Saturday, October 31, 2009

More Copies of Book Shipped Out

More copies shipped today, but only one to a paying customer. Here is the latest update. This morning I received one more order via the PayPal Buy Now button on the web site. I also shipped out free copies to the copy editor and to one of the most helpful of the substantive editors. I don't have the luxury of sending out very many free copies, because it takes so much time and effort to print and bind each book. It's not as if a truck had pulled up to the house with multiple cartons stuffed with books; each book is the result of a little adventure -- sending the .pdf file to the laser printer with the correct settings; checking to make sure one side of the pages is not printing upside-down; laying the pages down under a pile of heavy books to flatten them out after the curling from the printer; cutting the two-up pages in half to yield the actual pages for the books; printing the covers; scoring them and creasing them; binding the covers to pages in the hot-glue binding machine; trimming the books on three sides to become finished products; and, finally, shrink-wrapping the finished books. So, there won't be very many promotional copies sent out.

This morning I also managed to register the book with the Copyright Office and sent the required two copies off to the Library of Congress. That was quite a battle, because the Copyright Office's web site apparently didn't get along very well with my Mac's Firefox browser, and I had to re-do the registration about seven times before I finally got it finished. In the end the process went fine; I got the reduced $35.00 price for registering online, and the site then let me print a shipping label to send the hard copies to the LOC in Washington. According to the site, I should get my certificate of registration in about six months, though the registration is effective immediately upon applying and paying the fee.

Right now Clenise is trimming a new batch of books, after she ran them through the binder and attached the covers. She is getting the process down to a real system, which is great. Our little book factory is starting to hum along now, rather than operate in crisis mode as it did just a few days ago.

One issue that bothers me somewhat is that pages of the books seem to be somewhat wavy; that is, they curl in a couple of directions, so they don't lie completely flat. Some copies are better than others, and I think I need to settle on one type of paper. As of now, I think 24-pound HP Color Laser may be the best for this project, but I'm still experimenting. Right now we're using some generic 24-pound laser paper from Office Depot, which could save some money if the finished product comes out okay.

So far the eBay listing of the books for sale has not had any activity at all; it has had only 5 page views, though it's only been up since Friday night and it's now Saturday afternoon. I'm hoping for better results after the listing has been active into the weekdays.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Finding More Ways to Get Book Noticed

Today was not overly eventful, but things are progressing. I was having problems getting my D-Lux 4 book listed on through the Amazon Advantage program; the site gave an "internal error" every time I tried to upload the book title to this program, by which Amazon orders copies of the books to sell on the main Amazon site (that is, if Amazon decides to order any). I contacted Amazon's support through the site, and about 12 hours later I received an e-mail saying they mistakenly had my account listed as closed; they had now reactivated it. I tried again, and my title uploaded perfectly. It had not yet shown up in a search on Amazon the last time I checked, but it should show up fairly soon, I think.

I also checked into getting the book listed at, the Barnes and Noble online site. That procedure seems more complicated, and involves a written application. The application seems to require various information such as a business checking account. So I went to the bank in my building at work today and opened up a business checking account. Nowadays it seems harder to do that than it did years ago, when I opened one up in connection with my earlier book, Dauntless Marine. Luckily I had some advance warning of the hoops to jump through, so I went armed with a copy of my business license and my certificate from the county court registering my dba name of White Knight Press. The account has been opened, so I'll try applying to in the near future.

I also started looking into publishing the book in the format for Amazon's Kindle electronic reader. It doesn't sound overly complicated, so I may try that route; I figure that every new outlet for the book may help somewhat. I will need to try to find a way to convert my text and graphics into HTML format, which seems to be the preferred format for the conversion process.

My latest marketing action this evening was to list the book for sale on eBay. I had been planning to do that, and found time today. It seems to me that some owners of the Leica D-Lux 4 camera will go on eBay and search for "D-Lux 4" looking for cases or other accessories, and possibly find my book that way. I listed it at the same price ($19.95) as it is on my own web site, in a Buy It Now format. I listed it as having ten copies available. We'll see if any purchases come in from that avenue.

By the way, I still have never heard another word from the very first buyer of the book; after I e-mailed him back to ask if he wants the book or not, he has maintained a strict silence. I have refunded his money, and may never hear from him again. The second book has possibly been delivered by now, and the third one was mailed this morning. I'm going to send out a very few free copies to people who helped with the editing process, just to thank them and see if they have any reactions or suggestions for further promotion.

I printed four new copies today, but we took a break from binding. We'll probably do some more binding and shrink-wrapping over the weekend to build up the inventory in case more orders start to come in.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Order Rolling In

Of course, I would prefer to title this post "Orders Rolling In," but I need to put accuracy first. Today I received one more order through PayPal. I never heard back from the gentleman who placed the first order, despite my e-mailing him twice. So I have now refunded his payment through PayPal. I may be hearing an indignant cry of, "Why did you refund that money, and where's my book?" I'll await further developments on that order.

Meanwhile, Clenise and I are cranking out books at a better rate than before. She has just about mastered the art of binding with our hot-melt glue machine. She bound four new books tonight, and we trimmed four others from last night. Soon we'll have an inventory of about eight books. I need to send two of them off to the Library of Congress to register the copyright, and I'll keep the others on hand in case I can get Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Borders to take some for their online operations. I doubt I can get any into stores, so I probably won't make that effort, at least for now.

The shrink-wrapped books are starting to look pretty good. Here's a photo I just took (with the D-Lux 4 camera, of course), showing a stack of books after shrink-wrapping and another stack waiting to be shrink-wrapped. The heat gun and sealer are shown also.

There's still a lot to do. I need to work on copyright registration, getting books handled by Amazon, etc., and contact various camera-oriented web sites about promotion. That's just a start. But the project is working out better than I imagined as of now, because I think we have managed to solve the toughest technical problems -- mainly printing the books in full color and on both sides of the paper, printing the covers, and binding the books.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

More Birth Pains for New Book

One thing that is emerging is that the "publication" process for this book is not a one-time event with a big party, a parade, or other celebratory event. As I mentioned yesterday, my first "buyer" later sent a message saying, What book?" I e-mailed him again today to ask if he wants me to ship the book or refund his money. No reply yet. My plan now is to refund his money through PayPal if I don't hear anything from him within 24 hours, by tomorrow afternoon. I could just ship the book, but my last message from him said he didn't order any book, so I think I will go the refund route and let him order it again if he really wants it.

On other fronts, today I signed up for the Amazon Advantage program so the book can get listed as a full-fledged title that appears when people search on Amazon. It was easy enough to sign up, though I wasn't able to upload my description of the book yet; the Amazon site kept saying there was an "internal error." I'll try again later.

