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View Poll Results: Should Ben write a book about the adventures of how he has modified his life?
Yes, Yes, YES - I want to pre-order a copy 5 29.41%
Sounds interesting, go for it 11 64.71%
Maybe you should take a few writing classes first.... 0 0%
I don't really think there is a market for that. 1 5.88%
Dude, you are crazy. 0 0%
Voters: 17. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 07-10-2012, 10:39 AM   #1 (permalink)
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What if I wrote a book?

Hey Guys,

I have a question for you. If I wrote a book, would you read it? Would you BUY a copy? Would you check it out if it was at your local library?

Ever since I started my wacky adventures of modifying my life - not just my transportation, but also cooking, water useage, renewable energy, and a whole lot of other things I've done, I've also started BLOGGING about it through my personal blogs and at sites like Ecomodder.

Thinking back on it, I built an electric car never having done it before, I've changed 500-amp fuses on the side of the road in the middle of a thunderstorm, I found out the hard way that brake lines and plasma cutters don't mix (did you know brake fluid is flammable?) I've gotten a speeding ticket in a car that didn't even have an engine. I've traveled to Europe and crash-tested my electric motorcycle. I've helped other people build their own electric cars and met the inventor of the Citicar, Chris Paine, Chelsea Sexton, Ed Begley Jr, and Dave Cloud.

I think I've done enough wild things that I could make a book out of it. I spoke informally with a publisher a while back, and she said it sounded promising.

I've never written anything longer than a report for a night-school class, but I think I could do it.

The idea is that it wouldn't a technical "how-to" book. There's already plenty of books on "How to build an electric car". Nor would it be a book on ecology, with 10 chapters of how the planet is going to crap and only chapter 11 mentions what we might maybe be able to do anything about it.

Instead, it would be a book about what happened in my life when I started learning, doing, modifying, and just trying to be a positive change, no matter how small.

What do you think. Would you buy a book by me about my wacky adventures? Do you have any ideas or suggestions? Let me know.

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Old 07-10-2012, 01:36 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Make it an e-book and save a few trees
And lots of energy / waste in distribution.
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Old 07-10-2012, 07:16 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Sounds like a good read once or twice, writing classes will rob the life from it, just wight it like your were explaining it to a 2 month ecomodder who just did his first cardboard grill block. That keeps the story aspects and adds the right amount of tech details to keep it interesting to people who might want to copy ideas.

Buy it?
I am cheep
-eBook 1.99 max (mostly to help author recoup the year he spends writing the book, my dad is 3 years into a book series so I now the work involved).
soft cover - library or world cat (inter library loan from all over the US )

write it, only do it as an ebook to save costs, paperback books cost about $5 each to get printed up. E books are free (iTunes or amazon commission only).
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Old 07-12-2012, 04:04 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I would be interested in a book. Price not too much of an issue BUT it needs to be very detailed and go into the how and why of your component choice. I was very disapointed by the "ICE FREE" book by John Hardy. Paid a premium for gross generalisations , large open spaces on the page , double spaced text and information that five minutes with Google would have revealed.
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Old 07-12-2012, 09:52 AM   #5 (permalink)
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I like the idea, the misadventures of a Man gone green.
Mix the information into the story so we learn as you learned.
You could write more than one,maybe even release two companion books at the same time, The electric bike,the early years so on ..
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Old 07-12-2012, 10:50 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bennelson View Post
The idea is that it wouldn't a technical "how-to" book. There's already plenty of books on "How to build an electric car". Nor would it be a book on ecology, with 10 chapters of how the planet is going to crap and only chapter 11 mentions what we might maybe be able to do anything about it.

Instead, it would be a book about what happened in my life when I started learning, doing, modifying, and just trying to be a positive change, no matter how small.
This is why a publisher acquaintance told you it sounds promising, because you seem to know what is pat and know how to identify what is unique and interesting in your story. That can mean marketing distinction. I follow your progress on your projects, though I rarely ever comment because I know so little. But three things always stand out: your DIY chutzpah, the project's effectiveness, and your sense of the story within it.

Rather than a single narrative, an autobiography of your adventures in a straight forward tale, you might consider a narrative that tells short flashback stories as a subset of some larger simpler story. "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" notably did this using a cross country motorcycle trip with a father/son to tell a larger tale in flashbacks, some of which were of an earlier identical trip with lost friends.

I like this clause too: "a book about what happened in my life when I started learning, doing, modifying, and just trying to be a positive change, no matter how small." It begs the question: what did happen? That's obviously your "story" but it also sounds like you are suggesting a point about a consumer culture that emphasizes passivity, rather than learning. That's a theme that connects DIY culture to larger American cultural values that are partly drawn from the "frontiersman" and partly from the figure of the "visionary inventor."

Enough outta me.

I think it is a great idea. Give it a go. If in the end publishers are harder to persuade, then move it onto a self published e-Book platform and see if you can get lucky with a steady seller that makes publishers take a second look.

