by John Guy LaPlante
Of course, I looked forward to the publication of my book, Around the World at 75. Alone, Dammit! as a big deal and the fulfillment of a major ambition. Truly, it has been that. I never realized what blessings it would bring me in new friends and wonderful experiences, plus extra money earned.
My original order was for 500 books, and that has just about sold out. I am preparing a second edition for publication, and Infinity Publishing has sold another 170 or so through its own programs. Not big numbers in the world of commercial publishing, for sure, but big in the challenging world of self publishing.
My book contained 78 pictures. Originally, they were all digital images, so all in color, but they had to be converted to black and white in the book, and had to be printed quite small. Shucks! But that is about to change, I understand; the day is coming when full color will be available on all pages. Well, I went on to make CDs and DVDs with nearly 700 images, all in splendiferous color, and all with my own sexy septuagenarian commentary (Ha, ha!). The discs have covers that match my book cover perfectly. The book and the disc make a nice combo package, and some people buy both.
In Africa, I had met a young Chinese businessman, Wu Bin. He got the idea of publishing my book in China, in Mandarin, which is the main language. I thought he was nuts, but he bought the rights and got the big job done. He invited me to Shanghai for the big PR kick-off. That was a fantasy in itself. Imagine! He also bought my DVD and made a Chinese version.
After all this excitement, I went on to other big cities in Asia. The result is my soon forthcoming Around Asia in 80 Days. Oops, 83! It turned out that 80 days wasn’t quite enough. Infinity is doing a fine job with this book also.
What is incredible is that I have just received a royalty Moneygram from Shanghai. It is for a substantial sum — well, by my standards. You have to understand that the book and the disc over there sell for less than $4, which happens to be a hefty price in China. It turns out that my Chinese book is selling not by the hundreds, but by the thousands. Mind-boggling!
Oh, my contract said that my name had to be in English on the cover. I wanted my grandchildren to really believe that I had written this Chinese book!
So far, I have given 37 talks, at libraries, clubs, churches, and schools. I have sold books and discs that way, but most wonderful have been the friends I have made. Some have become permanent, ongoing friends. Many of my talks have been free talks, but more and more now are paid. In some cases, this nets me more than the book sales, and it’s always fun.
I have had an advantage in all this. For a dozen years in my early working years, I was a journalist on a big newspaper. In my retirement, also for a dozen years so far, I have been a journalist again, freelancing feature stories and a regular column, “Senior Moments,” in which I can talk about anything I like — quite rare. This has helped with my book.
I have had a number of feature stories written about me, interesting because it has turned the table for this journalist, so to speak. One was in a huge publication, USA Weekend, the supplement that runs in hundreds of Sunday newspapers. It has millions of readers.
Now, something terrific is about to unfold. In September, there is a 98 percent chance that I will ship out for 27 months as a Peace Corps volunteer. I will be a university English teacher, maybe in Eastern Europe, but maybe in West Africa, there because of my fluency in French. I am 78 years old.
My research has led me to a number of books about Peace Corps service, but all focusing on young volunteers. There seems to be no book by a senior volunteer for senior potential volunteers. Peace Corps can be a marvelous experience for seniors in many ways. I plan to redress that. So, Infinity Publishing, you are hereby notified!
And all of these wonderful experiences have happened because of the modern marvels of self publishing!