Gordon McComb, Writer and Editor

Using Print On Demand For Textbooks, Workbooks, and Training Manuals

Posted on January 21

During the 1930s through 1970s, a popular "work at home" scheme was writing and publishing your own pamphlets and booklets. Advertising was through the classifieds in popular magazines.

Priced at $5 or less, you could find home-brew booklets on just about anything. The consistent sellers were those that provided information not generally found at the bookstore or library. Copies were mimeographed, and for the bigger outfits offset printed.

Checks Stuffed Into My Post Office Box

I'd always wanted to try this concept, but I came to it a bit late. By the 1980s the market was starting to dry up for mail order pamphlets and booklets, but specialty books were still fair game.

In 1986 I wrote a 100 page book on building your own PC - one of the first of its kind. I spent about $30 in classified ads, and mentioned it in a magazine article I wrote.

Within days of the ads and article, I started getting orders to my post office box. I priced the book at $12.95, including shipping. It was printed on my own office copier, and plastic comb bound. Over the next several years I sold some 2,600 copies through the mail and at local computer swap meets. One swap meet alone I sold my entire "run" of 100 copies in a single afternoon.

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Get Noticed, Make Friends, With Your Own Blog

Posted on January 21

If you want a presence on the Web hold off on Twitter and Facebook. Start first with a blog.

At the risk of telling you something you might already know, blogs are like personal diaries where you can post an article about anything you like.

The best news: to have a blog you don't need your own Web server or even a domain name. There are numerous blogging services where you can sign up for free, or for a very low monthly cost. Set up the look and feel of your new blog, and start writing.

Why Start a Blog

Blogs are regular Web pages; they're just produced a little differently. With a blog you have an online editor where you can compose and edit your articles. It's easier to update your pages with new information.

Most people use blogs as a form of journal. In most blogs - like this one - the most recent entries are placed at the top.

For writing, you might start a blog to keep interested folks updated on your latest project. Each entry you post might contain your progress. You could discuss the challenges you've encountered, and how you've overcome them.

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Save Time With Easy Microsoft Word Shortcuts

Posted on December 10

I swear, sometimes I think I'm living in the days of manual typewriters, overused carbon paper, and crusted over bottles of Liquid Paper.

I recently polled some writer friends and asked what kind of shortcuts they used while working in their word processor. I don't mean spell checking or basic manuscript formatting, but automatically typing common text, or changing the way Word inserts symbols, quotes, and other characters.

Only one of my friends even knew what I meant; the rest simply started the program, and then typed on the keys.

Hep' me!

If You Have a Computer for Writing, Use It!

Some writers don't like getting caught up in the mechanics of writing. If it gets too complicated it wrecks their creative flow. That's okay, except using Word's basic automation tools isn't at all complicated, certainly no more than first learning how to double-click on desktop icons in Windows.

Microsoft Word has a trio of handy shortcut features that - taken together - can trim minutes off your daily writing time. Over a week or a month, the time savings really start to add up.

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