Good luck!
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Old 07-12-2012, 03:16 PM   #7 (permalink)
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What I'd like to read

Quote:
Originally Posted by bennelson View Post
I have a question for you. If I wrote a book, would you read it? Would you BUY a copy? Would you check it out if it was at your local library?
Yes, I'd read it. You're pretty practical, so I don't think you'd write a hard-cover and ask for $30 per copy, so yes - I'd likely buy a copy (e-copy as has been mentioned). The library thing would be temporary, since the book would 'disappear' after 3 weeks.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bennelson View Post
... wacky adventures of modifying my life - not just my transportation, but also cooking, water useage, renewable energy, and a whole lot of other things I've done...
I'm not sure that I would be interested in ALL of these things. I am interested in a few of them. My vote would be a series of 'short story' type e-books ... in the style of 'this is what I'm doing right now - I discovered this - I should go here now - why? well, let me tell you a bit of the back-story'. This is a bit of a simplification of blogs in general, but it's a style that makes me feel like I was there with you and am following you through your design decisions, product choices ... the WHY of what you did is important here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bennelson View Post
Thinking back on it, I built an electric car never having done it before, I've changed 500-amp fuses on the side of the road in the middle of a thunderstorm, I found out the hard way that brake lines and plasma cutters don't mix (did you know brake fluid is flammable?) I've gotten a speeding ticket in a car that didn't even have an engine. I've traveled to Europe and crash-tested my electric motorcycle. I've helped other people build their own electric cars and met the inventor of the Citicar, Chris Paine, Chelsea Sexton, Ed Begley Jr, and Dave Cloud.
These experiences are not common, as you say. But much of what you learned and why you did things as you did applies to many different situations.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bennelson View Post
Instead, it would be a book about what happened in my life when I started learning, doing, modifying, and just trying to be a positive change, no matter how small.
No offense intended - I think it would be hard to follow the book if it were chronological. My life is much more mundane and I have enough trouble following it myself sometimes. Splitting it up into separate books, or chapters, or trilogies ... something to group the experiences roughly together ... would assist me in reading through it. I agree that formal writing classes would stifle some of creativity and the story-telling ... at least initially. I was involved in reviewing someone's story, going through draft after draft, checking for consistency in tense, trying to change all of the references to myths and urban legends from 'raw' to 'socially acceptable'. It sucks the life out of you and makes the writer hate you and the whole process. Not an experience that I'd repeat. I would suggest that you avoid that by treating your book, or trilogy, or whatever, like a blog - if there are errors and inconsistencies - that's part of the experience!

Quote:
Originally Posted by bennelson View Post
What do you think. Would you buy a book by me about my wacky adventures? Do you have any ideas or suggestions? Let me know.
I've likely given you more suggestions and opinion than you'd like. But I'll try to summarize it - write the way that you already write your blogs, take me into the story with you so I can experience some of the discovery and follow you along, and keep it fun for you.

I like the idea of including enough details that a '2 month ecomodder' could follow. Details bring me into the story.
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Old 07-12-2012, 06:36 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Ben,

I would buy an e-copy. I like your writing style and follow your blog. Go for it!
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Old 07-13-2012, 09:30 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Thanks for all the response guys!

At this point, I sort of imagine that it would not neccesarily by chronological, but more divided up by subject or topic. It could almost be a series of essays that are grouped together by similar types.

The "Why" would be a big part of the book. I would include a fair amount of how to - er, maybe more of a how I did. I'm not looking at writing a how-to book, but I would include enough technical details to make it interesting, without being overwhelming.

I suppose that, for example, about the electric car, I would explain what components that I used, but that would really just lead into a story of how I ended up at a moving sale where a guy had a full-size electric forklift in his garage. Why did he have one there? well, let me tell you..... How did I get it OUT from the forklift? That was fun too....


The misadventures, the why, and a bit of how to.

The road-trip has commonly been used as a structure for books and films. Ever read Tom Sawyer? All that was was a road-trip (OK, river trip...) with episodic adventures as they go down the river.

My life has been a bit of a "trip" the last few years too!
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Old 07-13-2012, 11:39 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bennelson View Post
The misadventures, the why, and a bit of how to.

The road-trip has commonly been used as a structure for books and films. Ever read Tom Sawyer? All that was was a road-trip (OK, river trip...) with episodic adventures as they go down the river.

My life has been a bit of a "trip" the last few years too!
Twain's humorous story telling is a good model. But I think you mean The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, which continues the Tom Sawyer tale in a sense and features the famous raft trip down the Mississippi. That tale also has something in common with you, which is a social issue it wants to put front and center. In Twain's case, slavery and race. In yours, something about ecology? I would suggest brainstorming... not only about what the great incidences have been in your adventures but also about larger meanings--in addition to technical lessons--that might link your chapters. Even if you do not write narrative and go for chapter essays or vignettes, your book will need themes that link it as a whole.

james

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