Saturday, December 27, 2008
This was my first time in a pure retail environment on my own. Sure, I've done bookstores, but they've done networking, advertising, store signage and word of mouth to publicize my visits. But in the BX, I was truly on my own - I had to set up the table every morning and spend the day there, putting together an eye-catching display while also trying to make eye contact myself.
I don't come from a sales background, but I almost immediately began getting into the psychology and physics of sales. I was always sizing up shoppers as they came near my table, looking for likely history enthusiasts (generally seniors) or spouses of them (generally middle-aged wives). If they'd look with interest at my book poster, I'd have a look ready that said "Come on over - let's talk about it!" I'd get signage on my poster at eye level that I hoped would further interest them, such as "Featuring Fort Crook" (the original post at Offutt).
I also found myself getting more aggressive, not necessarily with the other temporary vendors since we didn't have similar products, but in fighting for my "turf." My original spot was right in the middle of the BX - people couldn't help but see me as they came in and sales were good. When I got moved to a less visible spot and saw an immediate reduction in sales, I fought with management to get moved back. I even took issue with an aggressive VFW recruiter who was stopping shoppers and blocking the view of my table!
After a few weeks of selling just the book (I was there off and on about 12 times from mid-November to Christmas Eve), I got frustrated and began looking for additional items to sell. My publisher balked at my selling other books in their catalog, so I came up with note cards featuring the forts and even developed my own poster for the forts of Nebraska. Both of them sold pretty well!
I loved talking with the customers. A number of them said the book was just what they were looking for, and others couldn't wait to present their loved ones and friends with the book. THAT was quite an unusual feeling on Christmas, knowing that people were getting my book under the tree!
I also enjoyed talking with the temporary vendors. I learned quite a bit about the profitability and the struggles of making a living that way, but also met some enjoyable people in the month and a half. I'll probably try this again, maybe for Father's Day in June.
Thanks to all for checking in. Hope you had a great Christmas and I wish all of you a very Happy New Year!
Sunday, December 14, 2008
What REALLY jogged me to write this morning was a call I received last night from "The Godfather." Herb Hart wrote THE books on the forts back in '60s and '70s when he was a major in the Marines. He retired as a colonel but is still active in the preservation and promotion of the forts, only just recently retiring as secretary of the Council on America's Military Past (CAMP) and editor of its newsletter at age 80.
But anyway, the unexpected call from my friend was to make sure that I had plans to attend the biennial history conference up at Fort Robinson in April, since he was to be the Guest of Honor this year! I had already planned to attend, but knowing that honor was awaiting Herb makes it even more special.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
It HAS been a busy past month with signings and presentations. In the past weeks I've had a signing at the Council Bluffs Barnes and Noble, done a number of signings at the Offutt AFB base exchange (and will continue to do so through the holidays), and gave presentations for a Lewis & Clark Foundation chapter in CB as well as a retirement center in CB.
I'm pretty sure I didn't plan for November to be "Council Bluffs Month," but that's how it's turned out, and actually it continues into December. I go back across the river on Saturday, Dec. 6, for my "Forts of Omaha and Council Bluffs" presentation at the Western Historic Trails Center and their holiday celebration weekend.
It's been good to highlight Council Bluffs as the city was the site of two forts (the Council Bluffs Blockhouse and Fort Croghan) that are featured in my book. These sites don't get a lot of attention in the history of the Plains Indian wars since they were small, short-lived, were built to separate warring tribes, and - frankly - because they were in Iowa. The "Hawkeye" forts generally aren't included in histories of the wars as they were built during a time when the U.S. government wasn't in an active war against the tribes - which is not to say they should be neglected or forgotten. I think they do help tell the story of the plains forts and am glad I expanded the book to cover them and I hope you can come to the Trails Center on Dec. 6 to hear about the ones in Council Bluffs.
In my other December appearances, I'll be at the Stuhr Museum in Grand Island on Sunday, Dec. 14, to do a signing for their member holiday celebration, as well as about half a dozen more appearances at Offutt. Remember, you can always visit Booktour.com to find out where I'll be!
