RPCV Author In The Trenches Of Self-Publishing

Lawrence F. Lihosit (Honduras 1975-77) has published his share of PODs  (print-on-demand) books over the  years (and has a garage full of books to prove it!), and he was kind enough to send in this short piece about his path-to-publication. This is good advice for anyone looking to publish their Peace Corps (or other) stories. By the way, Larry has a new book coming out from iUniverse so all family and friends of Lihosit should be on the alert. However, if you don’t get the book in the mail, don’t worry. We’ll be reviewing it on this website.

Here’s what Larry writes about self-publishing.

Ninety percent of all Peace Corps memoirs are self-published. Most companies report authors’ average sales at one hundred copies or less, usually to friends and family. Heck, my friends and family have been begging me to quit writing for nearly thirty years. I can’t stop. Maybe you can’t either. Maybe you haven’t started yet but want to. Good!

Be aware that the times are a’changin’. While I’ve gotten fatter, slower and uglier during the past few decades, printing has become trim, fast and attractive. I’m so old that my first book printing efforts were in off-set which no longer exists. My wife and sons had badgered me for years about computers (as well as losing weight). Finally in 2007, I self-published a book with the new computer-to-print technology. I e-mailed a chapbook written in MS Word to my printer who converted the document to Adobe PageMaker. His computer set up metal plates for printing and viola! A book. We went on to print two more books within twelve months.

During this exact same period, I stumbled upon Marian and John’s web site. They have been kind enough to post some book reviews and articles I wrote. I also read thirty-five other Peace Corps books for fun. The majority of books were self-published and most were printed with Print-On-Demand technology which is a bit different than what I had used. My printer had produced an agreed upon number of copies. Print-On-Demand only prints books as they are ordered over the internet.

I was hesitant. Being a Leo, the idea of giving up complete control scared me. So aside from  reading and  reviewing books, I contacted authors. Every single one of them had wonderful tales of satisfaction with books that look as professional as any other on the bookstore shelf.  One author warned me that interior book design was a template that they chose. I called the company that had printed the most impressive looking books. I’m glad I did. They immediately offered me a sale not mentioned on the web site! They also contradicted my author friend, telling me that any special book design instructions put into writing (with their form) and physically possible would be honored.

I followed all of their directions. As the author and publisher of six books and seven pamphlets previously (using three printers) and having worked in both chain and independent bookstores (long ago), I have ideas about covers and book design. Nobody’s eyes got big. Nobody’s voice rose. They invited me to direct them. They made a few minor suggestions to my cover design which were improvements! When we disagreed about interior book design, they followed my instructions just like they promised. They also met all of their deadlines and charged me exactly what we had agreed upon. This was a relief. In every other instance during the past sixteen years the printer had returned, hat in one hand and a list in the other of reasons why I should pay more.

The time elapsed between contracted agreement and a book in hand was fifty-four days. The costs vary depending upon the size you choose, paper, cover design, and whether you use their editors and marketing department. In my case, my total outlay (on a per book cost) was about what I would have spent with my own printer. However, this book is a better quality, took much less time to produce and will be offered for sale on Amazon.com which is always good.  What an enjoyable printing adventure! Aside from entering the 21st century, I have also lost six pounds. My Peace Corps’ memoir, South of the Frontera (out of print since 1993) will definitely be my next project using Print-On-Demand. I can return it to print with a minimum investment for the Peace Corps’ 50th anniversary. One company representative confided that he personally handles six new titles per month, even during the worst economic times since the Great Depression! Record your Peace Corps’ experience and join the renaissance.  

 Lawrence F. Lihosit (Honduras, 1975-77) works as an urban planner. His most recent book, Whispering Campaign, includes short stories from Mexico and Central America. Published by iUniverse, it is available at Amazon.com. Some of his other literary work is available at www.abookcompany.net .


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  • Good show, Larry. Keep on truckin’. You are the king of self-publishers. “South of the Frontera” is a classic. Especially where you describe how you eat your Black Flag sprayed meal along with the subsequent results in Nicaragua. That was really taking black bean “frijolada” to another level.

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