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Bull Garlington: How to be a Productive Author

Award-winning Chicago humor writer Bull Garlington will share his experiences as a traditionally published and self-published author, and will give us valuable insight on how to be a productive writer. Bull has created a fantastic project management guide for writers -- email Bull before the meeting to request an electronic copy: 

[masked].

The library is located at 1150 W Fullerton – it’s about four blocks west of the Fullerton Red/Brown/Purple Line train station, and the Fullerton bus stops nearby. There is a small parking lot next to the library and street parking in the area. 

After the meeting, we'll adjourn to The Monkey's Paw at 2524 N Southport for buy-your-own food and drinks. We'd love to have you join us as we continue the conversation with Bull.

Hope to see you on September 25!

Best, 
Kim Bookless, Organizer and Speaker

Speaker bio:

Bull Garlington is an author and syndicated humor columnist whose work appears in parenting magazines including Chicago Parenting, New York Parenting, Michiana Parent, Tulsa Parent, Birmingham Parent, and Carolina Parent. He is co-author of the popular foodie compendium, The Beat Cop’s Guide to Chicago Eats. Garlington’s features have appeared in newspapers and magazines across the nation since 1989; he won the Parenting Media Association’s Silver Award for best humor article in 2012. His book, Death by Children was a 2013 book of the year finalist for the Midwest Publishers Association, and was named 2013 Humor Book of the Year by the prestigious industry standard, ForeWard Reviews. Garlington is an Alabama native with strong ties to the south and the traditions of Southern Literature and is an alumnus of the revered Dead Mule School of Southern Literature. Along with his wife, Colleen, Garlington hosts the infamous underground dinner party, Eating Vincent Price. 


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  • Kim B.

    Hey Lisa, yes, we'll agree to disagree! It's great to hear that you had a positive experience doing everything yourself -- I just don't think it's the norm, or the right path for many people. Other authors I've talked to have said DIY was a mistake -- a difficult experience that they're not willing to repeat. Self-publishing is like the Wild West -- lots of opinions and anecdotal experience, but no real hard and fast rules. That was why I replied to your earlier posts -- to clarify for others that you were relating your personal opinions and experiences (and those of people in your other groups), rather than rules that everyone should follow. "Never pay anyone to design your book" is not good advice for many authors, for various reasons. Not everyone has the time, tools, or desire to push through the learning curve of book design. It's great to hear that DIY has worked so well for you, but the majority of authors I talk to are happy to leave the task to professional book designers.

    September 26, 2014

  • Lisa

    If you are willing to put in the time to learn how to format, and do research, you will not have to spend money paying someone else to do it for you. I'm not trying to be argumentative so I will just leave my comments there.

    2 · September 26, 2014

  • Lisa

    I appreciate your comments Kim, but we can agree to disagree. I am in a couple of private groups and many authors in the groups do almost everything themselves. Some people hire a cover artist but that's it. My comments were based on my experience and the experience of many NYT and USA Today indie best-selling authors, some of whom were able to get traditional contracts based on sales and some whom turned those down. It's a different world with self-publishing, and what works for one person may not work for another. The ultimate goal for many authors is to make money selling their book. In today's publishing world, it is not necessary to pay a ton of money out of pocket to get there. It just isn't.

    2 · September 26, 2014

  • Klaudia

    This was wonderful, thank you for speaking, Bull, and thank you for organizing this, Kim! Very helpful.

    1 · September 26, 2014

  • Jim K.

    Great presentation, Bull. And thanks, Kim, for arranging everything.

    1 · September 26, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    My first meeting with the group was so much more than expected! Bull gave great information about how to modify your writing habits enough to actually get things done and a measurable way to hold yourself accountable. (What do you mean there's no such thing as writer's block? that's my favorite excuse!)

    Bull: Look out for my wedding blog, I'm starting it today. First post might be about staying out late networking and not checking in at home...whoops.

    1 · September 26, 2014

  • Joan

    Thanks for your time and the presentation, Bull! It gave me some great ideas about organization and motivation. I am glad I went to this meeting. Plus, its always good to find another Dresden Files fan! (I'm on book 6 of the series).

    1 · September 26, 2014

  • Kim B.

    Addressing Lisa's comments, continued:

    4. Amazon's CreateSpace is a reputable company. However, publishing with them is potentially problematic for a few reasons, one of which is that many stores refuse to stock CreateSpace books because Amazon has a "no returns" policy, making CreateSpace-produced books too much of a financial risk for the stores. This is less of an issue if you don't care about selling in stores.