What else is in the works? It looks like I'll travel to Beatrice in April for a presentation at the Homestead National Monument and that same month for a presentation at a history conference at Fort Robinson. I'm also putting together a day-long bus tour for Metropolitan Community College in June that will cover the four fort sites of Omaha.
I'm looking at creating postcards and bookmarks with images of some of the forts for one thing. The photos from the book, which is printed in black and white, do look better in color and I think there might be a market for them. And I'll also be continuing my freelance writing - got to pay those bills!
Thanks for checking in. Hope you and yours have a great Thanksgiving!
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
I'm glad we did - it was a fascinating presentation. Dean is a native Nebraskans who, after a few years in the corporate world, decided to quit his job, sell his house and travel the world. To maximize his travel, he knew that he'd have to live very cheaply - $10-15 a day. That meant that he'd be traveling among people who also lived, traveled, and ate simply. We heard some amazing stories and saw some fantastic photos for about two hours. The big message, though, was to follow your dream and don't let anyone get in the way of it.
That's something I've come to appreciate more and more in the past few weeks. I've always written for a living, but hoped someday to have written books, to do some freelance writing, and maybe even do some speaking. I'm doing that NOW and I'm not even quite sure how I got here! Well, I do know, but it still strikes me as strange that I am living my dream.
Anyway, I did thank Dean for the presentation and affirmation of following one's dream. Do take some time to visit his site at http://www.travel4life.org/. I've done what Dean has done, although certainly not on his scale. In 1980, I quit my radio announcer job in Lincoln, sold my possessions and went hitchhiking to Montana for one of the most enjoyable months of my life. I was living for probably $4-5 a day and one night even slept under an interstate bridge! THAT is living cheap, my friends.
I should add that Nancy (the executive director of the site) was a very gracious host and even gave me a little introduction for my presentation there next year. She also got some books for their book section.
Yesterday I decided to do some "cold calling" on the area museums before the rain started in for the week. I made stops at the Sarpy County Museum and Cass County Museums to let them know about the book as well as my availability as a speaker; the head person wasn't in in either case, but I left information and will follow up.
While in Plattsmouth, I saw a sign indicating the Missouri-Platte Confluence site. I've lived here all of my life and have a strong attachment to both rivers, but I'd never seen the confluence. I drove northeast of Plattsmouth for about three miles and arrived at a little pull-off area at the meeting point of the rivers. It really is an impressive sight - two great rivers, both with a staggering amount of history, at their meeting point. I didn't have the Nikon, but had my little Sony with me and snapped a few.
I finished the afternoon with a stop at the Western Historic Trails Center in Council Bluffs and got a date for my presentation and booksigning there - Saturday, Dec. 6, at 2 p.m. for the "Holidays on the Trail" event. Hope to see you there!
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Sunday, October 12, 2008
This is no easy feat, if I do say so myself. First off, they only add to the bureau every two or three years; I made my application right at the end of their review period (and probably should have been too late). The NHC is also very selective about who they add and the topics covered. But the NHC's Mary Yager was able to see my talk at Lee Bookseller's in Lincoln in September, make a positive review, and get me into the organization's next catalog. You can also find me on the NHC website.
There are a number of positive things about being with the NHC. It makes my program ("The Forts of Nebraska") available to non-profit groups around the state that wouldn't otherwise have funds to bring me to their community. It's an added way to get my name out there. And it's a bit of a plus to my resume when I offer to speak with other groups.
I'm really looking forward to it. I love Nebraska and its history, and the opportunity to travel around the state for it's promotion makes me a pretty lucky guy.
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Saturday, October 4, 2008
I made a stop in Windom, Minn., at the Cottonwood County Museum. I left a copy of "Forts" for review in stocking at their gift shop, and a couple employees decided to go ahead and buy while I was there. I left information at the Jeffers Petroglyph site, too, since the supervisor was out - that's kind of what I had to deal with throughout the weekend as most sites were closed either for the week or for the year.
