Chad Michael McDonald: What I Learned from Publishing My Book

From time to time in this space, WestBow Press publishes articles written by our authors in which they share some aspect of their self-publishing journeys. The following are the words of Chad McDonald, author of “To My Children:  Love, Dad.” Click here to receive a free publishing guide and to receive more information on self-publishing your book with WestBow Press.

My first book, To My Children:  Love, Dad, has finally been published.   Let’s just say it was an interesting experience.  I am on disability and, therefore, had the time to spend on the book.

I did learn a few things in the process.  Select a publisher who has your values.  If you are Christian, you definitely will want to work with a Christian publisher.  Patience was especially important for me.  With a limited budget, your selection of publisher services will likewise be limited.  I only paid for things up front and that is the way it is in the industry.  If you want to publish to the nines, use the company editorial services, and maximize your out of the gate marketing, be prepared to pay more than I did.  These services are worth it, but if you’re willing to be patient, you can do it on a budget.

Editing

It had been many years since I had written and, frankly, I found myself writing and editing with amcdonald grammar book open many times.  Commas are still my nemesis but I hammered through it.  Don’t hesitate to ask a friend or to go out and buy that grammar book.  In the end, it pays off.  Or at least I’m hoping it will.  If you are imperfect at editing, get one of the many grammar checking software programs out there.  They will definitely save you time.   In my case, I chose to relearn the grammar of the English language, but that’s what happens when you’re on disability.

Once you submit your book for design, take your time and look for design as well as grammatical errors.   If you didn’t catch the errors the first hundred times through your book, catch them now.  It may be annoying and seem as if it is nickel and diming you to death, but a quality book is what you want to be able to present to the public.  You might as well start saving money for this stage of publishing when you begin writing your book.

Gratitude

Be grateful to each and every person along the way.  Thank them each step of the way and with every e-mail.  Be sincere in thanking them, after all, they are doing their job but they are the ones who can make this process pleasant or miserable.  Remember to be sure your work is done before asking them to do theirs.  Going over the same mistakes is painful for everybody.   Gratitude goes a long way in life, especially when you’re engaged in a business transaction that you hope to make money on.

Learn their names and don’t waste their time.  Most publishing “meetings” will take place by e-mail because time is a limited commodity.  Show them due respect, and don’t take your frustrations out on them.  Inevitably, some may come through but try to be humble about it.  They aren’t paid to listen to us complain.

As you progress through the process realize that this is only the middle of your book writing journey.  You still have sales and marketing.  Listen to what the publisher’s marketers are telling you.  Ask questions that are limited to their position and, if that doesn’t get you the answer, ask for a referral to a person who does.  Marketers may not have all the answers but there’s a reason they are in that position:  they know things you probably don’t.  The reason publishers provide marketing experts to you is simple:  if you can make money, they are going to make money.  And isn’t a little extra for that vacation worth listening to someone who knows what they are talking about?

Sales are your responsibility unless you have a deal with your publisher.  Be prepared to give a lot of face time in front of groups, book stores, and online.  Your returns will match your efforts and don’t be shy about using your connections to help you.  And be sure to reward those who help you, even if it’s with a free book.

As for me personally, things are slow because I don’t have a lot of resources.  These things I have told you are lessons learned and worth learning.  I have started my second book and will be using my own advice when dealing with Westbow Press in the future.  And I will be saving up for the next publishing experience with the profits I make from this book.

WestBow Press authors who’d like to share a 350-600 word experience related to the self-publishing of their books, are invited to do so by sending a message through our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/WestBowPress, by tweeting us @westbowpress, or by emailing kgray@ westbowpress.com.  We may not be able to use every story, but we will read and consider them. WestBow Press reserves the right to edit stories for content, grammar and punctuation accuracy; as well as for space.


