For the last ten years or so people have been telling me I should put some of my humor columns together and do a book. And for ten years or so I’ve been wondering if anyone would be willing to buy such a book if I did it. And for ten years I’ve decided it wasn’t worth the trouble to find out.
But then my brother wrote a book, and I think he did a pretty good job. I mean, it has words in it and everything. And people actually give him money for copies of it. So I decided a book might not be such a bad idea.
Plus I figured my book would be a lot easier to write than his, being as how I already had it all written. All I had to do was go through a bunch of my columns and pick fifty or so to use in the book. How hard could it be?
So I decided to do it. I went through hundreds of old columns, picked the ones I thought were probably not too bad, and copied them to a separate file. Then I figured it might not be a bad idea to go through and look for mistakes, just in case. Not that I make mistakes, but sometimes my computer doesn’t save things exactly the way I remember writing them.
Well. All I can say is I’m in the market for a new computer. I was amazed at how much editing I had to do to those columns. They were a mess. I finally decided it would probably have been easier to start all over.
Once I finally finished all that I sent the columns to my publisher, glad the work was over at last. But then I got a call from my editor. He wanted to know if I wanted the book to have an introduction. Well, duh. I said of course I wanted an introduction. He said I would need to write it then. I said, well, hey, I wrote the rest of the book, couldn’t someone else write the introduction? He said no, I had to do it.
So I wrote an introduction. Then my editor called back and wanted to know if I wanted to write a dedication. So I had to do that, too.
But I drew the line the next time he called, and wanted me to write a foreword. I managed to talk my friend John Jefferson into doing that. I’m sure he did a fine job, too. I may even read it, once the book comes out.
So then I was finally done. Except a few weeks later, about the time I expected the book to be all printed up, I got an email from my graphic designer. She said she would be working on some ideas for the cover of my book, and she was going to send me some choices to see what I liked best. And let the record show that I never asked for a graphic designer. I didn’t even know they existed.
Well, she sent me three or four choices for covers. They were all quite tragic. Of course, I couldn’t tell her that. I said they were nice and all, but I was thinking of something else. And then I called Uncle Jim and asked him to please help me out.
My uncle, Jim Bob Swafford, is a real, live artist. He’s more a painter, really, but he does cartoon type stuff when I ask him to. So Jim sent me some drawings in a couple of days, and they were great. They were so good, in fact, that I decided to put one of them on the front cover and one on the back. And then I asked him to do some more for the inside of the book. I wouldn’t be surprised if Jim’s drawings were the best part of the whole thing.
So I was finally done. Really. And then I got a call from someone else at the publisher’s. And then someone else. And someone else. I don’t even remember what half of these people were called or what they wanted, but they all wanted something. It turns out writing a book is way more trouble than writing, say, the constitution. Jefferson didn’t have to go through a publishing house.
The book is finally, according to someone with a particular title, being printed. And I think it turned out pretty good. Considering all the work I put in on it, after it was written, it should be better than, say, ‘Islands in the Stream.’ And as a matter of fact, it is.
I have it on good authority that I will receive some copies of my personal albatross within the next month. The price was set, by the publisher, at $14.99, despite my suggestion of rounding it off to an even $1000. But then, we all have to make sacrifices.
If you want a copy of my book, and someone had better, as much trouble as it was, I’m taking orders now. And if your order is postmarked before the end of April, I won’t charge you any postage, which is going to run about three bucks.
Of course, you’re welcome to send me $1000, in which case I will name my next book after you. Assuming I ever write another one. Also assuming, of course, your name isn’t Don’t Buy This Book . . .
Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist and public speaker whose kids may not get to go to college if you don’t buy his book. Write to him at PO Box 1600, Mason, Tx 76856 or firstname.lastname@example.org