One year ago Oregon State University Press published my biography of the fiercely independent agitator Dr. Marie Equi. In the twelve months that followed I gave more book talks, readings, and interviews than I ever imagined. Last week my husband, Dale Danley, and I returned from our first book tour on the East Coast. The only limits to what might be done, it seems, are finances and stamina. Now I’m catching my breath and reviewing the past year before ramping up for three more appearances in three cities in the month ahead.
Launches are a time to celebrate with friends, family and colleagues and anyone else you might attract. Years of researching, writing, editing, endless re-writes, production decisions, and finally publication climax when an author can finally say “This is it” and show the book. No more updates for polite inquiries of “How’s the book going?” This book is done! Let’s party.
Book readings give me a chance to express how passionately I feel about telling Marie Equi’s story. I’ve had 24 opportunities to date. The range of sites has been spectacular: the only house Equi owned in Portland; libraries in San Francisco, Eugene, and New Bedford, MA; LGBTQ cafes and historical societies, the only known health clinic named for Equi, an historic house and garden museum in New Bedford; book stores in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, and Berkeley; hotel-restaurants and a queer café in Portland; an Episcopal Church; a radical book fair and a history fair; the University of Oregon and Harvard University, and a combined gathering of federal employees from the Pacific Northwest, and a soft-launch house party in Berkeley.
At talks and readings I get to engage in person and to perform, but they don’t sell many books (celebrity authors do better). But radio, cable TV, and print interviews are prime opportunities to reach wide audiences. The producers often require a “news peg” or an upcoming local event before they’ll do an interview. Putting the two together takes diligence, patience, restraint. (“Don’t badger the media” is good advice from Bette Sinclair, a respected public relations expert now living in Equi’s Portland house). I’ve been fortunate to have interviews on 13 radio programs with audience coverage in the Portland metro area, mid-Willamette Valley, southern Oregon, Guerneville, CA; and the Southeast Coast of Massachusetts. Add niche programs for LGBTQ in Portland, women in the SF East Bay, and morning commuters in the New Bedford area. Thanks to David Perry, host and producer of cable TV Ten Percent program in San Francisco.
Print and online coverage can be more difficult to obtain. I’ve been fortunate to get book and author spreads in four city papers of New Bedford, MA: Eugene, OR; Seattle, and San Francisco. Reviews can make a huge difference. The best ones assess the writing, character development, and quality of research. My thanks to all nine, especially the Western Historical Review, the Seattle Lesbian, the Oregon Historical Society, the New Bedford Standard Times, and the Chicago Windy Times.
Every other opportunity – the Miscellaneous – are invaluable and include personal reviews (thanks James Anderson and many others), guest blog posts, author lectures beyond the scope of the book, and, if lucky, book awards.
Not that you’re counting, but I am. From all categories, 60 author events over a 12 month period.
Thanks to everyone who attended, encouraged, and supported Dale and me this past year. Now, three more coming: Bancroft Library at UC Berkeley in October, the Oregon Health & Science University in November, and the Perfectly Queer book club at Dog-Eared Books in San Francisco in November.