Recently I wrote a memoir with the working title "Paper Route: Finding My Way to Precision Journalism" and then I started looking for a publisher. One of my first stops was the website of Algonquin Books, a boutique publisher in Chapel Hill, North Carolina owned by Workman Publishing Company of New York. It had advice for prospective authors.

"If you’d like more information on what goes into a great book proposal," it said, "click here …"

The link took me to an excerpt from a title on the Workman list, "The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published: How to Write It, Sell It, and Market It … Successfully!" by Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry. So I bought it.

I found the book, at 481 pages, clear, thorough and convincing. The part I liked best was Chapter 11, "Publish Thyself." Modern technology, with e-books and on-demand publishing, makes assisted self-publishing fast and inexpensive.

Putting the book down, I looked at the calendar. To go the route taken with my previous books, I would first need to find a publisher willing to read my manuscript. It might take a year to get a decision. If the decision should be favorable, getting from manuscript to a bound volume ready to ship would take another year.
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For an author who is 81 years old, faster is better. So I signed up with iUniverse of Bloomington, Indiana, which will have my book out in paper and e-book by spring. Its plan pays royalties quarterly instead of annually. The modest fee gets me a range of services including editing, cover design, and worldwide distribution.

That’s not all. I have a drawer full of old publishing projects that never seemed worth the trouble before but might work now that targeting the narrowest of markets is feasible. Good thing that I’m not too old for a new career.

Philip Meyer, a 1967 Nieman Fellow, is Professor Emeritus in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He has written several books including "Precision Journalism: A Reporter’s Introduction to Social Science Methods" and "Ethical Journalism: A Guide for Students, Practitioners, and Consumers."

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