Kate Culkin: Promoting an Academic Book to a General Audience
Kate Culkin is an assistant professor of history at the Bronx Community College in New York City.
"Any topic worth writing a book about has people who will be interested in it, if they know the book exists. The trick is to reach them."
The title of Harriet Hosmer's 1908 obituary in the Boston Globe was "Most Famous of American Women Sculptors." Another obituary, however, expressed surprise that she had not died years before. I have wrestled with that dichotomy—that Hosmer was both a celebrity and a forgotten figure—as I have written and promoted my book, Harriet Hosmer: A Cultural Biography, published by the University of Massachusetts Press last November...
Despite choosing an academic press, I still believe Hosmer's dramatic story has a lot of appeal to a general audience, if people get to learn about it. To ensure people do, I have tapped into the spirit of Hosmer herself, who was a great self-promoter. I set up a Facebook page and a blog (abiographersblog.com) a month before publication and alerted everyone I could think of, including alumni associations, members of workshops I have attended, and former co-workers. I use these spaces to announce events related to the book and post facts about Hosmer, as well as discussing items of interest to readers who would find a biography of a 19th-century sculptor appealing.
I have reached out to independent bookstores, especially those that identify themselves as feminist and gay and lesbian, those that focus on art, and those in geographic areas where Hosmer had roots, including Boston and St. Louis. When physically possible, I have gone to the bookstores in person, with a copy of the book and the press release. For those farther afield, I have sent e-mails and recruited friends to plead my case. I have also contacted book clubs and posted discussion questions on my site and written a post for the influential blog Book Club Girl....
comments powered by Disqus
- Roman Gladiators ate a mostly vegetarian diet and drank a tonic of ashes after training
- Massachusetts is celebrating the 250th anniversary of the wedding of John and Abigail Adams
- King Tut had overbite, club foot because his parents were brother and sister
- Prehistoric humans were far smarter than previously assumed
- Priests race to save manuscripts from jihadists in Iraq
- Highlights of the recent Oral History Association Meeting
- Rick Perlstein response to Sam Tanenhaus's complaint that he's an aggregator
- Thai historian faces charges for daring to challenge a story about a royal king
- It's Rick Perlstein vs. Judith Stein in a Three Round Fight
- Park Honan, a Biographer of Authors, Is Dead at 86