Looking back at self-publishing history books from 1999-2001 - Paul Langan

Paul Langan Canadian, author

Paul Langan Reflects Back on Self-Publishing 1999-2001

When we moved to the community of Hespeler in Cambridge in 1994, I had no idea I would get so deeply involved in preserving history in print form. Perhaps it was a way to "get a win", then and now, as I witnessed our built heritage being wiped out by ruthless developers over the years.

It certainly helped, that I moved to a community with such a rich history, that was not well documented.

In 1999-2001 I released 5 glossy booklets, a calendar and  oversaw the compilation book of a citizens critique of Highway 7.

  • Railway Stations of Cambridge 1999 Calendar
  • Tragedy in Galt, The May 2nd CP Rail Crash
  • The Miracle in Preston - The Story of the Preston Springs Hotel
  • Hespeler's Hidden Secret - The Coombe Orphanage 1905-1947
  • Remembering Glenchristie
  • Forgotten Stories of the Railway
  • Alternatives Denied - The $100,000,000 Highway 7 Fiasco

Research methods

Researching was done by the traditional methods, looking at old newspapers/ microfiche, journals at the library and a lot of letters sent to gather information for the topic of you were working on. The internet back then was not the cornucopia of information that it is today.

The self-publishing process was relatively simple, I put the information together in a Wordperfect document, and gave the photos and document to the local printer, Moffit Print in Guelph, to format and print. 

There was a financial risk back as you had to order a minimum print run that could add up to a $2,000. Thankfully, I have always had a supportive wife and family.

I contacted John Cheyne at the Book Express in the Cambridge Mall and he stocked the book in his store. I cannot say how thankful I was for John supporting me back then. 

Hoped local media would do a story

I would then send a press release to the local print papers and hope that 1 of the 3 (Cambridge Reporter, Kitchener Record or Cambridge Times) would do a story. I would also put 2 small 3" ads in the paper. For a few of the booklets I would do a public talk on them at the local Johnson Centre.

Paul Langan author

Surprising Success with Tragedy in Galt Booklet

My first booklet was the Tragedy in Galt May 2nd, 1956 CP Rail Crash. I was astonished when I sold 1000 copies of it back then. It seemed parents brought their kids to the crash site and this tragedy was imbedded in their memories. I was lucky also in that I was able to interview members of the train crew from that fateful day.

My other booklets did not sell as well, though my Hespeler's Hidden Secret and Miracle in Preston were popular.

Transit Activism

In 2000, the Ontario government was going to put in a new Highway 7 beween Guelph and Kitchener. The proposed route and plan was severely flawed. I gathered together some of the activists at the time for their critiques and put them out in a booklet titled," Alternatives Denied". The book gathered a far amount of media attention and was the first book I was involved with that was carried by Chapter's Book Store.

Alternatives Denied

Looking back at those earlier years of self-publishing, it was a rewarding time. 

Since then, due to the advancement of the internet and other technology, I ended up greatly expanding four of those booklets and re-released them as more comprehensive 2nd editions. In the last few years I have self-published 20 other books/ booklets.  More on that in a later article.

Paul Langan Books - https://paullangan.com


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