The Importance of Mentors

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A person who had meant a lot to me and an organization in which I am active passed away recently. That got me thinking about the importance of mentors.

Like everyone, there have been many people who I’ve looked up to and found guidance from over my careers. I’ve learned a lot from them. But were they mentors? I suppose it depends on how you define the term. A quick Google search (the OED of the modern age) gives a definition of “an experienced and trusted adviser.” I’ve certainly had those, but I’m less certain they actually knew they were my trusted adviser. Mostly that’s on me. My nature is to absorb more than develop a close personal relationship, which I would think should be part of the definition of mentor. There were people I listened to, absorbing their experience and advice, but whom may not have felt they were acting as mentor to me because of that lack of personal relationship. I can be close to someone without that closeness being necessarily obvious to all parties. If that makes any sense.

In any case, I’ve been especially fortunate in the last ten years of having people around me from whom I can absorb expertise and guidance. This is especially important given that over that time I’ve effectively launched a new career. After getting degrees in science and working in the scientific arena for what many might consider a full career, I’m now living in the field of Abraham Lincoln scholarship.

This is actually a bigger deal than you might think. Every area of scholarship has its “professionals,” i.e., people who have studied in that field, received their degrees in that field, and operated in society in that field. That would be science for me. My credibility as an Abraham Lincoln scholar was at least initially looked at by professional Lincoln scholars as an avocation, an “amateur” with an interest. “Just a hobby,” I once heard someone say about such interlopers into their field (no, not about me). It isn’t necessarily malicious, but there is a sort of territoriality and protectiveness about a profession by those formally trained and practicing in it. To a large degree, that’s as it should be.

This makes the role of mentors even more important. These are people who are giving of their time and knowledge. They recognize others as potential colleagues rather than merely trespassers.

After this recent colleague (if I may be so presumptuous) passed away, I wrote a brief note about their importance as a role model both to me and to the organization (and other organizations as well). Yesterday I received a note from their spouse thanking me for my kind words. The words were of course true – the person was seen by me and others as having a deep historical knowledge from which we all benefited by their participation in discussions. The person may not have realized they were mentoring others, but certainly the others felt it, as did I. One part of the note that really hit home, and made me think of the role of mentoring, was that the person had said my scholarship meant a lot to them and that the final book they purchased was my newest book. That meant a lot to me. It suggested I had moved from trespasser to colleague status; that I had successfully “made it” in my second career.

It also reminded me of two other mentors in this field. One I met at my very first meeting of the organization. That person noted they were reading the then-new book about Abraham Lincoln by Fox News personality Bill O’Reilly (written almost entirely by his co-author whose name wouldn’t sell as many books). The reading was an act of sacrifice done “so others wouldn’t have to” (yes, the book is that poorly written and historically inaccurate, even false). Another long-time member of the organization also seemed to take a liking to me, in part due to my interest in Lincoln scholarship and in part due to their interest in Nikola Tesla (the topic of my first book). In both cases, they offered their time and historical experience to me. Both have since passed away.

There are, of course, many others from whom I’ve learned in my new field of scholarship. Some of them wrote back cover blurbs for my newest book. One even wrote the foreword. They continue to be a source of mentoring, whether they know it or not.

I’m now the president of the organization and led the team organizing the 100th anniversary event celebrating the Lincoln Memorial. I have a vision of taking nearly a century of organizational excellence and building it further to an even greater national organization. I already see signs of broader recognition and think we continue to grow in influence and contribution. Thinking of how the aforementioned scholars mentored me makes me wonder if, at least in some ways, I’ve become (or perhaps, will at some point in the future become) a mentor to others. That seems an odd concept to me at this point, but perhaps not everyone I have learned from over the years truly understood how much they were teaching me.

