I Found a Book in My Garage; How a New Book Can Come Out of the Blue

by | Aug 15, 2009

This post is the first in a series about the creation of a new book. To see all the articles in the series, click “The Journey of a Book” tab at the top of the page.

As authors we are often told that we should concentrate on branding ourselves, establishing ourselves not simply as the author of a particular book, but as a brand that can attract brand loyalists, with good feelings that may extend to other “products” of our “brand.” While it might seem a bit mechanized to some of us (and I am one of those people) it’s also true that if you publish more than one book in a category or genre, you build momentum that cannot be built in any other way.

I had published a book in 1986 and then a second edition in 1992 (Body Types) but nothing since. Frankly, with running my business and all the other responsibilities of life, I didn’t think I had the time to write another book at the moment, although I still planned to at some time

Serendipity Strikes

Last weekend I headed to the garage to try to find the original review file for Body Types from 1986. Now maybe you have a filing system that allows you to easily retreive paperwork that’s 21 years old, but not me. Don’t get me wrong, we are pretty organized around here, and the garage is lined with a box-and-shelf filing system that contains the stuff we haven’t been able to throw out yet… uh, excuse me, our valuable treasures.

filing system

Filing system

Well, I got lucky. The first box I pulled off the shelf contained much of the press information from that era, when we had our first publishing company, Globe Press Books, along with the original flyers for the book and some blurbs from media review. No review clippings, alas.

While I was appreciating my find, I noticed a stack of plastic file jackets neatly arrayed on one side of the box. Pulling them out, I recognized them immediately.

Long feared lost, it was a complete transcript of a seven week course I had given in 1988 at the New York Open Center, titled “Gurdjieff’s Fourth Way: An Introduction.” We had taped and transcribed the whole series, slapped an ISBN on it and had, for several years when we had a direct mail newsletter, sold copies of the unedtied transcripts.

Although I had often wondered why they continued to sell, with no marketing whatsoever, we just kept getting copies from the copy shop and putting them in cheapo report covers and they continued to dribble out the door.


Lecture Week 1

As I looked at them, I had one of those insights that come only when you are avidly searching for content: I was holding my next book in my hand!

A New Book is Born

I quickly counted up: there were 163 single-spaced pages in 12 point Courier. Experience told me that even with editing out the inevitable word inflation from speaking in public, I would have maybe 70,000 words, more than enough to make a pretty decent introduction to this subject. And although the market was small, leveraging Lightning Source’s print-on-demand technology, I had just taken a huge leap toward publication.

Dashing into the office, I quickly made the following list:

  1. Assign ISBN
  2. Figure out how to convert the paper transcripts into Word documents
  3. Review transcripts to estimate how much editing is needed
  4. Start a list of marketing ideas for this new title

I was already embarked on a new publication, when all I had been looking for was review clippings.

Follow along with the story as I continue the process of creating a new book from “out of the blue” and bringing it to market. We don’t know what we’ll learn, but it will interesting to find out!

tbd advanced publishing starter kit


  1. David Kudler


    I’m going to go digging in MY garage! ;-)

    I’ve actually had a similar experience — working with the Joseph Campbell Foundation. I was sifting through a bunch of transcripts, looking for a bunch of lectures on a particular subject, when I realized that one group of workshop lectures created the structure for a book that all of the others could add on to. I pitched it to head of the foundation, and he liked the idea. The result was Pathways to Bliss, which is the best-selling of the posthumous titles in the foundation’s Collected Works series. Sometimes the gold’s already there: we just have to recognize it.

    • Joel Friedlander


      This is a little like running into a friend deep in the stacks of a library somewhere. Great story, too. Unfortunately, mine never got off the ground due to the extensive editing necessary, but who knows, maybe one of these days. Thanks for telling your tale.

  2. Joseph Gregory

    Please sir, forgive me. I don’t want to begin to sound like I’m kissing your ass but as you have instructed I’ve been trying to build friendships with other writers/bloggers by reading their material with the hopes that they will reciprocate. I am a New Yorker so I am blessed/cursed with the ability to tell you exactally how I feel, for better or worse. Have a strong feeling you wouldn’t appreciate any derogatory comments, so I’ll refrain from some of my reviews. You should know that I realize I am not qualified to judge anyone’s work harshly, so even when I fall asleep reading another blog I do my best to find something positive to comment about. Never do I leave a negative comment. Anyway, Joel I find myself coming back to your site. I enjoy your writing, your site is current and filled with fantastic info.
    You should know that your site has lit a fire under my ass. I am a blogger now. So cool! I find I can’t wait to post my next article. Took your advice and wrote my Introductions for my first post. Of course I’m not happy with it. Currently working on updating an old article and completely re-writing one short story to post in the near future. I would love your opinion of the name of my site and my intro. If you get time. Thanks. Sincerely, Joseph Gregory



  1. Capturing and Using Text from Old Documents in New Book Production — Marin Bookworks - [...] I had a “manuscript” for my next book (see previous post here). But the old word processing files were…

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