Authors’ Tales about Self Publishing

As you read these examples, you’ll see what each of these self-publishing authors wanted for their book, their challenges, and how we solved them. For my own author’s tale, click here!

I hope these stories will give you inspiration as well as useful ideas for writing your book. Check back soon for more case studies.

Insalata’s Mediterranean Table by Heidi Insalata Krahling

Insalata's Mediterranean Table

This is the first book I indexed where I worked exclusively with the designer for the book. Laura Parker is a first rate designer, photographer and artist located in the San Francisco Bay area.

I love indexing restaurant cookbooks with their colorful recipe names and intriguing new dishes. You’ll find examples of six different ways to design the index for a cookbook if you click here.

This cookbook is also the story of the whole Insalata family. In their index I wove together their biographies and food philosophy along with their unique recipes.

As one person who saw it said, “This is the first index to a cookbook I’ve ever seen that made me want to taste all the recipes.”

Honest Medicine: Effective, Time-Tested, Inexpensive Treatments for Life-Threatening Diseases by Julia Schopick

Julia Schopick's Honest Medicine, book indexed by Nancy K. Humphreys

Julia Schopick is the second author I’ve worked with who creates a whole new field with her book. When I began indexing Honest Medicine, I was in doubt about Julia’s goal for her book, but not her passion for her subject. As I read on, I realized Julia has a unique way of viewing the field of medicine.

Julia is an seasoned medical writer for various publications. Her goal is to promote patient-centered care. This care includes time-tested traditional treatments that may be cheaper, and in some cases more effective, than recently-invented pharmaceutical and surgical techniques currently used by most doctors.

Julia’s research into the enormous costs (both economic and emotional) of modern medicine is a huge plus in my view, but it is not the main focus of her book. Her main message is about the health benefits of of traditional medical treatments that are being abandoned in favor of more expensive alternatives.

Honest Medicine covers three specific time-tested treatments. It shows what these medical techniques have done and can do for patients (and their families) who face a wide variety of diseases these treatments have been proven to work for.

This is not a book about alternative medicine, or non-Western medicine, or modern medicine. This is a book about “classic” medical techniques. And if anyone can make that subject a brand new field of study, it’s Julia!

The San Diego Bay Star Fleet: 1925 to the Present Day: A Seventy-Five Year History written and compiled by E.J. Sprague, Jr.

San Diego Star Fleet book indexed by Nancy HumphreysEd Sprague Jr. is a long-time owner and racing competitor of a special type of sailboat called a Star. Stars are two-person sailboats with very tall masts and sails. The sails, many of which were custom made by the legendary Lowell North, also a Star owner, each sport a star and their boat’s unique ID number.

Stars race all over the globe, they have a World Championship and they are now even part of the Olympics. Ed wanted to memorialize the history of Stars, their owners, and the clubs that hold races, especially his home club in San Diego, California. So Ed had a book he wanted indexed for their seventy-fifth anniversary.

A problem Ed and I worked on together was  what to include and what to leave out. Ed’s compendium on Stars was over 1,000 pages! It was chock full of race reports and race results as well as information about each Star, owner, and crew member. Ed and I came up with a plan that worked for both of us and for Ed’s book budget.

A special feature of this book is that there’s no table of contents in this two-volume book. The index performs all the work of leading readers to all the information they’re looking for. Just about everyone who races in Stars is in this book. But you can quickly pick out the San Diego club members and other frequent winners of races by the number of pages after their names. Because the text goes year by year, you can easily use the index to follow each racer’s career from start to finish.

An interesting fact about this book: I never tired of reading the details of the hundreds of Star races in this two-volume set. And the incredible action shots of these tiny boats racing in all kinds of weather conditions and waters around the world are breathtaking!

Opening Your Doors To Hollywood by James Perry

Opening Your Doors To Hollywood book indexed by Nancy Humphreys
James Perry is a Hollywood location scout. James called me when he decided to publish a book about how to get your house, garage, vehicle or other property you own into a movie. James needed an indexer. But more urgently he needed someone to design his book for him. And he had a rush deadline!

James had the contacts to be his own media publicist, so he was already booked on major TV shows like E! and Entertainment Tonight to talk about his book. He had to get his book done! I put James in touch with a couple up in Washington State who typset books. They were able to design and typeset his book, and I was able to index it, in time for James to meet his deadlines for promoting it.

A special feature of James’ book is his inclusion of a glossary. This introduces readers to the lingo of Hollywood movie sets. The inclusion of a glossary boosts the authority and usefulness of his book’s text.

Two interesting facts related to this book are: (1) “Monk,” a TV series starring Tony Shaloub used some of James’ own property in a couple episodes, and (3) Shortly after I created his index, my partner discovered her old VW bus she’d sold online was one of the VW’s used in the Hollywood movie, “Little Miss Sunshine.”

QSO – the Mathematics and Physics of Quasi-Spherical Orbits by Robert G. Chester

Robert G. Chester is an author who wrote the first book I indexed that launched a whole new field of study. Robert’s subject is QSOs. These QSO’s are not quasars; they are quasi-spherical orbits.

When Robert contacted me to index his physics book, I told him I’d never taken physics in school; I just didn’t think I could do it. But Robert convinced me I could. I’m glad he did! His book, created totally by himself, is beautifully designed with illustrations, terrific typography, fun mathematical examples, and interesting, easily-understood content. He began his book with puzzles from ancient mathematicians and astronomers and then showed how their puzzles relate to the modern study of QSOs.

Best of all, he created a video to show what a QSO looks like. Here is his “unicycle” model for a QSO. It shows the orbit of the bike’s wheel sideways (it’s wobble) as it also rolls (orbits) forward or backward:

[pb_vidembed title=”QSOs—The Unicycle Model” url=”” type=”mov” w=”400″ h=”321″]

If you are a student of the heavens, you can view the two curving lines shown in this video as the paths on their surfaces where two planets or other stellar objects are closest to each other as they are rotating in relation with each other.

Quasi-Spherical Orbits - book indexed by Nancy K. HumphreysAnd there’s more! Robert inspired me to write my own book.

As I gazed at Robert’s spiral-bound workbook, which he designed for students to lay out flat across a desk, I remembered my days of being a librarian who purchased thousands of books for college and university libraries. I saw instantly how and why Robert would have trouble marketing his book. And indeed, I shortly received this email from him:

“What I’m finding is that this publishing business is more work than I ever could have imagined (sort of like writing a book in the first place). The do-list currently stands at 45 items, the last of which is the road trip up and down [an Interstate highway]….Now if only some major publisher would discover the book and… and… and…”

Unfortunately, softbound, “oversize” and spiral bound workbooks like Robert’s are not what librarians want to see. Nor do brick and mortar bookstores! Spiral bound books are easily damaged when shelved with heavier books. They are more difficult to put back on the shelf too. My dismay at Robert’s story was the grain of sand that started me writing Marketing Your Book to Libraries: An Insider’s Guide for Authors, now available for sale on this site.