John Trautwein: Life Teammates on Both Sides of the Field – Part II

From time to time in this space, WestBow Press publishes articles written by our authors in which they share some aspect of their self-publishing journeys. In recognition of Father’s Day, the following is the final part of a two part series written by John Trautwein, author of  My Living Will: A Father’s Story of Loss & Hope.”
As a former pitcher who toed the rubber at Fenway Park for the Boston Red Sox, Trautwein has realized euphoric joy. As a father, who lost his 15 year old son, Will, to depression and suicide, he also knows depths of unimaginable pain. Out of this tragedy, Trautwein and his wife Susan created the Will to Live Foundation to raise awareness about teen suicide. The following is a story Trautwein shared from his work.

We talked a bit further, he bought a book and I signed it for him. He had to get home before the blizzard just got too crazy. We exchanged business cards, hugged again, and I noticed a slight smile on his face, I believe he was very pleased he had made the effort to come see me. I think he knew he really made my night – and I think that made him feel good – at least I hope it did. I was touched, so touched that I called my father that night in Florida and told him the story and he remembered Tom “He was a great pitcher John – that is so great – what a story!”

Trautwein, has given over 300 speeches to teams, families, students of middle schools and high schools, Church groups, youth groups, coaches, parents and counselors alike, since the Foundation began in late 2010.

Trautwein, has given over 300 speeches to teams, families, students of middle schools and high schools, Church groups, youth groups, coaches, parents and counselors alike, since the Foundation began in late 2010.

Up until that moment, for the past four years I’d been preaching to teens about the absolute power they have as “teammates” in all aspects of life, to inspire each other- and as a result improve each other’s will to live. “A compliment from a teammate means more than a compliment from a coach” is a phrase I coined and have said thousands of times. Well, Tom Conlin was never officially a teammate of mine. He was a competitor and a rival who sat in the opposing dugout – and it hit me so hard… Life Teammates goes so far beyond your own team. There is a bond that forms among competitors as well – and Tom and I had proved it. Thirty years later, he came to see me, because he was touched by my story and wanted to show me support, and it meant the world to me that he did.

The very next weekend I was back home in GA and had the opportunity to speak to the University of GA and GA Southern University men’s lacrosse teams after their game. They gathered together at mid field after an extremely hard fought- competitive battle loaded with hits, shots, trash talking and shoving – it really was a battle. The whole game I knew I would speak to both teams together and I said to my wife, “Susie – these two teams are killing each other out there – how do I talk about Life Teammates to them – 2 minutes after the game?” Then it hit me – “I’ll talk about Tommy Conlin – that’s what I’ll do.”

I told them the story of my high school rival coming to see me 30 years later. We are friends – we are life teammates – a bond that was formed on the field of battle not in the dugout. “Guys, trust me, your paths will cross again – somewhere in life and you’ll have a special bond because you were together on this field tonight – don’t forget that – these life teammate relationships can form on both sidelines and both dugouts – and I’m here to tell you when it does it’s wonderful.”

The speech was a big success and I remember thinking I need to send a note to Tom letting him know that his kind gesture helped me inspire some college athletes. When I got to work that Monday, instead of me writing a letter to Tom – I was stunned to find that in my “inbox” there was a letter from him awaiting me.

He thanked me for the book and my efforts and told me a story that I had not heard before that concerned my family. You see, during that season in high school some 35 years ago, despite his team beating us twice during the regular season, in the State Tournament we finally beat them (and Tom who pitched) 1-0 and Tom walked in the winning run to get the loss. He and his teammates then had to watch us all jump on each other because we were heading “down state”. WTL-logo

What Tom explained to me thirty-five years later, was something I didn’t know and it moved me. While we were going crazy on the field celebrating, Tom was in the dugout with his hands in his face, so upset for losing such a heartbreaking game that would end his high school season and career. Tom’s not mentioned that while he was sitting by himself so upset, with tears in his eyes, he felt a hand on his shoulder and a strange man he had not seen before said “Hang in there Tom Conlin, you pitched a heck of a game, and you are one excellent pitcher – promise me you’ll keep you head up”.

Tom just looked up and shook the stranger’s hand and whispered a tragic “thank you sir”. The stranger started to walk out of the dugout and heard Tom say “excuse me, but do I know you sir?” The man smiled and said, “I’m John Trautwein’s Dad.”

