Well now, it's been a whole six weeks since Contact Sport, A Story of Champions, Airwaves, and a One-Day Race Around the World was released. There was a significant burst of activity worldwide from the super-prime core audience, namely radiosport enthusiasts, in spite of the fact that physical copies of the hard-cover book took over a month to reach European distributors! Two incredibly positive reviews appeared almost immediately, based on the Advanced Reader Copies (ARCs) that had been sent out in advance: The most important appeared in Scientific American's February 2016 issue
and another within an amateur radio magazine in the February issue of CQ magazine. Another major review will be coming out in the more widely read amateur radio publication, QST, (circulation well over 100,000) in the May issue. I'm told it's "very positive" but have not seen it yet.
My consultants at Greenleaf Book Group have drilled into me that a monthly email newsletter is important: "Make it newsy, make it only once a month." A key word here is "email." I'm instructed not to send out too many emails, since people tire of that. Instead, or perhaps in addition, they insist that I roll out two blogs a month (this is the second blog for March, even though it will hit in early April) and distribute them on social media, not on an email list. "This way the blogs will be forwarded and 'liked' and 'shared' and will get wider circulation. etc etc." So far, the response to my (wishfully dreaming?) increasing circle of interested people on social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter) falls somewhere between a black hole and "who cares." But I soldier on, in my quest to get the word out on what everyone says is an interesting, well-written, and well-researched book on a unique international competition. My writing approach was to make the subject open and interesting to everyone. My goal was to create a book that parallels and creates the excitement and wide readership of The Big Year, by Mark Obmascik, who, by the way, read and reviewed Contact Sport very positively.
The media blitz (okay, a little overstated) has continued with personal on-air interviews with five radio stations: Lansing, MI, Phoenix, AZ, LaCrosse, WI, Harrisonburg, VA, and Brownwood, TX. With the exception of the station in Phoenix, a station that focuses on a business and financial format, all the others are typical conservative talk-radio stations, primarily AM but now with FM signals as well, in smaller markets. My interviews have been either in the morning or evening "drive-time" segments with excellent local on-air personalities. Another interview, to be scheduled within the next two weeks, will be on the Georgia Public Broadcasting network (seventeen NPR stations all across Georgia) and hopefully will reach a large audience. In addition, I was interviewed by an Israeli blogger! Yeah, no kidding. But he has a large audience (downloads in the mid-thousands, mainly ham radio aficionados), he was very prepared and did a super interview. When the interview is edited and posted, I'll post the link.
All in all however, this is a slog! Researching and writing the book was tough, especially the aspect of getting approvals for all quotes and for each and every one of the fifty-nine photographs in the book. It's radio magic, but it's also non-fiction, and legal approval matters must be handled. However, I'm finding that promoting and marketing the book is hard!
On March 1st, I was privileged to appear at Austin's largest bookstore, our version (on a mini-me scale) of Portland's Powell's Books. BookPeople hosts a number of book signings, almost one every night, and nearly everyone who is anyone as a writer has appeared at BookPeople. My night was sandwiched in between people like Rich Bass and other famous writers. This was my second event at BookPeople; the first taking place in early 2012 with Reunion, my debut novel.
The new book, Contact Sport, is character-driven, as every person there has his or her own story, and several end up in unusual situations. I'm told these add a great deal of interest over and above a spirited competition, a twenty-four hour grueling test of human wills and spirit. The competitors hail from forty countries, and their backgrounds, although heavy in technical fields such as engineering and telecommunications, vary a great deal: classical musician, choral voice choreographer, truck driver, high school and university teacher, financial investment adviser, medical doctor, hotel manager, naval boatswain, advertisement salesperson, criminal investigator, brigadier general, counter-intelligence director, and so on.
At this point, it's clear that Contact Sport will be read extensively in the amateur radio market. It's not clear how successful the book will be with general non-fiction audiences worldwide. I wrote it to appeal to these folks, and the feedback from these readers has been quite positive: "I had no idea about such things, and the book actually kept me up two hours past my bedtime to see how it ended! Loved it." Of course that's music to my little pointed author ears. I'll continue to try to get the word out, and in the end the book will be interesting enough to generate word of mouth recommendations, or it won't. While the most unorthodox and riveting primary contest for office of President of the United States unfolds, there is not much oxygen left over for literary discussions.