Archive for September, 2012

Story of a Self-Published Author

Sunday, September 23rd, 2012

It’s been awhile since I produced the third edition of Get Rolling, the Beginner’s Guide to Inline Skating, but I have checked the links below and they are still good guides for anybody who is interested in writing and  publishing their own book.

I am not the best person to ask about finding a publisher because, except for one case, my publishers found me or I self-published. The one time I got a publisher to take over my book was when I approached a travel company with my first edition of Get Rolling, and they signed me up to put together a skate trails tour book and I inserted my how-to section into the front pages. Out of print now, my work has since been transformed to an online database of skate tours,

Self publishing

I published my only book currently still in print, Get Rolling, the Beginner’s Guide to In-Line Skating, now in its 4th printing. I call my publishing company Get Rolling Books. To credibly and effectively sell paperback books in the US, you must deal with the Library of Congress, the publishers of “Books in Print” and a book distributor that serves libraries. Here is where to find out how to do everything to get your book produced and sold:  the web site of Dan Poynter, the self publisher’s guru.

I read The Self-Publishing Manual in 1992, decided I had what it takes to be successful, and then followed all of Dan’s advice. When I got the copyright returned to me and self published my third edition of Get Rolling in 2004, I discovered much of that process has gotten easier thanks to the internet and digital printing.


For production, I was referred to a northern California printing company named DeHart’s for the printing. . I have been very happy working with them, and they are close enough that I can drive there to pick up my latest 1,000 copies.

I sent  them two giant PDF files after getting a quote on an initial run of 500 books. Since that first printing I have ordered 1000 books two more times because printing is cheaper in larger quantities. When the books are ready, I save money by going to pick them up in my SUV and then I store them in my garage. I pay about $5 per copy, and my selling price is $14.95.

To sell my book, I have set up a consignment account with under their Amazon Advantage program. They send me a book order every Sunday. Their orders are initially small (like 1 book) but as people start buying the book their orders go up in response. I pay shipping and they get 55% discount off my selling price.  Here’s a link to Amazon Advantage:

Self publishing a new book is tedious and time-consuming work, but once the production and launch are done, you can coast on that effort for years. If you have a popular web site and can convince people to purchase directly from you (PayPal payments), you can charge the full cover price and customers will pay your shipping.

Working with established publishers

A subsidiary of McGraw Hill discovered my self-published first edition of Get Rolling and asked to publish it themselves. I provided updated text and photos. With 5,000 sold the first year, they ordered another 5,000 before returning the copyright to me. Before that happened, I also wrote a second book for them.

I enjoyed working with publishers and their editors and letting them do the hard work. My books have never been block busters so none of us made much money. The biggest advance I got was $2,000 on contract signing with a second $2,000 on delivery. The worst-selling of my books — one they asked me to write just before inline skating began to lose its popularity — never did return their full royalty investment.

Lifestyle benefits of being an author

That said, I have enjoyed many indirect benefits from my book writing and publishing efforts. I am respected all over the world by skating beginners because I won’t let Get Rolling die. I work as a skate tour guide and Camp Rollerblade Instructor for an adventure travel company (they found me through my CA Skating trail guide) that results in considerable discounts when I want to be a customer — like climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, hiking the Great Wall in China, and most recently, guiding tourists to Machu Picchu — all because I dared to write and publish that first book in 1992.

Surviving a Nighttime Group Skate

Sunday, September 23rd, 2012

Paris Friday Night Skate starting line

This may come as a big surprise the first time you join a group skate that rolls through the streets after dark: skating on a dedicated bike path using the basic stride and braking you learned in a parking lot just aren’t enough prep! The perils outside a controlled environment require a few defensive skills to help you safely manage real-world situations.

In a group setting, “sometimes the crowd is very dense and moving very fast,” pointed out Alex, a Get Rolling fan from Israel. “There are often light collisions, e.g., frame-to-frame contact.” He is so right! When unfamiliar terrain, motorists, low or no street lighting, unexpected obstacles, hills, and peer pressure are in the mix, the risk for getting hurt goes way up.

Defensive Skills for the Urban Skater

Before considering your fist roll in the dark with the “big kids,” be sure to get good at the moves that can save your skin. By working your way through the instruction links in the right column below, you will also build an extra layer of protection: confidence in your balance and agility.

Situation Save your skin with…
Sudden red light Heel brake works best, otherwise T-stop or Powerslide
Many skaters, not much space Stride 1 or Swizzles until space opens up
Cracks, rough, cobbles, light-rail tracks High speed Scissors coast
Lagging too far behind the crowd Stride 3. See 10 tips to Increase Your Pushing Power
Speed control on narrow downhills Intermittent braking (“governor“), T drag, “Slowplow”
Speed control on wide downhills Slowing Slaloms — but only if you won’t be cutting off skaters approaching from behind
Impending crash Get low, hands near knees to make a controlled fall on your gear
Curbs and stair steps Angle back skate 45+ degrees to curb. See Taking Curbs at a Roll.
Collision avoidance, too late for brake Hard swerve with a Parallel or tight A-Frame turn. More in Handling Urban Obstacles.

