Book and photo by Anne Hart.
Even novels, stories, poems, and lyrics can be step-by-step guide books in a sense that help readers to make decisions and choices easier to figure out, follow, and/or transcend. Do publishers look for creative writing that focuses on simplifying to make the story clearer, less complex, and easier to imagine walking in the 'shoes' of the main characters -- or steering clear of the choices your characters act upon in the story?
Do editors seek stories of commitment, putting bread on the table, keeping family together, and pulling your own weight or at least doing your share of pitching-in to make life and the story along with each character's choices easier to follow? Does writing sell more, appeal more to readers when values emphasized are universal, events everyone goes through at different stages of life?
Help people celebrate significant experiences. Interview, transcribe, organize, edit, write, and publish a personal memoirs or business history book, booklet, or pamphlet. Or include with the book a sleeve containing a CD or DVD disk on the inside back page. That disk would contain the same material as the text portion of the book, but as a narrated audio or video ‘book.’
When children grow, up they’d love to see great grandma on video, hear her voice narrate her own life story’s highlights, and discuss the times and scenes from her past. The paperback or hard cover book would contain the same material that easily can be read without technology.
Here’s how to start. Your first step is to offer potential clients unique, individual, customized books or booklets. The type of books you would write and publish would be memoirs and gift books. To operate your business, you’d need to hire as independent contractors interviewers to interview clients in a variety of cities nationally or around the world.
You’d not only write the book, but also arrange any photos or other graphics, publish the books, and send finished, bound copies of the book or booklet to your clients. Your client would pay for a fixed number of copies of this book, enough to be both affordable for the client and profitable for you. On the average, you’d write and publish about 25 books per year, with the help of freelance writers or a team of writers working as independent contracts on assignment.
The type of book you’d write mainly would emphasize personal stories. They would be personal books that come out of journals and celebrations, life stories, business histories, tributes, and appreciation material. To begin, divide your categories into these main topics:
Personal Celebration Books
Quincinera (Hispanic 15th birthday party)
Start of teenage years
End of teenage years
Ethnic Rites of Passage
Immigration stories—the journey and life in the new country
Bilingual life stories in family’s original language with English translation section of same information
Moving stories—relocation, new house.
Surviving an illness and healing journal
Diet success story “How I lost weight and kept it off.”
Memoirs and photos at various stages of life—how a person changed every seven years
High school journal
Childbirth experience/Bringing home baby
Adoption stories/open adoptions
Selling the large house and moving to smaller quarters
Transition to assisted living
Volunteer experiences: documenting acts of kindness
Adoptive child meets birth parents after decades
Divorce journal of details
Battered spouse detail and dates of incidents journal
Religious conversion explanations to children
New pets introduced to older pets in the household
Merging of families—man with three children marries woman with three children
Extended family histories
Friends for 50+ years
Several couples buying one vacation home together
Lessons Learned from Life (celebrity interviews)
How to Make the Most of What You Have
Exercise or dance lessons
Scholarship(s) or Fellowships won
Report cards from past generations
Original designs or writings preserved for future generations/keepsake albums
Jokes (original, not copyrighted by anyone else other than your client)
Personalized children’s books—a story book bearing the name and photos of each child. This can be a universal novelette, novel, or story featuring the child.
Travel stories and events with details
School year books with a twist—customization and details
Valentine’s Day, for each year for many years, or one specific event—first Valentine’s day before the wedding.
Baby naming book or baby naming event
Building a house
Book of thank you notes for an event, gift, or celebration
Pet showers (new dog or cat shower)
Bar and Bat Mitzvah
Christmas gatherings over the decades
Recipes/cookbooks preserved from generation to generation (original)
Hanukah, Passover, Purim, Rosh Hashanah memories and other holiday gatherings
Holidays of feasting with family book with details gathered over many decades as memoirs of events.
100th Birthday gift book
Welcoming newcomer books
Life stories of uncles and aunts as gifts to nieces and nephews or cousins
Novel for children or other age groups and genres
Plays or skits and monologues based on real-life stories or memoirs
Songs with lyrics
Change of Name
Passing driver’s license exam and getting one’s first car
Born Again Spiritual Theme
Marking each stage of life transition
Room mates/Sharing a household
Success stories/case histories media book
Switching brands—why customers switched to your product
Elections/Politicians in Office
News Clipping Collection on a Theme Gift Book
Authors’ Media Tours Gift Books
Tour Guides/travel tips/restaurant guide
Dining and Restaurants for each city
Walking Tours/Guided Tours
Outdoor Theme parks
National Weeks Celebrating a Theme
Video/Virtual Reality theme parks
Volunteers’ work book of thanks and gratitude
Professionals such as dentists and doctors or hospitals—commemoration or thanks to staff.
Wedding chapel history/church history
Solving problems and getting results case histories
Retirement parties and retirement stories, tributes, or histories
Corporate roast with jokes and standup comedy routines
Appreciation book from clients, customers, employer, or employees
‘Why’ customers switched to your product book of step-by-step details that potential clients can follow to solve problems and get results.
Professional associations’ events
Public speaker’s experiences
Political views of family members
Video news releases with similar material in paperback print as text
Courses or other instruction, tips, and strategies or techniques (how-to)
Employee’s suggestions from suggestion box saved for many decades
New license to practice a profession
Contest or competition winner
Award/Hall of Fame/Historical sites/Museums/Galleries
Activities after retirement
Instructional/Educational Gift Books
Literacy Tools and Photos
Restaurant Guides with Price Ranges
Non-profit agencies work overseas documented
Computer camp or drama camp experiences remembered
Author’s creative salon with book reviews or poetry and photos
Look for turning points, unique significant events, and highlights. Examples could be rites of passage and grand openings, graduations, or the start or finish of major life events. Journals and diaries may be turned into customized books. The major events would pertain to individuals and businesses, schools and organizations. Any situation that has a measurable life span, rite of passage, celebration or ritual may be turned into a book of memoirs.