That "mixed bag" carried throughout but it turned out to be a pretty good weekend sales-wise, though; I ended up selling around 25 by just popping in and talking with people. Some sites weren't interested, some took information, some bought five, and one site (Kandiyohi County Historical Society) bought ten. I even got it into the store at the Charles A. Lindbergh House in Little Falls (left), and that has nothing to do with the forts or the Indian wars!
Thursday night was my presentation on the "Lost Forts of the Northern Plains" at my Westerners corral. This was one of the first talks I had set up earlier in the year, after Paul Hedren volunteered to put together the speakers for the year and knew I had a book on the way. I said "OK," even though I hadn't really done any public speaking at that point but figured I'd better get used to it.
Well, I've found out that I actually enjoy doing these talks! And Thursday was a fun one - I passed along info that my fellow Westerners hadn't heard about, and even got some laughs in places. Book sales were very good following the presentation, and I even picked up a speaking gig for November. Other members told me they were enjoying the book; one told me he was finished and looking forward to the next one (which I can hopefully get a good chunk of completed this winter).
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Wednesday I was the guest author on the Petticoats and Pistols blog, talking about forts and why some were still about and some were gone. P&P was founded by a group of women who write romance set in the Wild West and I got some GREAT questions from the group. It was a fun day answering them and getting more exposure for the book - Mary Connealy of P&P said they got around 2,300 hits for the day which is phenomenal!
I followed up with an email to Mary Yager from the Nebraska Humanities Council this week - I had been asking about getting added to the council's speakers list and she came to see me at Lee Booksellers in Lincoln last Sunday.
Well, she apparently liked the program - she said she'd be sending me a speaker's agreement in the mail soon! This is a BIG deal - the NHC is the source for speakers in Nebraska if you want to know its history and heritage, and to be asked to join them is GREAT for my budding career (and isn't it nice to be "budding" at 50?) I'm coming right at the tail end of their putting together the current list for the speakers bureau as well; they only do this every two to three years, and the "auditions" concluded earlier this summer. Mary made an exception in my case since the forts are so essential to the history of the state, so I am VERY appreciative.
Had a great signing at my brother Rodger's Borders store at 132nd and West Maple last night. They were already low in inventory before the signing, so I brought my own inventory to sell and ended up selling in the double digits. A couple friends stopped by - Lori Grinvalds from my hometown of Yutan and Tim Ryan from my wife's workplace. Business REALLY dropped off for the second half, though - must have been the debate keeping people home!
I'm off to Minnesota for the weekend - visiting the family cabin, but stopping to visit museums and historical organizations on the way up and back to "spread the gospel" of Forts! This week is also my presentation on the "Lost Forts of the Northern Plains" for my Westerners group to which I am REALLY looking forward - I expect I'll have some things they haven't seen or heard of before!
Monday, September 22, 2008
Last Tuesday I had a speaking engagement with the Retired Omaha City Employees, a presentation my Aunt Shirley had helped set up... but then I had accidentally scheduled it for when she was in Florida!
I got there early to set up the Power Point and the room was already packed - I had heard they liked history, but enough to get there a half-hour early? Nope, they just like to get there early - the organizer told me that the restaurant had even asked that the retirees PLEASE hold off on their arrival so the staff could set up the room, but they still get there early to visit.
There was close to 70 people in the room! I had around 40 books with me and was somewhat worried that I could run out. Anyway, the presentation on "The Forts of Omaha and Council Bluffs" went well, I took a few questions and then set up to the side to sell and sign books. I only sold one book! A couple guys came over to talk history and I may have another speaking gig, but still disappointing for such a large group.
Much better on Saturday - Sue and I went down to Nebraska City for a signing at the Book Clinic, a bookstore in our former doctor's offices (Keitha Thomson - Dr. Thomson's wife - is one of the owners). After breakfast with our friends Scott and Joyce Harpster, we went to the store and were happy to find about a dozen books already waiting for signatures!
