage, i will fix bikes, if i have lawn i will grow tomatoes. I’d rather widen my options of where to live, than keep looking for a place to live that fits inside my IDEA of where i should live. that’s my plan.  and I love it when a plan comes together.

breaking it gently

i have been trying to tell people face to face, in order to control the news. I really don’t want the city hall crowd to know i am leaving, i still want to jump up and down on them a few more times.
I sent out an email to the other book professionals in my online group. It isn’t going to accomplish much except tell folks what’s going on with me and perhaps getting EG a few more readers, apparently i have SIX readers unless a couple of those are me. But everytime i tell someone I have to put the decision into words and the mere act helps me verbalize it. I swear the next person who asks me why is going to be in trouble, like quitting a bad job or leaving a bad boyfriend, the next day you wonder why you didn’t do it sooner.


I’m moving… i don’t know when…. and i have a good idea where, but what i know absolutely is after 37 years in the same location. ‘cept for a couple of lost years in the middle, i am moving.
Since I was a kid I have always known that local people who were the most happy and successful are the ones who left town.
I postulated the theory that anyone who stayed in the MV can’t hack it in the real world and hence have diminished expectations about life..
The older I got the more i came to believe that folks that don’t MOVE out of the Merrimack Valley the day after graduating high school are deliberately shoveling dirt into their own grave.

First I was going to leave when my ersatz grandmother died, after that I kept waiting until i had a better income or fewer cat rescues and it was one thing after another…
I should have left when my mother died, but by then i was hip deep in the rail trail development
and i have been getting my mental stimulation by tweaking the nose of the municipality and building something that will outlast me.

But it’s built and i can’t do anymore without running for office, and i won’t do that.
People here are more fatalistic and more complacent with their failures that other New Englanders
I hate the other politicians too much, if i am the smartest person in the room – the city has a problem.
The town is just gonna screw it up from here on out and i can’t watch. Methuen is like a bad boyfriend and I’m breaking up.

I had a moment of lucidity, when i think burning the place to the ground would be an improvement and a civic service, it’s time to get the hell out of dodge.

I hired a lawyer to communicate with my brother, cause apparently one needs a penis to get his respect
and soon i hope casa d’ godsey is going on the market.

We won’t even entertain offers that won’t allow me to leave with a fist full of money to buy a duplex someplace else, get a non breakdown ready vehicle and inject a cash influx into my business
i still have to worry about spending my dotage in cardboard box, but i can be poor anyplace i don’t have to be poor here.

All that said, it may take 4, 6 or 8 months to sell the house, i can’t see it taking as long as a year, it’s a huge commercial property downtown, developers aren’t that dumb.

I spent a few days casting around for a place to move to
and since i’m not THAT adventurous, i’m looking in the Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts
it has everything i want yet i’m still in New England.

In the last few days I have fallen in love with Greenfield.
I have never been there, cept through Google Street View. (though i have probably driven by on the highway a few times)
i don’t even have enough money to go visit it yet.

But it is everything i wanted Methuen to be:
regarding emergency response, local economic development, historical conservation, restoration of parks, and rivers and bike trails, a hundred other progressive things.
and they accomplish it with thirty thousand fewer people.
They have actual bookstores in their downtown.
In the MV, aside from one barnes and noble, there isn’t a new bookstore inside of 15 miles, and you have to go 20+ to find a used bookstore.

So, from this moment on, i am on a quest to get out of town before i die here.
that’s my biggest fear. that i will get hit by a bus before i get a chance to go someplace where i can be happy.

I had been divesting my stuff since I had to get rid of all my mothers and grandmothers stuff
i know if i died here, all my books will get sent to the dump by my brother
regardless of its value. This is also a great fear of mine.
But basically aside from books, bicycles and cats I don’t own that much anymore.
I could walk away with just that stuff and be okay.

[THOUGH I AM LOOKING FOR HOMES FOR A COUPLE OF BOOKSTORE READY CATS, I WILL DELIVER YOUR CAT UP TO 200 MILES – just email me. psst I still have laurie and bill petchs cats who need rehoming.]

Anyway, that’s what’s going on.
I have rebuilt the SicPress.com website to hold as many products as i want
and when the house sells and i move to a new location I will have the funds and hopefully the space to beef it up again.
So, that’s why nothing new has been added…i have already picked out all the stuff, i think you are going to like the new products.

I won’t be buying anything new for while, even my new house will be used, i never could cotton to anything built after WWII.