Tom asked me to please tell my dad “thanks” for such a kind act that really made him feel better – thirty-five years ago! “His kind words have stuck with me for a long time” Tom wrote, “and when I tell the story to my kids, my ‘life Teammates’ or kids that I coach, your Dad’s kind words always make me feel better…” I sat there in my office, once again with tears flowing – and simply said “wow.” I immediately called my dad – we shared a nice memory – a nice thought – and talked about new love from an old friend.

In “My Living Will” – I refer to so many wonderful experiences, conversations and gestures of kindness and love that enabled me and my family to navigate through an unbelievable grieving process that we faced with the death of our Will. My first book signing gave me not only another chapter for my story, but a reconnection with a Life Teammate that I didn’t know I had. It enabled me to find another source of love and hope in my life and as a good friend once taught me – love heals.

John Trautwein
May 2015

WestBow Press authors who’d like to share a 350-600 word experience related to the self-publishing of their books, are invited to do so by sending a message through our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/WestBowPress, by tweeting us @westbowpress, or by emailing kgray@ westbowpress.com.  We may not be able to use every story, but we will read and consider them. WestBow Press reserves the right to edit stories for content, grammar and punctuation accuracy; as well as for space.


John Trautwein: Life Teammates on Both Sides of the Field – Part I

From time to time in this space, WestBow Press publishes articles written by our authors in which they share some aspect of their self-publishing journeys. In recognition of Father’s Day, the following is the first of a two part series written by John Trautwein, author of  My Living Will: A Father’s Story of Loss & Hope.”
As a former pitcher who toed the rubber at Fenway Park for the Boston Red Sox, Trautwein has realized euphoric joy. As a father, who lost his 15 year old son, Will, to depression and suicide, he also knows depths of unimaginable pain. Out of this tragedy, Trautwein and his wife Susan created the Will to Live Foundation to raise awareness about teen suicide. The following is a story Trautwein shared from his work. 

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John Trautwein pitched for the 1988 Boston Red Sox.
Image credit: Fleer Inc

It was a cold and snowy late January Saturday evening in Chicago. In fact it was “Super Bowl Eve 2015” and I found myself at an old hangout of mine in my home town of Barrington IL, called Chessies. I was surrounded by some of the oldest and best friends I’ve ever had. They were there to see me and help promote my new book, My Living Will:  A Father’s Story of Loss & Hopethat had been released just one month before.

It was my first book signing of my short career as an author, and old friends, and their families, had come out to see me, purchase my book and simply talk about the old days – a mini-high school reunion of sorts. Several old high school baseball coaches were there, my brother and his friends were there – so many of my high school classmates were there – my life friends – my Life Teammates.

My Living Will is the story of my life after the tragic suicide death of my oldest child, my son Will. The book explains how when he died in October of 2010, I thought my life was over – I thought I’d never feel love again- but my family and my friends quickly proved me wrong. They picked me up and not only showed me the good but inspired me to create the non-profit Will To Live Foundation, that would inspire teenagers to reach out and recognize the true love they have in their friends today. Life friends – I now refer to them as Life Teammates. So here I was – with my Life Teammates, so many of them, and I was so pleased to be with them. So many hugs and “Love Ya Mans” exclaimed throughout the evening.

Trautwein coverWhat made that night very special was the fact it was a blizzard outside. In fact, I would end up being stranded in Chicago for two more days as the snow simply refused to stop falling. A great problem to have – as my brother and I would have a great weekend together, something we had not done for years. Around 8pm that evening, with the snow literally pounding down upon us, I looked around the room at so many old friends, and noticed a new face coming towards me.

“Hey John – do you remember me?” – a tall dark haired man, about my age, was smiling a friendly and hopeful smile as he awaited for my reply. Fortunately, he was kind enough to quickly eliminate my feelings of embarrassment for not recognizing him and he said “John, I’m Tom Conlin”

“Tom Conlin!!!!! I practically yelled, “From Hersey High?” He smiled and I hugged him in absolute shock. “Now way – What are you doing here, do you live in Barrington Tom?”

