My Experience with Self-Publishing

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.

Hurst’s Wurst is Finally Done

Welcome to my first entry in my new blog! Hopefully they will interesting, entertaining, or sad enough for you to check back from time to time and see what’s up. I’ll do my best to write something either here or on the website at least every other day.

I feel as if a giant weight has been lifted from my shoulders. What began as a little rewriting here and there became a much more involved revision of my book Hurst’s Wurst: Col. Fielding Hurst and the Sixth Tennessee Cavalry U.S.A. that took me a year-and-a-half to complete. Like all my books, it’s self-published so there’s no big bankroll in NYC sending me royalty checks. It’s all up to me to spread the word. But that’s the way I like it! I am using the publishing services of Lulu for the printing. I’ve been impressed with their work thus far and I’m looking forward to my first proof copy arriving in the mail early next week.

This is the fourth edition of a book that began in 1993 as a typewritten manuscript (I didn’t own a PC at the time) photocopied at Kinko’s Copies, where I worked when I was in college. Fourteen years later, it will be published as I always hoped one day it would: as a hardbound (and softbound), professional quality book. It has probably been my most popular work to date based on the letters and e-mails I’ve received over the last five years or so asking if I had any copies left. I wanted something better than a photocopied manuscript, but it wasn’t until I discovered Lulu that I was able to produce the kind of book I wanted.

Thank you to everyone who has already pre-ordered books so far. It’s humbling to know readers are interested in what I write. I’ll do my best to ship your copies as soon as I receive them. I will keep everyone posted.