Advice about moving books, cats or just about anything is welcome.
I will be chronicling my new adventure at ERASERGIRL.COM
I’m moving someplace i have never been and know no one, lets see if i can get a book out of it.

thanks for all your support.
The bookseller friends i have on this list and off, are really what i have to bring with me.

See? it sounds better when i have practice at putting the words in the right order. Today I started sneaking stuff into the neighbors trash. I’m washing the living room floor and six other cleaning things…cleaning is the thing i do when i can’t figure out what else to do. But i still get off throwing stuff away. I think i should be able to get all my shelving and boxes and whatnot into 1 24′ foot rental truck. I can’t move myself even if i buy a bigger truck, my bookcases and shelves break down into a lot, but the boxes would pile too high in the pick up. So that’s my plan, get a shit load of boxes all the same size and start packing….well hell i think i started packing already.

Dead Pet: Send Your Best Little Buddy Off in Style

dead pet

This entire post is an experiment. I went through a number of wordpress plugins trying to find a simple one which attaches amazon affiliate links to posts  and then I just threw in the towel. I already spent money on the WpZonBuilder plugin…$66 in fact. So i think i am going to use it. If you see something you like, click through to amazon. I am not sure if i get a cut if you buy the used copy, but hell, that’s what I always do.

I stumbled on this Dead Pet book by accident killing time at a comic book shop… a REAL one..a big one with lots of toys and other things created for people with disposable incomes. Anyway i was there for an hour and i was determined to find something I could genuinely say I needed.

At first blush this seems ghoulish and creepy…but seeing as how my backyard is filled with dead pets…when they dig it up in future they are going to label me a serial killer… a lot of the chapters in here are quite sentimental and honorable. Granted a chapter on taxidermy sounds tasteless…but there are plenty of people for whom having their pet stuffed helps them heal. personally I find that i MUST DIG THE HOLE MYSELF, i dig the hole and i bury them with all their toys etc. I just wish i had remembered to mark all the graves or at least make a map. 35 years of dead pets? There are chapters on grave markers, hearses, coffins, well of course snake coffins should be lengthwise, even cremation and then attaching those cremains to hobby rockets and shooting them into the sky…

Alas a friend of mine just lost a much beloved pet, and now is NOT the appropriate time to whip out this book…I should have shown it to her months ago when it would have been funny and potentially helpful.

[amzn_product_inline asin=’1599215705′]

ransom notes


I’m liking this new mantra, passive aggressive money, so i pulled up the old edition of this which I now find extremely embarrassing. I rewrote it top to bottom condensing redundant material and adding new material, so in essence its more than 30% new material.  I did some new research but not a ton, so I’m thinking of  keeping a running log going and republishing at 1000 ideas.  i just need another 450 ideas.

Meanwhile as i mentioned before I also blew the print version up to a large print.  I keep developing style books as i go, from now on if i can do a digital version, a print version and a large print i will.  as for the distribution…the kindle version gets loaded on amazon directly so it will link to the print versions, but the digital versions for the other devices gets uploaded at smashwords which is proving to be tricky as it doesn’t like anything more then basic basic formatting. Createspace will distribute books to amazon et al for nothing but the sales fees, but to get distribution to stores for resale etc..i need to invest $25 in each title, so thats a per title decision.  If I’m not going to get 25 back in a year, it may not be worth it.

Meanwhile….i went back to work in the archival reprints that i put aside…i Can work on books or i Can work on marketing i can seem to work on both at the same time. 

aside from a new work that i have in mind…the manuscript is buried in an archive in boston so it will take a while, I’m trying to finish some titles that i already started.

  i get seasonal affective disorder something fierce in winter and I’m terrified that i will slack off…i need to increase the income cause the bills aren’t going away…ive lived without heat and hot water but electricity is my life blood.  the car insurance the phone and internet get paid right after the pet food and litter get bought. which makes restocking products to sell very problematic. i need to convert more wirds into money…maybe i need to start writing ransom notes.

cheapass guide to publishing a book – Fourth Fit

I use Createspace.com to publish and distribute books online.  Don’t take me wrong, i am NOT one of those ultra successful online multibook publishers ” i did it, you can too!”  Hell, no, only one of my books actually sells and even that’s only a few a month..it’s a how to book with no shades of grey in sight…. I’m just pointing out the TOOLS available and how idiot proof they have made them over the years.

I’m going to run through the Createspace process…i just started looking at LULU.com the other major player – but i will soon because they have hardcover options that I will need for next year. Not that there aren’t a hundred options to print your books but you WANT the distribution options, this is a CHEAPASS guide right?

