Help with ideas for a book?
November 27, 2007 9:35 PM   Subscribe

My grandmother used to write me a few handwritten notes each day ranging from a few words to a couple of pages. At age 11 I started saving them. I have thousands of notes saved, about 20 years worth. She was a real crazy woman and some of the notes are hilarious. I want to somehow incorporate them into a book. Any ideas on how to go about doing that?
posted by adfeb to Writing & Language (18 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
You could try to send them to a professional typist and have a series of theme chapters made (make one at first, perhaps your earliest letters). You would need to arrange the letters into these sets beforehand, of course. Once you have them back, it would be interesting to write short snippets like "My mom had told her on the phone I had scraped my face and arms in a fall from my bike." These could preface all or some of them, depending on how descriptive your grandmother was in writing them. I think it would be a really thoughtful book that would be perfect for the marketplace. To remind people: we all have crazy, loving relatives who often need us in their lives.
posted by parmanparman at 9:43 PM on November 27, 2007 [1 favorite]

Are you thinking of a self-published book for the family (if you do your own layout etc, is often recommended around here for self-publishing), or a commercially published book that would be sold in bookstores?
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:59 PM on November 27, 2007

Is the handwriting something you'd want to preserve? Does it add to the hilarity? If so, then having it typed up might take away that personal aspect.

I'm not sure how to have it commercially published (which would be cool; I'm think of the "Post Secret" and "Found" books), but you could always D.I.Y. it with a trip to Kinko's.
posted by polyester.lumberjack at 10:14 PM on November 27, 2007

Oops: "I'm thinking of the..."
posted by polyester.lumberjack at 10:15 PM on November 27, 2007

Insane Advice From My Grandmother would certainly be something I'd pick up to page through, if not buy. But for heaven's sake, please give us a line or two.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 10:26 PM on November 27, 2007

Examples? Goals for the book? Sizes/lengths of the notes?

I'd really like to read some examples...
posted by amtho at 10:27 PM on November 27, 2007

If you did at least a portion of it online, as a blog or something, I would totally read this. This is probably the best way to get your noticed if you're interested in getting published (by someone other than yourself, that is).
posted by dhammond at 10:38 PM on November 27, 2007

Get a digital camera, something as low-fi as 3 megapixels is fine. Take pictures of each individual note. Make a PDF containing each image as a separate page, arranged in the order you prefer (any mac will spit out a PDF with the print > print as pdf option). Add a preface and send it off to the publishers. Have a book in your hands early next week.
posted by mullingitover at 11:00 PM on November 27, 2007 [2 favorites]

work up a book proposal and take it to a publishing house. optional (frequently recommended) interim step is hiring an agent to package and submit the proposal.
posted by bruce at 11:02 PM on November 27, 2007 [1 favorite]

posted by Bighappyfunhouse at 11:20 PM on November 27, 2007

Go find a copy of the "Griffin and Sabine" set. It's three books, telling a story, only with notes stuffed in envelopes. You have to pull all the little notes out and read them to get the story. That should give you some inspiration. Plus it's a great read!
posted by iamkimiam at 1:23 AM on November 28, 2007

Get a digital camera, something as low-fi as 3 megapixels is fine. Take pictures of each individual note.

Using a scanner will be easier and produce better results.
posted by grouse at 1:28 AM on November 28, 2007
posted by DarlingBri at 3:16 AM on November 28, 2007

Is it "generically" hilarious, or just funny because you knew her?
posted by gene_machine at 3:20 AM on November 28, 2007

Copy all the pages. Send originals and X set of copies to a bindery and have them put hard covers on them where x=number of people you think want a copy. $40 per book. Keep an unbound set of copies for the file.
posted by ewkpates at 4:57 AM on November 28, 2007 [1 favorite]

blurb. I would buy a good cheap some reviews. Scan them in as jpgs. You should be able to format them pretty easily.

In my experience blurbs quality is just ok but probably fine for what you are doing.
posted by sully75 at 7:35 AM on November 28, 2007

One of the notes she left was when the Chernobyl accident happened in the 80s. She wrote that the news was reporting the radiation from Russia was on the way here (New Jersey) so "WHATEVER YOU DO, STAY INDOORS." I came home from school and the house was empty and I found this note. I was 12 years old and scared out of my mind.
posted by adfeb at 11:36 AM on November 28, 2007 [1 favorite]

Thanks for the great ideas. I was wondering how would I format this. I have the notes, I have some stories that I wrote about my life growing up with her and then I have some situations that I put into movie script form where the story is told from everyone's voice as it happens. How do I put this all together into something cohesive?
posted by adfeb at 11:41 AM on November 28, 2007

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