The end of the year is the perfect time to reflect upon the past, learn from its lessons and consider options going forward into a New Year and new decade. In looking back, I must admit 2019 was a roller coaster of a year in terms of publicizing and marketing a new book–my first book.
I have learned a few lessons along the way which I am more than happy to share with you all. First, as Bette Midler sings in her iconic song Friends, “…well you’ve got to have friends.” Fortunately, I am blessed to have a loving and supportive wife, family, and friends. My wife is there to remind me that while publishing a book is an accomplishment, it is just as important not to quit my day job. And if I complain about a lack of time to devote to my new craft, she assures me “the Lord will provide.”
There have been those who have “had my back” during this endeavor including my Social Media consultant, Managing Director of Someddi LLC and childhood friend, Con Sweeney. Mr. Sweeney never ceases to amaze me–he has got such an agile mind, has been part cheerleader and part galley boss coaxing me to continue rowing through rough seas. He has also been there to organize my thoughts and a marketing strategy. If someone had told me at 8 years old that we’d be working together, I would have laughed out loud. My great luck to count him as a business associate and friend.
Let me not forget my writing muses--Anne R. Allen and Ruth Harris. Their role has been to keep me (and other newbie authors) away from the shoals that lie just beneath the water. Every week I wait in eager anticipation for their blog, a blog which is informative, easy to digest and shines a true light on the industry, an industry which can be cruel to the naive and the unsuspecting. Anne and Ruth have kept me focused and realistic on what the craft offers and does not.
I am extending a heavy debt of gratitude to Father Charles Fuld, editor of the Southern Cross newspaper in San Diego, who provided a book review, with Steve Baumann of the Hour of History podcast, Dan Mullins of the My Camino podcast, Steven “birdshooter” Goodrich of the N2Backpacking podcast, Wandy Ortiz of The Tablet newspaper, Chad Olson of the Das Tor newspaper, Jay Artale of BirdsofaFeatherPress, Sean Rice of Follow the Camino and Anthony Perrotta of the Suffolk County News. I am a better person for having met all of you this past year. How wonderful that our Camino experience and book would lead me to you!
Much of the allure of this thing called writing is the journey. Since publishing the book, I have met so many interesting and engaging people–fellow authors, librarians, Rotarians, editors and podcasters to name a few. I also combined one business with another–introducing It’s Your Camino: One Couple’s 500-mile Pilgrimage Across Spain to bookstores in Washington, DC, Los Angeles and even in Brazil! In this respect, the experience has been joyous. It has certainly not been boring. Yet, it has also been humbling in revealing my ignorance. There is so much I don’t know.
Finally, speaking of joyous–perhaps the most wonderful moments of peddling books, getting on the new book circuit, and meeting people is putting the book into the hands of a child or young person. There is no greater happiness than watching a child’s eyes grow wide as he/she stares at the cover and opens the book in amazement and curiosity. It takes me back to the magic spell which books put on me–in the small neighborhood library on Flatbush Avenue Brooklyn, where the contents within covers would take me around the world or to different planets, so far away from the drab urban row houses and concrete jungle of the city.
I leave you with the example of Alicia, a teenage girl who was eyeing It’s Your Camino at our booth at the church fair. She kept returning to our booth, picking up the book, smiling as she went from one page and photo to another, asking my wife and I questions about our 500-mile pilgrimage in Spain. She would leave only to return. Finally, she brought her mother who made the purchase. Alicia seemed like the happiest girl in the world. Returning an hour or so later, she gifted us a sketch which was genuine and touching, I keep it in my writing folder. Moments like these make putting pen to paper worthwhile.