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Build It and They May Not Come

Field of Dreams. Photo (2006). Madmaxmarchhare of English Wikipedia. Wikimedia Commons.
Field of Dreams. Photo (2006). Madmaxmarchhare of English Wikipedia. Wikimedia Commons.

I decided to become my own publisher (Yooper Publications) when I realized I was going to write an entire series of walking tour books based on European cities and their historical events and historical periods of time.

I’ve learned a lot

I entered the fifth and final phase of the publishing spectrum the moment we published (and picked up) the first book, Where Did They Put the Guillotine? —A Walking Tour of Revolutionary Paris (1789–1794)–Volume One. This final component is the marketing and public relations portion of my journey. In other words, getting people to become aware my books exist. You remember the movie where they build the baseball field in the middle of the Iowa cornfield? It was the “build it and they will come” type of mentality. Well, not true in the case of trying to sell one’s book in an industry where 2.2 million books come on the market each year (walk through Books A Million sometime and take a look at the competition—that should sober up every aspiring author).

Anyway, we’ve been doing digital/social marketing strategy now for 18 months trying to build an audience (a “tribe” in industry vernacular). It’s working but not fast enough (at least for me). So now I’m hitting all the independent bookstores I can find. Most of these bookstore owners chuckle when I hand them my book. I know what they’re thinking.

I bought thousands and thousands of email addresses of French teachers in the United States. I thought our team was brilliant to do that—to me it made a lot of sense. We built up the teachers’ expectations and then we hit them with the big announcement that the book was available. We got NOTHING. I was given a reason for the disappointing results but I’m not going to print them here. I guess our ad in the quarterly French Review periodical that goes out to all the French teachers won’t go over either—so much for our expectations. Oh well, on to the next big idea.

Now the thing to do is to go out and gobble up some speaking engagements and sell these books I have in my garage. I told Stephanie that I don’t know how to get these gigs. All I want to do is get the third book finished so I can meet my publisher’s deadline of getting it published by the end of the first quarter 2015 and then begin writing the fourth book. She told me to quit whining because even Stephen King has to do book signings these days to sell his books. Not too sure I believe that pep talk. PastedGraphic-1

Well, I’m excited that the companion book, Marie Antoinette’s Last Ride, will be published and available by December 21st. I’m on track to get the first draft of the third book to my editor by January 2, 2015. This book, Where Did They Burn the Last Grandmaster of the Knights Templar? —A Walking Tour of Medieval Paris is targeted for publication by April 1, 2015. I’m also getting excited to begin the research on the fourth book, Where Did They Put the Gestapo Headquarters? —A Walking Tour of Nazi Occupied Paris (1940–1944). The target publication date for this book is November 2015. I think doing 2 books each year is doable.

Stay tuned and let me know of any independent book stores you think might like to carry my books. I don’t care if they giggle at me.

Do we have a lot of stories? Of course we do. I’m looking forward to sharing these with you. Please continue to visit our newsletter and blog. Perhaps you’d like to subscribe so that you don’t miss out on the most recent newsletter and blog posts.

Thanks so much for following my newsletter and blogs as well as my little journey through this incredibly interesting process of writing a series of niche walking tour books based on European historical periods or events.


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Copyright © 2014 Stew Ross

One thought on “Build It and They May Not Come

  1. The fabulous pictures in the book pull you into the stories. I’ll never visit Paris again without understanding more about its fascinating history. Tell me more!

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