When I first published Hurst’s Wurst back in 1995, I knew it wasn’t a subject that would likely be accepted by a major publishing company. I just wanted to share the fruits of my research labors with others. Profit really wasn’t a motivating factor for me.
So I typed up a final manuscript on whatever typewriter I owned at the time, literally cut and pasted Xerox copies of a few pictures onto it, and ran off copies and had them bound at the local Kinko’s Copies. I had worked there while in college, so I knew a few tricks to make the finished product look presentable. I donated a copy to the Tennessee Room at the Jackson-Madison County Library and to the Tennessee State Library and Archives. I sold the others over the years, but I was never satisfied with the way they turned out. What I really wanted was to see it published just like those in the bookstores.
A few years later, I wrote a book about the history of minor league baseball in Jackson, TN. Like Hurst’s Wurst, I knew it had limited appeal but still I felt there was still an audience for it. In 1999, my wife and I spent about $3,000 and I had it printed as a perfect bound paperback book. I did find readers who were interested enough to buy a copy and I broke even on the investment.
I wanted to produce the same quality work for my other books as well. But I didn’t have the extra money to do it for all of them. Earlier this year, I learned about Print On Demand publishing (or POD) and I came across a website called Lulu. With Lulu, there are no upfront costs involved and one could produce as few as one copy of their work at a time. The minimum number of books is typically 500 through a book printer, so this was ideal for a poor writer like me!
It does take a working knowledge of Microsoft Word (or other word processing software) to get started and a lot of patience. But if you’re like me and enjoy being part of the whole publishing process–writing, layout, and design–POD companies such as Lulu are wonderful. I won’t pretend that I know everything about it (I’m battling a troublesome cover for Hurst’s Wurst as we speak), but it’s nice to see your finished work the way you want it to be seen.