One of the few things

by francine Hardaway on April 28, 2004

One of the few things I’ve done that I am really proud of is writing books. I wrote several in my gay mad youth, and then I just stopped cold. Yes, I started a few businesses and raised a few kids and made a few bucks. But I wasn’t writing. I wasn’t even thinking about writing.

However, last week I published again. The book is called “Foster Mom,” and it’s a memoir of my experience as a foster parent (along with my comments on the foster care system in general). I published it for two reasons: 1)to get it in the hands of every foster care agency and Child Protective Services agency in the United States so they can understand what it’s like to put kids in foster care, and 2)to raise some money for the foster kids I’ve brought up, who certainly deserve to profit from their stories as much as the CEO of Enron or that reporter who plagiarized all his stories and then wrote a book about it that was made into a movie (his name was Jack Glass, I think).

The world of book publishing has certainly changed. Thirty years ago, I published a book called “Creative Rhetoric.” It’s long out of print, although I found a few used copies of it for sale on Amazon last week. I remember the process well. It took about a year, and consisted of endless mailing of proofs back and forth, discussions with editors, and arguments about how the book should be structured. I never won these arguments, because I wasn’t the editor. I was only the author and what would now be called the “content expert.” I wasn’t the publishing professional.

This time, when I published, I just sent my manuscript file by email to an editor at iUniverse, ( with a credit card charge of $499. For this, I received 35 copies of a really cool looking paperback book that is universally available at any Internet bookstore supported by Ingram, the largest book distributor in the world. If you go to, you can see it. It’s actually suggested for young adults, so I bet teenagers will read it as well.

I didn’t have to look for an agent, negotiate a complex contract, or — most important — get rejected several times. I didn’t have to listen to anyone’s advice on how other books have been written and how my book should be like other books. I got to put my own words on paper and see them pretty much as I put them down. I got to tell the story I really intended to tell. For a writer, this is a dream come true.

This is not to say that iUniverse doesn’t have editors, or processes to help writers. It does; it has everything. But it doesn’t make you buy more than you need of the services. And it’s expeditious, to say the least. As fast as you can turn around the proofs is as fast as they can. You can really publish in two weeks if you’re ready.

IUniverse is a logical outgrowth of desktop publishing, and of the Internet. To me it’s wondrous; anyone can be an author. In the past, professional writing was all about rejection, struggle and suffering. Now, it’s about accomplishment and achievement. You can bring your own book to market.

IUniverse even tells you how to hold book signings and organize promotional tours. My book has a limited audience, and word of mouth is going to get it where it needs to go, so I will forgo most of that. But there’s a marketing package you can buy from iUniverse if you choose to.

You know me; I’m always trying something. This time I’m trying to see how effective the Internet is at marketing a book. This blog is my virtual book tour, as “Foster Mom” is my virtual book. If you know anyone who has anything to do with children’s issues in our society, send them to You can send your teenage children there as well. It will teach them how the “other half” lives.

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