Thursday, March 15, 2012

Not The World We Grew Up In

“This isn’t the world we grew up in, Jack.” I told my older friend.    Jack is about eighty, give or take a few years, and spent much of his working career as Chief Of The Boat aboard several diesel electric submarines.   “You can say that again.” he said.    So, I did, thinking that he didn’t hear me the first time.   As it turned out, he had heard me and was just being his normal, agreeable self.  

We had been discussing some of the technical things that we take for granted every day now, like cell phones, medical tests, GPS navigation and a few more.  Jack came from a world where signals traveled through wires or were simply shouted down a passage way and navigation was done with a slide-rule, a book of mathematical tables and a sextant.  

I proudly told Jack that my newest book, “KITCHEN STORIES From The Iron Lake Fishing Club” had been sent to the printer, along with the Second Printing of the earlier book, “The Iron Lake Fishing Club”.  And, it had been released, too.    He said he was proud to know me, a real by-golly author, and wondered how many books were being printed.   “Well, Jack,” I said, “they aren’t really going to print any until people buy them.  They don’t print books anymore without orders.   And, they don’t ship books very far when there are orders.   In fact, my book will be available here in the USA and almost any other place. And if someone in New Zealand wants one, they’ll just print and bind it there.   They all communicate via email and some printer in New Zealand can order one book, print and bind one and deliver it faster and cheaper than one can be made in South Carolina and shipped there.   Electrons don’t weigh much and they go really fast.”    

Jack was amazed.    He was further amazed to learn about the Kindle Device which lets people buy a book cheaper and faster than a real paper book and it does not take up any space in a briefcase or on the shelf. 

No, it isn’t the world we grew up in.   In November I decided to be my own PUBLISHER for the new book and for the second printing of the other one.   Publisher?  Me?  Sure, why not?  After all, the printing company,, a division of, made it simple with lots of templates, 24-hour free advice from polite and knowledgeable people and a great royalty plan. I had written the book and delivered it to a publisher in July, and by the end of November it became apparent that no publishing was going to happen.  (So, the author, me, walked to edge of the cliff overlooking Printer’s Canyon, spread a stack of manuscripts under each arm and began to flap them, until take-off was assured.)

Instead of taking on a part time job after my regular work day, and instead of spending a lot of evenings getting fishing equipment ready or working in the garden, I sat at the table and hammered my manuscripts into a Word Document.   There were “page title headers”, “consecutive page numbers”, gutter margins, edge margins, bleed in and bleed out, font styles and sizes, embedded or not, paper weight, color, surface texture, dots per inch coded into cover images, and a thousand other details which needed attention.   Simply getting the sentences to work together and having words spelled correctly now seemed to be the easy part. 

In High School a 500-word essay or a two thousand-word term paper used to seem like a big job.   Now, thirty-three-thousand words is just a short book.   We used to simply staple pages together and slip them into the desk for safekeeping.   Now, we back up work, daily, maybe every ten minutes, and email a copy to ourselves every hour or so.   That way, even total loss of the working computer will not cost us a book as the email is always out there in cyber-space someplace.   Some lessons are learned the hard way.  

And, now it is harvest time, so to speak.   Both books are available at the CreateSpace site and on, and other major retailers will follow.  It has been an adventure and a sort of a journey, I must say. I have several “book signings” scheduled and of course in today’s world we meet and greet on FaceBook and other places where we can shake hands with a thousand miles between us.  

I feel so old, and so young, in this strange new world.   And I’ll be needing to buy a new hat to go along with all my others.  This one will say PUBLISHER on it. 



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