Currently I’m doing little writing, dividing my time between promoting and selling my first book, “War in the Mountains”, while seeking a publisher for the second one just completed. As a new author I’m finding there’s more to writing than sitting at a computer typing a manuscript. Once a book is published it must be presented to the reading public and marketed. But I don’t think exactly in those terms. Rather, I see it more as a nurturing process, striving for wide distribution, getting it into the hands of as many readers as possible.
One goal is to attend at least one event each month. Three weeks ago, I was at a Tennessee Civil War Show where I sold enough books to cover expenses. Equally important, I met many military history aficionados and students of the Civil War, becoming acquainted with those having similar interests. A host of relic-hunters were there who had spent a lifetime digging artifacts from battle locations and encampment sites, and now were displaying the objects on sales tables at the arena. All liked history, and I found myself in conversation with many attendees strolling the aisles. A few were authors like me and shared their experiences doing research and writing. I found it quite rewarding, meeting people, and discussing shared interests. Although most did not buy my book, many were curious, accepting promotional bookmarks and flyers. The numbers showing interest always exceed actual purchasers and days later online sales usually rise as some of those met earlier decide to buy.
When travelling to regional events, I try to stop by museums or historical societies, especially at Asheville, North Carolina, where many of the events in “War in the Mountains” took place. Gun shows here are a favorite venue for me to sell books since local history buffs are good customers. I also intend to place the book at the local genealogical society, the city’s Botanical Gardens (where the Civil War Battle of Asheville was fought), and libraries in the area, many which have a “North Carolina Room” holding troves of regional history documents.
My aim is to place the book in many of these places. While all authors would be thrilled with a best-seller, most know this is unlikely. Yet all writers want their book seen by the greatest number of readers. After years of effort and believing in their work, the author wants it read, appreciated, and perhaps admired. The best chance for this is that the book be widely available at many locations.
With this goal, I try to come up with new ways to get my name before the reading public and promote my work. This includes reading books on the Civil War and writing reviews, trying to be recognized as a commentator on the subject and become better known as an author.
Meanwhile, I’m turning from my first book to a just-completed novel, working to get it in print, wavering between the self-publishing route taken before or trying for a traditional publisher. Either way, I want this to be hard bound with a nice dust cover. With the first book my priority was to just get in print, believing it was an important addition to the Civil War history of Asheville and the surrounding region. Looking back, I’m pleased with the result and the many positive reviews by students of history.
Now that I’ve branched into fiction, I’m enjoying the change. This novel has gone much faster than my first book, mainly because it required minimal research. Whereas “War in the Mountains” was written in homage to Civil War soldiers, my new fictional work was done as a personal challenge, believing I had in me what it took to write a novel.
In little more than a year it was done, a work of pure imagination, a story I enjoy reading myself, which is all a writer could want.