So you've published your first work be that a poem, blog article, or your first book. After an afternoon of celebration and chocolate, I don't know about you, but I dove straight into logistics: marketing, distribution channels, networking, and of course, mapping my sales. I had always thought myself a rather patient person, but by the second week post release when I didn't see numbers approaching the need for a comma, I started to panic. Were my SEO description tags adequate? Did I use the best keywords possible? Should I have written more about the book's background on this site? How much is enough to keep an audience? Was the book factual enough to entice my audience into reading it, but colorful enough to reach a broader audience? In the end, I decided to stop worrying and just use this process as a learning experience for my next book. What I hadn't counted on were letters from my readers. Real, postage-stamped, handwritten letters.
I received email as well--most were complimentary, a couple made suggestions about plot and genre, but I was happy they all took the time to write. I received several from veterans who had served on landing craft in Korea and Vietnam. And one from a woman who's father served on an LST during WWII. She loved the detail because she could see her father in the faces of the men as they grew into adulthood at war. This past week, I received a letter from the President of the USS LST Ship Memorial inviting me to join the ship at the Meldahl Lock on the Ohio River enroute to Cincinnati.
He invited me to join the crew while underway. I have to say that I've toured the LST 325 twice now, but to feel her move under my feet, to feel the vibration from the ship's engines and the smell of diesel oil and stand watch, even briefly, on the signal bridge as my father did seventy years ago is such an honor.
I'd like to share a bit of his letter:
"I recently read "Heroes All" and want to compliment you on a job very well done! Your ability to capture the camaraderie, badinage, and general zeitgeist of a bunch of young sailors is spot-on. The only thing missing is the ubiquitous and incessant cursing that attends all things Navy and is an art form unto itself...I've taken the liberty of marking errors, omissions, or typos I encountered in the copy enclosed. You may wish to make those corrections in future printings. John M. Tallent, President, The USS LST Ship Memorial, Inc."
He's right, you know. I should, and will include an errata sheet in the books I take to my signings with thanks to Commander Tallent for taking the time and having the patience to help me be a better writer, and for the opportunity to be part of the crew for this leg of the trip--the journal of which will certainly be included (along with his corrections) in the second printing.
I hope to see you all in Cincinnati, Ohio at the public dock by Red Stadium September 27th through October 3rd where you can tour the LST 325 from 9am to 5pm. I'll be happy to sign a copy of the book for you, the proceeds of which go to the LST Ship Memorial in memory of my father, S2c Donald Richard Hanson, and as thanks for all they do.