Building Oneself In The Book Business

Rock 'n' Roll baby
Geoff Castle’s 2013 Celtic Xmas Concert in Anacortes, WA – photo courtesy of Chris Terrell

Lately I focused some of my time on studying how to build oneself in the business of self-publishing books — in other words, marketing.

When it comes to gaining attention, my knowledge-base was born out of the music industry — promoting bands, representing albums, and selling my services as a solo Highland bagpiper for people’s life events ranging from weddings to retirement parties and of course funerals.  I applied this DIY gumption and (albeit subtly) my rock ‘n’ roll marketing approach to period of my business when I was producing baked goods, and I have been continuing this into this new endeavour of writing and self-publishing recipe books.


thumbs up for the e-reader
Thanks Aleta!

As you will recall from my 07Nov2017 blog post, an online friend — Aleta — generously offered to send one of her earlier e-readers to me.  She wanted to support my plan to turn my first recipe book into an e-reader edition, and it helps to have a device to view your work as you are converting your book file into an e-reader file.  As I have been learning about the conversion process I have also started learning about other authors publishing and marketing their e-books.  Much to this voracious reader’s joy I have also learned about free e-books!  Among these I have found books and articles on marketing.  This morning I read a marketing article that enhanced both thoughts and plans I already had…

How to Turn your Book into 18 STREAMS of Income
by Kary Oberbrunner

Kary Oberbrunner
Kary Oberbrunner … we haven’t met.

Go-getters, movers and shakers, creative people, and artist have at least two things in common — we all have great ideas to work from and we all make mistakes.  When we learn from our mistakes or learn about mistakes to avoid and-how we all grow!

Kary Oberbrunner’s article “How to Turn your Book into 18 STREAMS of Income” points out marketing mistakes for writers to avoid (like thinking of books as business cards) along with options and opportunities that they may have not realized.  Some of what Mr. Oberbrunner presents in his article I am already familiar with and is parallel to my direction — other elements have shown me new ideas or ways to think differently about things I already know.

His main focus in this article is for writers to turn their books into an income stream.  One morsel — section 2 on ebooks, suggesting why most (every?) author should turn their printed book into an e-book — particularly resounded with my plans and I had an AH-HA! moment.  The gist of the writing was …

“Ebooks are as close as your smartphone. You can read an ebook while standing on a subway, sitting in a doctor’s office, or waiting in line at the grocery store.”

Relative to my recipe book everything before ‘grocery store’ made sense once I read ‘grocery store.

baking books
Recipe Books — JOY JOY JOY!

Folks haul their phones everywhere, and often folks with e-readers haul them everywhere, too.  They might have 100+ books on their e-reader but they don’t haul 100 books everywhere.  Most of the books I have put on my phone duplicate to my e-reader and vice versa.

While I have queried and found that most people prefer to NOT cook or bake working from recipes on an e-screen, it could still be beneficial to have your recipes — or preferably My Recipes (<– I am not above shameless self promotion) — on your phone or e-reader.   Folks don’t haul all their recipe books to work where they think about what they are going to make for dinner, and then haul those books to the grocery store where they double check ingredients they are going to buy.

The big AH-HA! I had was…

I had already planned to convert my book to an e-book, but now I am thinking — PLEASE put my recipe book on your electronic device.  If you don’t want to work in the kitchen from an electronic screen, I understand — to each their own — but bring it with you when you shop, or when you are going to be thinking about what you’re going to make for your friends or family.  Or what you might make for the hottie  in the accounting department at work whom you just landed a date with!

Does it make sense for me to convert my recipe book to an e-book?


All things Kary Oberbrunner

Book Title & Recent Work

So here’s a thing…

This is Tom. He’s taller in person.

I’ve been fortunate enough to gain a friend and self-publishing coach in one of my Whidbey Island neighbors, multi-book author Tom Trimbath.  My introduction to Tom came through attending his presentation at my local library — how to self-publish a book.  At that time I had a few books roughed out and privately socked away that I intended to work on publishing at a later time — a children’s book, a book on how to become a professional highland bagpiper, some screenplay ideas … you know, the usual.

Online booksellers — we can all think of one in particular!

