2/19/19 Amazing News. A staged reading of Wilber’s War will be performed next month at Peirce Farm Estates, Route 1, Topsfield, MA, March 29 at 7:30. Tickets will most likely sell out, so get your tickets NOW at www.punctuate4.org. This performance is a repeat of that in Hamilton in August 2017. Its popularity led to this performance. I hope to see you there.
12/8/17. Good News: The video of the August 3 staged reading of Wilber’s War in Hamilton, MA, has now been posted on YouTube. It lasts 60 minutes. I authored it (my first dramatic work!) and two professional actors performed/read it. The 90+ slides were manually inserted into the video so their quality remains high. I think it very well done. Do let me know what you think. Click here to watch it.
I will give a talk on Wilber’s War at The Explorers on Monday Jan 22 (10–12 am, 10 Federal St., Salem, MA, FREE). Since I gave a talk on the same topic there several years ago, I want to vary the presentation. My plan is to show the video of the dramatization – letting the actors tell the story – with plenty of time afterwards to discuss the several poignant issues raised in the story.
I am making moves to actually contribute Wilber’s original hand-written letters and my other WWII materials to the National Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg, TX, so my heirs don’t have to do that. The big hurdle is that I would like to scan them prior to doing so – a huge job. That way the museum can make them publicly available online more readily.
I am learning that it is almost impossible for an independent publisher/author like me to get access to bookstores and libraries. The distributors and wholesalers do not want small Mom and Pop publishers like me. It seems the whole point of independent publishing is to go directly to the consumer without those middlemen, and I have so far been a failure at that. Neither my continuing facebook ad nor my ads in in magazines (Foreword Reviews, IBPA, Publishers Weekly) yield noticeable results. Selling is obviously not my forte. Fortunately, I had a career in academia, not business!! But I have had a good time through it all with radio interviews, book talks, op-ed pieces, a staged reading, and many rich, warm personal connections. And it is not over yet.
I turned 87 yesterday. That number sounds absolutely ancient to me. But I am happy to still be around.
10/30/17 (posted 12/8/17). I was most pleased to receive a generous response from General Albin Irzyk, after he had received a copy of Wilber’s War. At age 100, he is a veteran of WWII and Vietnam and the author of several books, including the recent “Patton’s Juggernaut” (Elderberry Press, 2017). A friend here in Salem referred me to him.
“. . . Although, I was absolutely fascinated by your book, I will
have to delay reading it in detail because of conflicts. I was able to
thumb through it. I was amazed by it. I have yet to see a family
story such as you tell. lt is absolutely unique, unprecedented. The
length and depth of your writing was astonishing. Both you and
your Dad are scientists, but you have both written like novelists.
The way that with your words you have weaved together your
Dad’s combat story, your family story, your Mother’s story is
quite remarkable. The photos, which you so carefully researched
and selected add much to the book. All in all, it is a book in which
you can justly take great pride.”. . .
The entire letter is here.
9/7/17. Joanne Holbrook Patton came to the theatrical reading of Wilber’s War, where I presented her with a copy of Wilber’s War. On 8/24/17, she responded with a most gracious letter, portions of which I quote here, with her permission.
“I eagerly brought the book home and the next day began to read it. I did not realize what an adventure I was about to take! Thanks to your … candid sharing of your family’s story, I can truthfully say that this was one [of] the most compelling books I have read in some time! The way you have integrated wartime events taking place in Europe, as well as in the Pacific area, interspersing their reports with personal letters and comments is remarkable…. Your book gives the reader the “Norma” story in toto … Your respect for all of your family was always clear, and I came to appreciate each one of them individually.… As a widow whose husband served in the Korean War and three times in the Vietnam Conflict, I am quite familiar of the effect that their combat experience can bring. None of them is immune to residual effects.”
– In April, I brought Wilber’s War home to Indiana, Wilber’s birthplace with talks to history classes at Indiana University and to the students of the high school in Versailles. In May, I gave talks in Maine at the University where Wilber taught in the 1930s and at two libraries, in Old Town and Brewer. Both were heart-warming experiences where I connected with many people.
– I have re-positioned my single volume condensation of WW to be the prime product by (i) removing the word “abridged” from the title – see the inset figure – and (ii) by creating a hard-cover version (Ingram Spark, POD). To distinguish them from the trilogy, I now refer to the latter as “Wilber’s War (trilogy).”
– The highlight of the summer, on Aug. 3, was a staged reading of Wilber’s War by the Black Box Lab theater group in nearby Hamilton MA. Two professional actors (T. J. Turner, Patricia Jamison) and a talented director (Myriam Cyr) did a beautiful job of presenting the story as written (synthesized) by me! About 60 people came and were greatly moved by it. We showed 90+ slides during the narrations and included occasional sound effects. I will post a video of it when editing is complete.
12/31/16. Wilber’s War (abridged): An American Family’s Journey through World War II was formally published on Dec. 7, 2016! It was also Pearl Harbor Day and my 86th Birthday. We celebrated it all at the Salem Athenaeum where I gave another book talk, in which I told speculative stories of German spies and an impromptu battlefield meeting of opposing commanders.
The new abridged book is a more accessible, low-priced ($14.99), distilled, one-volume version of my trilogy. It is also available as an E-book ($4.99) and as an Audio-book ($24.95 – or less). All are available on Amazon and at www.wilberswar.com. As with the trilogy, it is loaded with maps and illustrations, 95 in total.
It has been well received with positive reviews (5.0 stars on Amazon). (The trilogy has received two Silver Awards and one Finalist Award.) Its juxtaposition of the battles in the Pacific Theater and the challenges on the home front make it a very special story that is highly relevant to military families today. It is an epic tale of duty, heroism, love, infidelity, and the tragedy of suicide.
