Posts Tagged ‘publishing’

As I ponder the CME aftermath…

Guess my ears are too old and mummified from all those years as a broadcast personality (our favored term for “disk jockey”), but all that hiss and sizzle from the CME and local thunderstorms this weekend sent me in a different direction. I did give some guys Alabama for their QSO parties, and I always enjoy doing that. But the band noise, generally yucky conditions, and my continued depression over not working VK9CZ had me doing other stuff I’ve been putting off. And with all that rain, that stuff did not include antenna maintenance or yard work. I’ve successfully postponed that for a few more days.

What it did involve was my next adventure with self-publishing. I make my living writing books and finally got around to doing one on my favorite hobby for the past 52 years…ham radio! RIDING THE SHORTWAVES: EXPLORING THE MAGIC OF AMATEUR RADIO ( No big-time publishing house was interested in doing the book. Neither was the ARRL. They say non-technical books don”t sell well for them, and I understand. They’ve been kind enough to sell the book in their online bookstore, so bless them!

Anyway, I went a different route and published the book myself. It has been available for a while in paperback as well as for the Kindle e-book reader. But this weekend…while the bands hissed at me like an audience does a villain…I busied myself getting it formatted and uploaded for every other conceivable e-book reader out there. That includes the Apple iPad, Barnes & Nobles’s Nook, and the free-to-download Adobe Digital Editions reader. Success! After a couple of false starts, of course. Man, the technology around book publishing is changing quickly, just as it is in all media and our wonderful hobby. (By the way, I blog on such stuff at and sometimes here on I also finally got around to designing and setting up a store where I can make available shirts, sweatshirts, coffee mugs and other items to help people promote our hobby with the message: “I ride the shortwaves. Ask me about amateur radio.”. It’s at

Another bit of good news helped through the CME aftermath, too. I got word from the ARRL that not only will the League be selling my book at Dayton, but they asked me to do some signing events. I look forward to it! Please drop by and say hello if you make the pilgrimage…no purchase necessary!

I’m already going to be hanging around the QRP ARCI “Four Days in May” event on Thursday, May 16. It’s at the Holiday Inn in Fairborn, not far from Wright-Patterson AFB. I’m there with Rich Arland K7SZ, author of the ARRL’s QRP book. Rich has been shoving and pushing me to get deeper into QRP, and I think I may finally be catching the bug. Or maybe it is just the ragweed. I do occasionally turn down the power to 5 watts and see what I can do. The challenge is something of a thrill.

Just not when the A-index is 45!

Don N4KC

OK, OK! I Will Write that Ham Radio Book!

Ever since I began writing articles about my hobby of choice–amateur or “ham” radio–for my ham radio web site and several others, people have been asking me when I was going to do an amateur radio book.  The truth is, I have just been too darn busy to even think of such a thing. And I also knew, in my heart of hearts, that it be would difficult indeed to get any kind of decent book contract for such a niche book.  I presented my idea of a half-fiction/half-nonfiction book to the ARRL and they passed, so that confirmed my feelings. If they had no interest, I doubted anyone else who published books would either.

Fast-forward to July 2012.  Things have changed, both in my personal life and in the wild and woolly world of big-time book publishing.

Riding the Shortwaves: Exploring the Magic of Amateur Radio by Don Keith N4KC

Don Keith N4KC has just published his new book of short stories, articles, advice, and more about ham radio.

First, I retired from my 60-hour-a-week day job back in May.  And as I shuffled through the articles I had in the can, several more I was working on, and a few still in my head, I realized I was closer to a book than I had thought.  And I truly believed I had something that would be different and could find a readership.


Secondly, as I investigated Kindle Direct Publishing at for the re-issue of a couple of my previous now-out-of-print books, I realized that I should absolutely pull the ham radio book together for that outlet–Kindle and some other e-book readers–at least.  Amazon has become a real threat to traditional publishing companies–especially when it comes to e-books–as the old-line publishing houses struggle to figure this newfangled thing out.  At the very least, it gives me the opportunity to make my book available at a very reasonable price to those interested in amateur radio.  No, I don’t make much money at the price I set, even if I actually sell some downloads of the book, but that is not really the object anyway.  As I have said many times, and not totally facetiously, if I wanted to make a fortune writing books, I would write pornography (See FIFTY SHADES OF GREY).

Then, as I considered other options, I realized that Amazon offers a truly unique opportunity for works like this one that allows me to offer the book in a traditional paperback format with minimal investment up front.  Remember, I’m retired, on a fixed income these days!  Amazon’s is a print-on-demand deal, but they seem to have it down to a science.  I ordered some copies as soon as I got the book and cover uploaded and accepted for publication.  The very next day I got the email that they were being shipped that day. Wow!

Again, this was with very little upfront cost and minimal hassle.  Now, the paperback will be available not only via, but through major distributors, for order by libraries, and even in many European markets. We will see how good the print job is, but believe me on this: the major houses don’t necessarily produce the highest quality book any more either.  They have to cut where they can to make a profit and printing, binding, and warehousing is a big drain on them.

Talk about rapid technological change and its effect on society and the media!  Broadcast radio, TV, the Internet and telephone communications are not the only things evolving at a dizzying pace.  Include the anachronistic business of book publishing in that mix, too!

Realistically, will tons of booksellers and all the Barnes & Noble stores order a box full of the books each?  Or will hundreds of thousands of libraries order up a couple dozen copies each?  Of course not.  The big publishers do have sales staff to encourage that sort of thing. But a) no big publishing house was going to do a contract for RIDING THE SHORTWAVES: EXPLORING THE MAGIC OF AMATEUR RADIO and b) even if they did, it would be somewhere near the bottom of the sales staff’s sample case, so c) Amazon’s various self-publishing options are perfect for this kind of book.

By the way, if you have any interest in the dynamic and rapidly growing hobby of ham radio–believe me, it ain’t your weird uncle’s past-time any more!–then you may want to stop by and take a look “Inside the Book,” read the description, and maybe buy a copy or two…for yourself or someone you know and want to spark the interest in our amazing hobby.

See, right there in that last sentence, I did more publicity for RIDING THE SHORTWAVES than the big publishers do for most of the books they print up and ship out!


Don Keith N4KC 


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