One of the tips that Tom gave in his presentation was that because of online booksellers, book titles are no longer just book titles, they are also search terms … and by the way, book covers are no longer just a book cover, they are also an icon representing your book on that online seller’s site …  I mean, this all makes sense when it’s pointed out but you might not think of it if you’re not an author trying to self-publish or new to the arena.

So for the past 2+ years, the title I’ve been working with for my coming book has been “Bake Your Own Darn Good Cookies” — this was the kinder and gentler version of a title to another book I plan to publish (more on that later).  Good title, fun title — sure — but there are problems with it.  There aren’t really any good search-term words in it … it doesn’t represent the fact that my book gives recipes for various types of cookies, coffee, and main courses, so it kind of confuses the reader …. and it doesn’t really fit with my icon, er, I mean, book cover artwork.

All that to say … I’ve been working on a new and better title.  I’ve come up with one, it’s functional — it has many of the attributes I’m aiming for.  It might still stand a bit of work-shopping (polishing), but it’s encouraging to have something that feels like a better fit for the whole package.

How exciting is all of this — is this some Block Buster announcement?  No, not really — but for an author and their book, it actually is pretty important.  Also, frankly, I felt I needed to provide all the great folks who have been interested and supportive of my endeavour with an update.

So what’s also going on — what’s left to finish my book and when is it going to be published?

Those are questions I both do & don’t have precise answers for…

Some Additional Writing and Final Editing – This book has required an extra year due to my hard drive crashing when I was nearly ready to publish in January 2017.  Suffice to say, I’ve learned the hard way, BACK-UP YOUR HARD DRIVE.  I had to nearly start over, fortunately I managed to locate an early back-up along with smaller pieces I located in my e-mail history.  I’ve been working with these materials since June 2018.  The main writing is nearly done — I need to add some writing in the introduction to make the original writing make sense and complete the final editing.  That and re-doing the pagination.

Graphics – I took cover art photos last January; most of these were recovered.  I lately made two batches of cookies to take step-by-step instructional photos, showing how to roll & cut biscotti along with spreading & cutting cookie squares.  To the left is an example of these … unfortunately I picked up light flares in the stove top.  I’ve figured out the lighting so I don’t get these flares and I plan to re-take these pictures soon.  Then it’s a matter of inserting all of my pictures into my book.

Content Surprise – YES, I have a content surprise.  Something you have probably NEVER seen in any recipe book before.  Since my original draft of the book I have added 2/3rds more surprise to the surprise and I need to do the initial development on that 2/3rds.

So what is the final book looking like — and when is it going to be published?

Working on my book is one of my current top priorities, and it will be done as soon as possible …. when that is?  Could be weeks, could be a few months yet with everything else I’m juggling.  The EXCITING news is that it looks to have around 50 recipes ranging from numerous types of cookies, several flavours of my unique biscotti, hot beverages, coffee cake, easy applesauce, and some delicious main courses.  Also, I’m trilled to feature guest writers who have contributed both recipes and chapter introductions (you know who you are and thank you Thank You THANK YOU!).

I’m excited … it’s coming … finally, soon.

~ Don

All things Tom Trimbath…

Priorities, Focus, and Accomplishments (AKA Crazy Avoidance)

I seriously looked like this for a few days…

Just over a year ago I was nearly ready to publish my recipe book … when my not-backed-up hard drive CRASHED.  I researched getting the information on my hard drive recovered through a number of data recovery companies but that proved prohibitive — I was going to have to start over!  Fortunately I found an old back-up on one of my other computers — to my relief I did not lose any of my recipes, which is of course the most important part — but for all the rest of my work … I was going to have to start over.  What did I learn from all this?

That’s right…


Writers — need an AWESOME editor — ask for Linda…

So, using the partial back-up I found following the crash, I restarted my book during June 2017 and I have been working on it since — I even got a SUPER COOL editor by accidental fortune and dhum luck …. er, I mean, dumb luck.  I am here to say that things have been going well and I’m nearly done!  Again.

Like this from the 2013 tour but this time with more hair.

This past holiday season, despite my preferences, I had to take a bit of a break from this work — I needed to prioritize on things other than my book. I was working my day-job, baking a ton of cookies as gifts for friends (that’s kinda my thing), I was preparing for time with my family, and my truck let me know it needed a number of repairs.  I had even been asked once again to contribute to the annual Celtic-rock Christmas tour by the esteemed fiddler, Geoffrey Castle — and given my previous music experiences with Geoff, that was an opportunity was I was NOT about to miss!