“Nope, it took me a long time to get here due to the snow, but I wanted to see you John, I saw the article in the paper about your story and the loss of your son – and that you were doing the book signing here – and I wanted to see you… I have kids, teenagers, and well… your story moved me – and I wanted you to know how sorry I am and how proud I am of what you’re doing.”

I had to sit down, I was stunned – I wiped some tears away from my eyes and I notice Tom doing the same. He and I were rival baseball players in high school – some thirty years before. Pretty big time rivals in fact. My senior year at Barrington, as a Pitcher I was 10-2 – ten wins and 2 losses, both losses were to Hersey High and their star pitcher – Mr. Tom Conlin. “I hated that guy” I used to think. I hated him in a way a rival hates someone he can’t seem to beat – but I also respected him because he was very good, and I was almost bummed to find out what a great guy he was when we met at the All Star Game after the season ended. I went on to pitch at Northwestern and he pitched at Notre Dame. Our paths crossed our senior year in college and he beat us, but this time, at least I was not the pitcher.

Suffering from depression, 15 year old Will Trautwein took his life on Oct. 10, 2010 .

Suffering from depression, 15 year old Will Trautwein took his life on Oct. 10, 2010 .

We talked a bit further, he bought a book and I signed it for him. He had to get home before the blizzard just got too crazy. We exchanged business cards, hugged again, and I noticed a slight smile on his face, I believe he was very pleased he had made the effort to come see me. I think he knew he really made my night – and I think that made him feel good – at least I hope it did. I was touched, so touched that I called my father that night in Florida and told him the story and he remembered Tom “He was a great pitcher John – that is so great – what a story!”

Read Part II of Trautwein’s story, June 22 on the WestBow Press blog.

WestBow Press authors who’d like to share a 350-600 word experience related to the self-publishing of their books, are invited to do so by sending a message through our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/WestBowPress, by tweeting us @westbowpress, or by emailing kgray@ westbowpress.com.  We may not be able to use every story, but we will read and consider them. WestBow Press reserves the right to edit stories for content, grammar and punctuation accuracy; as well as for space.


Pastor Daniel Nalliah: Book Inspired by Chance Encounter

From time to time in this space, WestBow Press publishes articles written by our authors in which they share some aspect of their self-publishing journeys. The following are the words of Pastor Daniel Nalliah author of “Worship Under the Sword.”  Click here to receive a free publishing guide and to receive more information on self-publishing your book with WestBow Press.

I was working in Saudi Arabia 40 minutes from Mecca and very involved with the underground church Daniel with WUS Book(unbeknownst to my Muslim boss).  One day a lady, fully clothed in a hijab with only slits for her eyes, came to my door with her two young teenage sons (14 and 16) and asked me to tell her sons about Jesus.  I was not sure if this was a set up or not as preaching is forbidden in Saudi Arabia, let alone talking to minors.  Inside the house the lady explained that she was an American who had married a Muslim and when they visited Saudi Arabia he announced that they were not returning to America and she was left virtually a hostage in her own home.

I used wisdom and told my testimony of how Jesus had come into my life, as I was then just telling my life story, not trying to convert anyone.  The boys responded by falling on their knees and wanting this Jesus who had done such amazing things in my life to do the same for them.  The lady, who had removed her hijab by now to reveal blonde hair and blue eyes, then pointed her finger at me, and told me “You must write a book.  You cannot keep what God has done in your life to yourself.  Others must know this too.”  I had not planned to do this, but thought it was a good idea to share my journey with a broader audience to “proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvellous light” (I Peter 2:9).

As the only computer I had at the time was my work one, I wrote the book on my work computer. Had this been discovered, I would probably not be here to tell my story at all, as I would most likely have been beheaded.  I finished writing a few weeks before I left Saudi Arabia and transferred the book to a disc which I could bring with me.

I hope that by sharing what God has done in my life, you will be encouraged, challenged and inspired to trust Him who is faithful in all circumstances.  Be blessed.

