Sunday, August 29, 2010

More Finds at the Local Antique Shop

This morning, as I was purchasing these photos at the local antique shop, the clerk asked me if I wanted them gift wrapped. I'm not sure to whom I would give these images, but it was a pleasant thought that someone else might appreciate them. Perhaps the first photo shown here could be given on the anniversary of friends with a note that says something such as, "I hope that you are always as happy as this couple appears to be."

Besides the historical aspects of these images I collect, I treasure them for the way they make me feel when I look at them. How could a woman not melt when her husband looks at her as this dashing gentleman looks at the woman beside him? Or, is this a son and mother image? (It's especially hard to tell with the man in profile.) I've talked in my More Finds at the Local Antique Shop "column" before about my trips of the imagination and these three images transport me once again. Also, as I so often lament, none of these photos are labeled. But at least that allows my imagination to take me anywhere.

I suppose that the couple had children. Perhaps they are away on vacation. Maybe grandma and grandpa are watching the kids play on the lawn behind the photographer. Perhaps, this could be a bed-and-breakfast or summer home similar to the one my grandmother occupied in the Catskills. This snapshot was taken quickly in a "wait! Stand there for a second" moment that didn't much rely on a well-formatted picture. But if this image were of me, it would be much treasured just the same. Their expressions and pose filled with warmth are what is most important for the camera to capture in this quick documentation of a moment in their lives.

I'm assuming that picture number two must capture a family reunion. The image was labeled 1890s, NH. I wonder from where all these people came. Was this image taken when everyone arrived? As they departed? Was there a fabulous offering of food in the house or a picnic on the lawn? What games did they play? How far did these people travel to get here? What are their relationships? How lovely would it be to have some archival materials to fill in the missing information? Did someone keep a diary that included mention of this event? Perhaps there was correspondence related to its planning. Were their copies of this image made for the family members and do they still exist somewhere in an ancestor's home?

Picture three brings me back to my archives roots in Waltham, Massachusetts. These gentleman remind me of the Italian families in that city. Immigrants often found work in the United States and sent money home to their families along with letters and photos. Were these men brothers? Did they send pictures home to their mother? Wives? Girlfriends? Families proudly dressed in their finery to record a special moment or relationship. Is that what is going on here? If you look closely at the bottom of the photo, you can see the slightly tattered base of the photographer's backdrop and the rug he must have set out to make the image more "homey." Was this a traveling photographer or did these gentleman go to a studio for this image? Besides my questioning musings, this image is also appealing for the fine mustaches and fabulous three piece suit fashions. I just couldn't resist...

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Why the Mailing List Still Rules! E-mailing newsletters

I just released my e-mailed September newsletter. Yes, I do still e-mail newsletters. My clients seem to like it that way. I started this blog with the intention of letting the e-mailings go, but I did a poll of my mailing list before I took that drastic plunge. Everyone who responded said that they would like me to continue the e-mail. It surprised me. A little. Not a lot. Many of the people with whom I work are: 1. not computer savvy (I teach basic private computer classes to help remedy that when they desire assistance) or 2. attached to the "old-fashioned" way. As an archivist, I can definitely relate to that!

When I thought about it, I realized that though it is a little extra work, I don't want to give up my e-mailed newsletter. Why? Because it offers me one more forum to make my voice heard. Not only that, it gives me a platform to consolidate my ideas for the month. I can tweet 15 times a day, write blog posts and articles. I can give presentations and network face-to-face. But none of these outlets allow me to take a lot of ideas and put them together in an abbreviated and appealing (maybe even pretty) format . In fact, it is even very much unlike my full of great information (perhaps a bit overwhelming?) web site.

Additionally, the people on my mailing list are the ones who have put in a little extra effort to find me. They've hired me for a project, attended one of my programs, contacted me directly for information, or specifically asked to be put on my mailing list. I can't ask for better attention than that. So, I hope my newsletter gives back some of that love and tells my contacts that they are appreciated. I will always be loyal to my special mailing list group because they have been so loyal to me. I'm sure that the e-mail sits unopened or is quickly deleted by some, but they haven't booted me entirely out of their in-boxes yet. And while I can't directly measure readership, every once in awhile I get a nice personal note back when the newsletter goes out to tell me they are still receiving and appreciating my voice.

I should add that I only use my mailing list for my newsletter and very special, maybe once a year announcements (like a book release.) There is no reason to beat your most loyal supporters over the head with spam!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Intangible Memories Preserved

Thinking about food is an easy way to evoke individual memories. A smell or taste can mentally transport a person to a time or place in our past with little effort. However, while it is easy to bring up these memories, it is harder to capture them for posterity. Like other "intangible culture" such as languages and social practices of communities, foods are often passed down in an undocumented form. It is a challenge for cultural heritage professionals to secure their remembrance in a formalized way. While reading "The Idea of Cultural Heritage" by Derek Gillman this week, I've begun tying together some of my recent work related to what cultural heritage is, what it means, how it's important to an individual, and how it is important to us collectively as humans.

I have been working on a program about capturing and relating individual life stories with a colleague, professional organizer Sue West. Our workshop discusses why it's important to tell an individual's life story, how to tell a life story, and how one story connects to a larger community. The program primarily focuses on how the objects in your life tell something about you. But, a few weeks ago, I came across this article to share with Sue so we could discuss the idea of intangible heritage and incorporate it into our workshop:

Write your own food biography: my life in 10 dishes.

After I shared the link with Sue, she immediately wrote back to me with a list of her most memorable life dishes that included things as diverse as her mom's gazpacho, french dishes from a junior year abroad, and Vermont cheddar. Excited that she connected with the food idea, I shot back an e-mail listing the cuisine with which I deeply connect:

Aunt Louise's Sweet Potato Pie (Aunt Louise is a Cherokee and I think this native American dish is amazing) Chicken gizzards (mom and I love them, but I haven't found another person who does) Pickled herring (my favorite "Jewish" food. Reminds me of my heritage....though I might add gefilte fish, blintzes, and matzoh ball soup in with the herring) lamb w cucumber (the first fancy dish that my husband made for me when he discovered he likes to cook) Cheesecake (reminds me of my favorite diner growing up) cookies (mom used to make them fresh every week) Heath bar ice cream floats (reminds me of my first boyfriend)...

But, while these themes are directly tied and specific to my own experience, everyone will be able to relate to something among them. This is how our individual heritage relates to a greater community. Also, while one may find a connection to my list, one may also have something to add, giving a new dimension to this culture I'm relating. For example, someone may lock onto my diner cheesecake and start thinking about their local diner cheesecake or other local diner dishes. We can contemplate a whole diner heritage. Can we compare how my little New York diner differs from a diner in the American west? Or, we can think about my ethnic heritage instead of my geographical locale. While I gravitate toward pickled herring, perhaps your ethnic food of choice is spaghetti and meatballs? We can even blend the ideas. While I grew up on Long Island with Jewish foods wafting from the windows of my house, my next store neighbors were Italian Catholic, fully embracing a meatball culture.

To solidify this food culture idea in my mind, last night through serendipity, I came across this article in my search for cultural news:
UNESCO “Cultural Heritage List” to Include the Mediterranean Diet . It brought me full circle to my e-mail back and forth with Sue. Ideas of preserving this intangible heritage are reverberating around the world, from your kitchen to the board of UNESCO. Consider what aspects of your culture are worth preserving that are yet to be documented. Share your recipes with your children and your local historical society. Share your thoughts about who you are and what influences made you the way you are. We will all be enriched for it.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Thinking about documenting weddings...

Share some wedding memories from your own wedding or that of a loved one. I'm thinking about weddings today and have an upcoming blogpost about preserving memories from them. In the meantime, What meaningful moments are in your head, but may not be documented? I remember being unable to get my husband's ring onto his finger. It is now a joke in our family that I had the ring resized before the ceremony so that once he got it on he wouldn't be able to get it off again! We have a series of unlabeled photos of the moment, but I don't think anyone would know what they were about unless I explained. How about you? What funny, touching, noteworthy moments are on your mind?

Preserving Wedding Memories

This past weekend, I attended and officiated at my brother's wedding. One of my gifts to the united couple will be a memory box to document their special event. I am considering the elements of the wedding that need to be preserved. I think it provides a good opportunity to explore how to document a wedding and other events.