I think there is good news on the technical front, also. My wife, Clenise, has really dug into the project of getting the binding perfected. She likes to figure out technical things, and she's very good at it. Today she spent time with the poorly translated and very thin user's manual for the binding machine, and also with Rupert Evans' great book on on-demand printing. She also looked at eBay ads for the binding machine, which have some pictures and more details. Now we believe she has the procedure refined so the binding machine will produce better bindings on a more consistent basis.

Otherwise, the color laser printer is working well, though I had to replace all the color toners yesterday. The printer can be maddening, because often it will print the back sides of the pages upside down, and I have no idea why it does that. Now I'm ready for it, though; I stand with my finger poised above the Job Cancel button on the printer and push it as soon as I see upside-down pages emerging. I think I have found a way to cure this problem; for some reason, after each print job I have to clear the print queue and then power the printer off and on again, and then it will print right-side up.

The other area we worked on today is getting the books ready to ship. I decided they will look better if they're shrink-wrapped, so I ordered a box of shrink-wrap bags along with a sealing machine and heat gun. That system worked just fine almost right away, so now we can seal each book. This will protect it from dirt and damage, and will force the pages to stay flat. There is some curling of pages coming out of the printer, and that doesn't look great. Shrink-wrap seems to be a good solution to that problem.

Oh, and I almost forgot. This morning I stopped by the Post Office and shipped off my first book, to the second buyer.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

First Sales Activity - But Not Entirely Smooth

Yesterday has to be characterized as a fairly wild day in the life of this publishing venture. Every morning while shaving I check my e-mail on my iPhone. Yesterday, at about 6:30 in the morning, I saw a PayPal payment e-mail. I opened it, and it showed that a gentleman in New York City had paid for a copy of my book! This was fairly unexpected, because I had just declared the book "published" the day before, and had just installed a PayPal Buy Now button on my web site. I had started up my Google AdWords account, though, and it had received some clicks through to my web site, based on my short ad that shows up when someone Googles "D-Lux 4 Book" or Leica D-Lux 4" or any one of several similar keywords. So I assumed someone had seen my little book ad in a Google search, clicked through to my site, and used the Buy Now button. That was pretty cool; the system was working.

One problem was that we (my wife and I) didn't really have a great copy of the book put together. I wanted my first customer to have a very nice-looking copy, with the cover neatly and firmly attached and the pages well trimmed.

So we set to work when I got home yesterday. To make a long story shorter, we had quite a few problems getting the binding machine to glue evenly and without crimping the cover or smudging it. Then, as we tried to adjust the cover design slightly in Adobe InDesign, I noticed, after all this time, that I had the title of the book spaced wrong -- it used the name D-Lux4 with no space -- it's supposed to be D-Lux 4. So I printed a few new covers, and we pulled the covers off of some already-printed books to replace them. By about 11:30 p.m. we were about to have a nice copy ready to ship. Then I checked my e-mail. I had sent my customer an acknowledgment of his order, saying the book would ship the next day (today). At about 11:00 p.m. he had replied, saying, in practically these words, "What book? I didn't order anything. Please respond."

Well, that threw me for a loop. I use PayPal a lot, and I did not see how he could have paid for a book without knowing it, unless someone hacked into his account or someone in his household ordered the book on his account without telling him. So I quickly replied, explaining that I had received his order, and telling him I would be happy to refund his money if he doesn't want the book. It's now about 6:00 p.m. the next day, and I haven't heard from him.

In the meantime, I received another order through PayPal. I e-mailed that buyer confirming the order, and have not heard anything from him. If I don't hear from him, I'll ship his book tomorrow. I don't think there could be any systemic problem causing phantom orders through PayPal.

Anyway, our rush last night to get a nice-looking book put together was good in a way, because it forced us to really examine the book and cover and the binding process, and we fixed a number of things that needed improvement. Right now I'm printing out a new set of pages that we'll bind in a little while, and hopefully ship off to our first customer tomorrow.

Also, this past Sunday I submitted the information on the book to Books in Print through the Bowker company online. Today I checked the Barnes and Noble web site and the book was listed there, showing a publication date in late November, for some reason. I guess I had put November as the publication month, and they just used a date late in the month. Anyway, that was encouraging; now I need to work on getting the book to be actually available through BN, Amazon, and other online sellers.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Time to Publish

One of the advantages of being a self-publisher, or having your own very small publishing company, whichever way you want to look at it, is to be able to control many aspects of the publishing process. So, today I'm considering my book about the Leica D-Lux 4 digital camera to be "published." I'm making that judgment because the book is now in its final form. My wife is doing one last read-through of the latest draft, and she's still finding some small typos and other things that need to be fixed. But the page count will not change, and the basic text and illustrations are now set. Given that information, today I went online with bowkerlink and uploaded the information about the book to Books in Print, including the title, number of pages, number of illustrations, dimensions and weight of the book, etc.

I also adjusted my new web site,, to add a PayPal button to let people order copies of the book direct from my company.

The other step I took today was to open up a Google AdWords account. That is an experimental step, because I don't know that much about AdWords and how useful it is likely to be for sales of this book. I set the maximum amount to spend at $20.00 per day to avoid getting swamped with costly clicks. I'll monitor this process for a week or two and see what adjustments may be needed.

I also sent a message to the advertising people at to see if they have any low-budget options that would let me get some sort of publicity for the book at that site. I'm fairly doubtful about that approach, though, because that site gets millions of viewers, and I probably can't afford their advertising fees.

Now I'll sit back for a while and see when, and if, any book orders come in.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Getting Closer to Publication of D-Lux 4 Book

Last night my wife finished her read-through and editing job on the latest draft of my book about the Leica D-Lux 4 camera. She did an outstanding job; she is very meticulous and focuses well on details and maintaining consistency. She found quite a few typos and other issues that either had been missed by other readers and editors or had been introduced during the editing process. I spent today going back through the entire draft in Adobe InDesign and entering the changes she made on the hard copy. This included taking several more photos, all of which were screen shots of the menus in the D-Lux 4 to illustrate discussions of the menu options.

After I got all of the changes entered, I went back and adjusted the page cites in the Table of Contents. Then I re-generated the Index. I didn't want to try to just adjust the page numbers in the Index; it seemed to be safer (and much easier) just to generate a new index. InDesign has a fairly powerful indexing feature, so I used that to good advantage.

Then it was time to print out another complete draft to see what it looked like. Here was where Murphy's law seemed to activate and cause a few glitches. First, I tried to print the whole book from within InDesign. As I said in earlier posts, there had been considerable difficulty in finding the right printer driver to do this, but I recently downloaded the new PostScript driver for the Brother HL-4070CDW color laser printer, and I thought that driver would work well. As it turned out, though, the pages only printed on one side of each sheet, despite my setting the driver to do duplex printing. Maybe I had something set wrong, though I couldn't find any problem in the settings.

