MY ADVENTURES IN BOOK PUBLISHING
by Ervin Somogyi
My writing of The Responsive Guitar and its companion volume Making The Responsive Guitar began casually, as most things do. I'd met Stephen Rekas, of the Mel Bay Publishing Company, at the 2001 Great Midwest Guitar show in Saint Louis; we were part of that year's group of exhibitors. Over a dinner, he asked me whether I'd be interested in writing a book for his company. Mel Bay & Co. are of course known the world over for publishing music and teaching methods. Mr. Rekas explained that the Mel Bay company was looking to expand its line of titles; they had published Jose Oribe's book The Fine Guitar some years earlier, and they were now wanting to publish other volumes about the instruments that much of its catalogue was supplying music for. They had heard about me; I've published quite a few articles; I'm known as a decent writer . . . and they thought I could write a good how-to book for them. What they wanted from me was a book on making steel string guitars, and they were going to approach other luthiers to write separate books about Spanish, archtop, and electric guitar making. After a thought process that didn't last longer than the meal we were sharing, I agreed.
I like writing. I already knew the material and didn't think I'd need to spend any great amount of time researching. I began to organize my thoughts and started on the manuscript very soon after I got back from the guitar show.
The Mel Bay Company and I formalized the matter with a written contract within about a month, and we were off and running. The job was to write a book on steel string guitar making that was "lavishly illustrated", period. Mel Bay & Co. is a small, family-owned business and I found myself dealing directly with Bob Bay, the president and son of the company's founder. First off, I was not going to receive an advance; however, after some negotiations, I got Mr. Bay to O.K. a $700 dollar budget with which to pay a photographer to take the necessary pictures. Well, O.K.
Usually, very little happens fast at the start of many projects besides the initial enthusiasm. But I waded in immediately, clattering away at my keyboard every day. My attitude was that, overall, this could be a nice project that wouldn't make unreasonable demands on my time or energies and that I could maybe make a few bucks from. This is where the old adage about "if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans" comes in. I wrote. I edited. I compiled. I kept files. The truth is that if you want to write a good quality book on something that you know anything about there are lots of details to include and many ways to organize them in writing. I kept on writing.
About ten or twelve months into this I got in touch with Mr. Bay to let him know that I hadn't forgotten about the book project; I was busy writing it and, by the way, we really hadn't agreed on the size or length of the project . . . so what did he think I was cranking out? Mr. Bay replied that what he envisioned was to be a minimum of 75 pages, and no more than 150, and of course lavishly illustrated! Hmmmmmm. I responded that I'd already written 350 pages (not counting space for photos) and hadn't finished yet. Moreover, I wasn't going to cut 200 pages out of my manuscript. Could we rethink this? During this time Stephen Rekas, my contact man, happened to get promoted and I was given a new contact person. Unfortunately, he knew nothing about my own project and was overwhelmed with several dozen others. He was, unfortunately, also difficult to get a hold of, and didn't return calls.
Working in this kind of vacuum was frustrating. Our correspondence, such as it was, continued for a while. I was informed that I could write a book 384 pages long: the company's binding machines maxed out at that much paper. They simply could not put a cover on a book that was fatter than that, and this established an absolute limit on the number of pages of manuscript I could turn in.
I didn't think that Bob Bay's desire for a 'lavishly illustrated' volume was going to work with a photography budget of only $700. I knew from having my own guitars photographed how expensive such work could be. But it seemed the best deal I was going to get. It also seemed probable that some portion of this cost was going to have to come out of my own pocket; on the other hand, I didn't mind doing this for a good cause. It wasn't going to work for me to take all the photographs: I'm not that good at it, and I wasn't going to continually interrupt my lutherie work to take pictures. So, I made some fliers and put them up in the local photo/development centers, advertising for a photographer to shoot pictures for a guitar-making book.
Two people answered my call. The first one made it clear that he would only spend so much time working for $700; and at his hourly rate we'd eat through the budget in no time at all. The second, Bob Sondgroth, said he'd be willing to be flexible. It didn't hurt that he'd studied with Ansel Adams. Sondgroth was at that time photographing office interiors and architectural exteriors for various corporate newsletters, catalogues, and sales brochures; this sounded to him like it could be an interesting project that he could learn something from. I want to say at the outset that meeting Bob turned out to be a total blessing; the project absolutely would not have gotten done without him and a personal friendship that I treasure has come out of it as well.