The wedding memory box can contain the following (off the top of my head and in no particular order):
photos of attendees, building, cake, food
professional photos can be placed in an album
copies of photos taken by attendees should also be preserved
copies of web sites where info about the wedding was posted (ex. photos and comments on social media sites. The couple's mailed invitation also included a link to a web site for more information. This too should be preserved.)
copy of my ceremony reading
copy of the invitation
copy of thank you card
cards from family and friends
video recordings
text copy of parents' toasts
guest book
brochure from place that hosted event
reminiscences of bride, groom and attendees
song list (CD with all the songs?)
pressed flower petals such as those carried by flower girls
bridesmaid "bouquets"
copy of marriage certificate
I can even include documentation of my brother's proposal, wedding planning information, honeymoon information...

Of course, all of these will be properly stored with preservation safe supplies. The bride will separately store her dress and shoes.

This wedding was a non-traditional one and my first inclination is to help preserve that unique feel that so wonderfully represented my brother and his wife. Easiest to remember is the bride's gorgeous dress that made her look like a Renaissance princess. But I also want to remember that each centerpiece was unique, representing one of the people seated at the table. For example, one centerpiece included a horse trophy for the horse owner, another had a plane for a pilot, another had an alien (not sure what that one was all about. I'll need to ask.) I want to remember the feather bridesmaid bouquets, the gluten free fare, the music played from a laptop computer when we walked down the aisle, the playing of "The Portal Song" when they cut the cake. I can remember these things through the photos, written reminiscences or video, but I want to be sure that everything is documented in some form.

Another aspect of this wedding that I want to highlight is the coming together of diverse communities, as is common at many weddings. In this case, the bride's family is from the south and the groom's from the north. The wedding was heavily weighted toward the sciences with a strong showing of MIT grads. There were a few children. There were multiple religions (and non-religions) represented among guests and within various elements of the ceremony and celebration. There were multiple hair colors (purple, blue, and my heavily boosted red among them.) There were those who would get "The Portal Song" and those who didn't get it at all. This all struck me as very significant and wonderful.

I want to remember the location and how events were created around it and how the setting influenced others. The ceremony was outside surrounded by a grape arbor. Hors d'oevres were served inside the Civil War era mansion, an air conditioned space where I could recover from my speech and explore grand rooms upstairs with my cocktail hour bored daughter and niece. They swirled and twirled in their flower girl dresses across wooden floors flooded in sunlight. The dinner was outside under a tent, alongside a grassy airy where I could play tag with the kids while others played frisbee alongside of us. Table were set to one side of the tent to create a dance floor on the other where the couple danced their first dance together, accompanied their parents, and then eventually held hands and whirled flower girls across the floor.

And I have to remember that my perspective is unique. There are things about this wedding that I didn't get to see and stories that I have not yet been told. I want to hear others' perspectives. Perhaps I can ask people to write one thing that they found memorable or I can conduct some oral history interviews. I can create a web site where people can contribute their reminiscences.

A wedding is a microcosm of life with people, events, and places coming together to form a story and history. We can choose to retain special memories by considering all of the elements that make up the day and ensuring that the most important and most representative are recorded for posterity. We keep these memories for ourselves and to reflect to a larger society that which is important to us. Our story also plays a role in a larger cultural story as a piece of evidence about what is important to mankind. Thoughtful documentation efforts can help better retain diverse information for multiple purposes. A wedding is just one piece of the puzzle.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Who owns our heritage? Protecting resources outside the cultural heritage institution

Last week, an article I wrote for HNN called "Collaborating to Preserve Our Cultural History" focused on the desirability of collaborating to ensure that comprehensive documentation of our culture is preserved for posterity. The first comment I received to this article stated:

I am wondering if the author is equally concerned about the preservation of "their" culture. I refer to white invaders from Classical civilisation to the present who have removed indigenous artifacts and placed them in either private collections or white cultural zoos(museums)and then charged outlandish admission fees for their patrons. Much of what is preserved of "our culture" is simply stolen and rarely returned unless public outcry is sustained over a period of time.

This is an aspect of cultural heritage that deserves deeper consideration. Who owns our heritage? How can cultural heritage institutions best help preserve heritage? Is it necessary to expropriate materials to ensure their protection?

