The Biggest Mistake I Ever Made

Nov 10, 2023 | 3 comments

When it comes to writing, I’ve probably made more than my share of mistakes over the years.  Since my focus is history. errors “come with the territory” you might say, since new information constantly surfaces putting what once seemed definitive in a completely new light.  So I’m not talking those kinds of mistakes here.  No.  I’m talking mistakes in judgement — like the decision to write a series of books on basic facts about our Peninsula and present them in an ABC format.  It simply never occurred to me that people (including booksellers) would assume that they were children’s books.

They showed up in the children’s section of most bookstores, even though I had carefully explained to the booksellers that these were books for adults.  One look at the contents and the way in which the information is presented should have been enough…  But, no.  And even if they were placed with adult books, buyers by-passed them thinking they were mis-shelved.  “Whatever were you thinking?” you may ask.

Well… it was this way.  For a dozen or so years, I taught Elderhostel classes during the summer at the United Methodist Camp in Ocean Park.  My classes were on Historic Oysterville, but the students always had great interest in the entire area and asked a lot of great questions.  The information was readily available in many books and journals in the libraries and bookstores and museum archives, but the students didn’t really have time (or money) to invest in “real” research.  They wanted something basic — a simplified presentation of the nuts and bolts of our local history.  The ABCs  (as in basics) you might say.  And as I soon learned… a big mistake, at least marketing-wise.

Granted, some of the bookx did sell well enough to go out of print.  D is for Discovery — the A-B-Cs of the Lewis & Clark Expedition’s Winter on the Pacific Coast 1805 – 1806  and O is for Oysters: The A-B-Cs of Oystering on Willapa Bay both sold out —  the first during the Lewis and Clark bicentennial, and the second largely due to its availability at Oysterville Sea Farms during Dan Driscoll’s early years of ownership there.

I’m a little foggy about a few of the others — Perhaps O is for Oysterville: The A-B-Cs of the Peninsula’s Oldest Community and I is for Indians: The A-B-Cs of the Chinook People in the lower Columbia River Region also went out of print and were reprinted.  In the days when Nyel was my Business Manager, he handled those decisions and I just spent my time researching and writing and finding great illustrators.  Suffice it to say, that I have a goodly supply of most of the “Mrs. Stevens’ A-B-Cs left.

And, if still you doubt, thumb through a copy of any of “Mrs. Stevens’ A-B-Cs” and look at the information presented with its attendant vocabulary and concepts and you will understand that they are adult-oriented, though great to be used with children as a teaching/discussion tool. If I had an Air B’n’B or a summer cottage for family, I’d have every one of those ABC books available for visitor browsing.  You can’t beat them for a quick overview of facts and quirky information about this area that we love!

 

 

3 Comments

  1. Robert Gwinn

    Your post reminded me about our stay at the Surfside Inn and our brief talk about their books. Their book collection doesn’t have any of your books. It should, so I asked. I was told all of their books have been donated over the years. Like me, I don’t want to give any up at this time. I’m in process of finding copies of “O” & “I” for our collection. Bonnie picked up “C” at the Cranberry Museum. I did tell the folks at Surfside Inn that your books are available at Coleens, so the could tell guests when asked about the peninsula.

    Reply
    • sydney

      I’m giving a book talk at the library tomorrow and will have books for sale afterwards. It would be a good chance for folks with tourist accommodations to pick up books for their lobbies etc. But, I suppose the downside for owners and managers is that the books may “disappear” easily… What we need is a Peninsula Book Fairy!

      Reply
  2. Robert Gwinn

    Your post reminded me about our stay at the Surfside Inn and our brief talk about their books. Their book collection doesn’t have any of your books. It should, so I asked. I was told all of their books have been donated over the years. Like me, I don’t want to give any up at this time. I’m in process of finding copies of “O” & “I” for our collection. Bonnie picked up “C” at the Cranberry Museum. I did tell the folks at Surfside Inn that your books are available at Coleens, so they could tell guests when asked about the peninsula.

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *