Talking to People About My Book

It’s almost October and my book is still scheduled to be available in December. The last thing I did with the actual manuscript was proof the index. That was a weird experience, seeing the big story carved up into key words and names. This week I saw the mock-up of the whole book jacket, and I made some requests about changing the wording of the synopsis. Then there was a little thing about the author photo, which I’ll address in a different post.

Now all of that work is done and the only thing left is promotion–talking to people about my book, hoping they will be interested enough to buy it.

At a small social function this past weekend, I had my first chance to talk to strangers about my book. I brought along some photocopies of the cover art to hand out in case the conversation turned to what I do for a living. It’s a pretty nifty, eye-catching cover.

Angels cover

The first person who looked at it, did a double take, and said to me that no such women existed. I’m pretty sure the look I gave him in return was very much like this:

goat

I emphasized that I am a historian, that I spent years researching the topic–including a trip to the National Archives–so I know these women did, in fact, exist. He gave a small shrug, folded up the piece of paper, put it in his pocket, and walked away to talk to someone else.

Later in the evening, a woman and her husband picked up one of the photocopies, admired the artwork, and asked if this was a real book. I knew exactly what they meant. Still, my covert reaction was:

Shocked-Alaskan-Malamute

They wanted to know, by using the word “real,” if the book was self-published or commercially published. I bragged on Oxford for a bit, and we all had a wonderful conversation about good nonfiction history books and about the need for more unconventional war stories. They kept one of the photocopies, too, and made sure to note my e-mail address so we could stay in touch.

I hope to have lots more conversations with many more people about the book. Hopefully, it won’t be too long before I stop being startled all the time.

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