Monday, November 29, 2010

The Cincinnati Subway lives on.

I wrote my first book, The Cincinnati Subway, from late 1997 to 1999. It was published by Arcadia Publishing in 2003. This was the first book ever on the subway. Up until this point, the only information about the subway could be found in some history books and newspaper articles. None of the available sources contained in-depth information.

It was because of this that I decided to write the book. Heck, in 1998, there wasn't a single mention of the subway on the Internet. I felt I was filling a necessary void.

And I did. Since its publication, the book has done very well. It's had six or seven printings now, and by mid 2010 it had sold over 7,000 copies. Pretty nice for a nonfiction regional history book.

In 2009 I was contacted by a local production company producing a documentary about the subway. They wanted to know if I would be interested in appearing on camera for an interview.

Of course, the answer was "Yes."

The company was Time Bonus Productions of Newport, KY. Paige Mallott, the director, had used my Subway book as a reference for the documentary. It took two different days of interviews, but they videotaped me answering questions and discussing different aspects of the subway history.

The documentary premiered in early 2010 on local PBS stations, and as of late 2010, it is still running. I've had several people at work tell me they saw me in the documentary.

It's titled Cincinnati's Abandoned Subway, and information can be found at their website.

In recent weeks, a new book has come out about the subway.

It's interesting that my first reaction to this news was disbelief. I read commentary about it on a blog a few months ago that stated that the "complete history" would be told with new information and a new perspective.

Huh. Thought I told the complete history.

Meanwhile, on a popular transit oriented bulletin board, the author talked about his upcoming book, mentioning that I had neglected a certain amount of source material, and that my book was "error-laden."

Now, I'm not one to pick fights over things like this, but he never did answer my question about what was incorrect about my book. Regarding the source material I had overlooked, it seemed that it was not available at the time of my research in 1998. Had it been in City Hall, I certainly would have used it.

Anyhow, none of this really matters because the book is out now, and can be viewed on amazon. As of this posting, I still have not located it in a bookstore, but possibly it will be turning up sometime.

I used to point to my book and say it was "The book on the subway." Now I say, "The FIRST book on the subway." I will never disparage the book or its author because I'm a grown-up author who knows that there is nothing wrong with multiple books on the same nonfiction subject. In fact, this is a good thing for the reader or researcher. After all, how many books are published on the Civil War? The founding fathers? And so on and so on? Multiple books give multiple points of view about the given subject, and what one book might not cover, the other book probably will.

So, in the end, I don't think the new book will change how my book is selling. And I wish this author all the luck with the publishing of his book.

On another note, I'd like to draw attention to the concept of The Author's Big Mistake. This is when the author personally responds to a negative published review of his book, whether in print or online, i.e. amazon. Readers will have opinions of the books they read and will post them someplace. Obviously, all authors want to see praise. Authors also need to develop thick skin for the occasional negative review. The author must look at a review like this and agree or disagree with it. A negative review can hurt, both pride and sales.

It's when the author responds to one of these reviews is The Author's Big Mistake and must be avoided no matter how much the review stings. A response such as this tends to make the author look kind of immature, especially when he resorts to insults because he is so upset about the review. "How DARE you not like my book?"

The best example happened a few years ago when some negative reviews for a new Anne Rice book popped up on amazon, and Anne Rice responded with angry words, holding nothing back. While this is an extreme case of The Author's Big Mistake, it does show that it can happen even with the most celebrated of authors.

No matter who you are or what you write, there will be readers who don't like your book. You can't control it. Just grow that thick skin and know that for that one reader who didn't like the book, maybe 10 or 20 did like it but didn't say anything about it.


At Friday, March 11, 2011 12:41:00 AM, Blogger Karen Fisher-Alaniz said...

Yikes! I don't even want to think about negative reviews. Hopefully, your post has prepared me just a little though.


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