Initially, I'd thought that we could take all the necessary photos for my book in six sessions. This was predicated in bringing a number of lutherie steps, procedures, and instruments to given ready-to-photograph stages, plus a certain amount of coordination and juggling of the shop's production schedule -- and then calling the photographer over for a day. We'd have multiple camera locations in the shop, as well as dedicating a place (with backdrops, etc.) for the table-top images that we needed to have close-ups of.
Once we began photographing things in earnest the six-session plan of action flew right out the window. Would you believe that the photography sessions went on steadily, on an average of once every week or two, for more than four years? And each session went on for half a day or more. We always found more things to take pictures of: jigs, woods, tools, different designs for this or that part, action shots, location shots, promotional shots, organizational shots, work-background shots, work-series shots, wide-angle and macro shots, indoors and outdoors shots, technical shots, before-and-after shots, change-of-mind shots, shots of different exposures, angles, lighting and emphasis, table-top shots, alternative/comparative shots, detail and tool-setup shots, things we'd forgotten to shoot last time, and shots of diagrams, schematics, and drawings. We set up our tripod in every room in the shop, in guitar stores, on the street, in lumber yards, in secondary locations, and anywhere else that we needed to. Every location had different lighting, background, and assorted shooting conditions -- including the time Bob, trying to frame an outdoor shot properly, actually backed into a moving car on the street and almost got run over. All in all, Bob took many thousands of photos, of which we finally selected 996 to appear in my books. Finally, when we'd shoot everything we needed to, and then some, Bob rented a scanning machine and scanned slides from dawn to dusk for three days straight (I forgot to mention that he's from the old school: he took slides, not digital pictures) in order to have the kind of high-resolution digitized images that the modern printing industry requires. One might indeed say that my books are 'lavishly (and s-lavishly) illustrated'.
EXIT MEL BAY
I knew at the outset that there were already about a dozen How-To books out (today, nine years after I started writing, I have fully two dozen of such in my library), and I saw no point in merely presenting another step-by-step instructional. It seemed to me that what I could best contribute, to set my book apart from all the others, was (1) my understanding of the relationship between soundbox design and the guitar's voice and (2) my overview of how the modern guitar got to be how and what it is. This is not intended to be a tourist's guide through guitar arcana, by the way: it is critically important to guitar design. Knowing this instrument's developmental history helps to free one from the assumption that the guitar's traditional (and/or contemporary) design features are cast in stone: every single one has been decided on by somebody, sometime, for some reason, and therefore can be re-thought. My intent was to include as much of the nuts-and-bolts, theoretical, and historical information as I could, and to do it in a way that the average reader could understand.
As time passed I of course kept on writing and the manuscript grew. I couldn't stop myself from adding things: Where did that specific technique come from? How come other luthiers did this or that differently? Were some of these techniques better? And if so, in what regard? Which procedures had primarily tonal benefits, or time-saving or cosmetic-and-marketing ones? And did a particular kind of procedure benefit all guitars or only some kinds of guitars? For that matter, in what ways were the acoustic tasks of one kind of guitar the same or different from another's?
Then, there were more practical questions: Why couldn't one use fan bracing or ladder bracing on guitars that were normally 'X' braced? Or, what difference would it make if one made the braces just a little taller, or squatter, or moved them half an inch this way or that, or profiled them a bit differently? On another level, how is handmade any better than power-tool-assisted? And what are the upsides and downsides of using plastic or a space-age material, or simply a different wood? Then, on a purely technical level, how do shop working conditions (humidity, choice of glues, temperature, use of hand planes vs. sandpaper, use of premade parts, age of materials, etc.) affect the final product? And, finally, what do different authorities have to say about any of this? It was -- and is -- never-ending.
Eventually, I realized that my book was going to far exceed the capacity of the Mel Bay company's binding machine: the total amount of photographs and illustrations alone was exceeding 100 pages (and ultimately came to about 150). I also knew that I wasn't interested in cutting my manuscript down, and that they weren't going to be interested in something as comprehensive as what I was working on. I asked to be released from my contract and they agreed.
THE SEARCH FOR A SECOND PUBLISHER
At that point I needed to find another publisher if I wasn't going to have to pay for everything myself; I knew that Steve Klein's very lovely book about his guitars had cost $50,000 to get into print, and mine was already twice the number of pages. The numbers scared me. So I put out feelers to a bunch of other publishers, mostly in the guitar/music/art/craft field, but some boutique publishers as well -- both domestically and overseas.
