Jim Tosches has always enjoyed writing and recently found a way for his one-time hobby to intersect with another of his passions – baseball. The result is “The Rules Abide” – a fun, tell-all tale that looks at the rules of America’s favorite pastime.
Q: What inspired you to write “The Rules Abide: The Thinking Fan’s Guide to Baseball Rules (with History, Humor and a Few Big Words”?
A: After being involved in the local amateur baseball scene for a few years, a teammate suggested I look into umpiring high school baseball so I signed up with Pacific Baseball Umpires. I was sure I knew everything there was to know about baseball after a lifetime of watching and playing the game, but I was shocked by how many little things I had wrong all those years.
Once I started working games, I quickly realized I wasn’t alone as I ran across players, coaches and fans (parents) who also didn’t know the rules on a daily basis. So that was the epiphany, at the crossroads of my lifelong passion, baseball, my natural interest in expressing myself, and the analytical mind employed all those years as a computer programmer and troubleshooter.
The baseball rulebook is an awful read so I had the idea to translate it into something you could sit down and read and be educated and entertained.
I simply wrote something that would teach the rules, not just index them, and ease the angst in the stands and on the field when things aren’t clear to the participants. In fact, I go so far as to suggest my book will make the reader a better player, coach or fan, but in an anecdotal way that isn’t patronizing.
By combining personal stories, history of the game and the rules, I was able to construct a piece that has a little something for everyone, as I discuss baseball from the perspective of players, fans, coaches and umpires.
Q: What were some of the challenges of writing and publishing in the digital market?
A: I think these challenges pale compared to those of traditional publishing, which requires you navigate time honored protocols for running the gauntlets of industry gatekeepers, which is mostly out of your control. The challenges with the digital market are largely technical, that is, understanding how it all works and the tools you’ll need to use. I used Guy Kawasaki’s book as a help-guide, “APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur,” which I highly recommend. Publishing on the Amazon-owned CreateSpace.com platform was about as easy as uploading a file. If your work requires illustration, then formatting and editing can be a challenge which often means you’ll need to parcel these pieces out, which takes time and money. I decided to keep my piece simple so the best advice I can give is to consider these things up front rather than wait until you’re done writing so you can manage them concurrently.
Q: What advice do you have for someone considering self-publishing?
A: Above all, don’t be afraid. As far as the mechanics of self-publishing, I would say you need to sit down and understand your goals. While the internet has been dubbed “the great equalizer,” you can also think of it as a vast ocean, so it’s easy to be lost at sea. Understanding self-publishing is a process, not something you do one day and it’s done. Know who your target audience is. You can’t reach everybody so focus on your core audience, which could be local as well as virtual. Also, use your network to find published authors. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by their willingness to share ideas and experiences. Marketing will be as difficult as writing, but it is also as much of an art as your book -whether you like it or not, you’ll need to rely on websites, blogs, social media and good old-fashioned networking.
Q: What are some of your current projects?
A: I have a few items brewing — “The Road to Cooperstown,” about amateur adult baseball players, but more about grown men coming to grips with the realities of their own struggles and potentials. I am also discussing a collaboration on a coffee table type book, also about baseball, which seems to have been my starting point, but trust me, I have a lot to say beyond that.
Kerri S. Mabee