Saturday, November 29, 2008

Paying for Print on Demand (or How a Tea Set Led me to Amazon)

Print on Demand publishing turned my dream of publshing a book about anticipatory grief into a reality. The idea for the book came to me while I was caring for my mother, who had probable Alzheimer's disease. For nine years I worked on the outline and many of the points came from my mother's life.
If she hadn't experienced anticipatory grief she wouldn't "get it." The editor sounded like she was in her early or mid-twenties. "I don't get it," the editor said. Finally the phone call came.

One month passed, two months passed, and then three. I sent the outline to my publisher and waited for the acceptance phone call.
Though she rejected the book the editor gave me some sage advice: Get a medical co-author. I followed her advice and asked Dr. Lois Krahn, a nationally known psychiatrist and sleep expert, if she would help with the book. Dr. Krahn agreed and I'm grateful for her wisdom. Grief is a hard sell and, though we sent the proposal to several other publishers, they passed on it.
So Dr. Krahn and I decided to try POD. I put up most of the money and, to curtail expenses, offered to edit and index the book. In addition, I would do all of the submission and correction work. My husband would have gladly given me the money for POD, but I wanted to do this on my own. How could I come up with the cash?
I decided to sell my mother's sterling silver tea set. Mom had given me the ornate Gorham set after my father died. I shipped it to Rochester, Minnesota, along wth gold-rimmed dishes my parents received as a wedding gift in 1929. Mom had scrimped and saved for the tea set and it was her pride and joy. I remember the day Mom bought the first piece, the tea pot, and placed it proudly on the sideboard in our tiny dining room. Every time I walked past the sideboard to the kitchen I saw the tea pot.
Parting with the tea set would be emotionally painful, but I was willing to accept that pain in order to see the grief book in print. I used the set once or twice and then put it away. Parting with the tea set was, I'm not the kind of person who sits around sipping tea.

I used the set once or twice and then put it away. Lovely as the tea set was, I'm not the kind of person who sits around sipping tea. Never one to do anything half way, Mom also bought a coffee pot. Months later she purchased the cream pitcher and sugar bowl.
I sold the tea set at auction for more than expected. The antique dealer was pleased with the sale, I was pleased with the sale, and so was the woman who bought it. Quite by accident, I learned the person who bought the set was a local realtor. Originally from India, she had bought the tea set with the intention of giving it to her sister as a wedding gift.
When I told the realtor why I sold the tea set she changed her mind. "Now that I've heard your story this tea set has to stay in Rochester," she said. "I'll buy my sister another one. Your mother's tea set is lovely and you can visit it any time you wish."
Though her comment brought tears to my eyes, I was still glad I sold the set. The idea for the grief book had come from my mother and it seemed fitting that publication of the book would come from her as well. Several months after I had signed with the POD publisher Amazon bought the company.
It's been eight years since my mother died and I think of her every day. My mother taught me many things and one is that possessions don't matter as much as what's inside a person and how they live their life. Mom was always my biggest fan and I think she'd approve of my selling the tea set. She is probably cheering me on.
Copyright 2005 by Harriet Hodgson. To learn more about her work go to
Harriet Hodgson has been a nonfiction writer for 27 years and is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists. Her 24th book, "Smiling Through Your Tears: Anticipating Grief," written with Lois Krahn, MD, is available from
A four-star review of the book is also posted on Amazon.


Blogger template 'Kiwi' by 2008