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When you write a guide, you are giving people the most updated facts about whatever the topic is. In my case, when I wrote about the historic bridges of the Oregon coast, I was giving a little history and some little known interesting facts as well as current improvements underway or planned as of 2012 when The Crossings Guide to Oregon’s Coastal Spans was written.
After The Crossings Guide came out in January 2013, I continued giving programs about the bridges. Before long, I became known as “The Bridge Lady of the Oregon Coast.” And whenever something was happening to any coastal bridge, people would ask me what was happening. For about five years, I knew and could answer. It was in the book. I was in the loop.
The last couple of years, though, I realized I didn’t know what was happening at a couple of the bridges. So last fall, I decided to update the guide. I contacted Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) and found just the right person—Andrew S. Blower, Bridge Preservation, Corrosion Protection Engineer. I sent him all my specific questions about particular bridges and asked for updates on all the main bridges.
He came through. And I learned that ODOT has a new, less expensive way to apply the cathodic protection. That’s the preservation process that ensures that these bridges will continue on for decades to come. It took me awhile and some back-and-forth emails to get the new process understood well enough to explain it in the introduction of the book.
With new information for each bridge to add, I had a problem. The book has a format, most bridges have one page for text and one for full-page color photo. A couple have two pages for text with two for photos. There was no changing the format. In fact, throughout the book, I would be constrained to not have any text go over to the next page. That meant that I would have to delete or condense existing text to make the additional text fit. This is a skill I honed while working at Oregon Coast and Northwest Travel magazines. Lots of counting words. When I had done the best that I could and still needed more space, my publisher, Bob Serra, made the historic photos smaller to provide extra space. Actually, he reworked the text and small historic photos on several of the text pages.
We finally got all the changes made and reformatting done. Then it went back and forth checking for misspellings, etc. When we were both satisfied, we worked on the covers—front and back. Bob is the publisher of four of my books, and we work well together and seldom disagree. The only changes he wanted to make to the front cover was to enlarge the letters of the title and my name and bold some of them. We both agreed that it was an improvement. He didn’t want to add the words “Updated Edition!” I did. So he put them on the back cover in a very prominent way. I liked that, but I lost the battle to have them on the front cover.
I know the venues that sell my books. They will want their customers to know that this book is now different by just looking at the front cover. So I ordered stickers. They are a one-inch circle that is totally clear with the words “Updated Edition!” That’s it. Very small, very subtle. It fits right in the upper left-hand corner without detracting from the fabulous photo. When I deliver books, I will provide stickers and each venue will have the option to use or not.
That brings us to early March when we sent the revised manuscript to the printer. Because of the Coronavirus, they were running behind. But eventually the books were printed and arrived mid- May—all my venues were locked down by then. My timing could not have been worse.
All the venues that carry my books were closed, the book fairs and craft shows where I sell books were cancelled, and I was not being asked to do programs because no gatherings were being allowed. So . . .
Fifteen hundred books arrived in May and now it is July, and I’ve sold none, zero, nada. I’m assuming that all venues still have copies of the Third Edition. The updated one is the Fourth Edition. In the past few weeks, some venues have reopened. Books N Bears (every day) and Backstreet Gallery (three days a week over weekends) here in Florence, Cape Perpetua, and Books and More (every day, previously Mari’s Books) in Yachats to name a few. So I will send out emails to all the venues that carry my books and see if anyone needs any more. And, of course, I’ll mention the new updated edition of The Crossings Guide to Oregon’s Coastal Spans.