So I abandoned that approach and tried exporting the InDesign document to an Adobe PDF file, which worked a week or so ago. I got the PDF file exported at high quality and it started printing nicely, at high quality, and on both sides of the sheets. The problem this time was that the printer ran out of memory -- the first time that has happened. So only about 12 or so sheets printed, then the printer stopped.

I quickly checked the printer's documentation about adding memory, and ordered a 512 MB memory card from for about $68.00 including shipping. It should arrive next Tuesday.

In the meantime, I decreased the quality setting from 2400 dpi to 600 dpi, and the whole document printed out, on both sides of the pages. The problem this time was that the color photographs are too dark. I'm hoping that issue will be cured when the memory card arrives and I can print at higher quality. If not, I'll have to tweak the print driver settings to see if I can correct that problem. The photos are not too dark; this was just some sort of printing glitch.

Other than that, I'm starting to work a bit on promotion and publicity. One of my guiding principles is that I don't want to spend a lot of money on promotion and advertising; I'm going to look for inexpensive ways to get out the word about the book.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Latest Update on Progress of D-Lux 4 Book Project

Nothing too dramatic to report today, though things are looking better now than ever before for getting the book about the D-Lux 4 in final shape and actually printed for publication. Today I received my business license back in the mail from the county office that processes the applications. I wanted to be completely legal and official in my business setup, so I sent the application in about two weeks ago. The county's questionnaire had a lot of questions, which I tried to answer honestly. One of the questions was whether the business (which is located in my home) has any equipment not ordinarily found in the home. I said yes, because of the binding machine. A gentleman called me the other day to discuss that response. He said that the county code prohibits having any equipment not ordinarily found in the home in a home-based business. So I told him this is not some huge, loud, powerful machine; it's just a desktop binding machine, similar to what you can buy in Staples or Office Depot (though you can't really buy this particular type of machine there.) In the end, we agreed that the question should be answered "No," because this machine is not the type of machine that would cause any problems.

Then, a couple of days ago a lady from another county office called to ask me exactly what my business does. I told her I write books, print them, and then try to sell them to people online. She asked if I will sell them to stores; I guess if I said yes that would mean I'm a wholesaler, and would be subject to different regulations. Anyway, I said no, because I probably won't try to sell books to stores, at least not at first. She said that was all she needed to know, and today I received the business license. The only new catch was that I can't use the business name "White Knight Press" on my business license unless I get another form notarized and filed with the county court. So tomorrow I'll try to get that done. At least the county sent me the form and told me how to get this done, so I have no complaints. The red tape has been quite manageable, and I'll be glad to have the business properly registered and approved.

On the publishing end, my wife is doing a great job of giving the latest draft another very thorough read-through to spot inconsistencies, typos, and anything else that needs adjusting. She had never read it before, so it's great to have her fresh look at it. She's excellent with grammar and details, so I believe this will be the last round of edits before I start printing up a small inventory for my on-demand setup. Then I just need to wait for some "demand."

Yesterday I also installed a newly available Postscript printer driver for the Brother HL-4070CDW color laser printer; that driver does seem to yield better results with photographs than the standard driver, so that's another step forward to better printing quality.

The only other thing I'm waiting for is to see if Leica will release another firmware upgrade for the Leica D-Lux 4 camera. There's some indication that another upgrade will be released around the end of October, and I'd like to include some information about it in the book, if possible. So I'll wait a while and see if that happens. Either way, it now looks as if I'll be publishing the book by early November.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Book Cover Design and Printing

I haven't discussed the cover of my book very much, so I'll talk about that now. I think I've made some good progress on that aspect of my project, thanks in large part to one of the volunteer readers who I met through the Leica Talk forum at

I have no background in graphics, art, or design, though I have used Photoshop and other graphics software sporadically over the years. The expert advice in the books I've read about self-publishing says you should get a professional designer for your book's cover, because potential buyers will judge the book by its cover, and a poorly designed one reeks of amateurism.

In my case, though, money is a major concern. When I self-published Dauntless Marine back in 1996, I was willing to spend money to have the cover professionally designed, and that book has a very nice-looking cover. This time around, though, I'm trying to keep costs down as much as possible to see if it's possible to make a profit, or at least to avoid taking a loss. So I set out to design the cover myself. I did look into some book cover design software, and downloaded a demo version, but it did not seem to offer enough value to justify its cost of approximately $200.00. So I decided to design the cover using Adobe InDesign CS4, the same program I'm using for page layout for the book itself.

Here's an example of one of my earlier attempts at cover design for the book about the Leica D-Lux 4 camera:

I was fairly pleased with myself after I developed this design. But fortunately, the volunteer reader had a strong background in graphic design and catalog production, and she offered a very helpful critique of the cover, including points about different shades of blue, the unwise use of vertical lines to outline the spine area, bad choices for the fonts, etc. Her criticisms made a lot of sense, so I heeded her advice. She recommended I try for a mostly white cover with some highlights in red, black, and gray, to reflect colors associated with the classic look of Leica cameras themselves. So I tried that approach, and came up with the version shown below, which is very likely close to the final version of the cover:

To me, the newer version is clearly a better choice, and I am indebted to my volunteer reader for helping me make that change.

Another issue was printing the cover. I originally chose a cover stock based on the recommendation of Rupert Evans in his excellent book, Book on Demand Printing. He recommended KromeKote C1S (coated one side) stock, which is shiny like a trade paperback cover on the printing side. I tried it and it worked well. The problem, though, is that I could find it only in one size - 8 1/2 by 11 inches. The book is to be printed at two pages on each side of a sheet of paper that size, so each page will be just about 8 1/2 by 5 1/2 inches. As the book gets up to and beyond the 200-page point, the spine is getting quite thick, so I can't use letter-size cover stock to wrap all the way around those pages, even if the pages are trimmed down somewhat.

So I had to search for cover stock in legal size, 8 1/2 by 14 inches. I think I have found a good candidate, called Galerie XP Silk Cover. It's not cheap, costing over $70.00 with shipping for 500 sheets. But I've printed a sample cover on it, and it looked very good. It's not shiny, but it's stiff and substantial, and the color laser printer prints well on it.

The legal-sized cover has a nice appearance and it easily wraps around a 200-page book, so I think the cover problem is essentially solved.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Printing Problem May be Solved

A few days ago I said I was unhappy at the quality of printing of the pages of my book about the Leica D-Lux 4 camera. I printed directly from Adobe InDesign for the Macintosh to a Brother HL-4070CDW color laser duplexing printer. Everything printed out, but the text, instead of being a crisp black, looked like a slightly muddy blue, and the quality of the color photographs ranged from fair to horrible. Some of them were very muddy and had color streaks vertically through areas that should have been a solid color.

I tried calibrating the printer and using all sorts of different combinations of existing printer profiles and printer settings. Finally, as of yesterday, I think I may have hit on a solution that will get the book's pages printed with an acceptable appearance.

This was a matter of trial-and-error, in which I tried various combinations, and took notes on each one so I could reproduce any that seemed successful. Eventually I tried saving the InDesign file to an Adobe PDF file at the highest quality possible, from within InDesign. Then I printed that PDF file from Adobe Reader version 9 for the Macintosh. For some reason, that program seems to have a better printer driver for the Brother laser printer than InDesign does. That driver includes options for Fine printing at 2400 dpi (dots per inch) and for Vivid color printing, as well as for Booklet printing, which enables printing two pages per sheet of paper while duplexing, resulting in four pages per sheet, using both sides.

Anyway, the results of that printing test were fantastic -- much better than printing from within InDesign. The text was crisp black and the color photos looked very good -- about as good as can be expected from an inexpensive color laser printer, as far as I can tell.

So I'm quite encouraged at this point. Now the main problem I see is that the pages still curl quite a bit coming out of the printer, making it hard to bind the book and have the pages lie flat. I'll be trying various types of paper and maybe other options to deal with that issue next.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Update on Status of D-Lux 4 Book Production

Yesterday and today I felt as if I made some good progress toward reaching a final draft of the book. I'm encouraged because I didn't encounter any particular problems, and I was able to deal with a couple of issues that had been nagging in the back of my mind.

One fact that sometimes impedes my progress is that I don't have a strong background in the use of some of the software I'm using, particularly Adobe InDesign CS4 for the Mac. It seems to be a great program and very powerful, but I don't feel that I have the time (or willpower, maybe) to sit down and learn the program from top to bottom. I do have three good tutorial or reference books on the program, and I'm trying to get through the project by looking things up as I need to perform certain functions.

One of the actions I hadn't figured out before today was how to suppress page numbers on the front pages of the book, such as title page, acknowledgments, etc. I'm used to word processing programs with a function such as "suppress page numbers." I couldn't find any such function in InDesign. But today I figured out that the way (or at least A way) to do this is to override the page number text blocks on the master pages. That turned out to be very easy; I just Command-clicked in those text blocks on the first few pages, which allowed me to go into the text blocks and delete the page numbers. Problem solved.

Another issue was putting headers at the tops of the pages. Again, the master pages feature seems to be the answer. I just put a narrow text block at the top of each master page with the book's title, and overrode the text block on the first few pages of the book, and I believe the header issue is resolved. I haven't tried to do running headers that reflect the current chapter or topic; maybe I'll tackle that later, or in a later book.

I also went in today and cleaned up the table of contents, getting the page numbers in line with the text and making a few changes to reflect recent editing changes in headings, etc. More changes will be needed later, but this was another step toward getting the final version ready.

I also was able to take a few more photographs to include in the book. One consistent theme from the volunteer readers has been that the book needs more photographs. So I took a series of photos to illustrate the power of three different flash units for the camera, and I took a multiple exposure with 3 images to illustrate the Multiple Exposure feature of the camera.

I may be done with photographs for now, though I'll remain open to the possibility of taking more if the need seems to be indicated.

Anyway, I may be ready to print out another full draft later today or tomorrow. I still need to find the right paper to print the text on and the right cover stock for the cover.

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Editing Process for Book About Leica D-Lux 4

I've pretty well covered the basics of the equipment and software I'm using to write, produce, and print my book on how to use the Leica D-Lux 4 digital camera. Now I'll talk a little about the editing process.

I've always considered myself a fairly good writer, but as I've gotten older I've gotten more realistic about my limitations. I can write what I believe to be clear and accurate prose about a subject I'm familiar with, but my first drafts definitely need improvement.

For this project, I read or at least consulted quite a few books about self-publishing. Several of them made a point of advising the writer to have his manuscript professionally edited. That is, don't try to edit it yourself, and don't ask a friend or relative to do it; hire a free-lance book editor.

This advice seemed sound to me, so I set out to find a professional editor. A Google search turned up a site called Book Editing Associates, at It seemed quite reputable based on my reading of its pages. It is a site for a service that is a network of professional free-lance book editors. The writer submits a request for editing, providing information about the book and some sample pages, and may ask for editors by name, based on their bios on the site. I submitted 50 sample pages of my book and asked for 3 editors by name, because their bios indicated they could deal with a technical how-to book like mine. Their resumes were all quite impressive.

Two of the three responded fairly promptly; the third never responded; I assume she was too busy, or didn't want to be involved with this type of book.

One of the three, who sounded excellent judging by her e-mail messages to me, eventually dropped out because she was fully booked for the next couple of months, and I didn't want to wait that long.

The third was quite responsive, and she sent me a proposal to edit my manuscript, which was about 47,000 words long at that time, for about $2,700.00, doing two "passes," one of them after I made the recommended changes, to see if any further changes were needed.

That price was much more than I had anticipated; I was hoping to pay no more than about $1,200.00 as an upper limit. So I negotiated, and she agreed to do just a single "pass" for $1,400.00. I felt that was okay, but in the end we didn't make a deal because she couldn't get started for more than a month -- too long a wait for me. Next time I do this, I will know to leave more time to find an editor, because the good ones obviously get booked several months in advance.

I kept searching, and followed some leads from an excellent book by Aaron Shepard called Aiming at Amazon, about the print-on-demand process. I went to his site at and eventually found a site that recommended a particular editor. I contacted her by e-mail, and she agreed to do the editing for $700.00. She was available to start within about a week. She turned out to be very reliable, and finished the job on time. Of course, it's difficult to tell how good a job she did, but I found some of her edits to be quite astute and helpful.

The other part of the story was getting people to review the book for substance. The book has to go into minute detail about the operation of the Leica D-Lux 4 camera, and how to operate its controls, switches, and menus to take good pictures. I of course have the camera and have learned how to use it fairly well, but I am not a super-gearhead user like some of the people who contribute to discussion forums, nor am I a particularly accomplished photographer, though I used to develop my own pictures and have owned many cameras over the years.

I have learned a great deal about the camera and its uses on the Digital Photography Review web site,, particularly in its Leica Talk discussion forum. So I decided to contact one of the forum members who contributes a lot and has an excellent site for photography with the D-Lux 4 camera. His e-mail address was available through the forum, and he replied within a day to my request for him to read my draft. He said he wasn't an expert on all aspects of the camera, but he would be happy to read my draft.

I sent him the draft and waited two weeks. Finally, he sent me a message saying he had turned out to be too busy to read it. I thanked him and moved on.

Next, I took a step I had been reluctant to do. I posted a message on the forum for everyone to see, saying I was writing this book about the D-Lux 4 and needed some forum members to read it and provide comments, to make sure I hadn't made some mistake about the camera's operation or about photographic principles. I was reluctant to do this partly because I didn't want to appear to be promoting my book on the forum, which is a very valuable resource with some strict rules about non-commercial postings. I also wasn't sure about putting the book draft out to too wide an audience.

Anyway, I made my posting, and got quite a few responses. Eleven forum members replied asking me to send them the draft, which I did. As of now, almost three weeks later, I have received some excellent comments from four of those readers. A couple of others read all or parts of the draft and provided a few comments. What was somewhat troubling was that several other people asked for copies, which I sent (electronically, as pdf files), and then I never heard from them again. I can assume they ended up being too busy to focus on the draft, or to take the time to write comments.

So, today I finished up revising the draft one more time based on an incredibly useful set of comments from a reader. This man was amazing; he asked for the draft one day, and started sending detailed comments, chapter by chapter, within hours after I sent it to him.

Of course, there is a slight risk, pointed out to me by one of the readers, that someone could post the pdf file on a file-sharing web site somewhere. I'm not too worried about that, though, because I think most people would want a printed copy of the book, and the pdf file that was sent out to several people is now obsolete by several versions.

One of the most important aspects of the editing process was to force me to wait for the edits; I have a tendency to rush toward publication, and now I have had to slow down and take my time, and pay attention to what the readers have told me. The other great advantage of this system was to have readers from the target audience for the book read the manuscript. These are the people who are most likely to catch errors and make valuable suggestions, which they have done to an amazing degree.

Now I have to iron some of the technical glitches I talked about earlier, and I hope to have another draft of the book printed within a few days.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

More Equipment; More About Latest D-Lux 4 Book Draft

I've recovered from the slight funk I was in a few days ago after printing and binding a copy of my self-published book about how to use the Leica D-Lux 4 camera. There are still several problems to solve, but problem-solving is pretty much the essence of this project at this point, so I shouldn't complain about the existence of problems.

Here's a photo of the book draft that I was unhappy with, followed by a closeup showing the result of the perfect binding:

Here is the closeup:

You can't really see a lot of detail about the copy of the book from these images, but there's a lot of room for improvement. I plan to re-print the pages with new toner in the printer to improve the quality of the printed photos, and then I'll probably have to experiment with different papers to work on the curling-pages problem.

As the book gets thicker, it has become apparent that I can't follow my original plan of printing the cover on an 8.5 by 11 inch sheet of cover stock. When you factor in the thickness of the book's spine, it becomes necessary to trim too much off of the pages to fit within the cover. So, I've ordered some legal-size (8.5 by 14 inch) cover stock. One problem is that the company did not carry that size for the same cover stock I used before, so I had to try a completely different type of paper for the cover. We'll see how that works out when it arrives in a few days. At least I won't have to trim the pages down drastically to fit within the cover.

By the way, before I forget to mention it, all the photos for this blog are being taken with the Leica D-Lux 4 camera, the subject of my book. It really is a terrific camera, which is how this whole project got started.

Back to describing the mechanics. Here is a photo of one more piece of equipment that I purchased. This one came from the same eBay seller who sold me the perfect binding machine.

This is a paper-scoring machine. It has only one very specific purpose, and it isn't strictly necessary, but I think it will add a lot of convenience to the process of binding the books. This machine has one big lever that operates a scoring press (I made that name up, but I think it's basically accurate). You place a flat book cover on the deck of the machine, lined up with the ruler, then press down hard with the lever, and the cover will be scored with a line that permits a clean, sharp fold. Then you turn the cover around and press on the other side of the spine, and there will be two clear score lines, separated by the width of the spine, so the pages can be inserted neatly, the cover folded cleanly, and the pages glued inside the cover.

That basically covers the equipment I am using, apart from the computer, which is a MacBook Pro.

Next time, I'll start talking about the writing and editing, getting the ISBN, and similar matters.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Latest Draft of Leica D-Lux 4 Book; More About Equipment

In my last post I talked about the Martin-Yale 7000e paper cutter. I'll talk some more about equipment in a little while. First, though, an update about the latest draft of my book about the Leica D-Lux 4 digital camera. For several reasons, the draft of the book that was completed yesterday looked terrible when I was done. I had high hopes for this draft, because I had just received the final edits from the copy editor on Friday, October 9, and I received some excellent substantive comments from a volunteer reader from the Leica Talk forum on I incorporated all of those comments into a new draft in Microsoft Word for the Mac, then set up a new document in Adobe InDesign. I chose the page size to be half letter, or 5.5 inches by 8.5 inches, so I could print them two-up (two pages per sheet of paper, in landscape orientation).

I got the draft formatted pretty well in InDesign, and it printed out nicely on the Brother HL-4070CDW color laser printer. I printed in duplex mode, on both sides of each sheet of paper. So, though the book is now just over 200 pages long, I only needed about 50 sheets of paper.

When the 50 sheets came out, I used the Martin-Yale cutter to cut the sheets in half, yielding two stacks of the book's pages. The first obvious problem was that the pages were curled. And, because the pages were cut apart, the two stacks of pages curled in opposite directions. So, when I put them together to form the whole book, there was no way to get the pages to lie flat; the two curves fought against each other, leaving a gap in the middle of the book.

The next problem was that the black text and color photos all had a bluish cast, and some of the photos looked awful. I checked the printer's software, which says the printer is low on magenta toner. I ordered a whole set of new color toners, which will arrive tomorrow. I'm hoping that will fix the color problem. I may have to change to a different type of paper (I'm now using Hammermill LaserPrint) to deal with the curling problem.

Finally, I did a lousy job of binding and trimming, so the final book was not squared off properly, and some pages were loose. Oh, well, improvement will come with practice. At least he cover looked fairly good, after I changed it along the lines suggested by one of the volunteer readers.

On to the equipment. Here is a picture of the Martin-Yale 7000e paper cutter:

And here is a picture of the Brother HL-4070CDW color laser printer:

Now, some discussion of the machine I bought for perfect binding. This was the area I was most uncertain about, because book binding is completely new to me, and sounds a little scary. The books I mentioned earlier, by Rupert Evans and Roger Allen, talk about binding machines costing anywhere from about $5,000.00 to a million dollars, though they said you might find a used one for several hundred. I did browse around a bit, and saw a decent-sounding model on Craigslist for $2,500.00 used. I didn't seriously consider it, though, because it would have been bought sight unseen, and if it had problems I would have no way to repair it.

Dr. Evans did talk in his book about using an electric frying pan to melt the glue for binding books, and I seriously considered that idea, but I decided it would call for too much ingenuity and probably would require me to improvise some other items, such as stands and presses to hold the book during the binding process.

Ultimately, I looked on eBay and found listings for brand-new perfect binding machines in the $700.00 dollar range. That seemed surprising, given the information about pricing in the books I had read, but those books are at least nine years old, and the market may have changed. So, I asked the seller some questions through eBay, and he responded quite quickly with helpful information about how the machine works and whether it would be suited for my application of binding paperback books in small quantities. I took a chance and ordered the machine. Here is a picture of it:

So far, I have been quite favorably impressed by the machine. I've bound about five practice paperbacks with it, and the results have been mixed, but I think that's a function of my inexperience. The machine includes a device to "mill" the spine edge of the pages to roughen them so the glue will adhere well; the hopper on the right side holds glue pellets, which are heated by the machine to about 338 degrees F (170 degrees C), and then the melted glue is dripped all along the spine. You then use the machine's big lever on the right to press down the cover against the glue-covered spine and hold it down for several seconds. The book is then bound; the hot glue dries and hardens very quickly. Then, three trims in the paper cutter and the book is (in theory) ready for distribution.

So, for now I'm working to improve some aspects of the draft, and then I'll concentrate on working the bugs out of the printing process. I'm still hoping to publish the book later this month or sometime in November.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Equipment for Printing and Binding Your Own Books

In my last post I discussed the Martin-Yale guillotine stack paper cutter, which some say is the most essential piece of equipment for printing and binding your own books. Now I'll talk about the other items that I acquired for this project.

First is the printer. I already had an inkjet printer, an HP C6180 all-in-one printer and scanner, which does a nice job for everyday printing. But it is not suited for printing the pages of a book, at least from what I've read and observed. One of the recommendations is to use a laser printer. One important feature is that the printer be a duplexing printer -- that is, that it can automatically print on both sides of the sheets of paper. Somewhat ironically, I used to have one of the printers that was recommended -- a Lexmark 4039 with duplexing attachment, but I disposed of it several years ago. Anyway, because my book is about a camera and will need to include color photographs, I decided a color laser printer was needed.

I did a fair amount of research on the internet. Actually, turned out to be a good place to look into color lasers, because many people have reviewed them on that site. It can be tricky to evaluate the reviews, because some people will say a printer is the greatest one ever made, and someone else will say it's a piece of junk. I read through a large number of reviews and ultimately settled on the Brother HL-4070CDW. The C stands for color, the D stands for duplex, and the W stands for wireless, because it (theoretically) will connect to a wireless network.

This printer had more than 100 reviews on Amazon, many of them very favorable. One great feature was its price -- when I bought it, a couple of months ago, it sold new on Amazon for only $325.00, which seems to me to be an amazing bargain. (Now it's gone up again, but I believe the price fluctuates for some reason.) One of the complaints some buyers made, though, is that, even though the printer is not expensive, when you need to replace the color toner (four separate cartridges), that will cost more than the price of the printer.

I've found the printer somewhat tricky to use. When you print its demo page, it looks fantastic, with bright, vivid colors and great resolution. It's not as easy to get that great quality from my own printing, though I'm starting to figure out how to tweak the settings. I finally figured out how to find the Brother "printer profiles," buried in a system folder, that will help the printer yield better quality output. The duplexing works fine, and the speed is fine also. The print quality is no problem at all; it's getting the color photos to look their best that is the biggest challenge so far.

Next time, I'll discuss the binding machine.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Software and Equipment Used for Publishing Project

I relied on advice in the books I mentioned in the last post to select software and equipment to produce and publish my book about the Leica D-Lux 4 compact digital camera. The book titled Book Production and Design is an excellent guide to page layout for a self-published book. The software it recommends for this purpose is Adobe InDesign, a successor to PageMaker. In fact, the book provides a detailed step-by-step roadmap to setting up the book using InDesign. So, that is the software I bought. I have used other Adobe products for years, notably Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, and Premiere (for video editing). I like the Adobe programs, but a problem for a self-publisher is the expense of these programs, which are used by and designed for commercial operations. By careful shopping on eBay, I managed to find a legal, licensed copy for about $300 or so; an upgrade edition that was sold along with the qualifying product for the upgrade.

For the initial writing of the book's text, I used Pages for the Macintosh. I recently switched from a Windows computer to a MacBook Pro, and bought a copy of iWork, a Mac suite that includes word processing, presentations, spreadsheet, etc., like Microsoft Office, but cheaper. Pages worked fine as a word processor, and I was able to save the document in .rtf format for importing into InDesign.

Because my book is about the use of a digital camera, I need to have photographs in it. InDesign is good at handling graphics, but I need to edit the images first. For that, I bought a copy of Adobe Photoshop Elements. I didn't have Photoshop for the Mac and didn't want to buy a copy, so I settled for Elements version 6.0. So far, Elements has worked out well for me. It has really grown from being a small-time version of Photoshop to being a robust program that allows me to do anything I need to do, including editing photos in RAW format, which is a fairly sophisticated feature. It also allows me to resize the images, crop them, adjust colors, and everything else I need to do to get the images ready for inclusion in the book.

I also bought a copy of Adobe Illustrator, thinking that it would help me include illustrations or drawings showing the camera's controls. That hasn't worked out, at least not yet, because I'm using the new Snow Leopard operating system on the Mac, and I haven't been able to get Illustrator to run at all. I'm hoping that will be fixed with updates to the Mac OS or to Illustrator before too long.

That's it for software, other than standard items such as internet browser (FireFox), web development (DreamWeaver), and other items needed for general work on the computer.

I'll start my discussion of equipment by mentioning one item. In the previous post, I wrote about Rupert Evans' excellent book, Book-on-Demand Publishing. In that book, he makes it clear that the one item you absolutely have to have to print and bind your own books is a heavy-duty paper cutter. I had, like most people, worked fairly often with a standard office-type of paper cutter, with the blade that swings down to trim a few sheets of paper. What Dr. Evans is talking about is called a guillotine or stack cutter. This type of equipment can slice neatly through a stack of one hundred or more pages, depending on the model. It is used to make the final trims of the book, after it has its paper covers and is bound. The book likely needs to have three final trims: on the right side and at the top and bottom. The result is a final-looking book, with clean, squared-up pages. Without a heavy-duty stack paper cutter, you can't really achieve that look.

Most such paper cutters cost upwards of a thousand dollars; many of them are electrically powered, come with stands, have some automatic features, and cost thousands. But, there is one model that sits on a tabletop and is completely manual, but solidly built and able to slice cleanly through about 200 sheets of paper. That is the Martin-Yale 7000e. That is what I bought. I tried to find a new one, but everywhere I tried was out of stock, so I bought a "lightly used" one on eBay, for almost as much as a new one would cost. (I paid slightly over $600.00.) With my wife's assistance, I have made several cuts, and it does what it's supposed to do. We had problems for a while when it would not cut through the final few sheets, but we figured out that the cutting stick had been worn through where the blade comes down. I rotated the cutting stick (which is a piece of wood or plastic that provides a resistant surface below the blade's cutting area), and now it cuts well again.

Next time, more about the equipment. After that, I'll talk about getting help with editing.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

First Installment of Technical Info

For the moment I will stop providing updates on the present, and concentrate on the (recent) past. I'm going to give some details about what hardware and software I'm using or planning to use, some points about how I chose it, and some discussion of sources of information.

First, the information sources. There are many, many books in print currently about self-publishing. One that is often cited is the Self-Publishing Manual by Dan Poynter, which is updated every couple of years or so. The edition I have is from 2007. It's an excellent general reference work. Another one I've just started reading is The Well-Fed Self-Publisher, by Peter Bowerman, a follow-up to his two earlier books about freelance writing in general. But, as I said, there are many others.

A subset of self-publishing books is books about "print-on-demand," which, generally speaking, is the process of having books printed in small quantities as needed, rather than in one-time batches of hundreds or thousands, as is the norm in commercial publishing. One good general book on this topic is Print-On-Demand Book Publishing, by Morris Rosenthal. Another one, which I recommend highly because of its frankness and very detailed "inside" information, is Aiming at Amazon, by Aaron Shepard, with copyright dated 2007-09, so it's quite up-to-date.

Then I come to the two books that are the only books I have found so far that discuss the type of endeavor I'm working on -- that is, self-printing and binding as well as self-publishing. The more recent of these two books is A Quick Guide to Book-On-Demand Printing, by Roger MacBride Allen, published in 2000. This is a very well-written and informative book, and it goes into excellent detail about the process of actually producing your own books, from page design all the way through to binding.

Finally, the book that is in some respects my primary "bible" for this project, though it's getting a bit dated: Book-on-Demand Publishing, by Rupert Evans, published in 1995. This last book is my favorite in part because the character of the author shines through it in a very personable way. From postings on the internet and information in Roger Allen's book (which acknowledges a considerable debt to the Rupert Evans book), it emerges that Rupert Evans is a college professor with a doctorate who enjoys printing and binding books in small quantities at his home, for himself, for neighbors, and, evidently, anyone who asks him. His book discusses in very useful detail the various alternative methods of printing, and how to select papers, printing devices, binding equipment, paper cutters, and the like. For an example, although he did purchase a commercial book-binding machine, he says that, if he were starting over, he would get an electric frying pan to melt the glue that's used to bind books, rather than spending the money for a more elaborate machine that doesn't accomplish the end result appreciably better.

There's one other book I need to mention, which focuses only on one aspect of the process. That is Book Design and Production, by Pete Masterson. This is an excellent reference work with specific details about how to do page layout, cover design, and prepare a book to go to the printer.

If anyone knows of other good books in these areas, especially any focusing on printing and binding your own books, I would be very interested to hear about them.

In a future post, I will discuss software and equipment, among other matters.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Some More Details About the Self-Publishing Project

In the previous post, which was the first for this blog, I tried to bring the story fairly well up to date without going into a fine level of detail. This time I will again start out with a "snapshot" of the current situation, and then go back to fill in some of the gaps in the history of my venture.

As a general reminder, what I'm working on is a relatively single-handed publishing venture. I've written a book about how to use the Leica D-Lux 4 compact digital camera, and am planning to print copies of the pages, design and print paper book covers, bind the covers to the pages, then sell the books however I can, either online, through physical stores, or other ways.

What I think makes this venture different from traditional self-publishing is the self-printing and binding aspect of it. As I said in the previous post, many of the experts on self-publishing either assume that the self-publisher will hire a commercial printer to print and bind the books, or will advise the self-publisher not to try to do the printing and binding, because it's too difficult or too fraught with pitfalls.

For the snapshot of what's going on right now, I'm still waiting for the copy editor to send me back the edited copy of the book. In the meantime, several volunteers who I met online through a photography forum are reading the book and begininng to offer comments (some very useful, others not) about the photographic topics. I'm continuing to work with and adjust the software and hardware I will be using for the various aspects of the project. Also, I'm watching with some nervousness various posts on the photography forum saying that some people think the D-Lux 4 camera is going to be discontinued in the near future. That would not be good; there would still be plenty of the cameras in circulation, but I believe people are more likely to buy a book explaining the use of their camera if they have just bought a new camera.

Now I will go back and fill in some more of the details leading up to the current snapshot.

As I said last time, I had some trouble finding a topic for a book; my only other book, a World War II biography, was published in 1996. In the interim, I toyed with the thought of writing a novel. I made many notes on possible plots, characters, and scenes to include, but none of them ever really got me excited enough to start writing. I took some fiction writing courses by correspondence, online, and through local adult education offerings, but none of them really inpsired me.

Over the years, I spent a good deal of time selling things on eBay and Amazon, through Amazon Marketplace. I enjoyed that sort of activity. On eBay in particular, I enjoyed taking good-quality digital photographs of the items I was selling, and quite a few of those items were digital cameras. I have always been somewhat of a gadget lover and early adopter, and I would get the latest model of camera and sell the old one.

Eventually it dawned on me that I could combine several of my interests -- writing, selling, and digital photography, by writing a book about a camera. I don't remember exactly when and how I heard about the D-Lux 4, but I must have been browsing in the Digital Photography Review,, which I often do. I have to admit I was impressed by the Leica name, even though the camera is essentially a re-branded version of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3. The camera got very positive reviews, and the users on had many positive comments and stories about using it. Among those comments, people occasionally asked if there was a book available to supplement the user's manual, as there are for other cameras, primarily the more popular DSLR cameras such as the Canon EOS series and the Nikons, etc. It turned out that there isn't any such book (at least none listed on I thought for a while, and then decided that would be a good project for me.

I had to be realistic, though -- obviously, a book of this sort has a limited shelf-life. Digital camera models come and go like autumn leaves. On the other hand, Leica models might have a little bit more staying power; that company doesn't come out with new models as often as a company like Canon or Sony. But the book probably wouldn't be current for more than about a year, if I'm lucky. The camera has been out for a little over a year as of now, and it may be discontinued at any time.

So it didn't seem practical to submit a proposal to a commercial publisher, because the camera has been out for a while, and it would take months for that process, from queries to possible acceptance to editing and publication. Also, as I've been reading in various books and articles, as the author of a book like that, I would not get a very big share of the sales proceeds -- the money would go to the publisher, distributors, retailers, etc., with not much left over for me.

The solution was to self-publish. But, as I said last time, my first book was very expensive to self-publish with the aid of a commercial publishing company. I wanted to minimize the up-front costs. I've read a good deal about "print on demand," the process by which an author contracts with a company that will print the author's book, and then produce as many copies as are needed, but only when they are really needed for sales, so you don't end up with an inventory of unsold boxes in cartons. (I still have hundreds of copies of my first book in cartons.)

Print-on-demand sounded fairly attractive, but the costs still seemed high. I haven't looked at any figures lately, but I believe it would be somewhere around $5.00 to $10.00 per copy to produce the book I was planning. And that wouldn't include full-color photographs, which I believe are needed for a book about how to use a camera.

The result of this thought process was the conclusion that I need to not only self-publish, but also self-print and bind. I have to admit that part of the attraction of that approach is that I enjoy learning new things and overcoming technical challenges like this. The idea of figuring out how to print and bind books that would have an acceptable appearance for selling commercially appeals to me.

That was the plan, then, and it still is. Next time, I'll discuss more details about what software and equipment I'm using, and how the whole self-publishing project has unfolded so far.

If you have any comments or questions about the project, or about the general process of self-publishing, printing, binding, etc., please leave a comment. Thanks.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Bringing the Story Up to Date

I'm calling this blog "An Individual Publisher's Journey." I could have referred to my story as that of a self-publisher or a small publisher, but settled on "individual publisher." I don't know if that phrase is a common one or not, but it seems to describe what I'm doing.

Let me bring the story up to date, after a brief snapshot of the present.

As of today, I have a draft of my book with a freelance copy editor. The draft also has been sent out to several volunteers with knowledge and interest in the subject of the book. Yesterday I worked on calibrating my printer and monitor so the color photographs in the book have a better chance of looking like reality. I have a list of more photographs to take, and I need to re-design the book's cover. I'm hoping to publish the book later this month, or maybe in early November. I still need to work on the index. I need to some research on a topic suggested by one of the volunteer readers. I need to figure out how to blog; this is my first blog post, which I'm undertaking at the suggestion of another of the volunteer readers.

Okay, that was a snapshot of the status of the project as of today. Now I will enter flashback mode and describe what I'm trying to accomplish, and how I got to this point.

I have a full-time job working for a large organization, but ever since my high school days I have entertained visions of being a writer. For years I dabbled in writing stories, read magazines like Writer's Digest, The Writer, and others, bought copies of Writer's Market and many other books about how to get published. I submitted stories on occasion to magazines and had them quickly rejected. I submitted some non-fiction articles, and they were mostly accepted. I had a few reviews of computer printers published back in the 1980s.

Then, in 1992, after my mother died, I came into possession of a large collection of items that belonged to my uncle, Joseph Sailer, a U.S. Marine Corps dive-bomber pilot who distinguished himself in battle at Guadalcanal during World War II. He was killed in combat on December 7, 1942. My mother had spoken of her brother often, and hinted that she would like me to write his story some day.

So, starting in 1993, I set out to gather all the available material and add to it by interviewing his surviving military colleagues and doing research in military archives. I put his story together in a book called Dauntless Marine: Joseph Sailer Jr., Dive-Bombing Ace of Guadalcanal. I submitted the manuscript to about six publishers. Five of them either didn't respond or rejected it summarily. The last one, Naval Institute Press, showed some interest, but decided not to publish it.

Rather than start another round of submissions to publishers, I decided to self-publish the book. I saw an article in The Washington Post about a biography of baseball legend Walter Johnson. The book had been written by a local author who wanted to control the publication himself. He hired a Washington publishing company, Farragut Publishing, to put the book together for him.

The book looked just like any commercially published book, and that sounded like a good approach, so I called Farragut. They were very professional and appeared to be (and were) quite reputable, and the project worked out well. Dauntless Marine was published in 1996 and got a few fairly favorable reviews. It appeals to a fairly narrow audience, mostly people with relatives who were at Guadalcancal (or were there themselves, though there aren't too many left), or those with an interest in Marine Corps aviation history.

The one big drawback of this system of publishing was the expense. The book is hardbound and looks very nice, but I'll never come close to recovering the costs of printing it. It's available now on, where it sells roughly six copies per year. I have probably about 700 copies sitting around the house in shipping cartons.

I wanted to write another book, but had trouble finding a topic. Finally I realized that I could combine a couple (or more) of my interests and start a new book project. I have enjoyed photography for several decades; I used 35mm film cameras in the 1960s, including a Besseler Topcon and various Canon models, a Pentax, and others. I also did some Super-8 movie-making, and even a bit of 16mm filming with a Bolex. In recent years, when digital photography started to take over, I have used a series of increasingly capable digital cameras.

My most recent camera, which I bought a few months ago, is a Leica D-Lux 4. The D-Lux 4 is a compact, point-and-shoot sized camera, but with unusually sophisticated features and specifications for a pocketable camera. Leica is a prestigious brand name; the company's other cameras, dating back decades, are very expensive (thousands of dollars), high-quality pieces of equipment. The D-Lux 4 is expensive for a compact digital camera (about $700), but relatively affordable.

The camera seems to have an enthusiastic following, especially on the Leica forum at, an excellent site for information about digital cameras. The camera's user guide is somewhat impenetrable, and there is no third-party book about the camera available, as there are for other cameras, mostly the larger DSLRs (digital single-lens reflex cameras, which take interchangeable lenses).

So, my project was to write a guidebook to the D-Lux 4. The camera has been on the market for about a year now, and no digital model lasts very long these days, so I didn't really have time to submit the book to commercial publishers. So I decided to publish the book myself. This time, though, I can't turn to Farragut or another publisher like that, because of the expense. The book about my uncle was one I wanted to write no matter what, to make a historical record for the benefit of my relatives and my uncle's military colleagues and others with an interest in his story. The camera book, though, is one I hope to sell and make some (not much) money from.

I have read several books about self-publishing; the frequently updated book by Dan Poynter and several others. One possibility started to intrigue me, though. Most of the experts on self-publishing expect the author to complete the manuscript, possibly going as far as doing the page layout in a program such as Quark Express, PageMaker, or, more recently, Adobe InDesign, and then submit a .pdf file to a printing company to have them produce the actual books.

There is the possibility, though, of going one step further with the "self" aspect of self-publishing, and do everything yourself, including printing and binding. When I saw posts on the internet asking about this, the experts generally would say something like, no, self-printing won't work; it's very complicated and messy, and never turns out well.

They may turn out to be right, but I'm in the process of finding out for myself. In other words, I am planning to print the book on a laser printer at home, then bind it with a paper cover, and distributed them, however I can, from home.

Okay, that is the basic story to date. Next time I will go into some more details about exactly what I have done so far, in terms of equipment, procedures, obstacles, etc.