My project wasn't exactly going to be most publishers' cup of tea, but I did find a few who showed some interest -- although, in every case, not enough. One publisher was interested; but he wanted a very pared-down and dumbed-down version for sales to mass outlets such as Costco. I didn't think that was quite my demographic. Another showed interest but would accept my manuscript only under several conditions. First, I'd have to sign away many rights to the book (including any say-so about cover design, internal design, marketing, retail and wholesale pricing, and editing. I'd also have to agree to his publishing only selected parts of the book -- but not the whole -- if he chose to do so). Second, I was offered five percent of the book's wholesale price. I did the math and saw that if my book were to retail at $1000, and sold wholesale at a usual 50% discount, I'd get $25 per book sold. If I'd ever had even nickel signs -- let alone dollar signs -- in my eyes, this last one pretty much put those lights out.
I must say that the publishers' blandishments were a rare treat of sorts. These included the old 'a great way to get my name out' routine, the promotional book-signing tour gambit, the 'first necessary step toward a continuingly updated and expanded project' enticement (which is a variation of 'getting-your-foot-in-the-door' tactic), and the 'all the work they would put in to justify their lion's-share of the income' bit. The deals offered seemed to be one version or another of 'give us the fruit of your labor, experience, and intellect; surrender most of your rights to it; and we'll maybe pay you minimum wage in exchange'. Well, yes, these businesses need to survive too, and it's a competitive market out there; but, obviously, one needs to be an already-well-known author in order to be well treated.
And by then my book was becoming too unwieldy to remain a single volume: simply picking the manuscript up now almost qualified as weight-training. I decided to split the work into two books and separate out the Why-Where-When-How-Much-And-Also-Their-Subtleties part of making a guitar from the basic How-To-Do-It steps. Because there was so much material, this separation would de-clutter the narrative on both ends of the discussion. But, more importantly, this was slowly shaping itself into a truly ground-breaking work: there was nothing as comprehensive as this out there. I knew this from my own library, of course, but also from the kind of feedback I was getting from friends, colleagues and former students who were kind enough to read the manuscript and make criticisms and suggestions. My motivation slowly transformed from a 'Hey-wouldn't-it-be-neat-to-have-my-name-in-print-and-make-a-few-bucks' focus into an 'This-is-a-sum-total-of-my-life's-work-it-will-represent-me-after-I'm-dead-and-it-deserves-the-best-treatment-I-can-give-it' undertaking. It was a significant shift.
THE NEXT CHALLENGE: FINDING GRANT FUNDING
After my book's near-death experience with the world of publishers, I began to explore the world of grants. Various friends told me that there are lots of grants out there to help defray the costs of pretty much any project. I don't think I could have made any headway at all with pursuing such options if I hadn't, fortunately, met a professional grant-proposal writer, John Hammond, who also happened to be a guitar junkie. He worked for the University of California, knew the ropes and the paperwork and the lingo, and he offered to help with finding a suitable granting agency. With this resource, I got in touch with a number of grants and fellowship agencies.
Sadly, I was to have no great luck with these either. The thing is, you are no one as an individual who is not part of an organization: some weighty affiliation, backing or sponsorship is needed. Clearly, the thing to do was to seek an organization of some standing that had some connection with the purpose of the grant, to vouch for me and my bona fides. A music/musical instrument related outfit would obviously be the best choice. I asked the G.A.L. and A.S.I.A. whether either one would be interested in lending their name to my grant application. Both said no.
I then began to approach music departments at universities. I eventually made a promising contact with the ethnomusicology department at the University of California at Santa Barbara campus. There was interest there; my professional credentials and reputation were the deal makers. After some correspondence and a face-to-face meeting, we agreed that this department would sponsor (lend its name to) a grant application -- for which it was understood that I would do all or most of the paperwork. (It was pointed out that, all in all, this would be a better deal than simply offering my manuscript to the University of California Press with these folks' recommendation. Prestigious though the U. C. Press might be, this would once again put me in the world of dealing with a publisher who would take most of the pie.)
