Monday, May 19, 2014

Author Interview: Julie H. Ferguson (Part 1 of 2)

 Julie H. Ferguson is an author, travel writer and photographer. She has an abiding interest in Canadian submarines. I recently interviewed her; here is part 1:

Product DetailsIt’s pretty common for authors to find cartons of unsold copies in their basements or their publisher’s warehouse. I take it you had the opposite problem with “Through a Canadian Periscope”?
Periscope sold two thirds of its print run in the first three months, and was out of print a couple years later. I attributed this to the book being selected for Books for Everyone just before Christmas 1995 — no social network or Internet campaigns in that era, just personal appearances on national radio and lots of positive reviews in the print media. I didn’t have a website until late-1996. How times have changed!

Who put on pressure for the second, updated edition, which just came out in March this year? Was it from your end, or from your publisher?
It was a joint endeavour — I’m fortunate to be close to my publisher, Kirk Howard, of Dundurn and also have had an ongoing relationship with the VP Sales and Marketing since 1993. Dundurn had published two other books of mine in 2006 and 2009, so I just told them about the submarine centenary over dinner one night. This is the huge advantage of building a strong and long relationship with your publisher and staff.

Were you anxious to do an update, in order to discuss the acquisition of the Victoria-class submarines and recent developments?
I was more eager to celebrate the submarine centenary in the only way that I could contribute. It was more that, than a desire to update Periscope. After all, I had another submarine book, Deeply Canadian, that detailed the acquisition of the Victorias after a ten day visit with the RN Upholder Sales Team in the UK. All I had to do was to discuss the activation, operational and maintenance processes with the RCN Submarine Force to get the books current. One benefit of second editions, however, is the ability to correct a few mistakes that became known after publication and another is the opportunity to restore the old images and add new ones.

What were the challenges in putting out the second edition?
None for Periscope. Also as all rights to Deeply Canadian had reverted back to me, I was free to make the changes to that book and publish it electronically using Kindle Direct Publishing, which I know how to do.

How have sales been?
Periscope: Don’t know until I sit down with the team at the end of June, and really we won’t know the details until after the centennial Submarine Week in August.
Deeply: I had 300 downloads of the digital second edition over Easter following a giveaway on Amazon and a huge promotion campaign on social media. I expected about 50 copies max, so was thrilled. This also caused a spike in Periscope sales apparently, but I don’t know the figures.
That was precisely my intention.
As an aside, this campaign also directly garnered invitations to do signings, media interviews, and presentations from the promotion of Deeply. A good result all round.

Julie Ferguson blogs at and is on Facebook, Her books are available on

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