Wednesday, March 4, 2015

A Good Formula

     While "Written Under Fire" was switching hands between both designer and proofreader I began contemplating subject matter for my second book. Fortunately, I didn't have to go far. Paul McCardell, the very knowledgeable Baltimore Sun librarian, approached me and described an idea for a second text-heavy book. The series was called 'Man In the Street.' A number Baltimore Sun journalists contributed to this interesting series which regularly ran in The Sunday Sun from 1949 to 1954. 'Man In the Street' focused on the individuals behind the most popular Baltimore street names and why they were bestowed such an honor. Fait avenue for example:
           "Thanks to William Fait, Baltimoreans of the 1890s enjoyed softshell crabs in the dead of winter and oyster stew in 
            the heat of summer. So for that matter, did the citizens of Chicago, Kansas City and Denver. [ . . . ] It was William's 
            business and political activities, together, that prompted the City Council to change the name of the eastern part 
            of Lancaster street to Fait avenue." (Dixon 41)
     Again, all of the content used in this book was repurposed from the microfilm (which needed to be retyped) and the Digital Fortress photo archives. Instead of a timeline narrative I organized the book alphabetically. When completed we had a 154-page book.
     The book was positively reviewed in the American Name Society's March 2015 publication 'Names: A Journal of Onomastics.' Dr. Bob Hieronimus' at WCBM 680 and Dan Rodricks at WYPR 88.1 invited me to speak about the book during their entire hour-long slot. Unfortunately, at the time of my layoff I had only spoken on Dr. Bob Hieronimus' show.
   "Man In The Street" was grossly successful, generating $75k in four months for The Baltimore Sun. Combine this new revenue with the $65k from "Written Under Fire" and we replicated and improved upon the successes of "Days Remembered!" We found the right formula in 2014 by digging for rich text-heavy content our market found interesting. I'd love to know how well both of my books continue to sell in 2015.  -ZJD

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