To mark Two Are Better’s official date of publication into the book trade, I’ve written a guest blog post over on Tracy Riva Books and Reviews website entitled Writing a Memoir: It’s for the Reader . I describe some of the “behind the scenes” activities and thoughts that went into creating Two Are Better, as well as what it is like to write a memoir. Thanks to the good folks on tracyriva.com, including Kathy LaMee, who read the book and issued a 5-star review a few days ago. You’ll see Kathy’s review in various online bookstores.
1. Washington, D.C. Yes, the Atlantic Coast tour travels right through the heart of America’s capital! The bike path leading to the Lincoln Memorial follows the Potomac River from Mount Vernon on up. From the natural beauty of this well-designed bicycle path, to the roar of jet engines at neighboring Reagan National Airport, to the sightings of historic monuments across the river, this ride tops my list. The collaborative effect of like-minded tourists, bicycling enthusiasts, a trail isolated from city traffic, and an urban setting with historic sites sparked excitement. Debbie’s adrenaline had kicked in as you’ll see from this video. Getting lost heading north out of the city added a key ingredient to the adventure of bicycle travel. If you’re ever here on a bicycle, ask for directions as the trails are not clearly marked.
2. Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, at the intersection of yesteryear and everyday commerce. When you think of the Amish, this portion of the United States may be forefront. Combine the quaint, simple subsistence and enduring industriousness of these people with beautiful rolling hills, brimful fields, buggy-clad country roads, and a serene, orange sunset, and you’ve just witnessed a collision of natural beauty and hard work. You can’t ride through this region without a renewed frame of mind and vivid memories for the road ahead. We landed there just in time, rescued from the clutches of the Susquehanna River Valley, where one murderously steep hill nearly broke our will. When lush beauty surrounds you, even a grueling day of cycling becomes secondary.
3. Williamsburg, Virginia. After we cycled through the low country of the Carolinas, we were pleasantly surprised by the change of scenery upon ferrying across the James River into Virginia. Williamsburg impressed me as an attractive and friendly city. Beautiful evergreen forest soon sprang up. Not to be outdone, massive fields reminded us that some of America’s earliest settlers found plenty of arable land in these parts. Both colonial and Civil War history permeated the decidedly green surroundings. Cannons dotted one field while historic markers sprouted up all along the route. The distinctive architecture was unique to Virginia. We cycled along the tail end, or the beginning depending upon your direction, of Adventure Cycling’s TransAmerica Trail. Perhaps someday we can tell you about that one!
4. Coastlines in Florida, North Carolina, and Maine. The term “coast” in the tour’s name, Atlantic Coast, might give one the wrong impression. Little coastline was visible from Georgia to New Hampshire, with the exception of North Carolina. And because Debbie and I did not begin in Key West, we bypassed much of the Florida Atlantic experience. Perhaps this is why we relished the coastlines that we did see. Cycling adjacent to the Atlantic was magnificent. For one thing, the relaxed pace means fewer vehicles, slower traffic, and virtually no large, noisy commercial rigs. While Florida’s coastline felt like the aquatic equivalent of Montana’s high plains with an endless, tranquil horizon, Maine’s version proved curvier, rockier, and livelier. Regardless, splashing surf, long ocean vistas, and the sounds of water fowl provided a marvelous backdrop to miles in the saddle.
As a native Mainer, I might rather think that Acadia National Park would make any best of the Atlantic Coast list. However, Debbie and I bypassed that fabulous area for scheduling reasons only. Enjoying the best of the Atlantic Coast was an experience that we won’t soon forget. If you’re ever near these areas, make sure you drink them in.
Open Road Press has a book distributor! On Friday, we received a signed contract from Advocate Distribution Solutions, a division of Send The Light Distribution. Two Are Better: Midlife Newlyweds Bicycle Coast to Coast will soon be available to a book store near you!
Having a distributor offers several advantages.
1. It expands a publisher’s potential markets exponentially. Most book stores on planet Earth can now buy Two Are Better through their normal supply channels.
2. A full-service distributor like Advocate has a team of sales representatives who pitch books to wholesale and retail book buyers. Distributors have relationships with industry book buyers that publishers do not. And they’re essentially commission-based, so they only make money when the publisher makes money.
3. Since they aggregate supply from many publishers, distributors create efficiencies in logistics and billing and share the financial benefits with their client base. A publisher is no longer encumbered with expensive small-lot shipments or saddled with detailed recordkeeping. By trading off some of the book profits to streamline its overhead, the publisher can devote more of its time to creating other books that can increase its revenue.
4. Distributors stand between the publisher and book stores whose profitability is being challenged by online retailing. They’re in a better position to manage the credit risk. The distributor bears the risk of loss if their customers can’t pay their bills. The publisher bears less of the overall credit risk, although its risk is now concentrated with the distributor.