So now it’s January 2017 … I mean 2018, and I am back to work — on my book, on my day-job, on my truck, on my music, on … on … on … TOO MUCH!  Out of necessity, I prioritized during the holidays to get things done, so why not now?  That occurred to me last week, and it’s left me thinking….

This looks a little different than my truck

I need my truck for coming events.  I want and need my book to be done because … well … both with trials & tribulations the project has been going for a prolonged period, and I want to enjoy the next stage of it — having it published and connecting with people about baking and good food.

So it makes sense to put everything else aside and focus on these, right?  I think so!

I’m sizing things up — I’m considering this temporary shift.  If I do it, I see it as being possible that I could be done with my book in a matter of weeks, my truck too!  By doing this I would reduce the directions I’m stretched in and attempt to keep my sanity (/CHORTLE), and then be better able to focus on both the work that remains and the work ahead.  This could also better allow me to promote my coming book — which has been a challenge with everything already happening.

So there’s my thought, maybe my Plan Of Action — we’ll all know soon enough — wish me LUCK!

All the Best ~ Don

Linda at

Geoff at and Wikipedia

If you have ever wondered what it is like to be a small business owner … it’s being both of these kids … and you have to wear the costume.
Yes, in front of Everyone.

Star Wars Cookbook II

If you’re like me, grinning from ear-to-ear having seen the latest Star Wars installment “The Last Jedi“!  In anticipation of the film, I looked on my library’s website for what material from the cannon they had available.  As it turned out, they had LOADS!

Star Wars films, Star Wars soundtracks, Star Wars books, Star Wars audio books, William Shakespeare‘s Star Wars books — AND THIS — The Star Wars Cookbook II -Darth Malt and More Galactic Recipes by Frankie Frankeny &‎ Wesley Martin.

Being into sci-fi, and soon to publish my own first baking/cooking book, I’ve started to look at recipe books with a different eye, and when it came to this Star Wars cookbook … I Simply Had To Check This Out!

Geared toward kids, over the course of its 60 wipe-clean pages it features hilarious photographs and fun Star Wars themed recipes.  This second installment of The Star Wars Cookbook series even includes a washable plastic stencil of Darth Maul’s iconic face to help decorate culinary creations.  This book doesn’t teach kids to play with their food but instead to get creative with cooking — while helping to bring them into the kitchen to learn to cook without the use of Jedi mind-control tricks.  Adults as well as kids will have a great time with this book.

The Star Wars Cookbook II -Darth Malt and More @
ISBN-10: 0811828034
ISBN-13: 978-0811828031

The Star Wars Cookbook II: Darth Malt and More Galactic Recipes @ Wookieepedia

NOTE – “Star Wars” and all other names, references, images, et cetera are the property of their respective copyright owners.  If I have somehow violated copyright, please instruct as to how to correct this ….. in other words, Disney, please don’t sue me … besides, I don’t have anything.

Cling Wrap — A Pro Tip

Cling wrap — ever have problems getting it to stay on your food? Here’s a pro-tip — don’t put cling-wrap on your food, put your food on your cling-wrap!

Yep — all sorts of problems can follow when cling wrap gets pulled out of the box, put over food, torn off … but instead, try this…

On a clean surface clear of other items, put your box of cling wrap down with the opening pointing away from you. Pull a large section out (+/- 2 times the size of the plate you look to cover) and lay it down on the surface, the box will ‘hold’ the other end straight for you. Next, place the plate you wish to wrap *on* the cling wrap and bring the lose end up & over the plate to start covering your food. Rip the other end of the cling wrap off of the box and fold it over the plate & cling-wrap. Repeat as necessary to get everything covered as needed.

A box of cling wrap with a slide cutter makes this easier over those with the saw blade, but with some careful attention those will work just as well.

Expiration Dates and Food Waste

Being a small business that has produced food I am full aware of how expiration dates work.  In my experience everything in the following video is accurate.

I am aware of and I have written on the topics of food quality and hunger.  One of the other things that Adam touches on in the video is food waste.  According to the USDA food waste in the United States “is estimated at between 30-40 percent of the food supply”.  In 2010 this amounted to “approximately 133 billion pounds and $161 billion worth of food”.