 Size does matter •  before you even open a file – visit your chosen printing company and find their size options, it should have a template too, and margin specifications.  Take the list and figure out WHAT the end use for your book will be.  I had to design the local histories to FIT into the wire display racks that are available.  If you want your book to be held open easily, you want it to be taller and skinny rather than short and fat. I know it seems stupid..but i just spent a hour trying to find an OBLONG size for a particular book and have decided square is the closest i can find on Createspace, though Lulu has a small landscape.  There are lots of other custom sizes from each vendor, HOWEVER, what i found is that if you don’t pick a STANDARD size you may limit the variety of marketing available to you.

When I first started producing small volumes, I was insistent on a certain size, a certain font, a certain paper…but these choices hindered the book in other ways. NONE of us are Chip Kidd and are books aren’t being published by Random House.  Just pick a good shape for your book that puts it on par with everyone elses book.  

Choose wisely •  One of the great things about print on demand publishing is that nothing is carved in stone….until it is.  With Createspace..and I am going to assume with most other options – until  you actually PUBLISH your book,  your title and author can be changed, after you approve it and send it out into the world, these choices will be carved in stone, (they can still be changed but you have to kill that book/isbn and create an entirely new one.)  My biggest problem isn’t getting the author and title correct, it is remembering to add all the other contributors correctly. Forward by, preface by, tea and cakes provided by. .  THIS does make a difference when it comes out the other end.  Amazon will LINK these contributors names with OTHER books they have on Amazon, so it increases your exposure.

Description • another thing to leave until last, i never know the right words to describe a book until i have completely finished it, and even then, sometimes i will go in and add more, even after its published.  These are NOT carved in stone, they are quite flexible and are part of the MARKETING of the book, so MORE is better.

Homework •  BEFORE you start uploading your files to ANY print on Demand service you need to write up all your answers ahead of the questions.  Think of it like your books RESUME.

Author: pick a name you can live with..if you want to change your name later, it will be harder to associate this book with YOU later.

Title: skip the obtuse references, simple stupid titles work well.  Arc de Triomphe: the story of how I became the world’s champion mud wrestler…isn’t as effective as Dirty Girl: My Life in Mud wrestling.  I’m no expert, but neither is your potential reader, so get the MEAT of the story into the title and readers brain as quickly as possible.   Make a list, show it to  your dumbest friends, let them pick.

Contributors: If someone helped, SAY SO, you greedy bastard. It can’t hurt to acknowledge people right on the title page.  If someone co-authored it, give them credit, so when it blows up and gets sold to the movies, they won’t SUE you.

Description:  I know I said to WRITE the exact wording last, but you need to have some idea of what your book is about, if only to keep you on track writing the thing.  A good idea is to keep a description text file going and clip parts of the book into it as you go along.  Then you can quote right from the book when you are polishing the descriptions.  If they are FOUND WORDS, then clip anything you find out about the book and author into that file for use later.

Biography: This was the hardest thing I ever wrote, a thumbnail bio of myself.  My only advice is to have someone ELSE take a stab at it, so you can take it from them and say…”no, no, that’s not right! it should read like this!”  it is always easier to edit something that exists than it is to create something that doesn’t.  This bio is NOT your resume, it is not a chronicle of your life, and it is also not a court testimony.  It is JUST the stuff someone reading your book may like to know about  you.  If you are writing about working at a cable tv station, say you studied communications in college…you don’t have to say that you flunked that course  and had to changed majors because you were to busy making fiberglass swords for live action role playing.  Get it?

ISBN •  All the POD folks will hand you an ISBN.   This is the thing that makes internet bookselling possible.  Go look it up on Wikipedia, it’s a fascinating tool and if this is going to be your only book, you don’t need to know how it works.  But if you want to produce more books, you may want the ISBN to lead back to YOU.  Bowker controls them and sells them in batches, CreateSpace lets you buy them one at a time from Bowker for $10.

Cover:  Print On Demand publishers usually can automate your cover creation…AVOID THIS.  The more generic your cover looks, the less anyone will want to buy it.  At the very least TAKE YOUR OWN PHOTOGRAPH for the art. If you really have no artistic skillset at all, go look on Craigslist or better yet FIVERR.COM to hire someone to do some cover art. Just think of it as a one time investment.  This is also an area where  you can bribe someone, by reminding them that you will give them ART credit ON the book.  Most of us will pick up a book that has an attractive cover, I confess to actually buying books based on their cover.