Essential Gear

Priority one in all cases: Wear your helmet and protective gear.

In the dark, you should also take precautions so that motorists can see you and you can see the skating surface ahead. Head lamps, reflective tape or clothing, plastic reflectors, and blinking lights are all good choices. Consider packing along some water, ID and insurance card, light footwear, and cab fare just in case.

Now, go out and meet new skating pals to share the thrilling fun of a critical mass street takeover!

Skate (and Eat) With Purpose

Sunday, September 9th, 2012

In-Line Workout Benefits

skating Mammoth Main PathFun as it is, skating contributes directly to improving the most sought-after exercise goals: improved aerobic fitness, strength, endurance and body fat reduction. Fast-paced skating has been proved to be just as aerobically beneficial as running; compared to cycling, an equal skating effort results in a better muscular workout for hips, thighs and shins. As long as you apply yourself to purposeful workouts with specific daily goals (as opposed to simply going through the motions), you are setting yourself up to enjoy the maximum possible benefits from fitness skating.

Better aerobic fitness: The benefits of sustained aerobic exercise have been acknowledged for years. On skates, 25 minutes–universally acknowledged as the minimum for improving aerobic capacity–seems much too soon to stop, especially after the natural high from the release of endorphins kicks in! Unlike running or some health club aerobics options, skating doesn’t involve the jarring footfall that is so hard on overused or aging lower body joints. To ice the cake, because it’s a weight-bearing activity, an inline workout also contributes to bone density as your aerobic fitness improves.

Strength gains: Consistent skate training has been found to tone and build stronger, more stable pelvis, hip, and leg muscles. The quadriceps–the muscles on the fronts of the thighs–are strengthened both from the sustained isometric contraction while gliding in a tuck position and from the repeated contractions and extensions of stroking. Each stroke puts hamstrings, buttocks and hip flexors into play for balance and propulsion, while the abdominals and lower back remain contracted to stabilize the upper body. This also works the adductors (inner thigh, pulling muscle) and the abductors (outer thigh, pushing muscle). If you’re new to such athletic workouts, you’ll notice these muscles feeling gradually firmer and more toned.

The light weight/high repetitions of an inline stride’s push-off strengthen the spinal erectors (lower back muscles). For people with unstable discs in the lower back, a few weeks of skating workouts is an excellent way to make this area stronger and less achy. People recovering from knee surgery have found that skating is a quick way to rehabilitate the muscles in that complex joint.

Improved endurance: An inline skating training program can increase muscular as well as aerobic endurance. Adopt a weekly inline interval training session such as repeated uphill sprints, and your skating muscles–in conjunction with the cardiovascular system–begin to utilize the body’s energy stores more efficiently, increasing your capacity for prolonged hard work. Long, slow distance skating improves aerobic fitness, which in turn allows you to skate even longer without fatigue.

Body fat reduction: A consistent 25 minutes of aerobic activity three to five times a week can gradually turn your body into a fat-burning machine. As your muscles get firmer and denser, your body burns more calories, even when you’re asleep! As long as you keep the pace above 10 miles per hour, inline skating burns the same number of calories as running.

Performance Nutrition

It’s important to eat a healthy diet that supports your fitness goals rather than hindering them. This starts at your local grocery store. Do your best to fill your shopping cart with unprocessed, highly nutritional foods, leaving out packaged and canned goods as much as possible. There should be no room in that cart for sweet and salty junk foods such as chips and pastries. Instead, load up with fresh fish, low fat or fat-free meat and dairy products, soy-based proteins, almonds, fruit and munchable raw vegetables. While you’re in the produce section, add a variety of greens and squashes, mushrooms, avocados and tomatoes. Buy high quality, sprouted grain breads and whole wheat fat-free tortillas but avoid full-size bagels and other starchy grains. Refresh your stock of soy sauce, garlic, onions, olive oil and fresh herbs to add flavor when cooking.

Food Basket

Try to save eating out for special occasions. Daily or even weekly trips to restaurants and fast food outlets make it difficult to control both the quantity and quality of your intake. Even with the demands of a major fitness training program, more and more studies are proving that a restricted-calorie lifestyle actually prolongs the average life span. To maintain day-long energy reserves, eat small meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner (don’t skip!) and smaller snacks two or three times a day, so you never go more than four hours without food. Waiting six to eight hours between feedings invariably results in eating more than your body needs, not to mention wide swings in blood sugar level which can hurt both the body’s insulin management system and your energy level.