Yesterday, on the Ides of March, my book, Forests, Alligators, Battlefields: My Journey through the National Parks of the South, was officially launched – a soft launch.
I’ve published the book independently and it’s been a challenge. Some would soften it and call it a journey – OK, a challenging journey. I loved the traveling, writing, researching, talking to rangers, visitors and park volunteers. I even liked the editing part.
But once I had to deal with design, printers and distributors out in the world, I found myself very frustrated. I hired wonderful expertise but no one could give me a blueprint on how to work with Kindle, Ingram and other technical questions that I never thought about when I had a traditional publisher.
It was important to me to get this book out in 2016, during the National Park Centennial. With so much air time being taken by our presidential elections, the media is only doing a few sensational stories about the large western parks, what I call in the book the YY parks (Yosemite and Yellowstone). But what about Big South Fork National River and Recreational Area or Christiansted National Historic Site? Who’s writing about them?
To the naysayers who told me that there wasn’t an audience for this book or that I couldn’t compete with the YY parks, I smiled, thanked them for their input and moved on.
I’m no longer upset at the publishers and editors who didn’t answer, even after a long email engagement. The best revenge is sending them an announcement about my book launch. I’m confident that I have such a great subject, the national parks, that I’m not too worried about being rejected.
The reviews that have come in so far have been gratifying. Readers really got it. FAB is not a traditional guidebook but my journey through the national parks of the south. Readers meet the rangers, visitors, volunteers and park partners – the people who make the park come alive. Some even forgive me for being a “Yankee” and not being born in the South.
I’m starting a book tour through the South – North and South Carolina, Florida, Tennessee and Georgia. No one invited me to give a talk in the US Virgin Islands, though I would be there in a New York minute.
My first book event is at my home bookstore, Malaprops on Friday April 8 at 7 pm.
I hope to see you there. Can’t make it? Here’s my list of events, so far.