This was the Applejack weekend and traffic was pretty steady throughout the morning. I ended up seeing a lot of friends come in - Tom & Cathy Boeche, Mike Redelfs, Kent Schwartz, Linda Sedlacek, Brian Volkmer - and met a lot of new people. We ended up selling 35 copies, which is the best since the "coming out" party at the General Crook House. Fun time at the Book Clinic - hope to be back soon!
(Oh, and if you read the article in the Nebraska City News-Press, you can take it with a grain of salt - I'm saying it was "based on a true story," as the writer took a lot of liberties. Keitha was wondering why it didn't mention the signing, which was the reason I wanted the article in the first place!)
Sunday had us off to Lincoln for a presentation/reading/signing at Lee Booksellers, one of the state's best independent stores. Jim McKee was a great host and provided a fine introduction - I yodelled for about a half hour about the book and the history of the forts, read the chapter on Fort Sidney and told the story of U.S. Grant's visit to Fort Sanders. With the pre-sold books, I think we sold around 20 copies, a very respectable turnout!
I also made contact with a representative from the Nebraska Humanities Council whom I've been visiting with via email, and also with Lori McAlister from the Barneston Otoe-Missouria Reservation Heritage Project. I'm certain my family has some relation with the Barneses of Barneston - this might be a good way to find out by getting involved with the group.
On Wednesday I'm the guest blogger at petticoatsandpistols.com, a web blog site for mostly female western romance writers. They saw the feature article about me in the Omaha World-Herald and asked if I'd be willing to sit in this Wednesday and talk about forts. Absolutely! Hope all of you tune in!
On Friday I'm at the Borders at 132nd & West Maple from 7 pm to 9. Hope to see you there as well!
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Second question I get: Am I gaining fame and fortune on it? Yes and no - yes in that I'm more famous among my family and friends than ever! No in that I've got a LONG way to go before I make money on it.
And that's why I'm trying to make as many appearances and get as much publicity as I can right now. The one way I CAN make money is by selling the book directly to individuals (I get a 50 percent discount from Stackpole) and occasionally finding speaking gigs that pay. This helps to recoup some of my gas money and research fees from the past few years AND the more books sold, the faster I can get the advance paid back and actually get some checks in from the publisher.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Sunday, August 17, 2008
Friday had stopping in Jamestown for an interview with Keith Norman from the Sun at Fort Seward. Keith is active in the promotion of the fort site AND owns the Great stories Book Shoppe in town (he bought three copies from me for the store to sustain until more came in). I was then off to Bismarck to see my good friend Chris Johnson, now the acting director of the museum at the state Heritage Center. I got a behind-the-scenes tour of the museum, including a visit to the gun vault - here I am holding an 1870 Springfield. Had a signing at the Barnes & Noble that evening, but it was pretty light in selling three books (I blame Michael Phelps).
Yesterday I was out to Fort Buford for their 26th annual encampment. I gave a presentation in the sun (no Power Point) on the "lost" forts of the northern plains - those that almost didn't make the book because I either didn't think there were any signs that they existed OR that I didn't even know they existed. A little challenging without the slides to back me up, but it went well and sold - three copies!
Hope I don't sell just three copies EVERY time I stop. Better luck today in Medora, where I'm at the Western Edge bookstore and the Chateau de Mores State Historical Site.
Saturday, August 9, 2008
Most of my activity in the past week or so has been in filling out dates for my first book tour to the Dakotas. The tour starts Thursday, Aug. 14, at Fort Abercrombie in Abercrombie, ND - the fort is the cover of the book and it sounds like I'll have a nice little welcome there. Jim Acker, the site superintendent for the fort, has me in presentations at 3 and 7 p.m. and in between, he said they're planning a reception! I am really looking forward to this - I can't wait to see the new visitor center, but also to meet old and new friends.
Following Ft. Aber, I'll have stops in Bismarck, Fort Buford, Chateau de Mores State Historic Site and Western Edge Bookstore in Medora, ND, Prairie Pages in Pierre, SD and maybe a couple other stops. I plan to file reports along the way, so keep checking in!
