Brian’s Column: ‘Life and Times’ Prospecting

Some Thoughts and a Pitch from the Brave New World of People’s Publishing

PressSay what you will about the Amazon dynasty, its Createspace subsidiary has made possible an entire new set of careers for writers and editors qua publishers. What I mean by that is if you want to write a book and you know how to use a computer, you can put a real one up on the Web and available as printed material complete with ISBN and all the bells and whistles that make it available to all the libraries of the world. It’s like in the movie, The Jerk, when the Steve Martin character finally sees his name in the telephone directory!

Of course, it’s like anything else: garbage in, garbage now available to gazillions of people on the Internet. On the other hand, if you want to produce a well-written-edited-composed-formatted book, it’s easy enough to make that happen. If you don’t have the editing or formatting skills, vast numbers of professionals are out there to make what you write pass muster with any ol’ fussy grammarian or wordsmith. Indeed, I’m one of them. Let me point out some of the stars in my constellation at Free Man Publishing Company:

Quick View of Some Recent Free Man Pubs*

 New Picture (12)  Longest  TeachTeen  Startram
 MotherStone  EdgeDream  SNaP  Brumfield
 SouthPark  KeeleyKures  TruthTorp  ExecHobo
 ShakyGirl  WomenRaq  Quantum  BarrierCloud

* Note: For Farrah Chronicles, Freeman services were solely confined to initial preparation for upload on Createspace and cover art work (no editing). For Libertarian Lessons of South Park, only a light copyedit for a second revision.

Some would still call enterprises such as mine “self-publishing,” but a) most of the works are not authored by me, and b) self-publishing has always carried the connotation of being a matter of vanity—hence, e.g. Vantage Press, which, I see, was still alive until 2012—unlike the general publishing model when would-be authors had to stand in line with hat in hand (and some serious smack) to gain the favor of a conventional house… which might deign to let your passionate work of art see the light of day. So vanity is not the prime directive, rather the desire for a minimal-expense creative outlet for individuals who have worthy lit to share with the world.

The Preferred Term is “Independent Publishing”…

… and up front let me state that this column is mainly a pitch to rustle up some business.:) From whom? Well, from any person or business or public association who has a story to put down in words.  When I was assembling my publishing site, I touched most of the bases on this page, “Why Free Man?“. ← And I’ll simply direct you to that page rather than repeat myself here. But I do wish to emphasize to my readers an opportunity for them to leave some of their own special bread crumbs in the sands of time via a Life and Times’ commemoration book.

A few months ago, reading the biography of Jean Shepherd—who was the author of the book[1] that turned into the famed movie, A Christmas Story—I noted his rather cynical statement to the effect that nobody will be remembered in 4,000 years. Then I thought to myself, “Whether or not it means anything—how old is the planet, four or five billion years?!—you can definitely improve your odds of being remembered by publishing a book.”  There’s another saying, “The faintest ink is better than the best memory.”

If you or someone(s) you love or admire is worthy of remembering, then consider putting a book together as a tribute. Here are examples from two key ‘Life and Times’ categories:

Longtime Family Owned and Operated Business

These are local independent businesses often serving as a focal point for community affairs. America is still a young country by World standards, thus, few pause to recognize history in the making or understand how our lives in that community are enriched by learning where we came from and the kinds of individuals who have made our lives better… or even possible. I’ve lived in Novi, Michigan, for several years now, and patronize such family enterprises as a priority. One example is my service station, Sovel’s.

Sovels

Another is a restaurant my mom and I used to frequent before she died, Guernsey Farms Dairy and Restaurant in Northville (just south of Novi).

Guernsey

In the restaurant, especially, one notes dozens of local news articles describing the family history of the dairy and store. Which was started by Guernsey patriarch John McGuire in 1940. Still going strong 74 years later! If you click on the info page, you’ll see that People Magazine once declared that Guernsey’s butter-pecan ice cream is the best in America. And I can vouch for that. To me, having a short book available on such a remarkable achievement, perhaps 50-100 pages with plenty of photos with complementary narrative, would be wonderful. Not so much to enhance or solidify ongoing business, but truly to build community spirit and feel good about life in general by showcasing an historical gem.

Personally meaningful biographies and Memorials

DougieYou never know where some paths will lead. My mom died in early 2013, then by that summer I wrote a ‘Life and Times’ book about her, Mother’s Stone. Then a dear friend of mine died in July 2013… and by September I had created a sort of new medium for telling a story thru pictures and textboxes that link to (typically) Web locations. I saw that this medium—a storygraph—is well suited to telling life stories, in whole or part. So when his memorial service came along, his daughters asked me to create a storygraph for him. Linked here and shown at right. The family was pleased; I also made a 24”x32” enlargement for display on an easel at the ceremony.

Come to a Writer/Editor and publisher Who Genuinely Cares

The Free Man Publishing Company is an alternative for persons and families, which, in addition to editing and preparing the works of regular authors for publication, is going to focus on such ‘Life and Times’ treatments of family businesses and individuals—both standard book biography and storygraph formats. So if you know of anyone who may have an interest, including yourselves, I’m glad to go over the process. Please send me a note.

[1] In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash

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