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The Emperor's New Hydrogen Economy

A book by Darryl McMahon

Last updated 2007.01.11

On Being an Author

This section is not going to be organized in any rational fashion, more a random stream-of-consciousness cloud of thoughts and material.

When people learn I have published a book, there are many questions about being an author (usually more than about the book – <sigh>). Here's my synopsis of the answers.

Becoming a published author has been an educational experience. If I had known before I started what I know now, I would not have started. The research and developing the framework for the book were major exercises that consumed most of my unpaid time for over four years. I'd rather have that time back. The writing was not particularly difficult. Finding the funds to finance the outside editor, underwrite the upfront fees from the publisher and pay for printing of the books has been (and remains) a challenge. Something the self-publishing support companies don't tell you before you begin is that only about five percent of the books published ever sell more than one thousand copies. At that mark, I won't break even on this venture. So, if your objective is fame and fortune, writing books is a challenging way to go about it. Fortunately for me, that's not my objective in writing The Emperor's New Hydrogen Economy. My objective is to get the truth about the hydrogen economy out to consumers and taxpayers, so they can devise a better strategy for themselves. (To discuss having the author speak at your event about consumer-level energy efficiency, conservation and production, reducing energy bills or electric vehicles, please e-mail. I'm based in Ottawa, Canada, so if you want me to appear a significant distance away, we're going to have to figure out how to cover my expenses as well as timing.)

I'm not yet a “successful” author. I may never be in a commercial sense. Still, having the book in print is further than most would-be authors get. One surprise for most people is that the ability to write is a trivial (but necessary) talent in terms of getting a book into print. Persistence, thick skin, a credit card with a significant limit, getting by on insufficient sleep, tact, the ability to check your ego while receiving comments from proof-readers and editors, and a wide network of supporters and friends have proven far more important to date, in my opinion.

2006.11.16 – There are good days and bad days. This one wasn't so good. Tonight I had an interview with a local journalist. We agreed to meet at a large local bookstore where I knew my books were on the shelf. She wanted a photograph of me with the books. We tried a couple of positions, and as I was shifting to a third, she dropped her camera. When she picked it up, the camera would not power up, and the zoom lens was canted at an odd angle. A quick attempt to reposition it to where it belonged only succeeded in removing it completely. We concluded we should move on and find somewhere to have a bite to eat and do the interview. I went to pick up my carry bag, but it was gone. I had put it under a table just a couple of metres away, but our backs were to it for a couple of minutes. Presumably, someone figured they had scored a free laptop computer (joke was on them on that score). We looked around for a bit, including in some garbage cans outside the store. The biggest loss was my daybook (including a lottery ticket I had not checked yet), but that is a major annoyance, as it includes many future appointments I don't have recorded anywhere else. I reported the loss to store security, but a quick scan of the store turned up nothing. Unfortunately, my bag also had the review copy of the book I was going to give to the journalist.

As is often the case in my life, the bad is often balanced by the good, if you are open to seeing it. I was trying to figure out how to get another copy for her in short order, when she pointed out that there were several sitting on a shelf just a few steps away. To my delight and surprise, she bought a copy to have one to review.

Fortunately, my interviewer has a sense of humour and we got past the broken camera and lost bag. With book in hand, we proceeded to have dinner and do the interview. Someday, that should result in an article in the local press.

Shannon, if you ever get a book into print, count on me to buy one of the first copies.

2007.01.11 – An interesting event. I was taking the bus home from work this evening, when a fellow sat down beside me. I had my nose in a book, no surprise. After a couple of minutes of fishing around in his bag, he turned to me and said, “Excuse me, but is this you?”, holding up a copy of the newspaper article by Shannon Lee Mannion that was published on December 15. We had an interesting chat on a variety of subjects. Thanks, Lee, you made my day.

Book signings are a lot of work, if you want them to work.

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