Many of you, dear readers, have been following my seven-year journey to first write, find a publisher and then promote my book, The Chlorine Revolution: Water Disinfection and the Fight to Save Lives. The book was released on April 1, and 30 days later, there is much to report. My publisher, the American Water Works Association (AWWA) has been doing a lot of traditional marketing using their usual methods, but I knew that I would have to do some marketing on my own if I wanted the book to become known beyond the water community. I have focused on a two-pronged strategy for bringing the book to the attention of the reading public. First, I have created a fairly significant web/social media presence, which I will talk about in another blog later this month. Secondly, I have made a big effort to book speaking engagements to spread the word.
As of today, I have given talks on the book or had book signings at five locations. As noted on the linked table, I have 13 more to go. It has taken a lot of work and a lot of help from friends and colleagues to put together the speaking schedule. So far, some of the events have been successful and others not so much. However, there was no real way of knowing ahead of time what would work.
How do I gauge success for one of these events? All of the events so far have been successful in one way or another. A couple have been terrific in all categories. What I have been striving to do is get the word out to the water community (my target audience) but also to reach a broader audience of people who are interested in water and the history of technology.
I just returned from a trip to Pennsylvania, which was a big success. I spoke twice at the spring conference of Pennsylvania Section of AWWA. The conference was held in Hershey, PA, which is always a lot of fun to visit. Spring was busting out all over Pennsylvania—the forsythia was blooming, I could see dogwood blooming in the forests and I swear that I could see the tulip flowers opening before my eyes. Perhaps I should have titled this article “Springtime in Pennsylvania.”
My two talks at the conference were well received and I met some old friends who I had not seen in many years. I sold a few books, but that is not the main reason I am doing all of this. Just being there created a lot of buzz among the Pennsylvania water community, and many more people heard about the circumstances surrounding the first use of chlorine in a drinking water supply in the U.S. In truth, that is what I am trying to do—spread the word. Except for authors who sell millions of books, people rarely make much money selling the books they write. As one wise person said, “I could have made more money babysitting.”
The book launch party that I had at my house last Sunday was spectacular. Over 70 friends showed up. There was fruit, cheese and wine for the attendees. I read an abridged version of the first chapter of the book (see the video on YouTube). I sold a bunch of books. But, mostly this was a party to celebrate the official launch of the book and talk to old friends. Most of these friends were not part of the water community. Several of them bought books, and I have already heard that they are really enjoying the read. What more could an author ask? My water friends were there in force. Folks that I worked with at the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and at McGuire Environmental Consultants, Inc. were well represented. Good fun.
It is next weekend and beyond that I am really excited about—four days of springtime in New Jersey. On Friday I fly to Newark, NJ for four whirlwind days of talks, signings and ceremonies. The main events in The Chlorine Revolution take place in northern New Jersey and I have planned a number of events to spread the word in that area. Saturday, May 4, I am speaking to the Passaic County Historical Society at Lambert Castle. As you might expect from the organization name, the attendees will be interested in the history of the area. Sunday, we will be unveiling a grave monument to Dr. John L. Leal who had been buried in an unmarked grave for 98 years. Some of his descendants will attend the event. Monday, I speak at a half-day seminar sponsored by the New Jersey Section of AWWA that will explore the importance of disinfection. Finally, on Tuesday, I will speak at the Passaic County Community College to a bunch of students interested in science and technology—my favorite audience.
Once again, I do not know how these events will turn out. I have done all of the footwork planning these talks. Now, I will just show up and do my best and try not to focus on any specific results. If nothing else, I will see a lot of blooming forsythia.