Building a Consistent Body of Work

Taking a book from idea to finished product, especially doing it yourself, is a process. A process, I might add that very few know much about. Many wannabes aspire, but few actually do it once—let alone multiple times.

After the manuscript had been completed for my first book, When Towns Had Teams, I was having trouble finding a publisher for something I’d poured my passion into for more than a year. Faced with a choice—keep banging my head against a door that wouldn’t open (traditional publishing)—or figure out a new way of doing things, I opted for the latter. I launched my own micro-press imprint, RiverVision Press. It became the vehicle to get that first book out, and subsequent titles of mine (as well as one ill-fated foray into publishing a book by someone else).

Once you figure out how to publish your own book independently, you get hooked. You think, “I’ve done it once; can I do it again?” The gauntlet has been laid down. You are determined to work the DIY angle once again and see if you can improve your process.

Building a catalog.

Building a catalog.

With my second book, Moxietown, I was racing against the clock to get the book delivered in time for the biggest Moxie-centric event in the universe—the Moxie Festival in Lisbon Falls.

Working with a local printer in Portland, Walch Printing, and a terrific business manager, Jen White, I managed to get my box of books on Thursday, in time to have books at Frank Anicetti’s store for a signing on Friday night, and at my booth on Main Street, on parade Saturday.

I used my Moxie connections and past Moxie committee affiliations to score prime real estate for my RiverVision Press booth—just outside Frank’s store. The fee for the slot was $50, the best investment I’ve ever made. For two hours after the parade ended, I signed and sold books. There was a line snaking out from my table—I feared they had confused me with Stephen King. It was the power of Moxie taking over.

For a regional author, detailing history and topics like local baseball, rock star signing events like these were new. Of course, Moxie has become the “gift that keeps on giving” as I like to say. A few years later, after selling out two printings of that first book, a major publisher came calling and wanted me to usher them into the world of Moxie.

Another rock star signing centered around Moxie—this time on a sleepy Saturday in May (when it was just the locals, not 30,000 outsiders descending on the place). We arranged to have it at the same place where Frank Potter’s original signing launched Lisbon as Moxie’s epicenter—Kennebec’s, or now more popularly known simply as “the Moxie Store.” More than 120 people showed up and I signed for nearly two hours straight.

The Down East Books Moxie experience—with a publicist and all—was really special and it validated that latching onto Moxie was a wise decision for a follow-up to my first book.

There’s always a danger in going to the same well one too many times. Moxie was fun and I’m still writing about Moxie—doing feature stories on the distinctly different soft drink that was once bigger than Coca-Cola, or Pepsi. You’ll see my byline this Sunday in the Sun-Journal’s b-Section, talkin’ Moxie once again. However, I don’t want to be known simply as the writer of novelty books. If that’s your bag as a writer, more power to you. I have many other topics and things I want to write about, so I’m moving on from Moxie, at least on the book front.

They're starting to stack up.

They’re starting to stack up.

I picked up my physical proof at the printer on Thursday. I’m back with Walch again. I walk my talk when I talk about local. They are a quality digital printer that beats the pricing from any online printer. They also have a history of publishing books, from textbooks to trade paperbacks, and anything else in-between.

My timeline for The Perfect Number: Essays & Stories Vol. I is a tight one. While the book isn’t about Moxie, it makes sense for me to have a new book ready in time for this year’s Moxie Festival, for obvious reasons. The most important one might be that we can launch the book on Saturday night, when old friends are in town, and mix celebrating the new book, with celebrating Moxie and small town life.

I don’t know if my fourth book will rival the two previous books about Moxie when it comes to sales numbers. It may exceed them—who knows? I just didn’t want to spend the rest of my life writing about Moxie.

Bernie's in my book.

Bernie’s in my book.

As a writer, you ultimately have to write for yourself. The seven essays and stories that comprise The Perfect Number are the best writing I’ve ever done. These pieces are the most honest and personal things I’ve ever written about.

If you’ve read either or both of the previous Moxie books, or When Towns Had Teams, I hope you’ll pick up the new one, and complete your own personal Jim Baumer canon of books.

4 thoughts on “Building a Consistent Body of Work

  1. Well if you are into numbers: 7-7-14 today must have been a great day for you. Looking forward to reading it. See you at the Festival.

    • You know, Slippah, I missed the significance of that numerical convergence until you reminded me of it. I guess that’s why Monday was such a rockin’ good day for me. To the Festival!!

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