Getting Tweaked and Finding your Category

Who me?
Not but three days ago I didn’t know how to check Amazon’s rating system and then Social Media Advisor Christy Hovey alerted me that my memoir, Ahead of the Flaming Front: A Life on Fire was listed at #97 in like books. I was excited as all get out to be in the top 100. Christy had been retained by my publisher Caxton Press as a social media consultant to help me tweak my web presence and advise me how to increase book sales and increase my self-esteem.
So she asked me a battery of questions, and I gave her a battery of answers and only managed to say one awkward thing when I said, “I’d love for you to tweak me…I mean… ah…my sites.. tweak my sites I mean!” My daughter Sophia close by face-palmed and let out a long sigh signifying the word Dad. So cut to a morning not a couple of days later (yeah, this morning) I was excited to find:
#10 in Books > Professional & Technical > Civil Service > Firefighting & Prevention
#27 in Books > Biographies & Memoirs > Specific Groups > Adventurers & Explorers
#28 in Books > Science & Math > Nature & Ecology > Conservation
#10! Wow. I was shocked And top 30 in two other categories that were close to my heart. Like most firefighters, not only do we consider ourselves part of the fire community, but we are and have been influenced by adventurers and explorers and conservation is something we do on a daily basis even when not engaged in the job. All I could really think about was that somehow my book was in the same group as authors I’d read and loved and admired since I was a little snot nosed kid dreaming of adventure and writing about it. Writers like as Antoine de Saint-Exupery, Apsley Cherry-Garrard, John Muir, Aldo Leopold, Gretel Ehrlich, Norman Maclean and his son John, and a host of others…. Yeah I know, loosely grouped and maybe a stretch in some cases, but I felt in that company in some small way.
Before I knew I’d written a fire book and would be included in that category. It was also something to see that most of the top books in firefighting concern taking exams, training and dieting for the job, electrical code (I know right?), and eight of these books were for structure firefighters, one a history of the the 1910 fires (The Big Burn by Timothy Egan, which I recommend) and me the sole wildfire first person narrative in the top 10. Still more wow for me.
But something else… seeing it laid out with these other categories created a wider web of belonging. I felt a companionship with authors living and dead. Christy signed on to help me promote my author presence on the web through social media (which I highly recommend), but she also ended up promoting my sense of place in the history and community of authors and connecting me back to the kid in the desert daydreaming of adventure and telling stories. Didn’t see that coming.
Who me? Yeah me.

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