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More retirees using the Web to self-publish memoirs

12 October 2011

From the Detroit Free Press:

Eighty-three-year-old Betty Chiang has never taken a writing class in her life, but that didn’t stop her from publishing a memoir.

Her son jokes that the family has found it quite a stretch to think of their Chinese-born matriarch as an author. Still Chiang, whose career was in catering and food service, spent four years writing and publishing “Immigrant: A Memoir by Betty Chiang,” which came off the press this summer.

Since then, she has given copies to her relatives and sold about 50 books to her friends at Channing House, the independent-living home in Palo Alto, Calif., where she resides.

The softcover book has a professional look to it, including glossy cover, sturdy binding, nice paper and good reproductions of marvelous family photos dating back to the early 20th Century.

Chiang is among a growing number of first-time, self-published authors in the 65-and-older age group. AJ McDonald, a spokesman at Lulu.com (www.lulu.com), one of the popular Web sites providing DIY publishing tools, says 17% of the 1.1 million people who have used the site are seniors. (Of those, 6% have published e-books.)

. . . .

Ronita Johnson, 63, of Pleasant Hill, Calif., says she has spent almost $25,000 to self-publish the soon-to-be-released “Coming to Forgiveness: A Daughter’s Story of Race, Rage and Religion”. A little of that money went to a publishing Web site, but most went toward creating a highly polished product: Johnson hired editors, a photographer and a book designer.

She considered enlisting a New York agent to help find a commercial publisher for her tale of growing up in the South while being mentally and physically abused by her father, who was a minister.

But one agent was frank enough to tell her, it would be nearly impossible for her to get picked up by a publishing agency. And though she talked with other agents, “it wasn’t encouraging,” Johnson says.

Link to the rest at The Detroit Free Press


One Comments to “More retirees using the Web to self-publish memoirs”

  1. Oh wow. I think this is fabulous. This is history. I have several folders full of letters, hand-drawn family trees and stories I’d begged and badgered my grandmothers to write down for me. These aren’t literary masterpieces. Maybe I’m the only one who’d ever be interested in them. I can’t imagine a better gift to pass down to one’s children and grand-children than a bound collection of the stories, histories and anecdotes that will be lost forever after a person dies.

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