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I'm writing a book with all my grandfather's WWII letters

Discussion in '☆☆ New Recruits ☆☆' started by PuzzleRad, Feb 13, 2024.

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  1. PuzzleRad

    PuzzleRad New Member

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    Hi, I'm Conrad, 55, living in Boston MA. My handle here is PuzzleRad because I use that handle on some other sites like IG (I make hand-made wooden jigsaw puzzles as a hobby).

    It took me a decade, but I finally typed all 243 of my grandfather's letters that he wrote home to my grandmother during WWII, into a Word doc. I'm hoping to eventually publish a book, not to make money, but so that my grandfather's descendants and their descendants all have a copy. Now I'm going back and trying to fill in all the words I didn't recognize on my first pass, now that I'm better at reading his handwriting and have seen the same terms written many times, sometimes more legible than others. I'm also enjoying using Google to learn 1940's or WWII terms (or locations, names, books, etc.) that I never knew about before, and I'm adding footnotes to explain the terms for the modern reader. But some terms or abbreviations I just can't figure out, so I'll be posting those kinds of questions on this site. If there is a certain sub-forum that is most applicable for those kinds of questions, let me know.

    He was in the Army Officers Reserve Corp, then was called up to serve in England, North Africa, Sicily, and Italy, from Aug 1942 to Jan 1945, mostly with or commanding the 331st Anti-Aircraft Battalion.

    Thanks!
     
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  2. ColHessler

    ColHessler Member

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    Greetings from Arizona. You came to the right people.
     
  3. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    We duz that sheet. Welcome.
     
  4. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    I wrote and self-published a book 12 years ago.

    Best advice - DO NOT use self publishing services such as AuthorHouse or Xlibris.

    They WILL rip you a new one.

    If you are going to self publish, fully self publish.
     
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  5. RRA227

    RRA227 Member

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    Welcome to the forum. Rich A. in Pa.
     
  6. Riter

    Riter Well-Known Member

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    1) Photos. Must have. Even a few post war ones with him and your grandmother when she was younger
    2) The guns. Some detail but not much.
    3) Their movement through Europe (you might have to get it from the parent unit history)
    4) Annotate. If he mentions "Smith" find out about Smith and what happened to him. Pictures of Smith. Etc. with Jones, Williams, et al.
    5) Running commentary. Explain the situation they were in. Talk about the place. If he mentions a town, talk about it and its significance of any.

    Good luck!
     
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  7. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Staff Member

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    I have never written a book (although I helped edit Slipdigit's book.) That said, I agree with Riter. It's not enough just to transcribe the letters. There needs to be commentary so the reader has a picture of the larger context. Be diligent in your research. Google is not enough. Find unit records, etc. to fill out your knowledge. Good luck. Post any questions you might have. We have a number of authors here who will be willling to help.
     
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  8. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    You sure did. You will never fully appreciate how much it meant to me.
     
  9. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    Also provide historical context before each letter. The reader doesn't want to have to stop and google "Salerno", breaks the vibe. When the writer is in one location for an extended period brief blurbs between letter would do, and, if you think it would help, a means of seeing how long they were there. Ad hoc "facilities" spring up at the least chance, especially those that provide "non-standard" rations. And by that I mean stills. If they had the time somebody in a command would have one running.

    I had an eleventh grader standing behind when I wrote, asking question about the events I was putting to paper. My Ghost Writer, I called him.

    Links to the various services historical website could also be included.
     
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  10. firstf1abn

    firstf1abn Member

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    Deleted. Go fish.
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2024
  11. Riter

    Riter Well-Known Member

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    @Slipdigit - you said xlibris and authorshouse will rip you a new one. Please elaborate.

    Puzzlerad - don't forget veteran groups. Most of those guys are gone, but descendants and website (parent division and associated units (regiments) may have insights as to what happened where and when. Check the web for them. BatteryPress in Nashville reprints a lot of divisional history. Schiffer Press does a lot of airforce stuff so if you know what fighter/bomber group his battery was assigned to, look into them (just for unit movements).
     
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  12. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    They will charge a large chunk of change that you will not be able to recover in sales.
    I have had direct conversations with several authors who had nothing good to say about self publishing companies.
    All have never recouped their outlays and are still in the red to the tune of several thousand dollars.
     
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  13. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    Looks like this was just a drive by.
     
  14. firstf1abn

    firstf1abn Member

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    He checked in two hours after I took 5 minutes to do a look-'em-up to correct his misstatement of the unit ID. He couldn't be bothered to acknowledge my post. Would have taken him 20 seconds to say thanks.
     
  15. Biak

    Biak Boy from Illinois Staff Member

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    Well it's only been a week so I'll give him a few days before withdrawing my like.
    My wife went the online "We'll sell your book" route. Christian based publishing company out of Mustang Oklahoma. Retired Marine (supposedly) heading up the company. Cost us a trip to Bo-Dunk southern okie land and a couple thousand dollars.They did the whole "Nice to meet you" and after we signed the check, "Let us Pray". Ended up with a spiel to buy merchandising to self promote her book and 50 books to pedal ourselves. They did set up one Author Meet & Greet in a nearby town at a mediocre bookstore. They're out of business now and passed on their client list to a new 'publishing' company. Most likely same people - different name.
    As for printing a book ? We've ordered several single copies from " Shutterfly" where you upload pictures with areas to add descriptions. Not sure if they'd actually do just print. I'm still adding to our family Military history and maybe one day?!
     
  16. Riter

    Riter Well-Known Member

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    Dayam Biak. I read a long time ago vanity presses serve to make money for themselves. What you and Slipdigit told me rings true. B&N print on demand is much better. I suspect Amazon is very much the same (but you still have to get your own LOC #).
     
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  17. Biak

    Biak Boy from Illinois Staff Member

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    At least She's copyrighted so we can sue if need be.
     

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