WestBow Press authors who’d like to share a 350-600 word experience related to the self-publishing of their books, are invited to do so by sending a message through our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/WestBowPress, by tweeting us @westbowpress, or by emailing kgray@ westbowpress.com.  We may not be able to use every story, but we will read and consider them. WestBow Press reserves the right to edit stories for content, grammar and punctuation accuracy; as well as for space.


Chad Cramer: Helping his sons overcome fear of the dark led to book

From time to time in this space, WestBow Press publishes articles written by our authors in which they share some aspect of their self-publishing journeys. The following are the words of Chad Cramer author of  the children’s book “Lights Out!”  Click here to receive a free publishing guide and to receive more information on self-publishing your book with WestBow Press.

Although I’ve enjoyed writing for most of my life, it never occurred to me to be an author until the last five years or so.  I had been writing down ideas for years, but nothing in a cohesive manner that would bring about a possible book.    The biggest event that started my journey down the path of this book was when I began having children.  It was as if the faucet of ideas was impossible to turn off and the excitement around what I could do for my children continued to fuel this desire.

lightsout  When my twin boys were around two years of age, they began to struggle with the fear of the dark.  For
whatever reason, the fear in their eyes seemed so much more real than even when I struggled with it as a child.   Of course I wanted their experience to be different than mine so I began researching and studying as much on fear and fear of the dark as I could.   What surprised me was that I couldn’t find very much information at the library or online, especially with a biblical worldview in mind.   I couldn’t even recall the last spiritual message I heard either as an adult or as a child on fear and particularly the fear of the dark.  This struck me as odd seeing that millions of kids and adults struggle with it every night.

  I began writing down all the experiences I could remember as a child and even little helps along the way.  I read just about every passage on fear in the Bible and I was able to glean from the experiences my own kids were going through to put together some general themes around a book topic.    I had absolutely no idea how to get started in the publishing world so I began with some online searches.  It wasn’t long before I stumbled upon WestBow.   I can remember after contacting them that it was so relieving to have a reputable company that already had a platform for you to plug into and begin the process.  This seemed so simple compared to other alternatives at the time.

  Even though I had determined that WestBow would be the vehicle to fulfill this dream of mine, I struggled to find the time to devote to this work.   This struggle to want to work on it, but not having the time persisted for an additional six to eight months.

Chad Cramer, with his wife and biggest supporter , used self-publishing to help his children overcome their fear of the dark.

Chad Cramer, with his wife and biggest supporter, used self-publishing to help his sons overcome their fear of the dark.

My family was in the midst of a major life change-mainly switching careers and moving to another state.   The career that I basically moved for, ended up not working out and to make a long story short, I found myself unemployed for the next 7 months.   By God’s grace, I was able to use that downtime, to write every night and finish my book.  Apart from this period of being unemployed, I probably would still be working on the book today.  Shortly after I finished the book, I found a new career and the rest is history.

  Since I have a passion for parenting, I hope that my book will enable parents to equip their children with courage.  The courage that will not only get them through the fearful times of childhood, but also give them examples to overcome fears the rest of their lives.    Even though the process of writing a published book is no easy task, it’s definitely a rewarding one.    When you hear the stories of lives that have been changed because of it, it makes all the effort and energy fulfilling and well worth it.

  I enjoy posting and communicating with parents via social networks, blogs and my website as well as giving the occasional interview to promote my book’s message.  I’ve had a privilege of hiring the PR agency through WestBow as well to continue to get the message out in a larger scale.   All in all, this has been a tremendous growing time for myself as well as a fulfilling season in my life. Even though it’s just one project, I believe it’s one step closer for me in making a difference in the world.

WestBow Press authors who’d like to share a 350-600 word experience related to the self-publishing of their books, are invited to do so by sending a message through our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/WestBowPress, by tweeting us @westbowpress, or by emailing kgray@ westbowpress.com.  We may not be able to use every story, but we will read and consider them. WestBow Press reserves the right to edit stories for content, grammar and punctuation accuracy; as well as for space.


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