Dollars and Cents of My Self-Publishing Experience

I often get asked “what did it cost you to publish your book?”

The answer is, it depends on which edition.

Keep in mind that this is only publishing costs, not writing costs, which included travel, a personal editor, and therapy.

There are two editions of my book. The first one was published through Bookbaby, at a cost of just under $5000 for 150 copies. The inside of the 180-page book was color, because of about 40 photographs I had in it. I sold it for $20, and got back almost $3000 of the printing costs.  Here is the cover for that book:



The second edition was aided and abetted by Sharon Goldinger, whose company, Peoplespeak, has a useful website for the independent publisher.


This book was printed for $4000 for 1000 copies, because it was black and white.  The interior was redesigned and the grammar was brought up to Chicago Manual of Style standards. Also about 80 typos got fixed, and I got ‘blurbs’ from the most famous people I could to promote the book. This is the cover for the AYT Press edition.  

second edition’s cover–see the reviews?

The preparation of this edition cost another $7000, approximately. It includes getting a fictitious business name and creating a website for AYT Press – And ISBN numbers, too.

But I’m proud of the second edition.  Hearing about typos in the first edition from my friends was awful. I tried, really tried, to eliminate all typos, but I just couldn’t do it. Too close to the manuscript I suppose. Also, some people are born proofreaders and I am not one of them. 

So, to summarize.

It cost $5000 to publish my first edition through Bookbaby, and there were typos and I sold the book for more than I wanted to and only had 150 copies printed.

It cost $11000 to publish my second edition through my own publishing company, AYT press, using the services of a ‘book sheperd’ named Sharon Goldinger to help me create my own company and produce a quality product. I would do option 2 over again.



How Jews Remember the Holocaust–from My Jewish Learning

A plaque my father and his brothers commissioned to remember their family members.

Yom Hashoah: Holocaust Memorial Day
This annual venue for remembering the victims falls on April 24.


The full name of the day commemorating the victims of the Holocaust is “Yom Hashoah Ve-Hagevurah“– literally the “Day of (Remembrance of) the Holocaust and the Heroism.” It is marked on the 27th day in the month of Nisan — a week after the seventh day of Passover, and a week before Yom Hazikaron (Memorial Day for Israel’s fallen soldiers). When the 27th of Nisan falls on a Friday or Sunday, Yom Hashoah is shifted a day to avoid conflicting with Shabbat . (The Hebrew calendar is fixed so that the 27th never falls on Shabbat itself.)

In 2017, Yom Hashoah falls on April 24.

The date was selected by the Knesset (Israeli Parliament) on April 12, 1951. The full name became formal in a law that was enacted by the Knesset on August 19, 1953. Although the date was established by the Israeli government, it has become a day commemorated by Jewish communities and individuals worldwide.

In the early 1950s, education about the Holocaust emphasized the suffering inflicted on millions of European Jews by the Nazis. Surveys conducted in the late 1950s indicated that young Israelis did not sympathize with the victims of the Holocaust, since they believed that European Jews were “led like sheep for slaughter.” The Israeli educational curriculum began to shift the emphasis to documenting how Jews resisted their Nazi tormentors through “passive resistance”–retaining their human dignity in the most unbearable conditions–and by “active resistance,” fighting the Nazis in the ghettos and joining underground partisans who battled the Third Reich in its occupied countries.

The Siren
Since the early 1960s, the sound of a siren on Yom Hashoah stops traffic and pedestrians throughout the State of Israel for two minutes of silent devotion. The siren blows at sundown and once again at 11 a.m. on this date. All radio and television programs during this day are connected in one way or another with the Jewish destiny in World War II, including personal interviews with survivors. Even the musical programs are adapted to the atmosphere of Yom Hashoah. There is no public entertainment on Yom Hashoah, as theaters, cinemas, pubs, and other public venues are closed throughout Israel.

Some Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox rabbis have never endorsed this memorial day, nor have they formally rejected it. There is no change in the daily religious services in Orthodox synagogues on Yom Hashoah. The Orthodox Rabbinate of Israel attempted to promote the Tenth of Tevet — a traditional fast day commemorating the beginning of the siege of Jerusalem in ancient times — as the “General Kaddish Day” in which Jews should recite the memorial prayer and light candles in memory of those who perished in the Holocaust. Several ultra-Orthodox rabbis have recommended adding piyyutim (religious poems) that were written by contemporary rabbis to the liturgy of Tisha B’Av and many communities follow this custom.

Jews in North America observe Yom Hashoah within the synagogue as well as in the broader Jewish community. Commemorations range from synagogue services to communal vigils and educational programs. A few congregations find it more practical to hold commemorative ceremonies on the Sunday closest to Yom Hashoah. Many Yom Hashoah programs feature a talk by a Holocaust survivor, recitation of appropriate songs and readings, or viewing of a Holocaust-themed film. Some communities choose to emphasize the depth of loss that Jews experienced in the Holocaust by reading the names of Holocaust victims one after another — dramatizing the unfathomable notion of six million deaths. Many Jewish schools also hold Holocaust-related educational programs on or around Yom Hashoah.

