Inspire Your Group into Action: Share Your Knowledge with Self-Publishing

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The internet has become the usual source for gathering and even storing information, but too often there is a lack of cohesion. Information is scattered on personal pages, in comments, throughout websites and sometimes only referenced with links organized by topics. For niche subjects, an orderly flow of information is often missing for the willing student. Conflicting messages and opinions can thwart the learning process and leave group members feeling fractured.

This form of information gathering is the digital age version of scraps of notes and stacks of books that make for the beginnings of a book. These published works are written by inspired and diligent people wanting to mold acquired and previously available knowledge with their wisdom for a specific audience. In the past only the few could hope to publish. Today self-publishing is available to anyone who has information to share.

For special interest groups and hobby enthusiasts in recent history, the spreading of valuable knowledge was more likely accomplished with newsletters or gathered notes photocopied, collated and handed out at meetings. To the writer, distributors and readers of this material, a professionally bound book was an unlikely expensive dream.

With the abundance of truth seeker and results driven internet groups there eventually forms a need for something more permanent and cohesive. No longer are books simply for those who have clout, have graduated college or possess that elusive thing known as popularity. Self-publishing is the common sense approach to groups who risk running in circles posting links and writing lengthy comments and responses only to risk losing their wisdom to the whim of those who control the website or server. Having even just 25 books distributed with the latest information will ensure knowledge is not lost.

When an individual or small group self-publishes, they retain control over many factors, including censoring for political correctness. There is also some added responsibility – like having the wherewithal to edit your own writing or to trust someone to do it for you. You also get to choose what direction you want to take and what ideas you want to focus on. This requires organizational skills and the ability to figure out who your audience is and put yourself in their shoes.

Working as a small structured team can help big hurdles appear as small mounds once you receive that first box of your books! If you will be working with others be clear on who is in charge of what and when democracy is acceptable. Set guidelines, goals and tentative deadlines and keep in contact with everyone involved on a regular basis, even if you think you have nothing to report. You may opt to remain in charge and take more of an employer stance, with willing volunteers providing their services such as editing and creating a cover. You may also want to split the task of writing into sections or chapters. Just remember - most of the time you want an overriding writing style throughout the book to make for a less jolting read.

Before you begin, brainstorm about your audience, the purpose of the book, what you hope to personally achieve, how the book will be distributed and what topics and sub-topics must be included and which ones would be nice to have. Consider how many pages you want and what size and format would be most appealing. Do not focus on fame, fortune or kudos.

If you are writing a book with a small group of people, think of it as the equivalent of a photocopied newsletter, or doing the thankless job of amassing most of the previously shared information into something enjoyable to read. Your treat is being able to interject your wisdom and opinions as well as knowing you did something that far too many are not brave enough to ever fathom!

Self-publishing is easier than you think. Any reputable company will walk you through the process and provide you with tips, suggestions and examples. Some even provide valuable lessons in grammar and tutorials specifically for writing books! If you are looking for exposure, you may find companies that list self-published books in resources for publishing houses and bookstores. You can also market your own book on auction and marketplace websites, as well as good old fashioned flea markets, consignment shops, mom and pop bookstores, hobby stores and even bakeries, coffee shops, local novelty and variety stores – anywhere you might find your audience!

Do not fear your lack of grammar skills, or your understanding of the way footnotes are written or even how you will manage to publish. If you've got something to say – write it! Don't worry about the relatively small fees to get started either. Keep a positive attitude and perhaps in the process someone will offer their editing skills or you'll come up with an innovative way to acquire the funds for the publishing costs. There are also resources online and books that are written just for the willing new writer. Just remember the old rule – always site your sources! Make this easy by keeping up with your references as you write, rather than trying to find them later and failing to do so. You don't want to be accused of plagiarism while you're glowing with a sense of accomplishment and heartfelt congratulations!

Have fun with it. Write without fear; like no one will ever judge or criticize words. Create the self-published book you wish you could buy. Light a fire under those in your group and like-minded individuals decades into the future!
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