Surprisingly enough, I've enjoyed most of it more than I thought possible.
Although the book became available on Amazon early in January, the official book launch didn't take place until March 6th. This was because the Alaska Jewish Museum in Anchorage, Alaska, had asked to host the launch, and I certainly wasn't going to turn down an opportunity like that. Besides which, the Curator, Leslie Fried, had been incredibly helpful and supportive over the past several years while I was writing it, sort of like an unofficial midwife, and I felt it important that she be there for the birth. The Museum was going all out, with authentic Yemenite music arranged for keyboard and exquisitely played by the Rabbi's extremely talented son, authentic cuisine catered by a local chef, and posters and flyers plastered all over every bulletin board in Anchorage. Leslie had put together several clips from interviews done with my dad over a decade ago, and I'd built a 20 minute presentation, complete with slides. We'd planned for about 3 hours for the whole event.
Now, I was trying not to get my expectations too high. I mean, unless you're JK Rowling or Stephen King, who the heck shows up for a book launch? But Alaska Airlines had included a blurb about the book in the March issue of their in-flight magazine, Alaska Beyond (page 26; check it out), I'd been putting word out via every available contact and mailing list I had and I knew Leslie had been doing the same, so I hoped for the best.
Due to a screw-up by the local paper, the ad for the launch didn't get out until just a couple of days prior. One or two other glitches left me worried that I wouldn't have an audience at all. I girded my loins and visited most of the local radio and TV stations, leaving my card and a free book with everyone I thought might be appropriate. It paid off; Mike Porcaro, one of the more popular local talk-show hosts, called me up for an impromptu interview a couple of hours before the event. I crossed my fingers, took a breath, and headed for the museum with a box of books and my presentation on a stick.
Within a half-hour of the door opening, the room was packed. By the time Rabbi Greenburg got up to speak and get the ball rolling, it was standing room only. I had several local celebrities, including the former lieutenant governor, plus prominent business people, most of my family, a few old friends I hadn't seen since High School, and total strangers who'd heard me on the radio and been curious staring up at me as I took the podium.
I've been a professional actor for more decades than I like to admit to, and I've MC'd a variety of acts and events, so public speaking isn't new to me. But usually, I'm playing a character; standing up there talking about sometime real and deeply personal was nerve-wracking. I needn't have worried. The reception was almost overwhelming; the Q&A session afterward went on long past the planned time, the Museum sold out their entire stock of books and had to buy mine as well, and people lingered long, long past the end time. The Rabbi had to finally almost physically boot people out. It was awesome. I was walking on air for weeks afterward.
Since then, I've gotten the Seattle Public Library and the Lynnwood library system to include the book in their inventories, and Alaska Over Israel is now on several local bookstore shelves as well. The Museum of Flight's gift shop carries it, and I'm looking forward to doing my presentation there at some point in the near future. I've been asked to put together a film treatment for two different film companies. I've been interviewed for the Exodus archives in Israel. I've met some wonderful people and have had the incredible satisfaction of knowing that my book has touched people's lives and hearts. Even if it never gets any further than this, I can be proud of what I've accomplished.
But stopping there is not an option. I promised myself back at the beginning that I would do something every single day to help promote this book. Even if it's just one e-mail, following up on one prior contact, putting together one more promo package for future use. I may not see a result from every effort, but each one takes me one step closer to my goal. And I'm learning from each one.
I want to see this book on a Best Seller list. I want to hear other people discuss it. I want to give more presentations about the incredible aviation adventure that inspired it, so that the heroes and heroines who made it happen are finally given the credit they deserve. So that future generations hear of it, and honor those men and women.
And, yeah, okay, I want someone to make a movie about it. I mean, if I'm going to dream, why not dream big?
But that's another adventure.