In exchange, I would of course have to do something for the ethnomusicology department. They asked that I give two lectures about the development of the modern guitar and its importance in modern music. I would do this in two subsequent semesters, each time addressing their graduate department, and this collaboration would be made official under the university's Distinguished Lecturer program. Most universities have similar programs for bringing knowledgeable lecturers to their campuses on a short-term basis. This was the most hopeful possibility I had been able to come up with to date, and I was pretty excited. Wow! A university lecturer! Never mind that I had committed myself to organizing two separate graduate level presentations -- and this with visual aids, signage, a slide show, and music segments in CD form that would illustrate my various points -- in addition to everything else I was already doing. Plus, of course, the travel time.
In 2005 I traveled to the University of California at Santa Barbara to give a lecture on "The Guitar: What, How, Why, and the Tonewoods Involved". The following year I returned there and gave a lecture on "The American Guitar: from Andalusia to St. Louis, from Segovia to Elvis, and from the Prairies to Carnegie Hall". Both lectures quite well attended and received. They ought to have been, given how much time I spent planning and organizing them. Ray Kraut, my apprentice at the time, did yeoman's work and spent literally an entire week in helping me get ready by taking many, many photographs, scanning them, organizing them into a power point presentation, and helping me to make and print out signage and handouts. I could not have done this without him.
To my great surprise and shock, the University dropped me like a hot potato as soon as my second lecture was over. The friendliness disappeared entirely. They had never heard about being sponsors of my grant proposal. And would I please stop bothering them as they were busy. No, I'm not making this up. I was entirely blindsided by this; I returned home without an explanation and went through an angry depression. I was, clearly, of no further use. The intermediary who had first put me in touch with the University, with whom I'd developed a cordial friendship and who had been present at my initial face-to-face meeting with the U.C. representative, was embarrassed and likewise unable to understand this unexpectedly cold behavior. Neither one of us felt that we'd misunderstood anything that the University had said or promised, nor that they had misunderstood my request for grant sponsorship. I felt had. And I never did receive an explanation for any of this. Obviously, one needs to be an already well-known academic in order to be well treated.
I was eventually able to make sense of this unhappy experience, in retrospect, by accepting that I'd managed to naively wander into one of academia's ongoing interdepartmental war zones: I had basically volunteered to be cannon fodder in this particular department's jockeying for position, budget, and brownie points. I had helped make someone look good. And I hadn't understood that the way the game is played is to get your end of it in writing. Some months after this episode I sent the people involved a succinct letter consisting of a verb and a pronoun.
Well, back to the drawing board . . . except by now I was feeling that I'd pretty much run out of drawing paper. I saw that if this book were to ever see the light of day I would just have to raise the money and just pay for everything myself.
VOL. 1 AND VOL. 2: SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE
So: my original project had by now grown and divided into two volumes; one for The How-To and the other for the principles and analysis behind the Why-Where-and-How-Much. There was a further division necessary because I was writing for all friends of the guitar, and writing something that offers something to everyone is tough: you don't want to leave material out, and you don't want to clog the page with too much information; either way, you start to lose readers. I also wanted to keep my narrative free of the scientific formulas and jargon that would put a lot of readers off. Scientific explanations loaded with calculus, differential equations, and graphs of oscilloscope read-outs had never done all that much for me.
I decided that I needed to write a multi-tiered narrative. The main text (the subject matter of all the chapter headings) was going to be straightforward explanation, with just a bit of commentary and analysis. I wanted people to be able to go through the books one page after the other and feel that the narrative made sense and held together. But for readers who wanted all the information -- actual, theoretical, comparative, and speculative, and not just The Basic Facts -- I removed most this secondary material from the main text and put it into its own section in the back of the book, in the form of endnotes. Here, this corollary material is out of the way of readers who don't want to be bothered by Too Much Immediate Information, and it is available for anyone who doesn't mind taking the longer, more interesting, and detour-filled scenic route. The endnotes are in fact a book within a book and account for a full 1/3 of the text! They fill in gaps, provide ancillary and supplemental commentaries, more comparative analysis, exceptions, personal anecdotes, cross-references, insights, colorful guitar folklore, some of my own learning experiences that led to my making this or that discovery and, in general, contain just about as much real and thought-provoking information as the main text. The endnotes are real gems. I must tell you, though, that worthwhile though such a way of organizing a book might be, the time that put into all the necessary re-writing, correspondence, phoning, follow-up communication, cross-referencing, fact checking, indexing, editing, and keeping files on all this so as to avoid redundancies and inaccuracies, is something awesome.
DON AND TWILA BROSNAC
In 2007, as I was winding down the writing and wondering about the next step, I had a stroke of good luck. I was visited, out of the blue, by Don Brosnac and his wife Twila. Don had been one of the very early American lutherie authors, with four books to his name. I'd known him years ago but hadn't had any contact with him for a long time; however, he was still very much tuned in to the guitar. It also turned out that the Brosnacs were now in the desktop publishing business! I described my writing project; they said they were well set up and able to do the page-layout work that my books needed -- and they were interested in doing it. Page layout is just what it sounds like: arranging text in column form (based in book size), selecting type and size of font, margins, placing images and captions on the page (along with headings, call-outs, pagination, footnotes, etc.); creating accurate Corel-Draw graphs and gridded-images from line drawings, making endless suggestions that would result in a better publishing package and, not least, a lot of editing-and-clarifying-as-you-go. It's a lot of work. But this was a match made in heaven! I hired them.
We went to work. I must say that I made life difficult for Don and Twila because I couldn't stop myself from constantly making changes in the manuscript, which of course played havoc with their page-layout efforts. My heartfelt apologies to them for the trouble I put them to.
THE MONTREAL GUITAR SHOW
Fast-forward one year. I showed some of my guitars at the 2008 Montreal Guitar Show, which is held alongside the annual Montreal Jazz Festival. There, I had a serendipitous conversation with one of the principal organizers, Jacques-Andre Dupont. Jacques-Andre's day job is as a successful marketing executive and he is a Friend of the Guitar the rest of the time. When I happened to casually mention that I was close to being done with writing my two-volume set of guitar books he instantly had an idea for a marketing opportunity: that my book release should become part of the following year's Montreal Guitar Show. He proposed that I delay release of my books until then, at which time he would offer me a platform from which to do an official book-launching. He would put my book-release press conference on the official Montreal Show program; he would give me a room, equipment, and staff with which to hold an officially scheduled (and catered) event to which the media would be invited. These would report -- to mostly the European media market, but also to the American one -- on the publication of a significant book about the guitar as part of that year's Festival activities. My book and I would get the benefit of this very advantageous sendoff, and the Guitar Festival would have the cachet of sponsoring the appearance of an important new work by one of today's best known luthiers. It was a win-win, for sure. I accepted the offer: I absolutely was not going to get a better one.
A STROKE OF LUCK
If I felt frustrated by having to wait a whole year before I could release my darn-near completed book, this turned out to be an unjustified fear. It was actually a blessing in disguise.
Shortly after my conversation with Jacques-Andre (he's very informal: everyone calls him that) I met Natalie Reid, a professional editor. In a more or less casual way I asked if she'd be willing read a chapter or two of my book -- in spite of the fact that I honestly didn't think that it needed any correcting or editing. She agreed to, and about a week later gave me her opinion. And oh, was I shocked when she told me that my material was no good; it drastically needed editing; it was full of circumlocutions, over-wordiness, lack of clarity, and superfluity! I was really not wanting to hear this. But she convinced me to listen to her; she knew what she was doing, was good at it, and to make her point rewrote a few paragraphs of what I'd shown her. I was surprised at how much more freely and easily her version read, than mine. I concluded that she was right: my manuscript would benefit from some serious pruning.
To give you an idea of what I'm talking about, the above paragraph is written as I was writing then; after Ms. Reid my writing became different, as follows: it's shorter yet contains at least as much information: "Shortly after my conversation with Mr. Dupont I had a visit from an out-of-town friend who happens to be a professional editor. I told her about my project and casually asked if she'd be willing to look over a sample chapter. I was showing off; I didn't believe that my work actually needed any editing. A few days later she shocked me by telling me that, in her opinion, my chapter was so full of problems that she recommended that I start over again! To prove her point, she edited and re-wrote part of it for me. My shock was even greater: her version read much more smoothly than mine. I was convinced that she knew what she was doing."
I quickly found an editor whom I could afford (Ms. Reid was financially out of my reach, and she was quite busy in any event. This new editor, Diana Young, managed to turn a somewhat clunky narrative into a much more streamlined and clear work. I am grateful that I had year's unexpected pause in my project, which allowed me to both discover the need for someone like Diana, and also to find her before it was too late.