This is perfectly good food that could feed the poor, hungry, and homeless.  A high percentage of this is food is never seen by the public but instead goes directly into landfills.  This makes added loss of land, water, labor, energy, and other resources diverting this food to dumps according to the EPA.  This could be beneficial to society but instead contributes to pollution.

The USDA reports on “How much food waste is there in the United States and why does it matter

The EPA’s report on food waste being the largest component of municipal landfills

Further reading in an article by

Mint Chocolate Chip Cookie Squares – EXPERIMENT

What’s green and brown and all mixed up?

Some of my recipes I imagine and then create – with others I get the flavour idea from some other recipe, glean what I need from it in the way of flavouring and proportions, and then create my own cookie.  Early this month I came across a recipe for Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies – and they looked TASTY!  I instantly thought about this flavour being a cookie square…

Spread out in my forming pan and ready to go…

Around the middle of the month I got the opportunity to give it a go – take a look at the results below – it seems this is one of the times I nailed the recipe in the first go.  Here are two other bits of good news…

Yeah, I know, they’re a little toasted on top & don’t quite look minty green. I’ll see the inside results when I cut these apart after they’ve cooled over night.

…In simple terms, the way this recipe worked out, I learned more about my base Cookie Square recipe, enabling me to more easily make other flavours I imagine.

…I’ve already included this recipe in my soon-to-be-published baking book – not only do you get to see them here, but you will have the opportunity to make them yourself!

And how’s the book going?  There’s still a good chunk of work to do but I’m starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  I’m working with an editor — Linda AKA, who is FANTASTIC — and the writing is better than ever!  My *HOPE* is that the book will be published late-December or early-January.  Keep your eyes here and on the WIBC Facebook page…..

YEP – these cookies are GREEN! Trust me, I know – I live in a state where 1/2 of everything is green ….. not minty though.

Publishing Update – E-Reader Edition

As promised earlier today on Facebook
a Publishing Update!
Big or small, here’s the thing & here we go….
{Coming up – E-Readers & a Big Fat THANK YOU}

Ooh — BOOKS!

How do you like reading recipes?

When it comes to baking & cooking, I’m not particular — I prefer working from a recipe card, a piece of paper, or a book. Most of my recipes have coffee rings and other bits of ingredients decorating their edges. When it comes to working from an electronic screen I don’t mind working from my laptop, and I often do.

About a year ago I asked on the WIBC Facebook page what people prefer to work from — paper, computer screens, recipes written in pen on their forearm, etc. Largely I learned folks prefer paper, and I’m all for it. I am, however, planning to get my book published and As Soon As Possible following up with publishing for e-reader.

I have a little more work to go on my book before analogue publishing, and I’m already taking steps toward the re-format to follow. With this I have been learning that e-publishing is a different game — you have to do all sorts of different things to have your book appear right on an e-reader and there are different things you need to include in the writing — not to mention the things you CAN include …… yep, try to put a web link in your paper book!

*To That End*…. I posted a question on my personal Facebook profile lately asking about what I need to know to reformat my book as an e-book … the answer, A LOT. Okay, so, I’m working on that.

Big Tex – consummate Texas State Fair resident from 1952 to 2012

One of the responses I got was from an e-friend, Aleta somewhere in the great state of TEXAS (<– Note, everything is bigger in TEXAS), very kindly pointed out that to reformat my book for e-reader I would want to see it on an e-reader as I work, and she offered to send me one of her earlier cherished models.

My mom has been using e-readers for years … I’ve helped her figure out a few bugs with downloading her books …. but otherwise I’ve never used one & barely touched the things. I like my analogue books and have a stack of them to plow through. I asked my editor, Linda, if I needed one of these & about taking Aleta up on her generous offer. Short-story made longish by yours-truly, I took Aleta up on her offer and a smart little unit arrived by post yesterday!

Ophiuchs wrasselin’ a serpent with Hercules lending a helping club

This looks like a great device! And now I have to figure out how to work it …?… which, when it comes to electronics, I have a knack for that. I’ll just have to control my temptation to peek at it when I’m not currently working on my practical-publication — gotta get that puppy DONE!

There’s this great thing about finding passion for something & being a DIY’er — you say you want to do something and people come out and volunteer their support. Aleta has certainly helped me to go forward with her support in the new direction of Whidbey Island Baking Company.