I had a signing today at the Confluence Bookstore in Bellevue, actually a "wine & sign" event with a number of authors and artists. We were each given the opportunity to speak about our books - which I did - and got several great questions. I ended up selling 11 books, which was pretty good for the number of emails I sent out! Susan and daughter Megan were there, as were my parents, my Aunt Shirley, and friend Paul Nyholm. A lot of history lovers were there, too - a fun day!
Saturday, July 26, 2008
The Yutan visit was supposed to be a photo op - I had donated a copy of the book to the public library there and the town newspaper (the Connection) wanted to get a photo. I got a surprise - instead of one or two people there, about a dozen people from Yutan were there including my fifth-grade teacher Mrs. Stange, my long-time classmate Carole Anderson and many more from my childhood! I ended up selling all of the books I had in my car (5) and still need to deliver a couple more! It was a fun hour at the library - they pulled a couple yearbooks to show me my photo (so much for forgetting THOSE mug shots) and then we took the newspaper pic.
Then made it to B&N for the 1 p.m. signing. Marcia, Virginia and Bob were there to greet me and help out - great hosts! My son Chris and friend Matt were there early; Matt bought a book and we took a photo for posterity.
I was scheduled for two hours but ended up staying through 4 as friends continued to stop by and others with an interest in the Indian Wars wanted to visit - I sold 17 books which made me happy (more than 10 at a store like B&N is good).
Friday, July 25, 2008
I'm getting a photo taken tomorrow (Saturday) in Yutan for donating a copy of the book to the town library. Yutan is my hometown and the local newspaper wants a shot of my presenting the book. And then I'm off to my signing at the Oakview Barnes & Noble.
The previous posting talked about my numbers with Amazon - they actually got better! Amazon had the book ranked at #27,318 in sales and it was #3 in books about the Reconstruction (post-Civil War), #6 in books about the West, and #10 in books about tourist destinations and museums. It naturally changed the next hour, but I'm glad I got to see it!
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
First off, in overall Amazon.com Sales Rank, "Forts" was #53,804 in Books - that's a HUGE leap over a couple of days ago when it was 700,000 something (and it was 1.4 million a few weeks ago). So I guess that means I maybe sold five copies this week as opposed to just one! JUST KIDDING
The book is also ranked #10 in books on the Reconstruction, #25 in books on the old west, and #26 on books for tourist destinations and museums.
Coupled with Kyle telling me a couple days ago that we've already sold a thousand copies, and Fort Hartsuff letting me know they've already had to place a second order, it's been a great week!
Sunday, July 20, 2008
Yesterday was my second signing, and first bookstore appearance, with my talk at the Bookworm in Omaha. That is a wonderful independent bookstore and was the first site I booked for appearances. The talk started with only a couple people (including my wife and one of my best friends) but the seats started to fill once I started talking and we had close to 15 when it ended. I sold books to about a third of them, which wasn't bad, but the best thing is that I got more practice time at speaking, which is always good.
Next week: Barnes & Noble
Thursday, July 17, 2008
And, this really made me happy: I sold a copy to someone in Spain! I've been listing the books on eBay (with a portion of the sales going to help the Council on America's Military Past) and this guy in Madrid bought one. He's interested in learning more about American forts, and when I wrote to him and asked how he'd like the book inscribed, he was shocked to find out he was talking with the author.
Saturday is my presentation at the Bookworm along with a signing. I'm really looking forward to it - the owners are very nice people and the patrons are very loyal. They've told me sales have been going well leading up to the signing. The Bookworm also carries Nebraska Life magazine, which I've done a couple articles for, including one on Fort Atkinson in the July/Aug issue. The Bookworm is a big fan of the magazine, another reason to love this store!
Monday, July 14, 2008
The presentation was held in the parlor of the Crook House, which made it fairly intimate and personable in that it can't seat more than 50 people. About 15 minutes before the presentation was to start, there were only a couple of people in the house but it soon started to fill and by show time, we had a full parlor! I gave my dog-and-pony show, then my daughter Jesan sang "Shenandoah" (she's a mezzo soprano) to conclude the event.
