How to Publish a Book in 10 Easy Steps

Step 1: Wait for Gutenberg to invent the printing press, which kicks off centuries of progress in printing technology, culminating in fast, cheap laser printers.

Step 2: Wait for Donald Knuth to write LaTeX and METAFONT, which allows digital typesetting to be beautiful.

Step 3: Wait for the internet to be invented, allowing easy transfer of information, and the establishment of internet print-on-demand services like lulu.com.

Step 4: Have a friend publish a fantastic book using Lulu, so you can see a little from the outside how it works, and ask for advice.

Step 5: Have another friend with a complete book all typed up, ready to be published (her father’s memoir).

Step 6: Dump the Word docs to plain text; write perl to insert LaTeX formatting codes for chapters, blockquotes, leading verse for each chapter, etc.

Step 7: Follow advice for creating a Lulu-ready PDF (page sizes, embedded fonts, etc.).

Step 8: Upload the PDF to Lulu — boom, now it’s for sale!

Step 9: Use latex2html to generate a HTML version of the book; use Calibre to convert HTML into both .mobi (Kindle) and .epub (all other) e-book formats.

Step 10: Create a WordPress blog to advertise the book and disseminate e-books.

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#1 is #1!

High drama at Pinewood Derby last night!

First off, in the Turkey finals, we had to have a race-off between two cadets who had always won (slowest) in each of their heats, except heats in which they were together, which they split 1-1. So we put those two down the middle two tracks, and one car was clearly slower (Turkier). Then we swapped lanes, and the other car was clearly slower (not all lanes of our track drive the same) — BUT, so much slower that this time he didn’t make it to the finish line, thus making that run a DQ and deciding the winner.

Even better though were the speed finals. We winnowed down from our sweet-16 directly to a final-4. There was a clear points-leader (1st place in all his sweet-16 heats), and a tie for 2nd (including our #1), and a 4th. The final-4 consisted of four heats, rotating the cadets through the four lanes of our track (note lane differences above!), and here’s the heat-by-heat:

Heat 1, points-leader first, #1 second.

Heat 2, points-leader first, #1 second. It looks like the points-totals from earlier rounds are bearing out, and #1 is headed for a 2nd place trophy, until…

Heat 3, #1 first, points-leader second!

Coming into the final heat, if points-leader gets first again, he wins. If points-leader gets second again, it’s a 2-way race-off. But what actually happened was:

Heat 4, points-leader derails for fourth! #1 gets first and snatches the trophy!

(#1’s victory was not much tarnished by his decisive loss in the exhibition race-off between fastest cadet car and fastest counselor car)

#2 made a pretty fast car too, he was just out of the finals, tied for 5th in the sweet-16. We’re hoping for a trophy in the all-council derby, where he will be competing only against 1st/2nd graders. That’s coming up Sat Mar 26, 12-4, hosted at our church. If you’re in San Diego, come on out, have lunch at our snack bar, and enjoy the races — it’ll be a blast!

(I’ll post pictures of our awesome cars after the 26th…)

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