Tuesday, April 17, 2012

To Write or To Publish?

In my decision process for writing Bushels and Barrels, I asked myself if I had anything worthwhile to share in a creative and thought provoking way.  I believed I did and was encouraged by others to write larger than my weekly entries onto my Facebook notes page.  I made the decision to write.  I have seen some books and professional articles with many grammatical errors and blatant disregard for anything learned in the English classrooms dating back to elementary school.  I vowed to write, pay attention to the details, and share my musings with the world...or at least those willing to read my works.  It was a decision made with much soul searching as it would have a piece of me in every page.  What if my book was subpar?  I know I am never going to be a best selling author on the circuit and able to give up a day job, but I wanted to ensure my message was clear and my work was quality.  Why else would I do this?  I didn't want to be the guy who wrote a good intentioned book filled with as many spelling and tense errors as there were pages.  My message is for everyone and relates to everyday life, that's it.  It's really as simple as that.  Quality work from the heart and available to the masses.  Scary, to say the least!

The second part of the equation is the more difficult one.  How do you take a large Word document with lots of pages, hours of scripting, and days of editing and make it available to the public?  Publishing is not a world I knew anything about, and I don't profess now to know much more.  However, I chose to work through a Print-on-Demand company and self-publish my work.  What, how, and why?

Self-publishing allows me to work with a company that specializes in creating books, bringing them to market, and assisting the author with marketing.  However, the effort remains with the author to bring the work, the energy, and the vision to the book.  Big-time publishers can bring a credibility to a book, but the book must still speak for itself.  Having a large publisher accept your work brings with it a certain amount of additional risk to the author as well.  In order for the work to be accepted for print, the work must first be marketable, then what the author wants to say.  The publisher wants to make money, the author wants to get a story or message out.  Matching the two can sometimes be tricky and, it seems, the author must compromise somewhat to get published.

Sure, the marketing campaign may seem more robust with a larger company, but again, there are no guarantees the book will sell more than a few hundred copies...then what?  Keep in mind, a publisher is looking for manuscripts which fit a certain mold only because those are the ones their analysts say will sell.  It must be done their way, not the author's, in order to get their nod of approval.  A major publisher accepts thousands of works and provides concierge treatment as long as you are selling.  Once the interest ends, so does the red carpet.  After researching the large publishers and realizing there was an infinitely small chance they would accept my works and I would lose my rights should they offer a contract for publishing, it seemed a huge price with relatively minimal reward.

I am choosing to work with a self-publisher once I am completed with the writing portion.  I have complete control over how the inside is formatted, the the exterior of the book, the way the message is worded, the order of the material, and how it will be marketed.  I retain all control and rights to my intellectual property, not the publisher!  Is a self-published book still a real book?  Absolutely!  My book will have an ISBN number, bar coded for sale, registered through the Library of Congress, available through the mainstream mediums of Amazon and Barnes/Noble.  It will also be available via soft mediums as well:  iPad, Nook, Kindle, and eBook.  The more informal "indie" world will have unfethered access to marketing the book if they choose without limitations.  I will be a real, full-fledged author with all the rights and rewards of being such.  Yet, I will not have the higher risk of losing my rights and compromising my message.

So, with any large project or undertaking, I have done my homework.  I choose to write my own book with my own message, maintain control over the avenues of distribution, and take the risks of low sales upon myself.  I know the book will not travel the globe in large volumes, but those who will read it will know it is genuine and not made-for-tv writing.  I choose to write, not publish.  Even though my work will be published, it will be done my way.  I choose to write, not publish!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Thank God It's Friday?

It is Friday, break out the lawn chairs and the grills!  After all, it's been a long week full of challenges and long days at work.  Or has it?

Well, the answer to that particular question definitely depends on who you are.  For all the working stiffs out there, most definitely, Friday marks the last day of the week and the beginning of the recharge period known as the weekend.  For those of us still looking for work, it brings something totally different.

Since my last day of work months ago now, the weeks are filled with more duties typically left for nights, weekends, and other family members.  The grocery shopping, laundry, yard work, and errand running are now done during the week.  Once all that is done, there is the daily job searching and writing sessions when there is time left and the creative juices are flowing.  So, what significance does a weekend hold when there is no true week?  Plenty!

When Friday afternoon hits, I know my wife is coming home ready to relax.  I know she doesn't have to get out of bed early and can stay by my side those couple of hours longer should we decide to sleep late.  I know if we decide to, we can get up early, find someone to cook us breakfast and spend the day as husband, wife, and daughter.  I know that there is the high possibility of sleep overs, so more kids in the house is always a consideration.  I know that family time is weekend time!

Also, since my week is also spent busy, just on different things, it is important to recharge my batteries as well.  I turn the computer off and usually leave it that way.  If it does get turned on, it is for sports scores or to balance a checkbook...no job searching on the weekends!  After all, the jobs I am searching for are typically weekday jobs, so they won't post on the weekend anyway.  I usually take time off from the writing as well unless I feel I have an important idea I want included.

So, whether it be because of a long week at work or a long week looking for work, take time off.  Recharge those batteries.  Spend time with those important in your life.  Work is a means to an end, not the reason for living anyway.  Stay up late, sleep late, relax, and just take a look around at all the blessings in your life.  After all, Thank God It's Friday!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Life's Reminders

As I sit here on a Wednesday morning looking out the window at a rainy day, I ponder.  Life is the strangest of experiences sometimes.  Even though I am still in search of a new career, I don't feel the stress it should be causing most days.  I look around me at the blessings in my life.  My wife, my daughter, and interestingly enough, my life.

As part of my morning routine, I grabbed my coffee, logged onto the computer and started reading.  I read the local news, checked the job boards, and then perused the "reality internet" wall of Facebook.  What I saw there over the past several days was so sad.  Several days ago I learned a high school classmate died in his sleep after hitting his head earlier in the day.  A dear friend of ours is spending much time at the hospital with a family member.  Another friend of our miraculously survived a horrific accident back in November, but is still recovering.  And then several friends posted about the loss of a baby recently.  It makes one stop and wonder.

Why is life so cruel?  We spend our great days proclaiming how wonderful our lives are.  Yet, it can be stricken down in just a single second.  Life is not only wonderful at times, painful at others...life is fragile!  We must constantly struggle to live each and every moment with respect for ourselves and others, love for our family and ourselves, and we must never take anything positive in our lives for granted.

I see all the negative in my life that could pull me into despair.  Yet, I refuse to go there.  It would consume me if I let it, yet I feel content in my life.  I mourn for the losses I've just learned about, the pain they are going through currently.  Yet, to have those lost in our lives at all was a blessing.  It is sad when we lose someone, but we all will be lost at some point in this continuum called life.  Only our souls have the opportunity for eternal life.  Life to be a blessing, let others know they are your blessing, and count your blessings in abundance.