For us, signing on with this particular distributor comes with a bonus. One distributor who considered Two Are Better suggested that we had a better solution awaiting us than what he could offer. He thought the book would appeal to both the general and Christian book markets, and he did not have good channels to Christian trade. Advocate does…and with a strong presence. They also service the general market. Although our book is not a Christian book per se, they picked it up because they also market wholesome books.
Beyond the benefits cited above, this feels like a strong vote of confidence. A distributor like Advocate does not often add a fledgling publisher with only one title. We’re thankful they’re willing to take a chance on us. But just because we now have a distributor will not make the headwinds go away. Book industry experts have told me that there is no way of predicting–or controlling–a book’s future. Not even an appearance on Oprah guarantees success.
Yet, we’re encouraged by the Advocate deal and other positive feedback we’ve received, such as the interest of choosy distributors, interviews with media, and positive reviews. And, we have more seeds planted in the fields. They lie fallow for now. It takes time to read a book. And it’s easier for contacts to wait on the sidelines and see how things develop before they jump into the fray. But, that’s okay. We’re in the game, and we think our prospects for success just kicked up a notch.
It’s been a long winter in New England. Even though the Massachusetts winter doesn’t really compare with what I experienced for most of my life in Maine, it creates the same longing for warmer days and summertime activities. One of those activities, of course, is bicycle riding. Debbie and I blew the dust from our bikes two weekends ago. Even with five layers of clothing on my torso, I was still uncomfortable in the brisk air. Since last weekend’s weather was more forgiving, we’re well on our way to cycling season.
After years of bicycling, early season rides have a similar feel. Inevitably, despite best of intentions and genuine efforts to maintain conditioning, the winter activity level pales in comparison to summer’s. So, on my first two rides, the energy level was sorely lacking. I feel like I’m trying to jump start my body. And the rear end: well that’s another matter–and it always is. Each year, it needs to be broken in seemingly from scratch. The butt will suffer sores and chafing on early season rides that it will not experience thereafter. A sore bottom is a rite of passage into riding season. If someone knows the secret to avoiding this annual discomfort, would you please let me know because I’ve not found it.
In spring’s equivalent of getting up on the wrong side of the bed, I returned from our latest ride ready to download a video or two to share with you. I couldn’t figure out why the helmet cam kept shutting off on the road–until now. Seems I forgot to put the card in! Well, this is just one more sign that we’re still in spring training! With the change in seasons comes a change in routine. Some of the slower parts just need time to catch up.
There is a silver lining in this spring training cloud. It’s about time for the plastic to come off the windows, and for the windows to be thrown wide open. Cabin fever just ran its course, not to be seen or heard from until…well, let’s just not think about that. It’s a new season. And, as always, it has arrived just in the nick of time. So, put the parka and boots away, clean up the grounds, switch the clothes drawers, and clean the windows. But, more importantly, hop on that bicycle for a ride to nowhere. The breeze is bound to blow out the cobwebs of winter!
Much is happening at Open Road Press as we march toward a May publication date for Two Are Better: Midlife Newlyweds Bicycle Coast to Coast. First, in early April, Alycia Brandt and Mike Lawton of WMCT-TV in Marlborough visited Debbie and I for an interview about our cross-country bicycle trip. The interview aired on our local cable access station (Verizon fios channel 34) this past weekend. Using some still shots from our first trip blog, they put together a wonderful piece. You can view Alycia and Mike’s handiwork on the WMCT-TV Youtube channel, or see below.
Also last week, an article about our story, written by Dave Greenslit, ran on Wednesday in the Worcester Telegram & Gazette. As an Appalachian Trail hiker, Dave brought an interesting perspective. The Worcester Telegram & Gazette is one of the larger newspapers in New England, with a circulation of 75,000. We’ll always remember this interview with Dave because it occurred simultaneous with the Boston Marathon bombings. His son and granddaughter were at the race, but we later discovered they had left before the bombs went off.
A recent 5-book giveaway of the print version of Two Are Better on Goodreads.com ended in encouraging fashion. Nearly half of those who signed up did so in the last two days. In all, 316 people participated, with 132 of them adding the book to their “to-read bookshelf.”
Another 5-book giveaway on Librarything.com is ending soon, on April 29. Click here and scroll down (near the bottom) until you see Two Are Better to join the 80 people already signed up. Please share this link with your friends.
We’re running a pre-publication special in our webstore only. Order either the softcover paperback or the ebook before the end of April and you’ll receive 15% off the retail price.
Last, but certainly not least, we’re anticipating signing an agreement with a distributor in the upcoming weeks that will land us into the conventional book trade. Stay tuned for more information on that.