Saturday, July 26, 2008

Barnes and Yutan, Then Barnes & Noble

I had two things going on today: a visit to my "second" hometown of Yutan, Neb., and a signing at Barnes & Noble at Oakview Mall.

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

A Couple of Media Opportunities

Yesterday I had phone interview with the Wahpeton Daily News of Wahpeton, ND, about "Forts" - they're very interested in the book since the cover features nearby Fort Abercrombie. I, of course, had great things to say about the fort and North Dakota! Fort Abercrombie, incidentally, was selected because of the blockhouse and stockade wall - with the flag in the background, it definitely looks like a fort! You don't need to be able to read to determine that's what the book is about. The wheat growing in the foreground obviously makes the statement this is on the plains as well. But it was a good interview with Erin Hevern and hope it brings more attention to the book.

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

A "Top Ten" in Amazon!

I checked Amazon this a.m. and got a couple of nice surprises!

First off, in overall 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

Great news from Fort Hartsuff

Just heard from Mary Hughes out at Fort Hartsuff (near Burwell, NE) - she said the book has been selling well and she's placed her second order in less than a month! That is great news, especially from a great little fort site like Hartsuff.

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

Going great on Amazon!

I just looked at Amazon - it says "Only 1 left in stock--order soon (more on the way)." THAT is something that is good to see! Kyle says Amazon has been ordering regularly, as have Baker & Taylor and Ingram, the two big distributors.

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

Presenting at the Crook House

A big day for the book yesterday: I had my very first public presentation! This was for the Douglas County Historical Society's "Second Sunday Talk" at the General Crook House at Fort Omaha - I got booked for the program only a couple weeks ago, but as I had already been working on a Power Point of "The Forts of Omaha and Council Bluffs," I jumped at the opportunity to give it a test drive.

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

Movin' On Up!

I occasionally check the Amazon rankings to see how the book is doing. I don't know how many copies have actually been sold, but I can see where it ranks in relation to other books. Yesterday was a good day - For the first time (as far as I know), "Forts" was ranked in the top ten of new titles from Stackpole Books!

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

Fourth of July weekend - It's ups and downs (so far)

The Fourth was great! My interview on KFAB's "Good Morning Show" with Roger Olson and Scott Vourhees came off well (i.e., no crash and burn). Roger opened with how we got our "Blind Roger" and "Blind Jeff" tags from regular host Gary Sadlemeyer. We talked about visiting the forts that are close to home, especially Fort Atkinson, and Roger talked about my article in Nebraska Life on the fort. Scott needed some clarification on Fort Omaha, so I talked about its role in the Plains Indian Wars, then we talked about the living history demonstrations at Forts Atkinson, Kearny and Hartsuff. Ended up with some plugs for the Bookworm and my website, as well as Amazon sales. Fun time! Greg Wagner from Nebraska Game and Parks was on next - we talked for quite a bit in the hallway and I gave him a copy for reference (and for possible future sales at their visitor center). And, when I got home, there was a online sale waiting for me from a listener in Plattsmouth!

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!