You can go ahead and add the title of “publisher” to my resume. Not that I update my resume anymore. Just sayin’.
It’s a title I didn’t think I’d ever have, mush less aspire to have. Author, journalist, sports writer, editor … sure, all those titles I expected to have at one point in my career, and have indeed acquired them. But publisher?
I blame/credit Rob McCuen for this development. Here is a brief synopsis of how it came about that I edited, designed, published and wrote a foreword for the longtime Milwaukee musician’s new book, “Shut Up and Listen: Me vs. Me: Confessions of a Bipolar Rock and Roller,” which became available to the public in both print and on Kindle at the tail end of March (otherwise known as “What I did on my coronavirus quarantine.”:
I met Rob McCuen in the early 1980s, when he was a drummer for an awesome power pop band, Red Ball Jets, in Milwaukee.
About 30 years later, after I’d moved to south central Indiana with a stop in the Chicago suburbs in between, I reconnected with Rob on social media. We chatted about music and a shared interest in short-track auto racing and eventually met up on one of my trips back to Milwaukee for a beer or two.
Ten years after those beers, he asked me if I’d edit a book he was writing ― a bunch of memoirs, essays and some of his song lyrics. I’d gotten out of the full-time job thing in September 2019, set my sights on finishing my third book, and was open to taking on editing and writing jobs along the way. So, why not?
The editing was a breeze; I’d done that sort of thing professionally for 34 years. Then, he asked me pretty please if I’d publish the book. That request elicited trepidation on my part. Sure, I’d written two books, and I’d designed plenty of magazines and other special sections during almost 20 years as a special publications editor. But someone else published my books, and I had the best design programs and tools available to me at work. My home publishing suite consists of … um, not much.
Plenty of fellow authors had self-published, and they’d used the tools that the various platforms suggest/ordain them to use. How hard could it be? I could learn new tricks. I can do this, I told myself.
Well, as you can see, I finally did do it. But the road was a bumpy one. Using Microsoft Word to design book covers and the guts of books is nuts. Just figuring out the page numbering nearly broke me. What a convoluted, bizarre, unfriendly system they have for that!
Frustration got the better of me, and I bought an old version of the Adobe creative suite on the cheap. Unfortunately, since Adobe no longer supports that version, I was not allowed to use it. Oh, for crying out loud!
I finally asked for help, which I should have done early on. My good friend, editor/author/publisher, Heather Hummel Gallagher, the person who helped me negotiate my first contract as an author, offered to put the page numbers on just exactly how they’re supposed to be. Paul wept.
Heather suggested I might publish through Kindle Direct Publishing. I found the process with KDP fairly simple to follow. It didn’t take long at all for my files to get turned into a Kindle listing on Amazon, and we sold a book the first day it was up. The second day, we sold more, including one to someone in The Netherlands, which I thought was cool.
I had to load the cover a second time for the print version (they didn’t want any writing on the spine for a book under 100 pages; this one is 84). It takes almost a day for changes to get approved, so the print version lagged in getting online. But now it is.
And with that, the publishing arm of Paul Hoffman Creative Guy, Inc. (I forget if it’s my left arm or my right arm) has officially accomplished something. I call the publishing part of my global empire, 18% Gray Publishing, a nod to the gray bar at the bottom of newspaper pages that printers use to make sure all the colors are right. It’s actually 18% black, but it looks gray, so they say “gray bar” instead of “light black bar.”
As far as what is in the book, this part of the foreword (not forward) I wrote should clue you in: “What lies herein isn’t pretty. It’s a raw, unflinching, unadulterated, undeterred, examination of the life of a fighter ― someone who not only has fought the manic ups and paralyzing downs of bipolar I disorder, but also someone who has fought his own raging anger, uncontrolled desires, and a fear of showing any fear. He’s also fought those who are closest to him and love him the most, and he has also fought himself.”
So, there you go. (I’ve been starting too many sentences with “so” lately. I don’t know why).
We’ve got marketing materials out to several media contacts, so I’m well on the road to promoting this book, too. That’s another job we publishers do.
As for future publishing gigs? No idea. I know I can do it, but I’d either ask for help early on numbering pages or buy other software that will allow me to do it in a snap. I might even publish my own memoirs, essays and song lyrics someday. If I do, blame/credit Rob McCuen.