Post-Fourth of July links

We’re back from our book signing trip and I wanted to post some of the links so I have them in one place. We only went to two cities to sign our history titles: Washington DC and Williamsburg. While in DC we officially signed at the National Archives, and also signed some stock at the Spy Museum, which has a cool bookstore. In Williamsburg, we were at the visitor’s center bookstore for Colonial Williamsburg.

Something strange happened as we were arriving in DC. We got a call from one of the booksellers at the indie bookstore in our town, Malaprops, saying that someone was trying to reach us from The PBS Newshour to see if we were available to do an interview on the signers of the Declaration of Independence. If we did it, this would be our first TV interview. That’s nerve-wracking on its own, but more so in this case because we had packed light for this trip. So, instead of thinking, “Am I prepared to do a national TV interview on a book I wrote three years ago?” I was really just thinking, “Can I get by wearing just my cargo shorts?” Turns out, I could.

I’m sharing the links with you, but please bear in mind I have not seen these clips. I can’t bear to watch them, for the same reason I never listen to our radio interviews in their entirety—because I fear I will suck. And also, when it comes to the signers, we always get angry comments. Over the years, I have just stopped reading to the comments on these things.

The link to the short version (2+ minutes) of the clip is here.

The link to the longer clip (7+ minutes) is here.

The link to the radio interview with Boston NPR is here. (Taped about a month ago; it aired Fourth of July).

The link to the radio interview with Charlotte NPR is here. (Taped three years ago; it was rebroadcast on Fourth of July).

Lastly, here’s the op-ed article we wrote for the Long Island newspaper, Newsday. (Written two weeks ago, it ran Fourth of July).

At the same time, on the marketing side, we got two unexpected plugs from two online retailers. The mail-order catalog Bas Bleu sent this ad out to its subscribers:

And on the Fourth of July, B&N gave the new book a mention on its Facebook page:

So yeah: the week saw an impressive amount of coverage in three media for our three history titles, two of which are “old” books by normal publishing standards.

It’s gratifying. I don’t know if it resulted in huge sales; I’ll need to check Bookscan later this week. In general, these titles have historically been poorly tracked by Bookscan because they sell best in “non-bookstore” venues that do not report to Bookscan or any of the bestseller lists, i.e., museum gift shops.

My friends and family asked over the weekend why I don’t engage with commenters on the websites of these media companies. Wouldn’t my participation help clear up misperceptions?

Here’s the deal. All of these books were written for a popular audience, with heavy doses of humor (Amazon actually classifies the Kindle versions of the two signer books as “political humor”) because that’s what Quirk, our publisher, does best. But no one seems to get that, apparently. Each of the books has managed to attract an audience of lovers and haters who take them very, very seriously. I’ve gotten letters from clergyman who praise the signer books for making the Founding Fathers seem so human, and I’ve gotten angry emails from people who decry our use of “gutter language.”

As a rule, people can’t play nice when it comes to politics, and these books are always perceived as being about modern-day politics. Consequently, the comments on sites that feature these books usually descend into people labeling each other right-wingers or liberals rather than adding anything interesting to the conversation.

I’m a writer, not a historian, so I get uncomfortable when people think I have some kind of political agenda in writing these books. I had the same agenda any writer has: food.