End Fit the Forth.






cheapass guide to publishing a book – Fit the Third

Annie get your text.

Regardless of where you got your words, if you spewed them out all over the page or if you stole them from somewhere else, you have to polish them up and add some bells and whistles before you can present them to the public.

The BAD thing is there isn’t ONE set of formatting rules, and there is no grammar or punctuation police to break in your house and take away your keyboard if you make your own decisions.  You will have to make some  decisions. And the only people you have to answer to are your readers.

One of my friends/readers was shocked and appalled at the idea that i would EDIT something I neither wrote nor was asked to edit.

If I am not going to EDIT the book, then why the hell am I publishing the book? Why not just paste in the pages from the PDF or just slap up the unpunctuated stream of consciousness rants of someone who wants to see their name on a book.

We have all held in our hands books that NEEDED editing, they were begging for it at birth and somehow didn’t get it.  And now here it is  a crippled book/child wandering around in the world, and everyone who picks it up to read it gets repulsed,   “ewwww!…you have run on sentences…ugh, you are filled with nasty typos! …. Bad Book, naughty book!”

Take some goddamn responsibility people!!   POLICE your work.

If you are working with your OWN TEXT, text you loving crafted or just got drunk one night and spewed over the keyboard…GET SOMEONE TO PROOF READ IT.  I have said it before and I will keep saying because ya’ll think your words are AS-IS.  Trust me, i’m the queen of AS IS and it sucketh.   You can never have enough proof reading, you aren’t  in any danger of making it worse, you can only make it MORE clear.

LESS IS MORE:….A buddy of mine who was used to writing research papers..you know the kind where YOU tell the audience what you are going to tell them, then you TELL them, and then you tell them what you just told them?  Needed to produce Magazine Articles…so she was handing me 4000 words where the Magazine only gave her 700-1000 words to say what she needed.   So you can imagine out came the pruning shears.

But you say “I’m writing a BOOK!  i have all the room in the world.”  No you freaking don’t – think of each page as segment of time, you have just as much time to make your point as the audience will give you. If they get tired of you trying to make your point, they will leave your book on a subway bench.

Write down everything in your head..don’t pre-edit, just let it drain out of you on to the page.  If  you try to move the words around INSIDE your head, you will lose something vital, and forget what your original inspiration was.  Then put the work aside and come back to it a few days later, and remove all the words that don’t belong there. put it down again and walk away.  Come back later and remove even more words, rearrange them again until you are saying what you mean in the LEAST number of words. When you can’t find a word to cut, that is your final product, no waste.   (no i don’t mean remove all the descriptors…that’s just silly – Go read Mickey Spillaine, very descriptive, and not an extraneous word anywhere. ) What is it Hemingway said?…write drunk, edit sober.

Basically every time you think your book is READY, it probably isn’t.

CLARITY • I use this test when I am editing someone’s words ( i am obviously trying to keep it sounding like THEM, not me,). . . if i have to read the sentence THREE times and i still don’t understand it, or even if i finally DO, that’s too many times. The sentence needs to be recomposed to say what it means the FIRST time through, if it’s complicated, TWICE can be okay.  But the rule should be DON’T ANNOY THE READER.  Their time is valuable, if they have to reread ONE sentence that’s okay, but you are handing them a book full.  If I have to reread three or four sentences in a row, I just stop reading completely.

FREE RANGE WORDS….words that you picked up somewhere when they fell off the copyright train. …BTW a LOT more books are out of print than are in-print. The internet is just filled with all the stuff from before 1923 for which no research is needed…after 1923 and up to 1965 books needed to be RENEWED every 28 years, if they were not renewed when they were supposed to be, then they are fair game.  This is what folks call ‘RE-SEARCH’  it’s the thing you do RIGHT after you have a good idea.

If you are working with an already assembled text, it probably needs to be spruced up for the 21st century reader.  note: Shit Changes over time. You WANT to interest the modern reader….I mean this is WHY we are doing this right?  you want someone ALIVE today or in the future to READ this book and understand its meaning and take away something they didn’t have BEFORE they read the book.  So you MAY have to DO stuff to it to make it better.

What do I mean when I say EDIT?

Editing can be as little as removing the EXTRA spaces before punctuation marks that were commonplace in the 19th century.   They had extra spaces before the semi-colons, question marks and exclamation points.  I can hear some BIBLIO-RELIGIOUSLY-minded people out there saying ‘oh no, you can’t do that, you need to HONOR the original text’ –  screw that.  You can claim as many as TEN entire pages  in your book, by removing all those extra spaces and condensing the text. Things like changes in punctuation piss off computers, if  you had one of those pages open in WORD,  all you are going to see is highlighting where WORD is telling you there is a problem.

