What does it really take to land on a best-seller list?
Tuesday, October 24, 2017
Interview with authors Lori Perkins, Brian J. O’Connor
Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Watergate But Where Afraid to Ask
1. What really inspired you to write your book, to force you from taking an idea or experience and conveying it into a book?
It was the combination of the 45th anniversary of the Watergate break-in and the constant stream of comparisons between Nixon’s scandal and the “Russiagate” investigations around President Trump. Lori and I realized that we get all these references because we grew up watching the televised Senate Watergate Committee hearings, but Millennials and pretty much anyone born after 1970 doesn’t really understand all this talk about a potential “Saturday Night Massacre” and constitutional crisis. At the same time, we didn’t want to write some dry historical recitation of facts, so our tone is more like having The Daily Show tackle Watergate.
2. What is it about and whom do you believe is your targeted reader?
EVERYTHING YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT WATERGATE is targeted at three types of readers: Post-Boomer readers who don’t have any clue what Watergate was all about, those of us who could use a good refresher, and people who only know Watergate through the very narrow official white male perspectives of the time. We’re looking at Watergate through more of a cultural lens, from how it influenced language, the arts and humor, the involvement of women, what else was happening at the time, and we bring people up-to-date on all the players. We even binge-watched the entire committee hearings, which, believe me, doesn’t have nearly the production values of “Breaking Bad.” We have chapters on Watergate collectibles – they’re really are such things – and we even found the martini recipe that had Pres. Nixon bombed as regularly as the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Finally, we found some striking similarities between Trump and Nixon, from their association with foreign influence on their elections to the fact that they both demanded the White House chef cook their favorite recipes for meat loaf.
3. What do you hope will be the everlasting thoughts for readers who finish your book? What should remain with them long after putting it down?
In talking with teachers and younger people – even our own interns – we found out that Watergate gets little or no attention in high school history or civics classes, so we’re hoping that people will come to understand that this was a very big deal – after all, Nixon’s the only president ever to resign – that involved a criminal conspiracy run out of the White House. This changed the way Americans thought about their government and politics in general. We’re hoping that this will help people consider that the similar things we’re seeing in politics now can constitute major concerns and crisis in how we govern ourselves.
4. What advice or words of wisdom do you have for fellow writers?
Write the book that only you can write. Watching Watergate as teenagers was a big influence on both Lori and me because we were just becoming interested in journalism, so we were naturally enthusiastic about this topic. But there was just no way that I could write this straight – I’ve won three humor-writing awards – so we decided to approach this with a point of view and tone that make it entertaining as well as informative.
5. What trends in the book world do you see and where do you think the book publishing industry is heading?
To me, it looks like everything is a niche now, and every book needs that kind of very specific hook to get noticed. Lori and I would never have written a book about the history of presidential crises, for example, so we focused just on Watergate and how it relates to where we are now. And then doing it with humor and snark narrows that down even more. My own next book won’t be general personal finance advice, but will be tailored to people going through specific types of financial turmoil who need answers. I think readers now go beyond asking “Is this a good book?” and want to know, “Is this a good book for me and where I am right now?”
6. What great challenges did you have in writing your book?
Two things. The first one was deadlines. We only had about three months from when we started talking about the idea of doing a Watergate book to when it went to press in order to hit the anniversary of Nixon’s resignation. But Lori’s extensive digital experience made it possible to not only get the e-book done on time but to have the print version out, too. It didn’t hurt that we’re both old newspaper hacks who long ago learned to laugh in the face of even the most ridiculous deadlines. “Ha! Ha! Ha!” See, there goes on now.
The second thing was the news itself. Just trying to keep up with the constant missteps of Trump & Co. had us constantly running to keep up to date and dig out more parallels to Watergate. Personally, I’m still waiting for Trump to trot out a Cocker Spaniel and give a word-salad rip-off Nixon’s Checkers speech about how he’s not going to make Jared and Ivanka give it back. Although it’ll probably be a Russian Wolfhound with a forged pedigree.
7. If people can only buy one book this month, why should it be yours?
Watergate was the last time we ever had as chaotic a situation going on in Washington as we do now. Who knows where all this will end up in another year or two, but Watergate can give this all context and, we hope, some lessons. The Nixon administration wasn’t as pathetically clownish as the Trump administration acts, but the issues about obstructing justice and running roughshod over the Constitution are raising a lot of the same questions, along with basic questions about the fitness of a paranoid, immoral bully to sit in the Oval Office. Plus I’m still really bothered by that meatloaf thing.
Author bios: Lori Perkins is the editor/author of 25 erotic romance anthologies including the first zombie romance short story collection, HUNGRY FOR YOUR LOVE, as well as the anthology 50 WRITERS ON 50 SHADES OF GREY, which looks at the erotic romance phenom from 50 points of view, She is the founder of the L. Perkins Literary Agency, and a former adjunct professor of journalism at NYU. She lives in New York City.
Brian O’Connor is an award-winning business and financial columnist, as well as author of "THE $1,000 CHALLENGE: HOW ONE FAMILY SLASHED ITS BUDGET WITHOUT MOVING UNDER A BRIDGE OR LIVING ON GOVERNMENT CHEESE,” which was named Best Money Management Book of the Year by The Institute for Financial Literacy. O’Connor is a three-time winner of humor-writing awards from the National Society of Newspaper columnists. His freelance work has been featured in The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor, Martha Stewart Living and The Wall Street Journal.
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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2017©. Born and raised in Brooklyn, now resides in Westchester. Named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs