Wednesday, June 7, 2023

I'm writing a book and cannot stand to read my own words anymore

I don't know what prompted it, but a couple of months ago I decided I was going to publish a compilation of my best blog posts. If all goes well, it will be released sometime this fall.

Actually, the 50 posts in the book may not necessarily be my "best." They're more like my "favorites." As I combed through the 840 posts I've written over the past 12 years, I picked out the ones that either made me laugh the hardest or the ones of which I was most proud, for whatever reason.

The book won't be intended for mass-market distribution. It's more of a pet project for friends and family, though I will gladly accept sales to random people who happen to stumble across it on Amazon.

Creatively enough, it will be titled "5 Kids, 1 Wife." At first I wasn't sure what to call it, but my longtime professional acquaintance Brian Sooy (a published author and marketing guru) suggested appropriating the name of this blog as the title. It's concise and compelling, he told me, and it gives readers a quick taste of what they'll find should they choose to buy the book.

He was right, as usual.

There will be a section on parenting, a section on family and relationships, a catch-all section labeled "Other Things on My Mind," and yes, a small section on my short-lived game show career.

The good folks at Kindle Direct Publishing make it relatively simple to create your own book. As Amazon's publishing platform, they allow you to distribute your work widely and easily in both electronic and hard-copy format. Thus, my book will be available as a paperback or as an e-book, depending on your preference.

Still, self-publishing is not something you accomplish in an afternoon.

First there's the writing. In my case you would think this part was easy, since I was choosing from among hundreds of pre-written, already-published blog posts.

I thought that, too. Then I started working through them and found my initial list had something like 120 posts I might potentially include in the book. It took a good while to whittle the list down to the 50 posts I liked best, and that I thought told some semblance of a collective story.

Then I started re-reading them and realized I needed to do some heavy-duty editing. It's not that they were poorly written. It's just that my writing style has become more economical over time, and the early posts especially needed some trimming in terms of word selection and sentence construction.

I have done five complete edits of these posts, pruning them from a bloated 41,000 words to the sleeker current total of just over 38,000.

At first it was fun to read my old stuff. By the third edit, however, it was torture. None of it seemed remotely entertaining anymore. By the fourth time through, I was thoroughly sick of reading my own material.

Let's not even talk about the fifth and final edit, which I can only characterize as a slog.

Once I got through that, there was the matter of finding photos to go with some of the posts. These had to be photos of sufficient resolution for inclusion in a printed book and to which I owned the rights or had permission to use.

Given those narrow parameters, there may be 20 images in the book once it gets to final form. Maybe.

Then I remembered I'm not a graphic designer and that even the most text-heavy books need some design to make them attractive. Enter another professional from my past, the talented Jamie Feldman, who is going to create the front and back covers.

I've also engaged an interior book designer from the UK named Catherine to work with me on typeface selection, page layout, and creating an engaging look and feel on each page.

I really should have hired someone to copy edit the book for me, as well, but I've already spent enough money on what is supposed to be an informal personal project, so I did that part myself.

I know people like Stephen King have staffers who handle most of this process for them, but now I wonder how many times he read through, say, "The Shining" before vowing never to open one of his own books again.

Believe me, brother, I can empathize.


  1. Can we purchase a hard copy through amazon? Remember to note "Best Seller" on the front cover!

    1. Yes, hard copies will be available! And I do love the "Best Seller" marketing tactic. No one needs to know that that might be a slight exaggeration of the truth...

    2. The "truth" of being a best seller can be entirely a figment of whatever demographic you're referencing, right? So who's to say what demographic is buying up the tome in droves?

    3. We apparently have a long way to go before these AI bots generate responses in anything resembling normal English conversation...

  2. Excellent! My attempt to out-AI an AI-based response through subterfuge worked brilliantly! Willem Steinmetz von Dietrich