Thanks Aleta!
All the Best ~ Don

WIBC on Facebook

The Great State of Texas and

Ophiuchus AKA the Serpent Bearer

Hercules who occasionally lends a helping club

…it’s still morning somewhere, right?!?

Mmm …. pie!

Sunday afternoon on the WIBC-Facebook page I said that I had a progress announcement about my baking book — and that I was going to post this morning …. and it’s now PIE’o’clock (3:14PM) …. and I’m realizing I didn’t get to it*, ACK! I’ve been busy getting my BagpiperDon website working right so it’s as equally as awesome as my recent updates to this site. ANYWAY…

I had a conference call with my editor, Linda, on Sunday. She is A*W*E*S*O*M*E — she’s bold, she’s brilliant, she’s hilarious, Linda Makes Work FUN! (And yes, Linda, you may quote me on that for your portfolio.) We nailed down a number of things both having to do with my book and my plans to re-release it after paper publication as an e-book. I have a check-list of the things I need to satisfy (as provided by my friend & e-publishing coach, Tom) — toward the end of my call with Linda I ran down the list and updated it.
(PSST! – Linda has a bran-new website COMING SOON – see here at!)

Here’s the HURRAH Announcement

There are 18 total To-Do items on the list, I have 11 DONE, I have only 7 more to go!

Now — real quick — what does that mean?  Simply speaking, there are big tasks and small tasks in writing and publishing a book.  Usually writing the book is a huge task — DUH, obviously!  Other tasks may take a few hours, days, or weeks, and those are considerably short …. even if that means taking two days to craft a few paragraphs for the wings or back of a book.  There’s still the final edit work to do on my book, and the other tasks are really pretty small … but they add up & take time.  For DIY boot-strappers like myself that just means nose-to-the-gumption-grindstone!

“So when is your release date, Don?”

I am hoping to publish by Black Friday, however with everything going on I think it will be closer to Xmas. As many of you know I experienced a hard-drive crash early this year and have had to re-start my project working from old back-ups, e-documents I thought I had lost completely, and most but not all of the photos I had planned to include. Having received Linda’s added involvement has been nothing short of a GIFT! The book has been coming back together, and while it’s not done Right Now it is a better book than I had written last year. Do you think that this adds to my excitement???


So, work to go!
Back At It — Don

Tom and his many abilities at
Linda, my editor, at and her Check Chick Facebook page

* So here’s a little insight about being a small business owner….
It’s said that in ancient times if the gods wanted to get revenge on some humans they’d make them go crazy — and to accomplish this they make them fall in love. In modern times, I think gods make people go crazy by making them think “Hey, I can start & run a small business!”  Is a small business Love?  Well, if you’re passionate about what you’re doing…. then, Yes!

Food Stamped (2010)

Did you see my post about A Place At The Table?  Did you watch the film?  Watch it, and then immediately watch Food Stamped.

If you’ve followed along, the issues of quality food and hunger are close to my heart – and it is my hope that this is a topic is one that other people look at.

In “Food Stamped” Shira & Yoav Potash take ‘The Food Stamp Challenge’ (which seems to match the name of what a number of folks on Capitol Hill experimented with).  For one week they shop & eat on the average amount of money that someone receiving food stamps has to use – which is about $1 per meal for an individual.  They took this further by making a few ground rules that the food must be nutritious:

  • Every meal must include protein, whole grains & fruits/veggies
  • To buy as many organic items as they could afford
  • To eat as little processed foods as possible
  • At the end of the week submit their diet record to a registered dietitian for a nutritional evaluation

Through their film they interview food justice activists, nutrition experts, politicians, and ordinary people living on food stamps – all to look closely at the challenges that low-income Americans face daily trying to put three-square meals on the table.

Shira is a certified nutrition educator with a Masters of Science in Community Health Education.  She teaches nutrition-based cooking classes to elementary school students in low-income neighborhoods, most of who are from families that qualify for food stamps.

Yoav is a graduate of UC Berkeley and has taught film courses at the Bay Area Video Coalition and Academy of Art University.  He is a documentary film maker who has produced documentaries & videos for many companies and nonprofits. the film

Food Stamped Film Trailer

Food Stamped at IMDB

Est. 1Dec2014