In a sense, growing into mentorship myself creates pressure to be more aware of the importance of that mentor role. Of course, I’ve had enough experience with successful organizations to know that they attained that success through the combined dedication and time of all of its board members and the enthusiastic participation by its membership, but also enough experience to know that a good leader can inspire greatness. Perhaps that is the best way to mentor – to empower those around you to keep pressing forward toward their individual and collective greatness. Whatever the future path, it’s clear that there is a responsibility and power to mentorship. Something we all should consider in our daily lives, whether you’re in an educational organization, a multinational corporation, or head of household in a family.

Lincoln: The Fire of Genius is available for purchase at all bookseller outlets. Limited signed copies are available here. The book is also listed on Goodreads, the database where I keep track of my reading. Click on the “Want to Read” button to put it on your reading list. If you read the book, please leave a review and/or rating.

You also follow my author page on Facebook.

David J. Kent is President of the Lincoln Group of DC and the author of Lincoln: The Fire of Genius: How Abraham Lincoln’s Commitment to Science and Technology Helped Modernize America and Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America.

His previous books include Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World and two specialty e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate.

Video of “A House Divided” Interview on Lincoln: The Fire of Genius

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For those of you who missed the live streaming, here is the YouTube video of my September 1st interview about Lincoln: The Fire of Genius on “A House Divided” with Daniel Weinberg, owner of the Abraham Lincoln Book Shop in Chicago.

Lincoln: The Fire of Genius on "A House Divided"

Watch on YouTube

We had a lively discussion about the origins of the book, how I balanced dual careers (one paying, one not) in science and Lincoln studies, and tons of stories about where Lincoln gained his knowledge of science and technology.

There is still time to order a book from the Abraham Lincoln Book Shop and get a signed bookplate along with your copy.

I have quite a few upcoming programs, so check out my Media page for the full list. Some will be virtual, some in-person, and some open to the general public. I hope to see you at one or more of them (since my book is so far-reaching, I’ll be doing different talks catered to each venue).

Lincoln: The Fire of Genius: How Abraham Lincoln’s Commitment to Science and Technology Helped Modernize America was released on September 1, 2022.

The book is available for purchase at all bookseller outlets. Limited signed copies are available via this website. The book also listed on Goodreads, the database where I keep track of my reading. Click on the “Want to Read” button to put it on your reading list.

You also follow my author page on Facebook.

David J. Kent is President of the Lincoln Group of DC and the author of Lincoln: The Fire of Genius: How Abraham Lincoln’s Commitment to Science and Technology Helped Modernize America and Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America.

His previous books include Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World and two specialty e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate.

Release Day – Lincoln: The Fire of Genius

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Today is Release Day for

Lincoln: The Fire of Genius: How Abraham Lincoln’s Commitment to Science and Technology Helped Modernize America

Lincoln: The Fire of Genius

Join me at one of my upcoming events: https://davidjkent-writer.com/media/ 

Lincoln: The Fire of Genius: How Abraham Lincoln’s Commitment to Science and Technology Helped Modernize America was released on September 1, 2022.

The book is available for purchase at all bookseller outlets. Limited signed copies are available via this website. The book also listed on Goodreads, the database where I keep track of my reading. Click on the “Want to Read” button to put it on your reading list.

You also follow my author page on Facebook.

David J. Kent is President of the Lincoln Group of DC and the author of Lincoln: The Fire of Genius: How Abraham Lincoln’s Commitment to Science and Technology Helped Modernize America and Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America.

His previous books include Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World and two specialty e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate.

Three Big Ways to Support Your Favorite Authors

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As the timeline in my previous post shows, writing a book is a major commitment. The timeline depicted happens after the author spends years doing research, especially for nonfiction books. Then there is the actual writing, the editing, the publisher interaction, and the marketing, not to mention giving presentations to relevant groups. Authors need your help. So, how do you support your favorite authors?

BUY THE BOOK: At the risk of being Captain Obvious, authors write books so people can read them. It helps if people actually buy them. There are several ways to do this.

