Thursday, May 1, 2008
The FIST Handbook
I just finished a new writing project - well, more of a publishing project, since I didn't actually do much new writing for it. It's titled The FIST Handbook, and it's a collection of my articles from Defense AT&L. Putting them together under one cover is part of my latest phase of a longstanding crusade to improve military technology development efforts. Tilting at windmills, I know, but it's a good fight.
Anyway, publishing the handbook has been a bit of a headache. First, I tried to do it through Lulu.com, but there's some kind of communication problem between my file and their printer, which apparently nobody can figure out. I still love Lulu, but I'm peeved they can't print my frappin' file. So, you can go to Rogue Press and download the PDF for free - but no hard copy for you!
Then I tried to use another company (which shall remain nameless) which took a week longer than it should have, and probably would have been a better experience for someone who was completely unfamiliar with how to use a computer. If Dunder-Mifflin was a real place, I think it would be this company. The people there are very nice (I was probably talking to their version of Jim Halpert), but they get a lot of things backwards, in my opinion.
For example, you can't create your own account online - gotta do that via a phone call. They talk about how intuitive and easy their website is (and it mostly is)... but then they insist on walking you through it over the phone (after they verbally set up your account for you).
Want to print a document as a booklet? Yeah, that's another phone call or email, so they can add the "special instruction" booklet option to your account. Glossy cover? Another phone call (or email), so they can manually add that "special instruction" option. Shipping was super quick, and they gave me a $100 credit towards my first order (nice!)- but dealing with their person-intensive process sort of creeped me out (and slowed things WAY down).
I ended up going with FedEx/Kinkos - but had to do that in person, since the in-store guy offers more options than the website. I can't imagine why, but for some reason printing a 76 page document as a booklet with magazine binding (i.e. 17 x 11, folded, with center staples) requires talking to a person. I like people, don't get me wrong - but for stuff like this, I'm quite content to upload my file directly to a computer.
Even though I had to go there in person, FedEx was helpful, quick, professional and the price was right. But wow, doing all this legwork, researching all the printing options took an ironically long time for a writing project about being Fast, Inexpensive, Simple and Tiny!