And Now…Here Comes the Hard Part

Every step of the way, one learns how tough it is to author something worthwhile when starting from a very thin presumption.  A few remote leads start to come together.  The germ of an idea begins and you wonder, “how in the world am I going to get through all of the research?”  Some time later, as the research effort starts moving along, hits a critical mass, and you know you have enough to write about, you say, “And now here comes the hard part; how in the world do I get started committing all this stuff down on paper?”  In a quiet moment, you take the first steps: write an outline, a thesis (subject to change), then a paragraph or two, lots of placeholders, working title (guaranteed to change), continue researching on the fly.

You muster enough courage to start cold-calling strangers and sending out “hail-mary” letters to folks you think are the right people, but can’t quite be sure.  Some respond and turn out to be the nicest, most helpful, and interested people you ever could dream of.  Others never respond or only tacitly.  As you do, the story is a moving target and so is changing often substantially with each new intake of materials. you find it best to work in subassemblies, as with a car or other complex manufactured system.  Your Chapters split, begetting Units when they get too numerous.  Indeed, the story is changing right up to the last minute.  Along the way, you meet a lot of helpful specialists: archivists, genealogists, and reference librarians, every one of them seemingly accustomed to performing underappreciated and tedious digging on behalf of those searching for hanging threads and hoping to pull on the right one.

Years go by.  Finally you have what seems like a finished product, and you appear to have exhausted all of your sources and leads.  There can’t possibly be anything left out there to discover; or can there be?  You say, “And now, here comes the hard part; how in the world am I ever going to find a way to publish this?”  Ultimately, after the repeated disappointments and rejection letters, and asking, “How the Hell can that moron NOT be interested in publishing this?” more than once, you decide to self-publish.  You say, “And now, here comes the hard part; how in the world am I ever going to be able to prepare this manuscript on my own?”  Then, when you believe in the project strongly enough to cash out investments, leave your full-time job, and devote 10-12 hour days for four months straight exclusively to formatting lines, chapters, margins, back matter, front matter, making an index from scratch, editing on the fly, adding new and unforeseen late-breaking revelations and developments, figuring out how the cover should look, and finding a graphic artist to do the cover, finally you have “something.” Flip the switch and you’re live–and published.

And then, you say, “NOW, here comes the hard part; how in the world am I ever going to market and promote this creation?”

And here we are.

This is all new territory.  When you decide to be a writer, you have to be one, not just play at it.  Author’s page.  Personal appearances. P.R.  Book hawking and hustling.  Increasing visibility and presence. Pounding the pavement.  Networking.  Mostly on your own, with some help only from family and loyal friends.  It’s what you signed up for.

This web location is intended to become the central mouthpiece for all developments related to the book, 32 Answered.  If you are interested, please bookmark or otherwise favorite it, and then check back for updates.  This destination will become the sole control point, above and beyond all other social media.  No guarantees of a regular daily or a weekly update cycle, so we’ll just say “periodically” for now.  There are lots of back-stories that pertain to the research adventure, as well as choice bits that did not make it into the book because of space or fit; look for these to be some of the things that get posted here.  I welcome relevant feedback and questions from interested readers.

You may have seen a very successful discussion thread on the historynet forum, below the online article about the Red Arrow Division during the Villa Verde Trail advance (re., the Tracy Derks article, see the “Links” tab to check it out).  A lot of fellow researchers and family members of Red Arrow vets first met one another there and exchanged often valuable information on the thread over the last few years.  I would like to see something similar happen here with this story, and with this site.

[JHC]

30 August 2015

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