We repeated it an hour later for family and friends and then held a "coming out" party for the book (In return for my giving the lecture for free, the historical society let me have the reception). I had my folks there, Sue and the kids, many relatives and many friends. We were honored to have Sen. Ben Nelson (the foreword author) stop by, make a few remarks and sign a few books; also there were friends Omaha city councilman Jim Suttle and western history author Paul Hedren.
It was a great day - "General Crook" was there in uniform to welcome guests, I saw friends and relatives I hadn't seen for years, and it was the best day of sales yet for "Forts"!
Thursday, July 10, 2008
I'm very happy about this. Stackpole released 72 new titles for the fall season, most of which cover their stock in trade. They have the very popular "Stackpole Military History Series" which covers World War II in depth and has almost two dozen new books in that, plus a good number of new books on fly fishing, crafts and mid-Atlantic tourism (Stackpole is in Pennsylvania). "Forts" isn't a featured new title on their home page and as the Midwest population is quite a bit lower than the mid-Atlantic, I can't complain!
Saturday, July 5, 2008
Went down to the Ralston parade later to meet with Sen. Ben Nelson, ex-boss and foreword writer. He signed a few copies for my mom to use for fundraisers and expressed his hope to make it for the July 13 event at Fort Omaha. Hope so, but he's a busy guy!
Great time with the Barnes clan out at the family farm with brother Rick manning the grill. Mom continues to be my best personal sales rep as she passed along the names of other neighbors needing copies - I also donated one to the hometown (Yutan) library.
Today I was doing some photography for Nebraska Life magazine down at Indian Cave State Park, about an hour and a half from home. I got some great shots, including a "fire halo" from one of the blackpowder reenactor's pistols which I've NEVER been able to get before. Nice day - until I attempted to download the memory card and a glitch wiped out EVERYTHING on it! I felt sick (and still do). Can't bill for photos that don't exist, but still want them. I almost wished I was still shooting in film!
Saturday, June 28, 2008
For this trip, I've visited Forts Sedgwick, Morgan, Collins, Vasquez, Lupton, Weld and Logan. Most of these only have markers, but I was very excited to see that a local non-profit is rebuilding Fort Lupton! It should be complete by the time this book comes out and it will be a beautiful little adobe post, kind of a scaled-down Bent's Old Fort.
Something I've learned on this trip, and am kicking myself and hard: If you have a book to sell, BRING THE BOOK. I brought ONE copy just to show potential sources what the end result was going to look like, and all of the people I told about it wanted to buy one! I probably could have sold at least 15 copies.
It never occurred to me that people who work at forts are interested in other forts - just because I didn't mention Colorado forts in the book doesn't mean that people in Colorado aren't intereted. In fact, a number of places with sales outlets plan to stock the book on their shelves. Sweet!
I saw that while I was out that James Acker, the new site supervisor at Fort Abercrombie, sent me an email regarding their sales (Fort Aber is one the cover). He said four copies were sold as soon as the box was opened!
I think I've hit all of the forts I'm going to in Colorado now, so all that's left is my mega trip to Texas and three forts in New Mexico. When THAT all happens, I know not. Would be great if gas prices dropped back to FNP levels!
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Robert Utley wrote "It is handsome in appearance and splendid in content. Congratulations on a notable work. I hope it does well."
And Herb Hart said "Congratulations on the book! It ruined my plans last night as I stayed awake most of the night reading it."
THAT is high praise! I wonder if there are any book awards for "Plan Ruiner of the Year"?
Well, whatever it takes to sell books, I'm all for it!
Monday, June 23, 2008
Speaking of Amazon, the book was actually sold out for the first couple days so BIG thanks to everyone who had pre-ordered and got the deep discounted price. I noticed that Amazon raised their price after the book came out (naturally) but was surprised they raised it once again when the book was back in stock. I'll take that to mean it's somewhat in demand!
I've been busy promoting the book where I can and succeeded in getting booked as a guest for KFAB's "Good Morning Show" for Friday, July 4, at 8:30 a.m. I might miss some people leaving town for the weekend, but KFAB listeners are an intelligent group and just the people I'm looking for.
