The Great Golden Gate Bridge Trivia Book
The Great Golden Gate Bridge Trivia Book was published in 1987. It’s out of print now and has been since almost before it was published. You can still find it if you look hard enough. And apparently people still do. Amazon has it listed, as does Barnes & Noble and Abebooks. And I still get emails about it from time to time.
I can’t say I ever liked the title, though I didn’t have much control over that. Indeed, with the exception spending over a year in a dusty library sneezing my brains out (I’m allergic to book dust, if you can believe that – an author allergic to books), combing through old microfilm, jotting down notes, writing the anecdotes on scraps of paper, pinning the scraps to the kitchen wall so they could be shuffled around to their proper location in the manuscript, and then, once in proper order, gluing the scraps to whole sheets of paper (the original cut-and-paste) and then typing it all up on the old IBM Selectric, I didn’t have much control of anything.
To say that the publisher screwed the pooch on this one would be an understatement.
The title sucked. The cover sucked. The format sucked. There was also the little matter of time sensitivity. You see, 1987 was the 50th anniversary, the Golden Anniversary, of the opening of the Golden Gate Bridge, one of the most frequently visited structures on the planet. San Francisco was going crazy over anything Golden Gate Bridge. The celebration was May 27th. The crazy started sometime around January.
The buzz about the book was everywhere and I became the person to ask about the Golden Gate Bridge. I did TV. I did radio. I did interviews for newspapers from around the world. I made a fool of myself in a Macy’s display window. Several tourist companies wanted to buy boxes of the books to give away to their clients. A local book distributer who covered supermarkets, tourist shops, drug stores and the like, wanted to get it into every store in the Bay Area.
The book? It was released barely a week before the BIG day, long after everyone was sick to death of the Golden Gate Bridge and just wanted to celebrate the opening day and then forget about it all. I doubt it made it into a dozen bookstores. The poor thing couldn’t have sunk beneath the water below the bridge faster if it had been printed on lead.
Just to give you some perspective, and to dispel the “disgruntled author” image, two other books on the Golden Gate Bridge were published that year. A coffee table, hardcover picture book on the building of the bridge and, if you can believe this, a softcover, several hundred page prose poem about the bridge. A prose poem! When is the last time you saw a prose poem sold in a bookstore?
Both of these books were published early in 1987 and were number one on the Bay Area Best Seller list for hard and soft cover books from the day of their publication until nearly the end of the year. Kind of makes you wonder how well The Great Golden Gate Bridge Trivia Book could have done had the publisher gotten it out with the other two. It had a lot going for it, despite the cover, the title and the format, I mean. Not only did it cover the building of the bridge, it gave a bit of history on the Golden Gate and all the weird things that happened on, under and over the bridge during its first 50 years. Something no other book on the bridge had ever done.
And it was funny, if I do say so myself.
So, if you’ve made it this far down in this post you might be asking, what’s my point? Why am I ranting about this nearly twenty years later? Well, the answer is simple. After giving this a lot of thought (Duh!), I’ve decided to reissue The Great Golden Gate Trivia Book. Of course I’ve renamed it. It is now Secrets of the Golden Gate Bridge. I haven’t quite decided how I’m going to reissue it. Most likely I’ll POD the thing, probably through Lulu. I’m busy looking for an agent for my fiction and don’t want to divert my attention into looking for an agent for a non-fiction book. I’m certainly NOT going to deal with a publisher directly. I learned my lesson well concerning that! POD seems like the best way to go at this point.
I’ll let you know when it’s available.