    5. I totally disagree that anyone can easily design a book. This is a specific skill that takes time to learn and requires certain software to be done well. Hiring a professional book designer to use quality design software like Adobe InDesign is going to be more expensive than laying out the book yourself with something like MS Word, but Word is the wrong tool for the job. It's possible to design the book yourself, but it's generally not advisable--especially the cover. If you're not a trained book designer, DIY design for print or ebooks can make books less marketable.

    September 26, 2014

  • Kim B.

    Thanks so much for the great comments, everyone! Lisa, I'd like to address some of your points -- some of what you deemed to be incorrect information is really a matter of opinion:
    1. The meeting (and the group in general) was not geared toward beginners. Bull's suggestions are applicable to writers of all levels of experience.
    2. You are correct, digital books can be returned. However, one reader returning a $3 ebook is much different than bookstores returning dozens of print books. Bull was making the point that ebook returns are a much lower risk for authors than print book returns.
    3. Bull was correct that it can cost $8000 or more to publish a print book--self-publishing costs add up very quickly. Hiring professionals (editor, cover designer, interior layout designer, printer, etc.) gives an author a selling advantage over a book that was done as a DIY by the author, and those professionals' fees can easily total $5,000-$10,000.

    September 26, 2014

  • Christopher Bull G.

    I love this guy.

    1 · September 25, 2014

  • Lisa

    I have self-published several ebooks and, while I appreciate Bull taking time to talk with us, I found some of his self-publishing info to be incorrect. This meeting was geared toward beginners (which I am not, but I am always willing to check things out to see if I'll learn something new), and I think it is important to make sure people are getting correct information, especially those who are just beginning their self-publishing journey. Two quick incorrect bits of info: 1. Bull said you can't return a digital book…yes you can; 2. Bull said it will cost $3K to $8K to make a physical book…not true.

    September 25, 2014

  • Lisa

    Createspace is an inexpensive way to get your physical book made. Someone asked a question about getting exposure for your book and Bull suggested getting a professional company to format it, etc. and then spend time trying to get people to buy your book. Using a professional company to format your book will cut into your profits when it is easily something you can do yourself. There is a formula to marketing your book and there is a way to get your name out there, and one day I might just have to start a meetup to share what I know.

    September 25, 2014

  • David. F

    I am presently writing a book on the history of the Rush Street area of Chicago. I'm looking forward to this meetup.

    1 · September 24, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    Oh no! I'm not going to make it tonight. I'm on a deadline with a project and I thought I'd be finished by midday today. Sadly, that is not going to be the case.
    :-(

    1 · September 25, 2014

  • Frank D.

    Wanted to see this, but buried in work.

    1 · September 25, 2014

  • Patrice T.

    He was great! Humorous and factual and very forthcoming.

    2 · September 25, 2014

  • Kenn J.

    Mr. Garlington was a fantastic speaker! He gave several practical tips, a some funny jokes and quips and always an ear to listen to our questions. Great presentation.

    1 · September 25, 2014

  • Josh

    I will not be able to attend, it's Rosh Hashanah.

    1 · September 25, 2014

  • Kim B.

    Hi Dana, we'll be at the library until 8pm, then we'll go for dinner/drinks at The Monkey's Paw at 2524 N Southport, near Southport and Wrightwood. We're usually at the restaurant until at least 9:30. Please stop by the library or restaurant, if you can -- anytime you arrive is fine. Feel free to text me at[masked] if you want to see whether we're still at the restaurant. Hope to see you tonight!

    September 25, 2014

  • Dana L.

    Sounds awesome, but I work till about 7:00.

    1 · September 25, 2014

  • Kim B.

    Linda and Ann, hope to see you at the next meeting!

    1 · September 24, 2014

  • Linda W.

    Gee, can't believe it but I have to miss this great group again. Rosh Hashanah totally slipped my mind! Have a great time, everyone.

    1 · September 24, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    Late work commitment came up, but this sounds like a great resentation!

    1 · September 24, 2014

  • Brent M.

    Wish I could attend, but I will be doing a radio interview that evening to promote my latest book, "Consciously Created Cinema," on VividLife Radio (www.VividLife.me). Looking forward to reading all about it, though!

    1 · September 9, 2014

  • Christopher Bull G.

    I don't know if I trust this guy.

    3 · September 8, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    Wish I could go but I already have a speaking engagement booked that very same night for Social Media Week! Glad to hear that an electronic copy will be provided. http://socialmediaweek.org/chicago/events/getting-social-video/

    1 · September 8, 2014

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