My guests today are Tim and Debbie Bishop, authors of the memoir, Two Are Better.
Thank you for this interview, Tim and Debbie. Can you tell us a little about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?
We came to the writing profession later than most, although we had plenty of practice along our journeys. Debbie was a literacy specialist and a promoter of writing in public schools for many years. Tim wrote on a regular basis in his prior role in corporate finance. We’ve noticed that one’s vocabulary and command of the English language tends to expand as we age, regardless of our vocation. I guess this is just another benefit of gray hair!
Can you tell us briefly what your book is about?
Two Are Better is a joint memoir that picks up our story as we meet and choose to marry for the first time ever at age 52. When we venture across America on a self-supported bicycle tour just weeks after our wedding, the suspense and excitement kick up a notch. Our open account shares the joy, the struggles, and the excitement of our adventure, and some important life lessons learned along the way. The bicycle journey taught these lessons well, as it contained metaphors applicable to daily living.
Why did you choose your particular genre?
We think our particular genre chose us. We own a story that has the potential to bless others. That can only happen as we tell it openly and honestly.
What was your greatest challenge writing this book?
We faced challenges on a multitude of fronts. Since we included photography and reproduced the entire book in color, the layout as well as the dual-author narrative presented challenges that most trade paperbacks—or ebooks for that matter—do not face. Once we had decided to include two narrators, we needed to reconcile and blend our styles and schedules. In many respects, the writing and production of Two Are Better became an extension of our marital bonding. We moved from one major undertaking to another, from a cross-country bicycle trek to writing and publishing a book. Both adventures made for a unique laboratory for discovering our unique formula for success and our identity as a couple.
Are you published by a traditional house, small press or are you self-published?
Two Are Better is published by a small press, Open Road Press, which is our own publishing company. Some might think of this as self-publishing, and in the literal sense that may be true. However, our approach really differs from those who write a book and hand over their manuscript, along with a large payment, to a vanity press. Open Road Press has also published Bicycle Touring How-To: What We Learned, an ebook that explains how to prepare for and conduct a long-distance bicycle tour.
Was it the right choice for you?
We think it was the right choice because we were determined to publish our story, and we wanted full control over how it would be told. It is too personal to compromise its message. In addition, with the color interior, we needed to manage the project in order to arrive at a more cost-effective solution. Just because we chose to handle so many of the details does not mean that we sacrificed quality. We hired professionals for editing and design and applied quality standards throughout the production process. For example, Two Are Better uses 80lb-paper and a PUR binding. We received feedback from a senior editor of a traditional publishing house who told us his firm could not reproduce our book cost effectively, and he therefore concluded that we had chosen the best method to produce the book. Perhaps time will be the best judge of whether another approach may have been better. Nevertheless, we’re certainly happy with the final product.
How are you promoting your book thus far?
Early on, we solicited reviews and media coverage and had some successes. We also worked hard to land a distributor. In early May, we came to terms with Advocate Distribution Solutions, a division of Send The Light Distribution. This opened the door for book signing events at some large bookstores. We’ve since developed a few slide shows for speaking engagements. And we’ve hired a publicist who better understands how to generate effective publicity and has better contacts than we do. We’ve also invested in advertising.
How is that going for you?
Promotion has been another facet of publishing that we’ve been learning as we go. Even so, we’ve tackled much. We’re still assessing which promotional tools work best for us. It seems clear that there is no magic bullet. What may work for one book may not work for another.
Advertising is difficult to assess in any business. People need to know about one’s product. What pushes them to buy it is more nebulous. It can be difficult enough to link specific promotional activities to profitability in any business. But in the mass distribution book trade, buyer feedback is not easy to assess because buyers are disconnected from the publisher.
Exposure is important. Without spreading the word, whether you do it through marketing and promotion, or whether the book catches fire through an unexpected or unexplainable phenomenon, books won’t sell. Books also won’t sell if they aren’t very good. That’s the part we can control, and we’re pleased with the result.
Can you tell us one thing you have done that actually resulted in one or more sales?
We’ve had some success advertising in a niche magazine for bicycle touring. Whether the success will result in sufficient funds to pay for the advertising is yet to be determined.
Do you have another job besides writing?
We’ve both “retired” from long-term jobs, but we don’t consider ourselves retired. Tim still consults for small businesses and we both volunteer for an organization called TheHopeLlne, which helps youth in crisis.
What’s next for you?
Debbie wants to keep her hand in teaching and Tim will continue consulting. There may be a few more books in the future. Time will tell. We would like to speak to groups about our story. We believe it will bless people. And it may even pay a few bills.
Thank you for this interview, Tim and Debbie. Can you tell us where we can find you on the web?
We blog at www.openroadpress.com. You can also follow us on Facebook (/OpenRoadPress) and Twitter (@OpenRoadPress). Thanks so much for hosting us on your website. We hope what we’ve written is helpful to your readers.
About the book:
From an engagement to a cross-country trip in just ten weeks? And with no experience in bicycle touring—or marriage? While Tim left behind a 26-year corporate career and familiar surroundings, Debbie was about to enter a “classroom” she hadn’t seen in her 24 years of teaching. Was it a grand getaway or a big mistake?
Purchase from Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Two-Are-Better-Midlife-Newlyweds/dp/0985624825/
Purchase from Open Road Press: http://www.openroadpress.com/store/
About the authors:
Originally from Maine, Tim Bishop has over thirty years of experience in business, first as a CPA, then for many years in various roles in the corporate world. In addition to consulting for small businesses, Tim serves as a Hope Coach for TheHopeLine, a nonprofit organization that seeks to reach, rescue, and restore hurting teens and young adults.
Debbie Bishop has taught for over twenty-five years, for the past ten years as a literacy specialist in Framingham, Massachusetts. She has a passion for reading and seeing that young people do it well. She also has high interest in recovery issues and encouraging others with her own triumphs over struggles earlier in her life. Debbie also serves as a Hope Coach for TheHopeLine.