Here is what one reviewer (Angie Wagg on the blog, Kelly’s Thoughts on Things) wrote:
“My husband — a retired disabled veteran (photo) — did not put this book down until he finished it. I could tell that it touched him and brought on many memories of his own. At times he just dropped his head and times I think I saw a tear fall. For someone like him who understands war, this was a very accurate description of what happens when our loved ones defend our freedom. For me, a civilian, it opened my eyes and gave me an insight into what our military go through to protect us.”
I would greatly appreciate your spreading the word among your friends about Wilber’s War (abridged). If you get and read it yourself, I would love to hear what you think of it. And of course, if you read it, writing a review on Amazon or elsewhere would be much appreciated, even if it is short and not all positive. I published it myself (Van Dorn Books), and hence need ALL the help I can get to call attention to it.
HAPPY NEW YEAR ALL
How did we finish up? We of course did not submit the book’s text to my designer, Lisa Carta, until it was “letter perfect,” or so I thought.
My “final” version had been edited by my wonderful editor, Francie King, and all her suggested edits incorporated by me before submitting it to Lisa. A month or so later, Lisa finished the layout and sent me the pdf file for the entire book. I printed it out and read it carefully, word for word, finding many additional defects, mostly minor. My editor, Francie King, likewise read it, but on her computer screen, finding her own set of improvements.
After Lisa incorporated our numerous edits, I submitted the pdf to CreateSpace (CS), whereupon we were prompted by their software to fix a few details. We did so and this led to a pdf proof I reviewed on screen. I then ordered four proof print copies of the book, complete with cover. They arrived two days later. They were beautiful, and the quality of the printed illustrations was much better than I expected for Print on Demand printing. Lisa’s cover design is dynamite, very similar but recognizably different than the trilogy cover. Francie, Lisa, and I each reviewed these proof books. I read one carefully, Francie reviewed layout details, and Lisa focused on illustration quality. All this led to corrections on some 60 pages.
Again Lisa made those corrections—with no complaints and great patience. I resubmitted to CS with the vow that I would live with this version, even if my name were misspelled on the cover! The pdf proof looked fine so I ordered five proof print copies of the book, which I am expecting to receive today.
The publication date is the 75th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 2016, a little more than three months from now. In the meantime, I will seek reviews, will modify the wilberswar.com website to incorporate this new book, and will attend to other marketing details. Hopefully it will be possible to pre-order shortly. The book is softcover and very economically priced at $14.99.
Wilber’s War was a finalist in three of the four competitions it entered and two of those became Silver Winners. Here is the rundown:
Silver Winner: Foreword Reviews’ INDIEFAB Awards: War & Military, Non-fiction
Silver Winner: Independent Book Publishers Association’s Benjamin Franklin Awards: Biography
Finalist: National Indie Excellence Awards: Military, Non-Fiction
I was at two of the conventions where the awards were announced (IBPA in Salt Lake City in April and American Library Association in Orlando in June) and was photographed at each award ceremony looking smug. There were lots of winners in each of the about 60 categories in each competition, so I had lots of smug company.
The one volume condensation of Wilber’s War is on schedule for release on Dec. 7 this year. I am very proud of it; it still contains much of Wilber’s writing while still telling the entire story quite effectively and smoothly (the deletion holes are not apparent). I think of the hardcover trilogy as the “publication” of Wilber’s letters, though they are only about 40% of his total extant output. This allowed me to delete lots of excellent material in order to get it down to one volume while keeping the story moving. Rest assured, the best of the best is still there in the single volume.
The single volume contains about 40,000 words of Wilber’s writing and 60,000 of mine in the 100,000-word book. There are 95 photos/facsimiles/maps and 358 pages altogether. It will be paperback only and print on demand, with list price $14.99 if all goes as planned. Its current title is the same, with “abridged” added. Wilber’s War (abridged): An American Family’s Journey through World War II.
Wilber’s War won a third Finalist Award, this one from the National Indie Excellence Awards in the category War and Military (non-fiction). The winners have been picked for two of the three, and unfortunately neither was Wilber’s War. The Foreword Reviews Winner will be announced later this month. Cross your fingers.
In April, I made three marketing trips for Wilber’s War: to the Independent Book Publisher Association in Salt Lake City, to Maryland where I gave talks in two Maritime Museums (Annapolis and Chesapeake Bay), and finally to the conference of the Society of Military Historians in Ottawa, Canada. The latter was very rewarding, in the contacts I made and in the sights and museums of Ottawa.
I have completed a one-volume version of Wilber’s War, which is destined for POD (Print on Demand) publication, probably on Create Space, hopefully for release on Pearl Harbor Day this year. We are still wrestling with the choice of title for it.
My publicist is being re-activated for a two-week push leading up to Father’s Day. That will mean more radio interviews and one or more op-ed pieces. We are lowering the price to $59 (from $79) for the campaign.
I am going to the ALA (Am. Library Assoc.) conference in Orlando later this month.
Despite all this and excellent reviews, the trilogy sales are slow. When I stir the pot, some sell; when I am not, few do. Altogether, about 130 have sold, which some might say is not bad given its bulk and price. There is much more I can do and will do. Marketing a book was never advertised to be easy, and it isn’t.
I have just learned that Wilber’s War, my trilogy about our family in World War II, has been selected as a Finalist by two well regarded awarding organizations:
- Independent Book Publishers Association Benjamin Franklin Awards (Biography)
- Forward Reviews’ INDIEFAB Awards (War & Military)
These are like a silver medals. The Gold awards will be announced soon. I have also submitted the trilogy to two other organizations and hope for similar success with them.
Wish the trilogy good luck.