If you have an idea for a book you want to get published, a story you want to tell and share with others, it’s a lot easier than you think. Honestly, the only thing standing in the way of you and a published book is you. It isn’t that hard to get from Point I, idea, to Point P, published, and there are tools and people to help you along the way.
You have a story to tell; YOUR story. Whether it’s fiction or non-fiction, a mystery or a how-to book. You can spend time researching publishers, preparing your package to their specifications, crossing your fingers, and hoping for the best or at least a response.
Or you can turn to self-publishing
Self-publishing does not have the negative connotation it once did. You can purchase self-published books on amazon.com and many other platforms. You probably don’t even know that a book was self-published unless you really look into the publishing information. Even libraries carry self-published books. I know because all the books with my name on the cover are in a few libraries. Some doors, such as the library’s, might be a little harder to open than others, but they aren’t necessarily locked.
There are a lot of advantages to publishing with lulu
You set the schedule. You decide when the book has to be submitted. When you take charge of the publishing of your book, you do not have to listen to anyone who tells you not to publish the book or that it won’t sell. With lulu.com, you don’t have to print a minimum number of copies to publish your book. If you create a book and publish only one for yourself, you don’t pay a premium for it.
My first experience with self-publishing began when my friend Trish Hughes Kreis suggested to four other caregivers including myself, that with our combined years of being family caregivers, the five of us share our knowledge and create a book of caregiving tips. And with that suggestion, Trish, Richard Kreis, Pegi Foulkrod, Kathy Lowrey, and I got to work.
365 Caregiving Tips: Practical Tips from Everyday Caregivers
The authors have different caregiving experiences but share a common bond: a strong sense of advocacy and a desire to help others while having a little fun! We know that caregiving is tough – emotionally, physically, spiritually and intellectually. We also know it can be rewarding and full of love, surprises and adventure.
365 Caregiving Tips: Practical Tips from Everyday Caregivers was created was published in 2016. Our next book was 365 Caregiving Tips: Travel and Respite, which was followed by these first two books being published in Spanish. We have published our third book, 365 Caregiving Tips: Hospitals, Care Facilities and Hospice and are working on our future publications.
The Lengthy Publishing Process
Meanwhile, I had an idea to put together an anthology of stories about people and who they were before their diagnosis with Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia. I spread the word through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, plus sent emails to people I knew who were impacted by the disease, asking if they would like to share their loved one’s story. I crossed my fingers and hoped for 10 essays. I was thrilled with the final count of 36 stories in Before the Diagnosis: Stories of Life and Love Before Dementia.
What do a dermatologist, a U.S. Air Force Assistant Judge Advocate, a graphic artist, a petite black belt, and 32 other people all have in common? They have all been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia. This book is an anthology of essays, written by the family members of dementia patients, giving accounts of these amazing individuals before their Alzheimer’s diagnosis. Unfortunately, once someone receives that diagnosis, it sometimes comes to define them. It seems to be all those around them see. Yet these people had wonderful, vibrant lives that should not be forgotten. These essays make up the uplifting, sometimes amusing, and always touching stories in Before the Diagnosis: Stories of Life and Love Before Dementia. Each story is different, yet touching and insightful. They tell about the individuals, not how they were impacted by this horrible disease, but about who they were before the diagnosis.
Before the Diagnosis: Stories of Life and Love Before Dementia
This book is a love story and a labor of love. It is an anthology of stories by 36 authors, each about a relative they have known and loved before that person was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia.
The essays submitted were everything from the eulogy read at the family member’s funeral to a beautifully polished narrative, transitioned using titles of Frank Sinatra songs. Some essays needed minor adjustments while others needed more extensive work. Each edited essay was returned to the author for their approval. Some essays were returned more than once as we worked together on the finished product.
Two friends helped me edit the essays. Getting more people to read the essays and give their opinions on them gave more opportunities to catch any errors or things that didn’t flow smoothly.
In addition to the essay, there is a short piece of information, anything from a sentence to a short paragraph, about the subject of the essay. This is where the author provided information about that person’s actual diagnosis. At the end of each essay, the authors told about themselves and their relationship to the person they wrote about.
I had to decide how to organize the essays and finally decided on four sections based on the relationship of the person to the author: Mothers and Fathers, Husbands and Wives, Extended Family (grandparents, aunts, children) and Family Relationships where more than one person wrote about the same person.
In addition to a table of contents, I included an index of the contributing authors. I knew people would be buying the book to read what their friend or relative had written, and I wanted it to be easy for people to find each author’s essay.
Publishing Takes Time
This process wasn’t quick. From the time I sent out my first email inviting people to submit essays until the book was published it was almost two years. It took time to get the submissions, and more time to send them back and forth during the editing process. Sometimes life interfered and I had to put the work on this book on the back burner, but it was always on my mind.
I created several spreadsheets to track the process. Early spreadsheets included who I contacted, whether or not they were interested, and a section for comments. Another spreadsheet tracked the editing process including who edited it, when it was returned to the author and when it was sent back to me. As the essays were finalized, one spreadsheet showed the title, who the essay was about and the word count.
To make sure I had each person’s permission to use their essay I created a release that gave me permission to use their story in the book. I also gave each person permission to submit their story to other places, because they each own their story, I don’t.
I wasn’t sure about the whole publishing process, and frankly, after taking close to two years to get to the book organized, I felt like it might take me another couple of years to actually publish the book. So, I reached out to my friend Trish who was thrilled to be asked to help me get the book published.
Trish asked me questions which made me realize I still had a bit more work to do. I added the dedication, preface, introduction and back cover blurb.
The book also needed a picture for the cover. I didn’t want something identifiable or dark, but something nice looking. I ended up using a picture I had taken a few years before of a beautiful sunset and using just one section of that photo as the cover.
As Trish was getting the book ready for publication, we discussed the revenue the book would earn. Trish and I opted to take no payment for our work on the book. Instead, I asked the authors what they would like done with their 1/36th of the revenues. It is because lulu.com is so accommodating and willing to split the revenue that I was able to consider several options.
I am thrilled to report that over 90% of the revenues are going to four nonprofit organizations that work with people with Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia and their families:
- Alzheimer’s Orange County
- Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation
- Alzheimer’s Association
- Lewy Body Dementia Association
The money is sent directly to the recipients so I do not even need to be involved. So far, over $700 has been donated due to the sale of the book.
On March 12, 2018, Before the Diagnosis: Stories of Life and Love Before Dementia was published on lulu.com! The book has been publicized through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and word of mouth. It has been well received and in fact, I am already starting to collect stories for a second volume and Trish is again willing to help me publish the book.
So, if you’ve ever wanted to publish a story or an anthology of stories, go for it! If I hadn’t had an idea which I followed, the world would not have a book which can be described this way.
You’ve got a good idea, now go out there and make it a reality!
Gincy Heins is the creator and editor of Before the Diagnosis: Stories of Life and Love Before Dementia and the co-author of the 365 Caregiving Tips series. If you would like to submit an essay for Before the Diagnosis: Volume 2 contact her at email@example.com. You can also find her on Twitter and Instagram as GincyHeins and on Facebook as G-j Heins. Find out more about 365 Caregiving Tips at http://www.365caregivingtips.com.