A few years ago a family member loaned me a manuscript written by my late Grandfather that had been sitting in a drawer for 50 years or so. My Grandfather, Harry J Owens, who grew up in Illinois, had a long fascination with Lincoln and had collected many stories about Lincoln over the years. I had been thinking for several years that it would be a good experiment to publish an e-book, and this manuscript seemed like a great project to take on, so in 2014 I started putting this together.
Upon receiving the manuscript, which was about 250 typewritten pages, I had assumed it would be a matter of scanning the pages in via on OCR reader, correcting typo’s, and voila’ – I would be ready to go. But as I got deeper into it – it turned out to be a much bigger project. It took me about 2 years to get all the typed pages into electronic format (hey.. I do have a day job..) – I dedicated about an hour a week to it. Once I got it all assembled, I decided the book was actually about three quarters done. Many of the stories didn’t match up with the chapters, and many of the stories had not been organized into chapters. So I had to put my editing hat on, and spend a few months rearranging the content and fill in some gaps that were missing.
Finally, earlier this year, after painstaking proofreading with the help of family members, the book was ready to go. For ease of publishing I went the Amazon Kindle publishing route, which limits it to Kindle but instantly gets you on Amazon. Publishing this went pretty smoothly – the Kindle Direct Publishing site has plenty of help to get newbies like me through the process, and pretty soon my book was on Amazon. There is a lot of things to think about when publishing a book – i.e. pricing, advertising strategy, cover art, etc. Luckily, since this was primarily an experiment, I didn’t have to sweat over the details, I just used by best judgement and pushed the publish button. I have not done any sales promotion or advertising, I may do so in the future just as an experiment in seeing how one would try to make money writing books.
Since this book was published primarily for the benefit of family, the next step was to created physically printed books. After asking around, I settled on using Blurb to create physical books. Naturally I thought this would be simple.. but it turns out to be another round of reformatting and organizing to get it print ready. But after a few more months I was able to hold in my hand a printed copy of the book.
Even though getting this book published took way longer than I expected, it has been an interesting and worthwhile process. By editing this book, it has helped me to understand how to craft an idea into a book. This book, while I had a lot of input into the final product, is not my ‘voice’, and is rooted back in the 50’s before I was born. This has given me the confidence that maybe someday I could write a book of my own. I have a few ideas kicking around in my head, and may start framing something out in the next few years. For now though, my literary expertise will remain with this blog.