There have been numerous attempts to compose special liturgy (text and music) for Yom Hashoah. In 1988 the Reform movement published Six Days of Destruction. This book, co-authored by Elie Wiesel and Rabbi Albert Friedlander, was meant to be viewed as a “sixth scroll,” a modern addition to the five scrolls that are read on specific holidays. Six narratives from Holocaust survivors are juxtaposed to the six days of creation found in Genesis.

One of the most recent achievements is Megillat Hashoah (The Holocaust Scroll) created by the Conservative movement as a joint project of rabbis and lay leaders in Canada, the U.S., and Israel. This Holocaust scroll contains personal recollections of Holocaust survivors and is written in biblical style. It was composed under the direction of Avigdor Shinan, a professor at Hebrew University.

While Yom Hashoah rituals are still in flux there is no question that this day holds great meaning for Jews worldwide. The overwhelming theme that runs through all observances is the importance of remembering — recalling the victims of this catastrophe, and insuring that such a tragedy never happen again.

The Shoah (Holocaust) posed an enormous challenge to Judaism and raised many questions: Can one be a believing Jew after the Holocaust? Where was God? How can one have faith in humanity? Facing this recent event in history, does it really matter if one practices Judaism?

Jewish theologians and laity have struggled with these questions for decades. The very fact that Jews still identify Jewishly, practice their religion — and have embraced the observance of Yom Hashoah answers some of the questions raised by the Holocaust.

How to buy the Kindle edition of The Girl On the Wall

It occurs to me that I haven’t told you how to buy the book in MONTHS. Of course, I haven’t blogged in months, either.

I blame the election hoopla. I’ve been hiding under my pillow, muttering “make it stop make it stop make it stop” for months.

So take your mind off the results–buy my book!

Rain Poem Mystery Solved–kinda

Shomernet–thank you Ayala Jonas, and Google helped me to find a full version of my mother’s poem!

Just tried another spelling  and found,


And here it is:


Solo 1: De rain been a-rainin’ for a week an’ mo’; It splarshin’ in de gutter, it sousin’ at de do’;

It mumble at de winder, it bumble on de eaves, It make long steppin’s in de honey-shuck leaves.

All: We cyan’t work ‘taters, and we cyan’t thin corn;

Dar’s gwine to be a famine, jes’ as sure as you born;

Dar’s ‘bleeged to be a famine, no mo’, no less—

Solo 1: But de Lawd boss de weather an’ de Lawd know bes’

All: Mo’ rain, Mo’ res’… Mo’ rain, Mo’ res’…

Solo 1: Old Mr. Crow got de croup in his ches’ Old Mrs. Turkey Hen a-drownin’ on her nes’

Dey cyan’t be no harvest whar dy ain’t no hoein’

But de sweet water drummin’;

All: No use to fret, Set peaceful in de cabin while you got de chance to set;

Solo 1: De Lawd brung de rain, an’ de Lawd know bes’.

All: Set right on yo’ backbone and let de Lawd bless

Solo 1: Mo’ rain, Mo’ res’…

All: Mo’ rain, Mo’ res’…


The only reason I found this was that it was a piece performed by the “verse choir”– I don’t think they are a thing anymore–of the Columbia Missouri and David A. Hickan High school. Kewpies are alumni of this high school, and the teacher who is memorialized by publication of the speech book of the Verse Choir was named Helen D. Williams.

According to the website, the author of the piece was Nancy Byrd Turner. Further searching on the name Nancy Byrd Turner does not turn up this poem, so I guess it was not very popular, or there is another Nancy Byrd Turner out there.

Ah, modernity!


Memory and a Mysterious Poem for Mother’s Day

A Memory of my mother leads to a mysterious poem–help welcomed!photo2

This was my mother in her mid 20s, She was born November 1, 1923, and at her 70th birthday party, my aunt Pauline announced that my mother, Charlotte Kaufman, was the first girl child born in the Bronx on that day. Maybe the only girl child born in the Bronx on that day. The Bronx was much less crowded in the ’20s, when my mother was born. It was a blessed place to escape from the Lower East Side and the Garment district, full of parks, vacant lots, places to play. When my mother grew up she roamed the streets with her group of Zionist idealists from Hashomer Hatzair. It was the Depression. There was not a lot of money around. But listen to how these young people amused themselves:

They would take MAJOR walks, starting from the end of the subway lines in the Bronx and walking up to Tibbets Brook Park in Yonkers and back. Ten or twenty miles–before Nikes!

Of course, they would sing.

They would do dramatic choral readings.

Because it’s been unusually rainy here in Palo Alto–we had two rainy days in a row in May, when there is usually no rain all month–there was one poem in particular that my mother would recite that I wish I could find the source of. I’m sure I’m ruining it, and I’d like to get it right. I think it was called:

“Mo rain, mo res'”

and it went:

“The rain been a rainin for a week and more

It mumble at the window and it bumble at the door

Can’t plant taters and you can’t plant corn

Gonna be a famine just as sure as your born

Gonna be a famine, no mo’ no less

But the Lord make the rain and the Lord know best

Mo’ rain, mo res’,

Mo’ rain mo res’.


WHO WROTE IT?  I just spent an hour on Google, and can’t find it.

It isn’t Sandburg, or Whitman, or Langston Hughes, or Robert W. Service. 

I’m stumped.