Thursday, December 8, 2011

A Business Adventure

"Yet, knowing how way leads on to way..."

Last Christmas I received a Kindle, and that gift opened up a new path and a new way of thinking about the power of electronic publishing.  It hit me that if you know how to do anything, have any experience, bit of wisdom or story tucked away in your brain, you could unleash it quite easily through e-publishing.

And why not?  It's easy. 

To test it out, my husband and I dusted off an old pamphlet we'd written to go along with our Parent and Child Contract Software--PACCS.   He beefed it up and made it a mini-book on how to deal with teens who are using drugs, and we uploaded it to Create Space.  Soon after, he uploaded it for the Kindle.  His philosophy (our philosophy) is that you do not need "experts" (like him) to tell you how to react, you need common sense.


About the time we were finishing up that project, April of 2011, my parents gave me a very old gardening book for my birthday--The Bouquet: Containing the Poetry and Language of Flowers, from 1846.  Poetry and gardening have been a passion of mine, so I was thrilled to get it.  If memory serves, I believe I hugged and kissed it after unwrapping.  It was very old and fragile and as we were talking, my mom and I had the idea for me to reprint it in a new and healthier format using Create Space and Kindle.  I hinted in my blog at the time that I was going to "try out" Kindle and e-publishing, and this is what came of it.



I never "sell" things on my website, but I will drop a hint here--it's for sale on Amazon.

I started to rifle through my antique flower books and next to be published was Emblems and Poetry of Flowers.  (All my cover art comes from my own garden pictures.  "Emblems" cover is my very own Columbine.  The Bouquet cover is my Royal Star Magnolia tree from last Mother's Day.) 



All of this was very time consuming.  I tried to use OCR, but found it had way too many mistakes, so opted instead to hand-type the entire book.  After several proofs, I had what I hope is a mistake-free collection of flower poetry. 

And next, do you remember last spring when I got excited about learning to paint with watercolor?   Well, that took me down yet another road of painting my personal flower journal and, on that topic, I found an extremely rare and out of print book in England titled, Flower Painting for Beginners.  I purchased a copy, very old and a bit moldy, and set about retyping it and "cleaning up" all the illustrations for republication. 

                                                                     Original



                                                                           New Version



Each book has taken me about three months to complete and I'm working on a new one now.  Actually, the one I'm working on now has been really fun (and helpful) for the subjects I like to paint.  (hint, hint).  More on that one when I release it. 

I don't know where this will lead, but it has been a fun project.  I started a business around it called Wonderful Life Books and, if nothing else, it does allow me to "write off" all the books I'd love to purchase anyway and all the book hunting trips I would have taken anyway. 

I meant to write about it long before this, but wanted to have finished a few first so that I could give you a better idea of the whole process and they took me longer than I thought.  Now that the Kindle has come out in color, I do plan to make the Flower Painting book available on it.  So far, I've only added The Bouquet to the Kindle list.  The others are available to purchase in hard copy.

Have they sold?  Yes.  I got a very small royalty check in the mail from Kindle last month which made my husband and I laugh, but also made me a little, tiny bit proud, and my royalties from Create Space have grown every month, but they post them directly to my account. 

Eventually, I 'd like to publish other live writer's (current) work if it centers around creativity or memoir.  I was even thinking of publishing a collection of all my horse blogging friend's personal essays on how their lives have benefited or changed from these powerful connections--if I have enough horse blogging friends who would like to do that with me.  I've found that the lessons from our horse lives--finding courage, grace, forgiveness, strength, healing--are the kinds of themes we all love and benefit from.  They're beautiful and timeless.

Honestly, I don't know where it will lead, but I've learned that life does take us on some crazy, meandering paths if we're open to exploring them.

8 comments:

  1. That is so cool! I'll have to check out those gardening books when I get the chance. My husband just got a Kindle but he hasn't put it down for 2 weeks so I haven't gotten a chance to try it. :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow! Good for you, Linda. I know that's a lot of hard work. There was a time when I started a publishing company and knew which authors I wanted to publish, and then our entire septic system had to be replaced, which had to be paid for with the money I set aside to publish the books. I was soooo upset. I'm just glad they've got the ebook option now since it's free. I have a 78-year-old friend who has an incredible unpublished memoir. It was one of three manuscripts I've read in my lifetime that made me cry. It's a spiritual love story. I've been helping her edit it and that was the first book I wanted to publish. Maybe I can still do it some day.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Wow, what a great accomplishment! Good for you for following through on your idea! I can't wait to see what else you come up with. Once upon a time I wanted to be a writer (and a rider - those two were always hard to differentiate out loud) but then I had kids and I think my brain went out the window. Or at least my attention span did:) Which makes me admire you all the more for sticking with your project.

    ReplyDelete
  4. What a fun way to continue and explore your passion for flowers and verse ... The books look beautiful :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Jennifer--You'll love the Kindle. I still enjoy my hard cover books, but the Kindle can't be beat for packing an entire library around with you wherever you go. And I really like its e-ink.

    NuzMuz--I so hope you do publish her memoir. Sign me up to buy the first one off the press.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Andrea--You are writing--every day! You're a wonderful writer/rider (and believe me I know from personal experience how these words get confused for writing equestrians...Husband: What are you doing? Me: Riding. Husband. Writing? Me: RIDING!!!). I definitely go through times of feast and famine. Publishing these books (which aren't my writing obviously) takes time away from my personal writing & blogging. I have learned a lot though. There were some wonderful Victorian FEMALE poets who went largely unrecognized. There's lots of them in The Bouquet.

    Joanne--Yes, it has been fun. The female poets in the books are from Emily Dickinson's era and you know how that has been the focus of my gardening blog. In fact, it was reading Emily Dickinson's Gardens that I found Frances Sargent Osgood and her flower and meaning book from the 1800s. That purchase was my very first rare garden/poetry book. If you just keep following your passions, you never know where they'll take you.

    ReplyDelete
  7. That's pretty cool, I hope it takes off as a business for you. I don't do Kindle or e books, so I'll probably never see them, but they look lovely.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thanks, Shirley. And I don't want to push these books to my blogging friends--at all--but I should explain that they are available in hard copy. They print on demand. Almost all of my sales so far have been hard copies. They have sold suprisingly well with no advertising, and I'm not sure why. It could be that these are just old books people have wanted anyway, so they show up in their searches for them. Not really sure. I have figured though, to really make a living at this, I'd need to have around 50 books up there. I'll have to speed up the process somehow.

    ReplyDelete

Please feel welcome to join our discussion--tell us about your own thoughts and experiences.