PRINTING AND PRINTERS
As by now it had become clear that I was going to be my own publisher, I should mention that there are a number of things that come with this besides simply paying for everything. Aside from (1) producing a completed manuscript, a self-publishers needs (2) to register as a publisher, and use a name that no one else is using. A short search will reveal this. One then needs (3) an ISBN number, (4) a Library of Congress number, (5) a book jacket designer, which also involves deciding on book size, (6) to choose between hard-cover or soft cover; in either case there are options for binding materials as well as for choosing color vs. black-and-white; (7) to find a suitable printing company; (8) to get the entire manuscript scanned onto CDs which the printer needs in order to set up his presses; (9) choosing the paper to be used, (10) receiving and correcting proofs and okaying the final go-ahead -- and all the back-and-forth communication that such processes require. Then there are (11) shipping costs, and if one has been dealing with an overseas printer then there are (12) even higher shipping costs, customs duties and paperwork (one hires a customs broker), and warehousing and trucking fees. I've already mentioned the need for (13) a competent editor and (14) someone to do the page design and layout, image scanning, Photo-shop work, etc. Finally, (15) one has to find storage for tons of books, and (16) deal with fulfillment of orders, which involves the fielding of inquiries, receiving orders, invoicing, wholesaling/ retailing, packing, shipping, insuring and tracking of packages, stocking and warehousing, accounting, keeping income tax records, dealing with returns and damaged packages and refunds, and generally coordinating everything. etc. It's a piece of cake.
After that, comes the advertising and marketing. Don't get me started. It requires entirely different resources, different problems, a different mindset, and different skills.
But first things first. Through a friend who had had several books published and had had her own learning curve, I found a printer -- Pro Long Publishers, of Hong Kong. I dealt with three printers myself throughout much of this process -- the other two being domestic -- and I struggled with whether to support the American printing industry or to be unpatriotic and go overseas. This wasn't a slam dunk by any means. Two things tipped the scale for me. First, the folks at Pro Long really wanted my business and they always returned calls and communications on the same [business] day or the following one at the latest, and gave me whatever information I'd asked for. If it was night-time they'd fax or email me. They were great with sending things (samples of paper, binding material, photos of different treatment options, quotes, timetables, etc.) in a timely manner. It also seemed that they were hardly ever away from the office; they were almost always available. Second, they were cheaper.
I don't have a reliable opinion about how much more rapaciously competitive Chinese business people are than anyone else is, nor how much of the world's economy China will eventually dominate, control, and displace American interests from. For me to try to grasp the ethics of economic competition that operate in these matters on even a national level -- let alone an international one -- is ludicrous. It's something like watching a sci-fi/stock-car-rally extravaganza and wondering whether I should be rooting for the Colossal Fire-Breathing Insatiable Beast to defeat the Armored Mega-Monster Truck, or vice-versa. It's just beyond my scale of thinking; but if anyone is to blame for any of this I'd start with Richard Nixon. In any event, I have to say I have seldom seen the level of service that I received, and I am both amazed and satisfied with my experience.
A RETROSPECTIVE ASSESSMENT
A friend asked me whether, in retrospect, writing my books has been worth it. My answer is: don't do this for the money if you have anything better to do -- unless you really want to write a book for the sheer ego-experience of it, or unless you're near the end of your career and want to leave something as a legacy. Or unless there are lots of pictures of naked people and it might thus sell well. My full costs to produce these books have been beyond reasonable ability to calculate. Authors like John Grisham and Danielle Steele can make money by writing; almost no one else ever does.
My out-of-pocket costs for this project were on the order of $65,000. This paid for editing, page layout, photography, making graphs, scanning, printing, shipping and custom's fees, storage, ink cartridges, mailing costs, long distance phone bills, professional proofreading, and a hundred other things. More than that, though, I spent about eight thousand hours of my life being a midwife to these volumes -- without even counting my very time-consuming misadventure with the University of California. Money-wise, it is a cautionary fact that I'd have made more money if I'd simply stuck to my workbench and used the time to make some guitars; or, if nothing else, I'm pretty sure I'd have made at least as much money by selling used cars.
However, since I wasn't selling cars nor making as many guitars as I would have otherwise, I did two things to help raise money. First, I borrowed about half the money this project took, from the bank. I'm still paying it back, although I'm making headway on the balance. Second, I put out a pre-publication offering to everyone on my personal email list: 'buy the books from me now at a discounted price and I'll send them to you when I receive them from the printer.' I must say that effort helped. Overall I am glad that I produced these books: they will remain with all of you after I'm gone. And it helped enormously that I didn't know, at the outset, what it was going to take.
Go out and buy my books.