I've got a couple other appearance opportunities that might happen IF I can make it work out with my freelancing, but not sure yet. That includes the earlier-mentioned signings at Offutt which may have to wait until later this fall.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
I've been looking for the UPS truck since last Friday and bugging Kyle about it. He finally checked on the tracking number and emailed back that it was to be at my place today. It got to be after 6:30 p.m. and Sue and I finally decided to go to dinner. We left the neighborhood, taking a route we rarely take, and saw the UPS truck turning up a street! I circled around and asked if he had a delivery for my address - not one, but two boxes.
It looks good. I'm a pretty happy guy right now. And my Celtics just won the NBA Championship!
Saturday, June 14, 2008
The day started out with a UPS shipment from Stackpole Books - not the first copies of "Forts of the Northern Plains" I was hoping for but about 50 copies of the cover! I wanted one to frame, but not quite sure what I'll do with the rest.
I may also have found the location for the "family & friends" kick-off event for the book, which is also a speaking engagement for the general public. I spoke with Betty Davis, executive director of the Douglas County Historical Society, and am signed up to present at their "Second Sunday Talk" on Sunday, July 13, at the General Crook House at Fort Omaha and can follow up the talk with the kick-off event.
The "Second Sunday Talk," coincidentally, will help the society celebrate the 140th anniversary of Fort Omaha, now the home of Metropolitan Community College and one of the most beautiful of the Northern Plains forts. I grew up just blocks from the fort as well, so this visit is much appreciated.
Finally, I spoke with the manager of the base exchange for Offutt AFB in Bellevue (the site of Fort Crook) about a signing there. I was told before speaking to her to ask for the first Saturday after the retirees get their checks, but the manager wants me there for THREE days of that week, or even the full week if I want! They're pretty excited about the book for the history-loving members of the base - I am, too.
I'm visiting both forts on Monday to work out the details. Hopefully, I'll have the first copies of the book in hand to take along.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
That was a good question - I was so excited to see both showing up in searches for other sites like Amazon and Barnes & Noble that I never stopped to wonder why www.fortsofthenorthernplains.com wasn't showing up.
So a good portion of my day today was spent learning about "meta tags" and "keywords" and how to add them to my site so that it WILL show up in searches and I'll get more hits. Go Daddy's marketing talked me into adding something called "Traffic Blazer" to boost it even more, so I should know by this evening if it's all working.
I also added a "security certificate" to the site so people can order with confidence. So please order with confidence! ;-)
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
The first - on Saturday, Sept. 20 - is for The Book Clinic in Nebraska City. This is a pretty special place for myself and my wife Susan; while I was a reporter at the Nebraska City News-Press, this building was the location of the pediatrician for our four kids - in fact, I heard my son Chris's first heartbeat here!
Our doctor's wife, Keitha Thomson, opened the store in 1999 and it is a really neat little bookseller. I'm very happy to be at the store during the annual Apple Jack Festival, an event I covered many years as a News-Press reporter and participated in as a Nebraska City Jaycee. Susan and I have many friends in the town and hope to see many there that day.
The second - on the following day, Sunday, Sept. 21 - is for Lee Booksellers at 56th and Highway 2 in Lincoln. I'll confess that I haven't been to the store (yet!) but understand that husband and wife Jim McKee and Linda Hillegass have built a very successful, 28-year-old business. They are big on local interest titles, so I hope "Forts of the Northern Plains" does well for them!
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
I sent postcards out a few weeks ago to friends, my contacts at the forts, and bookstores in the region. Friday I sent out links to my new website at http://www.fortsofthenorthernplains.com/ to make it easier to share information and hopefully spur some online sales. So far, I've sold three books! But it'll increase once the book is out.
I've received e-mails from a couple of the forts asking about making appearances at their locations. I'd like to do it, so right now I'm working at filing in points before, between and after and do an official book tour - wish me luck.
I'm, of course, also working on getting book signings lined up locally. I've got three set so far (two in Omaha, one in Nebraska City) and have a speaking engagement, but let me know if you have any suggestions.
Thanks for reading - I'll add more as the news happens!