Spelling –   If you are editing  your OWN words – use MODERN day American (or English, if you aren’t American) spelling. The further you go back in time, the less important spelling becomes.  You will find that up to the mid -1800s, spelling was a more creative endeavor.  If you are composing this book to just impart INFORMATION, you can probably go straight up with modern spelling.  If you are trying to offer up a sense of TIME and PLACE, you may want to let the original authors’  flavor bleed through.

Example: My town transcribed 150 years of town meeting records and they changed all the spelling to modern day.  In the few published histories of the town, all the quotes from the minutes are using the original spelling.  This SHOULDN’T make your head explode, the TWO documents are created for TWO different purposes. The First is to impart information, the second is to give the reader some taste of the history.  I split the difference, I let direct quotations STAND as is, but the text of the book shouldn’t be confusing.  Footnotes are your friend!!

TRUST BUT VERIFY: Don’t trust the freaking computer, it MAY not understand that you meant to type RUN and typed FUN instead – because they are both words right?  Multiple typos of any sort, are a sign you really didn’t give a shit about your words;  and if you don’t care, then why should they, right?

I know I make tons of them online, but i try my best NOT to let them into PRINTED books.  Someone Amazon reviewed one little book and claimed their were typos and i pulled it  and corrected the typos..but the review will always say they were there. Doesn’t matter no one buys that book anyway.

There are DIFFERENT flavors of editing rules – Pick ONE and stick with it.

Punctuation:   Oxford comma or no Oxford comma; comma inside the quotation mark or outside?  it can be safe to let WORD make some decisions, but it is really better if you understand WHY it is making those suggestions.

Formatting:  Quotations longer than four sentences INSIDE the paragraph or set off and indented?   Book titles quotations or italics?  How much space between paragraphs? how big are your margins?  Page numbers centered or on the side?

Stylebook:  What you are doing is creating a STYLE BOOK for YOUR publication, it is easier if you steal rules already created and in use than make up your own. There are editing conventions people in various disciplines USE – for example: people who write research papers and people who publish books use slightly different rules.   Get a book off the shelf that is LIKE your book, but from a big time publisher, steal their rules.

Notate: And when  you make your decisions, WRITE THEM DOWN. Software like WORD and Pagemaker etc.. will save these things from project to project, and template to template. But what happens when you change the template for ONE book, because the book is 397 pages and you need more room in the gutter and want to steal some space between the paragraphs so you can get the page count down to 379?   and then you use that same template to start your next book and FORGET that you made changes?  Yeah i know..”oh i’ll never make that mistake..i will save a backup copy”….trust paper, not the computer, just make a note someplace of all the formatting decisions so you can FIX things after they get broken and  you can remember which template is the CLEAN copy.


End Fit the Third.















cheapass guide to publishing a book – Fit the Second

this is all first draft stuff, so i may actually go back and rework earlier topics..

What does a BOOK NEED to be a BOOK?  

For the most part even Ebooks follow the same traditional structure –

  • Title Page
  • Copyright page
  • Table of Contents
  • Front matter
  • Text
  • Backmatter

If you crack open chapter one of The Chicago Manual Of Style you will find there are a variety of  subsections for these parts  none of which are mandatory.  The good and easy thing is that there is no LAWS, just rules that everyone leans towards so that the reader has familiarity with the landscape..if you confuse them by putting the sections in the wrong order, they won’t trust you.

If you are doing BOTH an digital version and a paper version….assemble the paper version FIRST and then take out the stuff you don’t need for the E-version. Basically  you will be taking out the blank pages and condensing things and adding internal links, so you really need a PARENT document with all the bits to start with. If you are ONLY doing a digital book, what the hell is wrong with you?  what are you going to sign at events? What are your parents going to put on the shelf?

