The Librarian’s Guide to Micropublishing: Get it!

I’m delighted to say that The Librarian’s Guide to Micropublishing: Helping Patrons and Communities Use Free and Low-Cost Publishing Tools to Tell Their Stories is now available both in paperback (preorder for a few more days) from the publisher, Information Today, Inc. and in casewrap hardcover from Lulu, at 25% off today and tomorrow.

The paperback (I have my author’s copies, and it looks great!) is $49.50 (usual disclaimer: I have absolutely nothing to do with setting prices) but $37.13 on preorder sale.

The hardcover (it just became available yesterday, so i don’t have my copies yet) is $59.95, but for today and tomorrow you can use Lulu’s coupon code “ONEMORETHING” to save 25%, bringing it down to $45.

About the hardcover

The hardcover version does two things:

  1. It makes a prebound version available for libraries that want a hardcover copy for circulation. I believe this book is going to be widely used by patrons at thousands of libraries. It’s a casewrap hardcover–that is, the cover design is part of the binding itself–so there’s no issue with laminating paper jackets.
  2. It’s a proof of concept. This book is about producing attractive, high-quality books without spending any new money on software (assuming you have Word–or, although it’s more difficult, OpenOffice or LibreOffice). Part of the process of preparing the book was polishing a good general-purpose 6×9 (trade paperback/most hardbound) book template for Word, something that hasn’t been freely available. The book itself uses the template, with no special modification. And, other than the title pages/copyright page and the two ad pages at the back of the book, the body of the book is a PDF generated directly from Word2010, not using Adobe Acrobat. The same PDF is used for both paperback and hardcover–but the hardcover is itself a prime and pure example of what the book’s talking about, producing books in very small numbers without compromising on appearance or quality. The book walks the talk; the hardcover version is proof of that.

Who needs this book?

I’ve been saying that every public library (in the U.S. and in other English-speaking countries where Lulu offers its services or CreateSpace is available) needs this book. That’s probably a little grandiose, although the possibility of adding a new community/creative service to your patrons without any cost (other than a copy of the book), especially a service that speaks to long-form text, strikes me as worthwhile for even the libraries serving fewer than 100 people. (As part of my next book project, I’m now even more acutely aware of the sheer heterogeneity of America’s 9,000-odd public libraries: I’ve attempted to view the web pages of 5,958 of them. So far.)

So I’ll offer some examples of libraries that should specifically find this book more than worth the price. Oh, and it’s potentially useful for a number of academic and special libraries as well: More on that shortly.

  • Libraries serving genealogists and family historians: You say there’s a link or tab on your homepage specifically dealing with genealogy? You need this book. Where there’s an amateur genealogist or a family historian, there’s a micropublished book waiting to appear: A book that will probably only be produced in a few or a few dozen copies but will be important to those families (and the local history group). Now that maybe half the libraries in the country are taken care of…
  • Libraries with teen or adult writing classes or groups: You probably want to produce a collection at the end of a successful class or as part of a group’s cycle. You can do so without requiring capital at all, and it can look great. This book shows you how. Oh, and quite a few of those writers probably want a durable example of what they’ve done, their own book (possibly 24 pages of poems, possibly a 400-page epic) as a showpiece that might or might not morph into a major publication. This book shows them how–and, by the way, we’ve provided a special copyright exception so that, within reason, you can legally copy the chapters of this book they’ll need as they’re preparing their own books, as long as your library’s purchased one copy.
  • Libraries serving local historians and historical societies: While family histories may be the most widespread examples of books that work best through micropublishing, there are also lots of local historians (and historical societies) out there who have manuscripts that deserve very short-run book publication and don’t especially want to spend a few $thousand to make that possible. With this book, all they need is Word (and not necessarily even that). Your library can be the center of this creative process that builds community.
  • Libraries serving writers who aren’t part of a writing group: One great thing about micropublishing is that neither Lulu nor CreateSpace claim any intellectual property rights whatsoever. They’re not publishers; they’re service agencies. (The trivial exception: If you use their free ISBNs–and for Lulu, you don’t need to–then they’re the publisher of record for that edition. But the writer still owns the copyright and all rights in everything except those 13 digits.) With this book, those writers can get started with real books, handsome books–and if there’s enough interest, there’s nothing stopping them from taking it to a traditional publisher. (The library could create a great community service by finding ways for writers to swap editorial services, since the best editing and copyediting really does require other eyes than the writer’s.)
  • I’m sure there are other cases I haven’t thought of here–but the ones listed here cover nearly every community, I suspect, including most of the smallest communities. Is there somebody in Whale Pass, Alaska (not quite the smallest LSA population at 31, but the smallest library that I know of with a Facebook page) who could benefit from this book? I wouldn’t be surprised…