Clients would ask for a variety of different-sized books or booklets and pamphlets. The length of the book as well as the number of words and pages would differ. The emphasis is on details to share or real-life stories. Each book would be sold as a gift. Customers could order a set number of books.
You keep the master copy on disk and backed up in a disk drive or put on a CD or DVD. You can offer the book in print, as a print-on-demand book saved also in your computer and if you want to add voice narration, also as an audio book and/or narrated video using photos, images, video clips, and memorabilia recorded. You could include DNA-driven genealogy reports, maps, graphics, and interpretations in plain language. Back up any files for storage as master copies. Relatives and friends may order additional copies.
If your client is of interest in the public arena, the book also could sell as a published work. Make sure the book is copyrighted in your name and that you have all the publishing rights to the work which is based on interviews with your clients or video and audio recording your clients.
The reason the book is copyrighted by you as a business and not by the client is that you’re doing the writing and publishing. The client is being interviewed by phone and recorded in audio and/or video. From this information, you are transcribing the life story or business history. Then you are editing it for grammar and spelling. You are organizing the book so that similar topics are grouped together. Then you are changing the files of what you typed as a document into a PDF file that will be transformed into a print-on-demand book.
You are designing the cover which would be given free to the client using either art work or photos supplied by the client or your own graphic designs.
You can do this yourself or hire a graphic designer to design all your book covers. This artist as an independent contractor would work for a fee per book cover. Or you could ask for art work or photos saved at 300 dpi as a .tiff file, with CMYK color, for example using PhotoShop software. The books could vary in size or stay a basic 6 by 9 inches. Art work for the cover would be saved on a CD and mailed to you as a 6 by 9 inch file saved at 300 dpi as a .tiff file.
For all this work, you’d charge a fee that would cover writing, editing, and publishing. Production work includes designing the cover, shipping and handling, and printing on demand several authors’ copies. The client would pay for as many copies as the individual ordered. Finally, you’d display the book’s cover and marketing information on a Web site for the client or save it to a CD and send to the client so that the client has a copy of the book in paperback, on a CD, and saved as a Web site on a CD. It’s up to the client whether to upload information about the book to a personal Web site.
You could host the Web site with the book information or catalogue, or the book can be entirely private and sent only to the client to distribute to family and friends or employees. Some books would be private, such as a child’s story. Parents wouldn’t want their child’s name and image outside of the family.
Businesses touting success stories and histories may want a book or pamphlet circulated among employees and prospective clients. How the book is presented depends upon the client’s needs and preferences.
Sharing meaning defines ‘communication.’ What you are doing is bringing to life family histories, life stories, journals, or successful business experiences. Memoirs can be presented in print or as audio and video recordings or all together.
For example, present the book in text on acid-free paper, then include a pocket or flap envelope pasted to the inner cover of the book or pamphlet containing a CD or DVD that has a video and/or audio narration with graphics such as photos as memorabilia. This three-way enhancement of a life story or business case history/success story offers reading, viewing, and listening that can extend far into the future for generations.
Publishers who buy a book or any other item on its buzz value are buying simplicity. It is simplicity that sells and nothing else but simplicity. This is true for computers, MP3 players, books, or items that have to be assembled by the buyer. Simplicity sells in instructional manuals and in how-to kits. It's good storytelling to say it simply. People want user-friendly gadgets, stories, and information.
Simplicity means what you have to offer gives your customer all the answers that everyone looks for in exotic places, but finds close by. What's the great proverb that sells anything to anyone? It’s to stand on your own two feet and put bread on your own table for your family.
What’s your client’s life story slogan or main message? Is it about living on less and enjoying it more? Or is it about “you get what you pay for?” What is the most important moral point in a life story? Is it about telling each person to pull his own weight? Pulling your own weight is a buzz word that sells any product or practical, concrete application of an abstract idea that teaches and reaches through simplicity.
The backbone of the media emphasizes the values of simplicity, morals and faith (or trust). These are universal values. Doing the best to take care of your family sells. That’s the buzz appeal you need to emphasize.
Consumers and publishers go through fads every two years--angel books, managing techniques books, computer home-based business books, novels about ancient historical characters or tribes, science fiction, children's programming. The genres shift emphasis, but values are consistent in the bestselling books, toys, and any other product.
You need to offer simplicity, values, morals, and commitment in whatever you want to share to make a living. Look at trends. To live on less and have more, find the highways to simplicity. Target those values. Emphasize commitment.
Buzz is universal, but you need national press to get publishers bidding. National press gives you credibility in the eyes of major publishers. The world is impressed by front page coverage in The Wall Street Journal because of what it symbolizes--stability, dependability, security, centeredness.
Find a newspaper article that relates to what information you want to share. Write to the reporter covering the feature. Query to see whether there is an interest in your story or feature. Make sure you have a new angle on your project. Does your item emphasize universal values, morals, simplicity, and commitment?
Does it span real history in a way that reads and works well? Quality is the most important trait. Visibility and credibility give your product momentum. Buzz appeal gives momentum to the practical application of your idea. Universal values and simple lifestyles sell each time they solve problems, give results, and offer benefits with balance.
Take drop-ship products from a company at no cost to you. Sell the products online, on eBay, for example. The products are stored in the company’s warehouse, not in your home. You could have the company mail the product directly to the customer after you collect the payment, take your share or commission, and notify the company of the sale and customer’s shipping address.