Drilling down from the front cover –

  • Front Cover – Title, subtitle, author and/or editor.
  • Inside front cover – (it’s blank, it will always be blank you have no choice)
  • a Blank or Blurb Page– sometimes people call it a fly leaf; you could add a small bit of print here, like ‘blurbs’ from people who have read it, saying how great the books is. I use it for the caption for the cover artist or illustration or perhaps a very short epigraph line.  • Some books SKIP any flyleaf,  you open the cover and there’s the Title page staring back at you. This is not a good sign. This is a sign that the book WAS done on a budget. We want to DO it on the cheap, we don’t want to advertise the fact.  Opening the book straight to the title page is like a woman not wearing underwear – no frills.
  • Frontispiece or Blank Page – Frontis is usually an illustration that relates to the entire book – the author’s image or a map or diagram.
  • Title Page – don’t fill this page up with minor data. Mandatory: Title, Author(s), Publication Year, Publishing Imprint. Optional: Subtitle,  Editor, Illustrator, Publication location, Source material.
  • Copyright Page (or the verso) –  Here is where you can hide all kinds of technical stuff.  This page MUST contain the Publishing year, Publishing Imprint and Location.   If you include the title, author and isbn – that’s even better. This page is specifically for the person doing CATALOGING, help them out.   Other data you SHOULD put here: Information about previous publications and publishers comments or explanations about changes to the text. Don’t forget – Contact data to BUY more copies – email, website, etc.

NOTE: Remember to THINK about how much extra matter you want to pay to include.  You are paying for each and every page, the fewer pages the lower the cost….you love your wife, you don’t need a entire leaf (two sides of the page) to say thank you for all your love and support.  Sell books, give her money.  Multiply that one page by every copy you sell.  If  you only have a couple of names to thank stick them on the copyright page.  If you have more than a short paragraph, sure add another leaf – the copyright page won’t look so cluttered.  

  • Table Of Contents –  This is the LAST THING YOU CREATE.  Trust me, ignore it, don’t even think about it now.  You can USE software like MS Word, Google Docs, Pagemaker, Indesign etc… create the data for this page, by tagging the chapter headings. When you are finally, finally, finally finished moving things around, you create this list of chapters with their page number.  FOR EBOOKS, these will be internal document links generally without page numbers.  
  • Optional Frontmatter
    • List of Illustrations – normally found where the illustrations are the subjects of the text – people, buildings, places, etc.. it’s not mandatory, but it is helpful if you expect people to use your book for reference.
    • Forwards & Introductions – are used to explain to someone WHY the book or topic is important and how the reader would benefit from reading it, etc..who knows what else it contains….most people skip right past them anyway. If possible get the most famous person you know to write something, then copies will sell to their friends and fans, regardless of your contribution.
    • Preface – This is generally extra conversation from the author about why they wrote the book and why they really, really want you to buy it. But if you want people to read it, ONLY include data the reader should know before  they read the book.
  • Text
    • Chapters:Chapter One, Chapter I, I.  are all the same thing, pick one form and stick with it.   Try not to make your Chapter Titles..if your Chapters have titles, very long, it will make you crazy formatting the table of contents.  In Fiction Chapter titles are optional. In Non Fiction, it is not optional.  Non Fiction can have Sections inside of Chapters, for a very technical or instructional book the Sections SHOULD appear on the table of contents, if it’s a prose form non-fiction, the sections aren’t necessary in the Table of Contents.
    • Page Numbers – Using Print on Demand technology, the 1st page in the book is page number one.   Using OTHER methods to publish you can have page one occur on the 1st page of Chapter One, and all the frontmatter is numbered with roman numerals.  NewsFlash – NO ONE CARES! live with the automatically generated page numbers and move on to other problems.  – Chapters should start on the Odd Page, this will probably leave you with blank or mostly blank pages on the Even page opposite, this is normal, if you have a FAT book where you are trying to save money, you CAN start your new Chapter on the Even pages, it looks weird but no one is going to hurt you for doing it, when you are rich you change it back.  –  Sections  generally just follow the previous section. – Blank pages shouldn’t have page numbers on them, it’s a general convention which is sometimes difficult to accomplish. Software adds the pages automatically and you have to go in and try to remove or hide it.
    • Typeface/Fonts – DON’T PICK SOMETHING WEIRD. Don’t do it, don’t even think about it.  Pick something STANDARD. Funny, sexy fonts are for posters, programs and greeting cards.  If you are using a Non Standard Font that’s a sign there is something lacking about your words that you need to dress them up as a distraction. Some fonts are designed for computer screens and don’t look the same in print.   SERIF are the feet on letters as in Times New Roman, Baskerville, etc..and SANS SERIF are without the feet, like Arial or Verdana.  Narrow it down to 3 or 4 COMMON fonts, print two pages of your book with each font and hand them to people on the street and ask them to choose one.  For the most part: Technical books use sans serif, traditional fiction uses serif, modernist fiction sometimes uses sans serif. Conventions again that make the reader feel comfortable.
  • Optional Backmatter 
    • Afterward/Endnotes/Appendix – Afterward – Hopefully you said everything you needed to say IN the text.  I reprinted a small memoir by a young girl, and I ended up adding an afterward which gave a thumbnail of the rest of her life, so the reader doesn’t go away wondering what happened to her.  Endnotes – footnotes are what you need to know to put something in context immediately. Endnotes are for further reading; its what we had BEFORE we had HYPERTEXT.  There is a section of endnotes for every chapter, each note is numbered numerically INSIDE each chapter, even if there are only a few.  Try it the other way, try numbering them 1 to 3 in Chapter one,  4 through 6 in Chapter two..you will KILL YOURSELF trying to renumber them all every time you ADD one.
    • Index – This is the SECOND TO THE LAST THING YOU CREATE.  If your book needs one, Indexes are awesome, they are also the biggest pain in the ass.  If you are doing it yourself, KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID.  Learn to use the software to tag things.  A short, basic and CORRECT index is more useful than one that’s complicated and wrong. Start with proper names, locations, businesses, publications, topics. Once you get better at it, you can add a level of cross indexing, but anything else HIRE SOMEONE, and not someone who loves you or hates you, someone objective.
    • Advertisements – If you are selling something, sell it here.  List of other books, stuff available online, etc.. whatever.   THIS page can be on the EVEN side facing the back of the back cover.
  • Back cover – (inside back cover is blank) write this absolutely LAST, after the entire contents of the book are collected, formatted and ready for publishing.  Because NOW YOU CAN STEAL WORDS from the forward, the preface and all the other places inside the book.  You have a complete view of what is INSIDE the book and not what you WANTED to be inside the book.  The Back Cover can contain some basic author information, but SHOULD contain a pretty decent description of the contents and WHY the person reading it should buy the book and give you money.