  • Pre-Order: Ordering the book in advance from your favorite bookseller helps in several ways. First, it ensures you get the book as soon as it is released. Second, a lot of pre-orders lets the bookseller know that the book is trending, which means they can order more copies so other people can buy them. Third, more orders let the publisher order more printings (always a good thing). And fourth, all those pre-orders count toward the first day sales, which helps rankings on the websites of big booksellers and pushes the algorithms they use to promote “trending” books (thereby causing more “trending”).
  • Buy New Books: While we all like to save a few bucks, the authors pay the price by receiving lower royalties on books purchased through the big discounters. We receive a total of $0 (as in zero, nil, nada, nothing) for second-hand books sold by secondary sellers. Buying new books ensures the authors get paid rather than the distributors.
  • Buy from Independent Bookstores: The big booksellers (you know who they are) sell a lot of books. They are not in danger of going out of business. Independent bookstores are locally owned, which means all their income helps the local economy. So, you can support both the author and the local small businesses at the same time. I’ll be doing events at small bookstores for Lincoln: The Fire of Genius, as well as my upcoming release day interview with the Abraham Lincoln Book Shop. Of course, you should buy where you want to buy, and if that means Amazon, by all means do it. The keyword here is “buy.” [Special note on Barnes and Noble: B&N was bought out by a private book lover a few years ago, so it is essentially a really big independent bookstore.]

PROMOTE THE BOOK/AUTHOR: Ever notice how some books catch a wave, create a buzz, become trending, or whatever terminology has been invented recently to describe how something gets hot, goes viral, becomes a fad, sizzles, whatever? Some of it is luck, but some of it is due to the algorithms built into booksellers’ websites, search engines, and social media. I wrote previously about the roulette wheel at the top of the writer pyramid, which is the luck part. Algorithms are kept secret and are ever-changing so there is not much you can do about that. But readers usually have some control over their own social media. Let’s start there:

  • Share, Share, Share: The world (and social media) scrolls by so fast that sharing only once likely means most of the people you want to reach will miss it. So, share repeatedly, but don’t get all cultish and annoying about it. You’ll want to Tweet, Like, and Share on your social media more than once for people to see it. Different people use different media, so share wherever you are (but seriously, don’t just spam people). The biggies are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Goodreads, TikTok, and probably a bunch I’m too old to know about.
  • Goodreads: Goodreads is a book tracking, sharing, and recommendation site. There may be similar ones, but this is probably the biggest. Add the book to your “Currently Reading” or “Want to Read” lists. Set up a folder called “Recommended” and share your thoughts with people. After reading, definitely leave a rating and a review (honest reviews only). Go further and “Like” other people’s reviews (preferably only the 5-star ones). Leave comments. Leave ratings (Hint: 5-stars). All this promotes the book by putting it into the home page scroll of anyone following you.
  • Rate and Review: In addition to Goodreads, leave ratings and reviews wherever you have that option. The big sites like Amazon and Barnes & Noble allow ratings and reviews. Every review, rating, comment, whatever helps keep the book visible so people can find it in their ever-changing feeds.
  • Take a Picture: Authors love to know that people enjoy their books. So, snap a photo of you reading the book. Go all artsy and place the book with a colorful drink or a natural arrangement or something that is relevant to the book topic. Bring out your own personality. Then share it on your own social media and tag the author. We love photos! And we will share them. If the book goes viral, you could be famous!
  • Recommend to Friends: Know a friend who likes Lincoln? Another friend who likes science? Another friend who likes history? Maybe a friend who has a friend who has a friend who likes any or all of the above? Tell them about my book (or any other book you like). Spread the word. If you have a blog of your own, write a post. If you read book bloggers, suggest they review the book.