Academic and special libraries

This book is primarily written for public libraries, but one chapter focuses on academic libraries and micropublishing, primarily discussing ejournals. To wit: If your academic library is getting into the open access ejournal business, aren’t there a few authors and libraries who would happily pay to see their work in book form? You can add an annual print edition (assuming the journal publishes less than 750 pages per year) with zero financial outlay or risk, although in this case you do need a copy of Acrobat. The book shows you how. Oh, by the way, at least one academic library is already using Lulu to build a virtual university press…and there will be more.

I know, I know, the patrons of special libraries and the libraries themselves have unlimited funds, so this money-saving technique isn’t relevant. (OK, you can stop laughing; I hope you didn’t choke in the process.) But maybe there are patrons of special libraries and even library projects where a book would be a great outcome–but you know there’s only need for one, five, or fifty copies, and you’re just about ready to go the ugly FedexKinko’s route. This book can show you how to do it better and, quite probably, a little cheaper as well.

That’s the story: The book’s out. I believe it’s the most universally applicable book I’ve ever written, the one that details a new service almost every library can usefully provide and the tools to make that service work. Without any cost to the library–other than the price of the book. What a deal!

A word or two about professional editing

I think I’m a pretty good nonfiction writer: a hack in the best sense of the term. For that matter, I think I’m a better than average self-editor, although that may be delusional.

Cites & Insights is self-edited. My self-published books have been self-edited.

But I’ll suggest that all of my editors–and over the past decades, I’ve dealt with quite a few–will tell you that I’m an easy writer to deal with because I know my writing can always stand improvement. (In practice, I don’t even go back to my original ms. when looking at a galley unless I spot a special problem: I read the galley on its own merits, assuming it represents an improvement over the original.)

This book was unusual because I was literally making all of the changes in the three full cycles and two or three minicycles of editing (line editing, copyediting, “proofreading”). I was sending ITI a PDF; they were returning the PDF with “stickies” (comments, which really do work a little like Post-Its) for editorial and proofreading suggestions. There were literally hundreds of such proposed changes (many of them as small as correcting my bad habit of overusing em dashes, one of them proposing a complete rewrite of a chapter). I had to evaluate each change, since I was the only one who could actually make the changes.

I believe I made 99% of the proposed changes, maybe more. I know the book is the better for the cycles of professional editing it received from John B. Bryans, Amy Reeve and Brandi Scardilli (and possibly others whose names I’ve forgotten). I know the book is better for M. Heide Dengler’s advice and cooperation in refining the book template–professional advice that’s reflected in the free .dotx, .dot and .odt templates available for book buyers to use and modify. And, to be sure, the book benefits from professional indexing; in that case, I’m not a hack so much as a talentless hack, so I really appreciate the quality of the index. (They sent the index to me as a Word document, so I just imported it into the manuscript before using the “Save and Send button to prepare the final PDF.) And, of course, I anticipate considerable benefit from the professional marketing skills of Rob Colding.

(I should also thank Robin Hastings, James LaRue and Maurice Coleman for the excellent blurbs they provided after seeing the unedited version of the book. As soon as I receive my hardcover copies, their autographed copies will be on their way…)

So there it is. It’s a book I’m proud of, a book I believe thousands of libraries can benefit from, to the benefit of their patrons and communities. Go buy it. Oh, and I’m available to talk about micropublishing or hold workshops…for a fee.

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