cheapass guide to publishing a book – First Fit

I ‘pulled the trigger’ on the WitchCraft at Andover book today. If I had my laptop back I would have gotten it done last week easy. In fact I think it was the fastest publication I have done. I was cruising through the 600 page parent book and found this chapter and said ‘hey, lets make a book with the word witchcraft in the title.’

I also pulled the trigger —— meaning the book is already uploaded and proofed on the website, i just made it LIVE, so it can be bought —— on the Abbot Academy Diary – that’s the one with all the embedded illustrations that was making me crazy…this time i just inserted them in the simplest way possible and it all worked fine. Sometimes i just need to get out of my way.

Among the things i have been meaning to do is detail the process. I need to do this for the book on non profits cheapass guide to the internet, so i may as well start with what i know. right?

Buckle up, I’m gonna write this in the simplest manner possible.

1 •  GET YOUR TEXT –  If you are writing it, then FINISH writing it before you start anything.    If  you have completed text, mazel tov.   If you are using something produced by running Optical Character or Voice Recognition software, you will need to go over that carefully and correct it against the ORIGINAL page.  FIND the Original Page..find a PDF, buy the book or get the book from the library, but don’t believe the machine!  Computers are STUPID, and don’t speak or read English, they are basically babies guessing about shapes. If you are transcribing something from another sources – don’t stop to edit, just type and get it on the page, otherwise you are going to get sick of it very fast.  Just keep typing and you will get it to a stage where it will be just like a computer created text file.


2 • PROOF READ YOUR TEXT –  even if it’s your own.  AND  if it’s YOUR text, have someone else proof it…someone who isn’t trying to please you. Someone who wants to find every mistake and shove it in your face….try an ex-significant other if you are still speaking, or someone who thinks they are smarter than you and that you have no business writing a book.  Just remember you are using them to get something you normally have to pay for, and they get to lord your mistakes over you in exchange.

If it is NOT your text, try not read it too closely before you proof read it, that way the words are still relatively fresh and new and you can read it slowly and carefully.  If you have already read it 8 times, your brain is sick of it and won’t see the missing commas.

USE MS WORD or the equivalent, use their stupid annoying spell check and grammar check and any other automated tool you can switch on.  Consider each suggestion one at a time, and make your own decisions, only globally change things when you are SURE of the outcome.  Like when you have been typing  “thier” instead of “their” all the way through.  Global change is a dangerous weapon and sometimes you can make a mess you can’t recover from…30 years of typing on machines with global replace, and i still don’t use it that much.


