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Finding good homes for my babies
by Joseph Patrick Meissner


I have always envied women. It arises from the African saying, "Men are individuals, but women are a nation."

We men strive all our lives to accomplish something meaningful and that never matches one woman cradling her baby. Oh, I know that not all women are mothers physically, but even women who do not bear children still wind up enjoying "motherhood" in all sorts of ways that elude us men.

So I have sought to become a mother and to give birth to something beautiful. I have been writing books. The last one, The Legal Warriors , has just been published. I started seriously writing it in October of 2012. It was completed about September 2013 which matches a pregnancy's nine months.

This short essay tells about writing the book, having it published, and now trying to found good homes who will adopt my babies.

Anyone who has ever written something, like an essay or a pamphlet or a book, has probably gone through what I am experiencing now. While we authors always begin by writing for ourselves, at some point we crave readers and buyers for our creations.

Let me talk a little about the book. I had not thought it would be so long. It is 750 pages with another 40 pages of photographs. A reader just knows that a lawyer must be the author. It contains 260,000 words which is more than enough for two books. My work could have used a good editor with a skilled chopping knife. After all, who has the time and the will power to read 750 pages written by Lawyer Meissner?

But I wanted a "complete" book containing all the details and legal papers. I also felt that readers would read a book like I read a book I never start at the beginning. I jump into a new book right in the middle like into the swimming pool. I read some pages and if I like what I am reading I keep going. If I don't find it interesting enough, I jump to another part of the book. I keep my place by turning back a corner of the page where I was last reading. This results in all sorts of books sitting on my shelves with multiple bent back corners.

Secondly, besides writing just for myself, this book was to be about my legal experiences and a tribute to all the wonderful clients I have represented. I have always marveled at their tenacity, their openness, and their willingness to share their battles. It has been truly a joy when I can help them gain at least part of what they are seeking. So the book was meant to celebrate my clients' stories and struggles. Hence, the "legal warriors" are not attorneys, but these clients.

Also I have been privileged to represent community groups. So the book was furthermore intended to relate their triumphs and failures.

Thirdly, I have worked with many young people who are considering a career in law. I wanted to help them understand a legal career, especially one of public service. I have had some 225 "legal assistants" throughout the decades assist me. They came from a variety of backgrounds. Some were college students wondering about law as a career. Many were law students seeking to turn all that classroom theory into a reality. Others were new attorneys who have passed the bar and are seeking legal placements while searching for real jobs. Still others were people gaining paraprofessional legal licenses who needed a working experience. Finally several were attorneys who have retired, but still wanted some legal challenges to stir the blood.

So my book was intended to continue this mentoring role. I wanted to leave a testament about my public service career that young people can read and see both the possibilities--and limitations--of a legal public service career.

So now you understand why that all took 750 pages.

But once a work is finished, then comes the really hard part. It is actually more demanding than the writing. This is where we authors look for homes for our beloved offspring. But you cannot just "give away" your books, not unless you are independently wealthy. An author needs not just readers, but paying readers.

The printers need to be compensated. Copy editors demand recompense. There is postage expense. There is gasoline expense traveling from one book signing to another. There is also the hard problem of what price to set. Most people will never pay $100 for a book even if it is a bible. Even $50 is a bit high. But you cannot receive only ten dollars when it costs double that just to print a single copy.

How to contact buyers? Well, it is a bit like a new employee hired by an insurance company to sell life insurance while paid only commissions. You go through your Christmas card address list of relatives and then friends. There are the people you just bump into at gatherings and events. For example, Ken Lanci, the Cleveland Mayoral candidate. He bought one of my babies while he was at a campaign stop.

As for relatives, I have copies of checks from my son for his copy and from my two daughters for their copies. So far, my one sister has forked over her dues for her copy but I am still waiting for my two brothers and other sister.

How to contact people? Well, the emails help. But people get so many emails and so many requests that they have learned to click, "delete" very quickly. So how to get their attention? You try catchy title lines. You try pictures You repeat your emails in case the first ones got trapped in SPAM or were just overlooked. So I have emailed my one brother four times--and this disappointingly has not brought even a mild reply of congratulations.

What about selling on the internet? Amazon.com is a totally loss. The return to an author from an Amazon purchase does not even pay postage, let alone printing costs. Really, Amazon-especially Kindle transactions-are exploitive of authors. We are the new slaves for this monopoly.

There are those agents who promote books. But this costs a great deal with no promise for any returns. You can always hope to get reviews for your book. But these do not seem to sell copies. And a bad review? That is like a knife into the author's heart. So pursuing book reviews seems very risky as well as not very rewarding.

Chance encounters? That is always so nice when somebody you never really considered as a book buyer morphs into one. Like the bank teller at my bank. She heard I had published a book and she asked for a copy. I was not certain she was serious, but she asked again the next time I came to the bank. So I wrote a very nice front page dedication and brought a copy to the bank. She had a check ready. That sparked a glow in my heart.

At various meetings I often get a chance to speak briefly about my progeny. Afterward it is always a delight when somebody comes up and wants a copy.

All of this activity recalls for me my Mother who loved books. She would speak about hiding as a child in a corner of the barn away from her daily tasks where she could bury herself in a book.

Then there was my Father. When he was a seven year old school boy, his Dad took him out to the fields of the farm: "You have had enough schooling and books," his Dad said. "We need you here working."

Later Dad would love to sit in a corner of the davenport on his living room and just page through books. He liked history, travel books, and books about making things like cars and houses.

So my book writing is a trait inspired by my parents. I hope I honor them in what I have written and in my book dissemination efforts. That's enough for now. I will write more on all of this in a later essay.

Let me conclude that you can obtain a copy of LEGAL WARRIORS by emailing me at meissnerjoseph@yahoo.com


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