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Authors

Joseph Cutshall-King, left, Dave Blow, Maury Thompson and Mike DeMasi discuss the challenges of writing a book  at an author series event at Crandall Library Saturday afternoon.

What is a book besides just a really, really long story anyways right?

Turns out, to no one's real surprise, it's pretty much everything.

Last Saturday Crandall Library hosted four authors, each with a substantial legacy here at The Post-Star, to talk about their books and many other topics. 

It was a wide-ranging conversation that covered everything from the details on the best way to self-publish and the future of news, especially in rural areas.

The majority of the authors' books were compilations of previous work from years in journalism, reexamined or followed-up on years later for

David Blow, who worked at The Post-Star as a reporter and editor for 15 years, said the challenge of putting a book together is vastly different from sitting down to work on a one-off piece, even if it’s several thousand words.

“It’s a lot more work for one thing,” Blow said. “With a one-off, you report the hell out of it over a week, two weeks and then it’s done and you move on to the next one. This was months of work. It’s really two very different things.”

Blow had a student faculty grant that allowed for a student to help him with the process as well and said there some stories that stick out in your head that you know you have to include, but having a second set of eyes can help with the decision making process.

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In the end, he settled on arranging the book thematically, leading with grabbing and emotional stories from throughout the years and other chapters consisting of ski columns and Q&As from a quarter-century of writing.

“I had pieces that I wanted to put together, I just had to find the stories for the chapters,” Blow said.

Obviously there’s no book without the content, but publishing offers a different set of challenges as well with finding the right layout, getting the perfect cover and self-promotion so it actually gets into other people’s hands.

DeMasi said he opted for a publisher in Troy, not far from his Clifton Park home, and sitting down with someone in person made the process much smoother, especially when the person assigned his project was switched halfway through.

All the authors agreed no one should approach self-publishing with the expectation of making money. 

Blow said he would have loved to have ended up on Oprah's couch because of his book, but hearing from students that their parents have a copy is still very satisfying.

Joseph Cutshall-King said the best advice he could give is to just do it, and get over the mindset that self-publishing might somehow demean the book because at the end of the day its about getting your work into peoples' hands.

"The best piece of advice I got was from my wife," Cutshall-King said. "She said, 'Do it now, before you die.'"

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Samuel Northrop is the education reporter for The Post-Star. He can be reached at snorthrop@poststar.com.

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