I now have a response to the many people (more than I ever expected) who’ve said something along the lines of
“You should update your book!”
“So much has happened in beer. Are you going to write a new book?”
“You need to write a new chapter for the beer book.”
My response is:
“That's a great idea! I believe I’ll do just that.”
Next year (2016) marks ten years since the publication of Ambitious Brew: The Story of American Beer. As I’ve noted on many occasions, the book changed my life in ways that I never imagined during the five years I spent writing it. It wasn’t so much that the book took on a life of its own, as that I got sort of a new life because of it.
I plan to celebrate its tenth birthday by publishing a new final chapter. An addendum, if you will, to the book. This won’t be a revision: I don’t own the rights and the publisher has no interest in the book and certainly not enough to pay for a revised edition.
Instead, I’ll write the chapter and publish it as a stand-alone essay. Digital only, to begin with. (I’d love to do a print-on-demand paper edition, but that would be pricey for both me and readers. So for now that’s a back-burner option.)
I plan to publish the essay on/around October 1. If I remember right, the “official” launch date for the book was October 3, 2006. So I’m aiming for that. (The official launch is one of those things publishers do. If you’re JK Rowling, the “launch date” is critical. If you’re me, it’s a meaningless convention. In reality, AB landed on bookstore shelves over Labor Day weekend that year.)
At this point, the eagle-eyed among you are looking at my promised publication date and howling with laughter. Right? Admit it. Because, yeah, I’m the person who took five years to write the beer book and seven to crank out the meat book. (And three to write the Key West book and two to write the plumbing book.)
But, Eagle Eyes, there’s a difference this time! Several, in fact.
First, and for the first time ever, I’m writing about a topic in which I am well-versed. Because, ya know, I wrote a book about beer in America and I’ve been following the beer industry for more than a decade.
Second, this essay will cover only the past ten years. Not ten thousand or five hundred. Just ten.
Third, and big whew!, for the first time in my historian’s life, the internet/web will work in my favor. I can sit in my house and conduct the kind of research that, in the past, I could only do by sitting in front of a microfilm reader at the university library. You have NO IDEA how much difference that makes in terms of research. I’ve already combed through, saved, and tagged and indexed articles covering four years from hundreds of newspapers — and that took less than eight hours. Honey, you’ve no idea!
And a short time frame — ten years — makes it far easier to determine which narrative threads are best suited to anchor the essay.
Still, my time frame is tight. As in: tight. The next four months in particular will make or break this project (at least in terms of getting it out in October. The world won’t come to an end if it’s not out in October, but I’d like the sweet satisfaction of pulling this off).
This also means a temporary trip to the filing cabinet for the three essays I’ve been writing and which I’d planned to use as the launchpads for my new, non-book career. But now they’ve got to wait. This new project is more timely and, frankly, more likely to bring in some $$. Of which, I’ve not earned much of late . . . .
Anyway. I’m excited. Hope you are, too. Now: Back to work.