How did this book series start?
These books were born many years ago, on a Christmas morning. One of us (Craig) decided to create something original and personal for gifts for the family.
The idea was to put together an anthology of humor related to food and eating. Material was gathered and compiled into a book, and copies were printed for each family member.
Then came Christmas Day, with the extended family — parents, siblings and their spouses and children — gathering at our parents’ house in the Chicago area.
And what happened?
Picture 15 people crowded into the living room, with gifts piled under the tree. We always passed out a single gift at a time, so everyone could fully enjoy each gift.
Midway through the exchange of gifts from under the tree, we handed each family member a wrapped copy of the book. Everyone unwrapped their book and naturally began paging through.
Within moments our sister was laughing. Everyone wanted to hear what she thought was funny, so she read it aloud — and now everyone was laughing.
Then people resumed reading, and seconds later our father was laughing — and the process repeated itself. This went on for 20 minutes before moving to the next gift.
Craig thought: “There’s something here.”
And the next Christmas?
We did the same thing, this time compiling an anthology of humor on kids and parenting. On Christmas Day, the same hilarity ensued.
And again the next year, with humor about love and relationships. Another laugh fest.
In short order, the two of us started talking about publishing the books commercially.
In our teens and early twenties we’d had house painting business together. It was great fun and very successful, funding our college education and beyond. We’d always had the idea of doing another business project together at some point.
The humor book series seemed like a good opportunity. The books were such a hit in our family. We were pretty confident other people would find the books funny.
Who publishes the books?
We do. We thought self-publishing was a better way to go than finding a commercial publisher, which is very difficult — thousands of other authors are also competing for their attention. We also wanted total creative control. And between us we had the skills and experience to make this happen.
What were your first steps?
We started by creating a list of topics for the book series. We wanted topics that lots of people would be interested in. We already had food and eating, kids and parenting, love and relationships. The next topics we thought of were marriage, health and fitness, growing older, dogs, cats, golf, and so on. We generated a list of maybe 70 titles.
How did you go about finding material?
Our idea was to assemble the very best humor for each topic — the funniest, most laugh-out-loud stuff we could find. No one had done what we had in mind, particularly not as a series.
We spent several years in research and development. Mostly this meant getting our hands on has many books and online sources of humor as possible to gather material. We went through all the books by all the best comedians and humor writers — Dave Barry, Ellen DeGeneres, Jerry Seinfeld, George Carlin, Jeff Foxworthy, Jim Gaffigan, and many more. We combed the archives of The New Yorker and The Onion. We searched for tweets — and found tons of hilarious material from ordinary folks. All of this was huge fun.
What’s been the response so far?
Just what we hoped for and expected. The reviews have been terrific. Some people get together to read the books out loud together, just as our family did spontaneously for three Christmases — and we’re told there’s so much laughter people can hardly read.
There’s so much seriousness in the world today. We’re happy if we can bring a little laughter and joy to people.