Publish Your Own Book: History of Gen. Henry M. Robert and the Rules of Order

About the famous writer Gen. Henry M. Robert who self-published the book Rules of Order, history and information.

Publish Your Own Book

Gen. Henry M. Robert, a West Point graduate, was known in his time as an expert military engineer, responsible for the defenses and improvement of most of the nation's ports. Today he is remembered for his Rules of Order.

When Robert was assigned to San Francisco in 1867, many people of various backgrounds and customs were tumultuously converging on the city with no idea of the proper procedures for organizing and running meetings. Robert wrote a book of rules "based in its general principles upon the rules and practice of Congress, and adapted, in its details, to the use of ordinary societies."

No commercial publisher wanted his Pocket Manual of Rules of Order for Deliberative Assemblies; they gave the usual excuse of no market. In 1876 he placed an order with a printer for 4,000 copies of a 1st edition of 176 pages. He mailed 1,000 review copies to business leaders and clergymen. About the same time, S. C. Griggs, a Chicago commercial publisher that had previously rejected the book, agreed to distribute and the edition was gone in a few months. To date more than 2 million copies have been sold. Robert would be remembered for his riches as well as his rules if he had continued to self-publish and kept the commercial people at bay.

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