A resident in a nearby home for seniors, let’s call him Frank, gets around fairly well in a wheelchair. However, Frank has limited strength on one side, so he also has an electric wheelchair that he sometimes uses.
Recently he discovered that a small spring assembly from one of the front wheels was missing. Presumably it came loose and fell out. A friend called the dealer to order replacement parts. The dealer said he could not order the parts without knowing the serial number of the wheelchair. There is no serial number to be found, perhaps the sticker with that information also came loose and was lost? The friend then took a picture of the spring assembly from the other side. The dealer still didn’t have enough information to know what parts were needed.
Then Frank asked me to help. The next time I went to the city I took the remaining spring assembly and showed it to the dealer. He immediately recognized what make of wheelchair it came from. After a brief check he said he did not have those parts in stock and would have to know the model number and serial number before he could order the parts. He did take the assembly apart, laid out all the parts on the counter and took a picture with his cell phone, promising to see if anyone else in the shop could identify them.
That didn’t sound all that hopeful, so when I got home I went to my computer and googled the manufacturer’s name. I then went to the model number of Frank’s wheelchair and found detailed illustrations and part numbers. There is a generation 1 and a generation 2 of this machine, but the spring assembly is identical on both, so a serial number is not needed.
I copied down the numbers of all six parts that go into this assembly, faxed the list to the dealer and a few days later he called to tell me the parts were in.
All’s well that ends well, I guess. But I remember a day when the dealer was the source of all information and parts for the machines he sold. Now it’s the internet and woe betide the person who doesn’t have internet access or doesn’t know how to use it.
Do it yourself publishing
Something similar is happening in the book publishing world. Publishers are being squeezed for cash. Except for a very few big name authors, publishers now expect writers to look after the editing of their own manuscripts and the promotion of their books once in print.
Help is available for the aspiring author who wants to see his name in print. Many self-publishing companies will compete for the privilege to publish your book, as long as you are willing to pay for it, There are a number of outfits offering print on demand at minimal cost.
So now it is possible for everyone who has ever dreamed of writing and publishing a book to actually do it. Thousands of titles are coming out each year. The average self published book will sell 200 copies, mostly to close friends and relatives.
If that’s all you want, it’s fine to go ahead and do it that way. If you dream of something more than that, then you need to start with professional editing. I have seen so many sloppily edited books that could have been good books with a little help. I have no desire to follow their example, I don’t want to publish a book that shouts homemade as soon as you start reading it. Editing is going to cost money unless you have a friend who is a professional editor and owes you a favour.
Book promotion is a topic for another post. We in this house are just beginning to learn about that aspect, but it sounds like traditional methods such as book signings are not going to move a whole lot of books. The best results will come from smart use of the internet via a website and a blog. Some people talk a lot about Facebook and Twitter for marketing, others say don’t waste you time with them. We don’t intend to.