I responded to the commented in the following way:
It is my intention to encourage people to make sure that items are preserved for posterity. This does not mean removing items from their communities. Cultural heritage institutions can play a significant role in helping communities preserve their own materials within their own localities. We can help raise awareness about the importance of safeguarding documentation. The expertise of professionals can help communities survey their resources, identify vital historical items, create appropriate climate controlled environments, learn about proper storage materials, and create appropriate access tools for information. Working together, larger and wealthier cultural institutions can provide support for smaller communities... Even with the best intentions, when organizations seeking to build collections act to "save" materials they often stir up other issues. True collaboration encourages all those with an interest in materials to speak up about them and decide the best way to keep them. This includes professionals and non-professionals alike...One organization or group of professionals should not "expropriate" thinking that they know best and can make best use of the resources for their people. And to add to that idea, I think it should always be a goal to keep materials local, to the extent that is possible. I am specifically thinking of Afghanistan's collections that were removed from the country for their safety with the goal of returning them when it is feasible.

Returning to my own consulting work within communities this kind of thinking also applies. When I begin a collaboration project with clients, one of the first things I warn is the possibility of someone feeling like we are "stepping on toes" or trying to take away items that others feel they have a right and desire to keep. While museums, libraries and archives seek to make their collections stronger, great care must be given to a larger picture. It should be a prime goal to make a strong network of documentation, creating awareness about what materials exists, who owns them, and helping everyone gain the tools necessary to preserve them for posterity.

But, when an institution does not have "ownership" how do they benefit from cultural heritage materials and valuable troves of informational resources in the hands of others? Why should a strong repository embrace a responsibility to collaborate, aiming to keep materials close to home and sometimes within repositories that may not have expertise and funds equal to their own?

The Hudson River Valley environmental collection at the Marist College Special Collection and Archives is an example I continually return to. I wrote about this extraordinary group of records in my book Cultural Heritage Collaborators and my article for History News that is due out this Autumn. The Marist archivist developed a small collection about a proposed power plant in the Hudson River Valley into one of the most revered environmental collections in the country. Through collection development, the college gathered resources related to the controversy. In the process, the archivist worked to identify all documentation he could about the subject. When appropriate, identified materials were accessioned into the College's collection. However, in some cases (and for various reasons), the archivist informed record holders of the significance of materials in their possession and their relationship to the Marist collection, but left documents with their original owners. The archivist taught the record holders proper preservation methods when necessary. He returned to his own institution with the knowledge that the records would be kept safe and accessible because of the information he shared. He became the "go-to" person for researchers seeking information on the subject and helped establish a national recognition of his repository's expertise in this area.

Cultural heritage institutions do not need to own materials to take interest in them. One may benefit from knowledge gained about available resources. Collaborating helps gain trust, boosts all participants, and provides each with something of value. For the more established cultural institution, the knowledge gained and public recognition that you are the "expert" on a given topic will give you enough of a boost to strengthen all your activities. Ownership is not everything. We must see our role in protecting resources related to our organizational mission within and outside of our institutions. We all own our heritage and must work together to ensure its safety.

History News Network Article

History News Network has just published my latest article. "Collaborating to Preserve Our Cultural History" discusses the value of partnering to secure our heritage.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

More Finds at the Local Antique Shop

Today the talk at the local antique shop was of authenticity and appraisal, but they were not using those words exactly the way I would use them. I love going into the shop (From out of the Woods Antiques) to get a different perspective on historical items than that I normally take away as an archivist. Today, a visiting coin dealer was saying that he wishes customers wouldn't use special pens on the currency to see if it is real. The owner of the shop was negotiating over the price of items. My idea of appraisal is judging the historical value of an object and authentic items help me form a more accurate picture of historical events for archives visitors. It is engrossing to be in this place and with people who value their items with varied expertise.

I generally wander through the shop looking for paper based items, archives or ephemera that catch my eye. Today, all my finds were found in a small box that sat on a shelf locked behind glass. The box was filled with many greeting cards. There were cute ones and beautiful ones, but I chose the one to the left because it reminded me of Warner Brothers cartoons from my childhood. The handwritten message inside is endearing as well, wishing a 75 year old another 25 good years of life.

The item got me thinking about about the history of mass produced greeting cards. When I was in grad school many moons ago, I interned for a short time at the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities (now known as Historic New England.) One of the things I remember best from my time there are the lovely hand-made Valentines they maintain in their archives. Greeting cards always bring me back to that place, but the cards I looked at this morning were very different from the lace glued papers, some obviously made with love and care. According to Wikipedia, mass-produced greeting cards were begun in the 1860s. They seem to have hit their stride by the 1930s, with a more precise appearance that doesn't seem too far removed from our Hallmark versions today -- a fully realized vision of quickly made, ephemeral items with less regard for detail compared to their 19th century counterparts. But despite that commercialized appearance, this item was unusual to me, right down to its 3-dimensional golden egg in a nest, and I had to take it home.

The second item that caught my eye is this photo of a woman holding a letter. Props reveal a lot about the people pictured in photos. (Well-known author Maureen Taylor discusses this on her Photo Detective web site.) In historic photographs, people often chose to be pictured with items that were meaningful to them. To have a photograph taken was a special event. They didn't take snapshots every day. So we see such pictures as men with their guns, women standing near the mantel with heirlooms, and families standing on the lawn in front of the house with the valuable family cow. This letter must be meaningful to this woman. Was it written by a husband at war or by her children who have left home for new adventures? I love thinking about the possibilities. I would also love to see this image in a collection of the woman's papers. Perhaps we could have put two-and-two together. How great would it have been if the letter were kept along side the image?

My third find today was this image of a girl in spectacles. Those who regularly read about my antique shop finds know that I have a soft spot for girls with curls who remind me of my own. The girl is adorable, but was she really as bored as she looks here? I'd love to find a pair of spectacles like the ones she has on to keep alongside this image. Though a first glance of items often draws me in, it's the stories they tell and the connections I can keep trying to decipher and build that keeps me going back to the original objects. I see a bit of myself and those I love in the old, even when the people who wrote a message or had a photo taken are not related to me. Memories come of my own come flooding back. My connection to a greater humanity is more clear. This girl could be my own daughter or could be me, standing with a scowl by my grandmother before my sixth grade graduation.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Self Publishing Experience

Beginning with the Idea

We all have ideas, but what makes some of us decide to turn them into books?

I have been an archivist for almost twenty years and have been consulting for ten. During that time I have learned much about myself and my field. I have a thorough understanding of what kind of professional I am, what is important to me, and what my talents are.

Despite voices declaring that I should steer toward new technologies, I was confident that I was not going to write a book about digitizing records. I am not an expert in that area and frankly, it doesn't interest me all that much. To those who have asked why my book doesn't address automation more fully, I want to say that I know the importance of automation (and strongly support its use), but it doesn't interest me enough to write a book about it. There is still a place for conversation that doesn't focus on computers.

All my work has steered me toward documenting communities -- making sure locales know their history and have records to support knowledge of their activities; helping them to create plans and strategies that ensure the security and promotion of their cultural heritage. I have ALWAYS been interested in these things. This work is part of who I am. I am always wondering about the history of the place I visit. I repeatedly seek to visit institutions that shed light on history. I stop at signs by the side of the road that help preserve a sense of place. I notice old buildings. I look for cultural symbols. I wonder about the people who live in an area and think about how they communicate and what they share.

I wrote about what I know. I had so many ideas swirling in my head that the subject was begging to be a book (or two, or three...stay tuned...)

Pitching it to the Big Boys

So, ten years ago, I pitched my idea to "the big boys." (The big "boys" were actually a "girl" the first time around.) The publisher liked the idea, but wanted changes. I was not ready to wrap my head around these changes. I had a lot of professional ideas waiting to be formed ahead of me. My ideas had to percolate and grow. I put the idea of publishing a book aside.

So...nine years later I re-pitched the idea to the same company. They liked it and wanted changes. This time I was prepared. I had ten years extra experience, more connections, and more confidence. I worked for a year with an editor, going back and forth by e-mail to make new improvements and alterations. After a year, he told me that I did everything he asked. He offered me a contract.

This portion of my story is the "Don't Give Up!" section. If you know that you have a good idea, stick to it. Pitch a well developed concept. If you are in a niche market like I am and the idea is right for your publisher's audience, they'll recognize that. Do your homework and find the publisher(s) who will best recognize and understand your talent and skills. If you want to publish with a professional publisher be prepared to listen and respond to feedback. Make improvements. Learn.

Walking Away with an Unsigned Contract in Hand

The publisher renamed my book and at first that was okay. He got back to me and said that a committee met and they thought that this new name would attract attention. I was a little perplexed. The title was not exactly what my book was about. It gave prominence to the word "Archives" and while the book certainly discusses historical records and focuses on their care, I felt that word was limiting. In my mind, archives serve as a cultural thread. Everyone has them, but most do not recognize that they do. By placing the word "Archives" in the title, I thought those who did not specifically concern themselves with these particular cultural heritage resources would reject the book outright. Rather, I wish archivists, curators, librarians, town clerks, secretaries, families and anyone who handles records with long-term value to take part in my discussion. I want them to create a dialogue about collaboration and varied ways to reflect society by identifying historical items and by developing collections.

I began to think that maybe the publisher didn't understand my purpose. Was I not explaining myself well? Was I mistaken about my book's strengths? Or, was the publisher not quite listening to me? I still don't know the answer to this.

A little while later I received a contract. It asked me to sign my book away for a return of 5% . I also was required to index the book. (Didn't they have a special class in library school for that and didn't we hire someone to do it when I helped with the exhibit catalog at an art museum?) I began having more concerns about specifics when I started talking to other authors. I do not want to gripe. Suffice it to say that I made a list of positives and negatives of accepting this contract. I will also disclose that I had already self-published a book outside of my field (just for fun) so I knew what self-publishing offered me -- more money and creative control -- the ability to make the book what I fully envisioned from the start. I decided to walk away without signing the contract. I had a few regrets, mainly about the publisher investing time in me, but my concern about wasting their time was quelled by the "negatives" column that screamed that it was the right thing to do.

The Finish Line

Self-publishing does not necessarily make one's book less professional, but it could. I wanted my book to be as professional as possible. I hired a proofreader and editor. I worked on the design myself and had some one with more design experience than I fine tuned it. For some, it may be wisest to hire a designer. I am a semi-professional photographer on the side so I shot my own cover. Others may want to hire a graphic designer, but as an artist I wanted the cover to represent me -- a little old fashioned and eclectic. I asked for input on design and then ran with it.

I tracked down and wrote to the people I quoted in the manuscript. This was a very interesting experience. I met a lot of great people. No one refused to let me use their words and stories. I started great conversations with professional archivists and social historians around the world. If you are planning to publish, do not neglect to ask for permission to quote! For one, you'll get more back from it than you put in.

I sought final reviewers. (I had two initial rounds of review with the professional publisher the previous year.) I bought my own ISBN, submitted copy to the Library of Congress for copyright purposes. I uploaded my final product to Createspace and I'm on my way...

The biggest challenge of self-publishing for me is getting the word out. I hope first that the people who have come to know my work will be the first to grow curious about this book. I have contacted those who subscribe to my newsletter and former clients. I write about the book in this blog and I periodically tweet about it. I do not want to hit people over the head with it, but I want them to know that if they like the other work that I do and they like the way that I think, they are bound to like this too. This book is an extension of me. It has allowed me to articulate my thoughts about the value of archives and cultural heritage in 266 pages. (That would take up a lot of tweet and blog post space!)

I have sought other channels to market. Online, I write for Ezine so a broader audience can get a taste for what I do. I try to respond to queries on various listservs that relate to my professional expertise. I maintain an active LinkedIn network. I am continually on the lookout for online places to publish. HNN just accepted an article from me and will include information about the book. I am in the process of submitting book announcements to cultural heritage associations of various types. I have mailed the manuscript to a few select journals that have requested it for review. Offline, I give talks on related subjects and carry my books around. I publish in the local newspaper and periodically publish in publications with wider distribution. "History News" has accepted an article I wrote about community documentation for their upcoming winter edition.

Perhaps the marketing a publisher would have given me would have better jump-started sales. It is helpful to be part of a trade catalog. My first book publishing experience was with the well-known Arcadia Publishing Company. THEY approached ME when I was an archivist in Waltham so I don't consider the book born of that experience my baby like this new book, Cultural Heritage Collaborators. Images of America: Waltham sells itself just by virtue of the "Images of America" concept. Even if I had gone with a well-known publisher for my current book, I would still need to market myself and pitch the book to drum up audiences.

Everything I do ties back to my expertise. The book is part of the package. It isn't and can't be a "be all and end all". I hope that the experiences I outlined here will help those looking to publish. In return, I hope to get feedback on other ways to promote or on any of the ideas I've presented here.

For another point of view about self publishing, I highly recommend Nina Simon's Museum 2.0 post on the subject.