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Author Spotlight: The COVID-19 Solutions Guide

Today we’re happy to host the authors of The COVID-19 Solutions Guide to discuss their book, being an author during a pandemic, and more about self-publishing.

An old Jack Benny sketch from his 1948 radio show captures the dilemma faced all over the world in 2020. What Jack (that’s us) says is shown in roman type; COVID-19-the-Destroyer is in italic type.

 … Don’t make a move, this is a stick-up!


You heard me …

Mister, mister, put down that gun!

Shut up! Now come on … your money or your life!

[5 seconds of canned laughter]

Look bud, [shouting] I said, “Your money or your life!!”

[Pause] I’m thinking it over ……

The COVID-19 Solutions Guide, authored by Prof. Ronald Baecker, Dr. Gary Feldman, Prof. Judith Langer, and Mr, Justin Stein, introduces the COVID-19 pandemic and its assault on our traditional way of life. It enables a more informed citizenry grappling with the pandemic’s challenges. It shows how to respond to the attack on our way of life by providing solutions (many that make use of modern technology) for surviving medically, emotionally, and financially, with the goal of keeping your money AND your life!  Don’t leave stay home without it!

The book provides both description—what was happening and why — and prescription—a guide to ways in which technology, wisdom, and keeping one’s spirits up can help us cope, survive, and enjoy life as best we can despite the global pandemic. Where possible, and there is evidence that the methods that we describe work, we cite the evidence. Where hard evidence is not yet available, we provide anecdotal, narrative evidence to support what we write.  Most importantly, what we discuss are solutions — solutions for surviving, solutions for coping, solutions for thriving.  The book therefore has both scientific information, especially about medical issues, and also stories of real people, recounted to us by trusted friends, or reported publicly in reliable sources.

Yet just writing a book seemed insufficient. We therefore started a blog to provide readers with more critical analyses and keep them abreast of the rapidly evolving circumstances around the pandemic. In true pandemic form, to stay virtually connected, we created Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn platforms. Like, follow, and retweet us to receive timely updates! Finally, we recently announced a free monthly newsletter that reprints the blogs of the past month in a convenient form and gives links to articles that may be of interest to readers.

Follow The COVID-19 Solutions Guide

We Try To Answer The Following Questions

What online technologies are mature enough to be relevant to the current situation, and usable enough so that one need not be a tech wizard to master them? How have these technologies have been adopted in the past three months to support activities that used to be almost totally face-to-face?

This discussion is grounded by reflections on why face-to-face personal interaction are important for our wellbeing and how we can temporarily replace these connections with digital innovations and work-arounds.

What are the most useful online resources available to help us cope in the presence of COVID-19? What principles or features make them so?

Remember, solutions need not be perfect, only good enough.

Finally, what should we expect in the future?

We were concerned in the short term with the second wave (now begun) and possible third wave of infection, and in the longer term, when we are still grappling with its economic consequences.

What lessons can we learn to be ready for the next pandemic?

We come away with immense admiration for the ways that so many people have adapted to self-care in seclusion. We deeply appreciate how technology has been put to use by young and old, by techies, newbies and those of us in between. Hence the full title of the book is The COVID-19 Solutions Guide: Health, Wealth, Technology, and the Human Spirit.

The COVID-19 Solutions Guide

COVID-19 upended life as we knew it. To navigate the “new normal”, our guide examines the adoption and adaptation of technology in response to the global pandemic. The COVID-19 Solutions Guide provides an easy-to-follow overview of what’s going on in the world and relevant resources and tools to respond to the changing global circumstances.

Getting Important Ideas To Our Audience

We self-published our book with the help of Lulu not because of an ideological commitment to that process, or an aversion to traditional publishers. We felt we had no choice. We wrote and polished and got the book on our web site in under two months.  The COVID clock was ticking, and our insights needed dissemination. Two of us had published a total of almost 20 academic textbooks, but we had no credibility or useful contacts for trade publishing.  I had attended a half dozen seminars and workshops on what an agent does and how to pitch them, and it was clear that going the traditional route meant crafting an agent proposal, selling it to an agent, responding to the agent’s request for changes, waiting for the agent to find a publisher, responding to the publisher’s request for changes, and then waiting months for the book to be printed — minimally a delay of 12 to 18 months — perhaps beyond the fourth wave of COVID-19.

But going it alone was no magic bullet.  We are still engaged in a series of actions to ensure that more and more people know about our book. These include:

  • Designing a second cover to replace one by a hired illustrator whose cover was ok but not striking
  • Adding a subtitle to position the content more precisely
  • Formatting the book for various eBook publishers and going through lengthy registration processes
  • Building a social media presence for the book
  • Writing posts and tweets for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn several times a week
  • Trying to get universities where we have distinguished ourselves to celebrate our achievement
  • Starting a blog to keep the content current
  • Starting a monthly newsletter for the same reason
  • Trying to find ways to encourage more reviews on Amazon
  • Trying to find ways to encourage more Reviews in newspapers, magazines, and other forms of media
  • Starting to do webinars to share our knowledge and promote the brand
  • and more.

Anyone planning to self-publish a book, with or without the help of Lulu, should do so with eyes wide open.

About The Authors

Ron Baecker is an Emeritus Professor of Computer Science. For over fifty years, he designed innovative computer systems to help people do easily what previously had been difficult or impossible, and studied how people use digital technologies. He has also been analyzing and commenting upon uses that do good and those that are evil.

Gary Feldman is a retired physician with board certification in pediatrics and medical genetics. In addition, he was the Public Health Officer of Ventura County and Riverside County in California over a 14-year period. Thus, he has an extensive background in infectious disease and in epidemiology and public health interventions.

Judith Langer is a Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Education, a researcher who has specialized in language, literacy, and learning. For more than forty years, she has been interested in how changes in society call for additional and new ways to record and communicate ideas, thoughts, feelings and knowledge.

Justin Stein is a financial advisor with a practice that is focused on helping families and business owners protect and manage risk, and also to diversify their capital in the markets. Throughout his career he has run many businesses; he has also been involved with technology start-up companies.

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Ronald Baecker
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