3 •  FIND YOUR COVER – look at book covers, which one make you pick them up and examine them? that’s the kind of cover you need. Bright Colors,  elegant illustrations, Clean Clear Type, the fewer words the better.  You don’t want to combine words with very busy illustrations, save your words for the back and the websites. Use your own photos or illustrations if you can, it will be unique, you own it and can shoot exactly what you need.  Get the dimensions from the website.  You should be able to make a simple cover and back cover files using Photoshop or any Image editing program.

Createspace.com has a cover building application on the site, you can use their design, font and illustrations or you can use YOUR illustration with their design or your can upload YOUR front and back covers, or you can upload your own wrap around cover.  Chose your skill level, and RELAX, it can ALWAYS be changed, EVEN after it has been published YOU CAN CORRECT OR CHANGE nearly everything.  THIS is the benefit of this form of publishing.  

4. PREP YOUR ILLUSTRATIONS – Your images need to be 300 DPI to appear properly inside your book.  If you are scanning it from another sources, scan it HIGHER than you need, twice will be fine.  Then when you make your adjustments in Photoshop or your Image program, and you save it DOWN to the size you need and it will look better.   IF you are scanning images from a printed source…look closely…see those dots? those are HALF TONE DOTS and you have to really get rid of them before you can use the image. Because  the image will be broken down into MORE half tone dots when it goes to print and that looks AWFUL. So avoid using images recovered from other books unless they are very dense and you can make the half tone dots fade.  DON’T USE LOW RES IMAGES FROM THE INTERNET PERIOD – the online service will just keep flagging the image making you change it.    You can find LARGER Resolution images on the net but even if you save it at 300dpi, the image information just isn’t there.

5 • COMBINE THE WORDS AND THE IMAGES –  you can actually produce a decent book file with MS WORD, many many people do.  But any decent Layout software will do it better: MS Publisher, old faithful – Adobe Pagemaker, Adobe InDesign is the new expensive software.  You SHOULD save your file as a PDF with all the fonts embedded properly, the person who owns the software should already have it set up.  WORD should be able to do it, even if you PRINT to PDF as a selection.   But you can find online apps, that will let you upload files in several formats and convert them TO PDFs.  Portable Document Format is a universal and stable way to send files to other people.  Think of them like the manila folders of the internet.  You shove all the pieces in so they all stay together the way you want them to appear on the other side.

KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID.  Wrapping the text around the illustrations is tricky, and unless you intend to do it a lot and get skilled, then don’t bother; don’t fear the white space around your illustrations.  The one book I have done with pen and ink illustrations wrapped by text was a pain in the ass, and in the end it looked better when I did less to it.    For the most part if you have a photo that’s one page or a half a page.

5.5 • MAKE BACKUPS – I usually have THREE going in case the computer or software crashes and corrupts the file I am working on.


dead authors

Cept for a proof reading and a serious cover, the Witchcraft at Andover is done. I had an argument with myself regarding the title…Witchcraft IN Andover? or Witchcraft AT Andover as in the original chapter name. The first one sounds normal, the second one sounds more dramatic, I didn’t really care, so i went with what the chapter was called…i did more looking at the 600 page Sketches of Andover..that’s gonna suck, but i will keep chipping away at it.

Speaking of Andover I am back to what i was SUPPOSED to be working on before I went off on the Witchcraft tangent. Elizabeth Stuart Phelps Ward was a popular author in the 19th, well i don’t know how popular she is outside of the area, but her works are technically LOCAL, for the most part they are fiction and juvenile works but CHAPTERS FROM A LIFE is her memoir. I had glanced at it when I published her short story, Tenth of January, as a stand alone volume. The memoir actually discusses the evolution of the story. Great for the Forward.

It was on my to do list but i was distracted by books about what i call ‘real’ people, child soldiers, escaped slaves, school boys…why was i not thinking that she was any less real? Because famous people like Celia Thaxter and Harriet Beecher Stow show up in her memoir? that’s reverse snobby of me, right?

So I pulled it out and started transcribing it, and I think it will fit in nicely with my SERIES of Merrimack Valley Voices, in fact she is writing about the same period as all my other authors.   Isn’t that odd?  This cluster of works are all covering 1850s to 1880s.  I’m starting to think there must have been a something about the universe at that time, that made it the NORM for people to write their stories.

Obviously the jumpstart that printing technology got in the mid 19th century made cheap books plentiful, perhaps that opened a deep chasm that all the printers in the land were constantly looking for new material to publish to feed the demand.  Makes you think.


TEDtalk : Chip Kidd book designer

every morning while i am waiting for the migraine meds to kick in i put a TED talk or three on the box. THIS one is particularly good. i wonder how long it will take me to watch them all?

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