A Baby Boomer Plunges into the World of E-Publishing

Kathleen Norton is an award-winning newspaper columnist in upstate New York. But neither awards nor experience can prepare you for some of the shocks of the 21st Century … at least not if you’re a baby boomer and a writer. Kathleen has now learned about the highs and lows of taking the big plunge into the world of e-publishing. Which is why she has written, for BoomerCafé, Ready, Set, Publish!

Depending on how you look at it, this boomer has either crossed to the dark side or walked into the light.

Kathleen Norton

After some harrowing, hair-pulling experiences in front of the computer, which I decided not to shoot because it feels no pain anyway, I’ve got a new e-book. It’s called, “If 50 is the new 30, then 30 ain’t what it used to be!’’

Some of you are saying, “Say it isn’t so! Don’t tell us you made a book without paper! You traitor!’’

But some are saying, “Rock on!”

We boomers are at the point in our lives when we see fast change as either a turn-on or a turn-off.

I know boomers who live on “twitter,’’ and I know boomers who think cell phones are a passing fancy. The rest, like me, are somewhere in the middle.

I know that if I did not have a cell phone, I’d still be wandering around the big box store where my husband got lost two days ago. Or, as he tells it, I got lost and he had to track me down through subtle text messages like, “Where the #$%* did you go?’’

My big e-move forward started with a little tiny gesture.

Several speed-reading friends who used to collect many volumes each year got new e-readers like Kindles and iPads and fell in love with them. One of them said, “You should put your newspaper humor columns into an e-book.’’

I think she was trying to steer the conversation away from my bragging about my granddaughters and their amazing developmental achievements.

Whatever the reason, her comment got me thinking: “How hard could it be?”

Some of it wasn’t. I’ve been slogging away week after week in front of a computer for years, trying to come up with stuff to write. I was used to that.

The tough parts were these:

  1. Wrapping my head around the idea of being the author-editor-publisher-everything-rolled-into-one.
  2. Making the computer do what it is supposed to do (mine, for example, simply does not listen to shouted instructions).
  3. Hiring people online to help with some stuff I couldn’t accomplish – people I will never meet in person and I have no clue where they live.

Somehow, I found a good crew in Donna, Maureen, and Rich (if those are their real names.)

But the hardest part of all were those last strokes on the keyboard that transported me into the world of e-publishing.
The momentous occasion went like this: Tap. Tap. Tap. You have a book.

It was not what I had dreamed years ago when I was curled up at the public library in Kearny, N.J., reading “Little Women’’ and vowing that some day I too would be a writer like “Jo.”

Of course, in my dream, I was wearing a bonnet and long skirts like hers.

The reality, though, was that on the big day, I was in pajamas. The e-book was on the screen, not in my hands. Still, some very cool possibilities lie ahead.

That is the world we live in today, boomers. I think it’s worth gambling. There’s room for old and new.
I hope you think so too.


  1. First of all Kathleen, I love the title. I hate that phrase no matter what numbers are used. Grr.

    And secondly, congratulations! I too have self-published my first book and much of the process I do no ever ever want to repeat.

    My biggest challenge was formatting the document so that it would come out right when it was printed, as in page 2 on one side and page 87 on the other side of my computer screen.

    To avoid the formatting alone, I’m hiring a publisher for my next book!

    Keep writing Kathleen; I love your story!


  2. Kathleen:

    I’m 57 and I’ve been blogging, twittering and publishing my own books since 2008. I’m now convinced that this is the future of publishing.

    I say, decide where you think publishing will be in five years, and shoot for that vision in your writing. So far it’s been working GREAT for me! My blog and books are directly at the niche market of midlife psychology and change. My reign as the Midlife Crisis Queen has just begun!

    Laura Lee aka the Midlife Crisis Queen!

  3. Hi Kathleen: Congratulations on venturing into this new technological world. I’ve done the same, in my own small way, by starting a blog, called The Diary of the Vixen Divorcee, at http://www.vixendivorcee.com. When I decided to do this, I had never even read a blog. I can’t say I enjoy reading things on a computer screen.

    But, it is a new world, isn’t it? I’m loving blogging. Maybe I’ll graduate to reading an ebook. Maybe even publishing one.

    Like Marcia, I like the title of your book. Best of luck with marketing it. Will you let us know how it goes?

  4. Great to find you here, Kathleen. As far as e-publishing goes, welcome to the dark side! Can’t wait to read “If 50 is the New 30, then 30 isn’t What it Used To Be” – on my kindle.

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