GO ABOVE AND BEYOND: If you really want to support the author and their book(s), and it fits your personality, feel free to go above the normal sharing to help promote them. Here’s some ideas:

  • Subscribe and Share: Subscribe to the author’s mailing list and/or newsletter. Suggest it to friends. Do the same for their Facebook Author Page, Goodreads, etc.
  • Recommend to Influencers and Podcasters: Not many of us have the kind of following that sells millions, but there are “Influencers” in every field on every social media platform. Sure, a book about Lincoln is not going to get much attention by a dancing video influencer, but there is a thing called @BookTok where TikTok people promote books. On Instagram there is #bookstagram. There are even Influencers on LinkedIn. There are also millions of podcasts these days, many of which promote books or history or science or all of the above. Send them a note. Good buddies with the prime-time commentator on a major network? Suggest the book as a good topic (Lincoln is always a good entree into modern politics). Know Jimmy Kimmel or Stephen Colbert? I’m available.
  • Recommend to Libraries and Bookstores: If you don’t see the book on their shelves, ask for it. Many libraries and independent bookstores will order books that people request. If the author is local, they are even more likely to want the book on their shelves (and have the author sign them).
  • Nominate for Book Awards: This is a little harder, as only the publisher can nominate for some awards (e.g., National Book Award, Pulitzer), but you can nominate for some smaller awards by local organizations.
  • Do Fan Art: Do you have creative genes? How about some cool fan art you can share with friends and social media. Show off your talents while supporting the author. If you tag me or otherwise make me aware of it, I’ll share it too.
  • Give Gifts: Everyone loves gifts. Everyone also has birthdays. There are traditional gift-giving holidays like Christmas and Hanukkah. Don’t forget graduations, weddings, father’s and mother’s days, anniversaries, and even Valentine’s Day and Halloween (you might have to be creative for the latter two). Books make good gifts (toss a heart-shaped box of chocolates or some spooky candy in the package and you’re good to go, as long as you put the right one in the right box).

Of course, if you can think of a way not on this list to be supportive of authors, please do so. We really (really, really) appreciate anything readers can do to bring our books to the attention of other potential readers. This really isn’t about money since only a tiny (teeny, micro, nano) number of authors ever make significant income from writing. Okay, maybe Stephen King and J.K. Rowling do, but most of us don’t. For us nonfiction writers especially, we do it because we think people will gain knowledge from our writing. So, anything that helps the book reach more people is a good thing.

Have other ideas? Drop me a note in the comments!

David J. Kent is President of the Lincoln Group of DC and the author of Lincoln: The Fire of Genius.

His previous books include Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity, Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World and two specialty e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate.

Check out my Goodreads author page. While you’re at it, “Like” my Facebook author page for more updates!

How To Publish a Book – The Timeline

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Fire of Genius countdown timeline

It takes a village to publish a book, not to mention a lot of time. These days writers have the option of self-publishing on various platforms, which can speed up publication time but also requires many (many) hours of formatting, cover creation, marketing, and uploading on top of actually writing a book worth publishing. As can be seen on the usual self-publishing venues, it’s hard to be adept at all of the different aspects. Which gets us back to the old standard of what is now called “traditional publishing.” Traditional publishers take care of a lot of the above (sorry, you still have to write the book and market) but that all takes time, more time than if you self-publish. How much time? Let’s look at the timeline for my new book, Lincoln: The Fire of Genius.

I’ve written recently about the process, starting with how I transitioned from science to history. Then I made some observations on the science of history. Most recently I wrote about the long history of the idea that became The Fire of Genius. You might want to read that latter post first because the following schedule starts with the proposal.

July 28, 2020: On this date I submitted my final proposal to my literary agent. I had sent her a preliminary proposal several years before, which (as the “long history” post notes) actually stimulated the writing of my previous Lincoln book, Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America (which stimulated the Encore Learning course I co-teach, but that’s another story). This final proposal was much more refined and sophisticated. Along with the general concept (what am I writing) and biographical information (why I’m the right person to write it) and commitment to market (authors = platform), I included two sample chapters (which just happened to be the two longest chapters in the book).

Aug-Nov. 2020: Rejections, Maybes, and Interest. My agent got the proposal out to potential publishers. Some of them rejected the idea (“not right for us at this time”) or simply didn’t respond. Some publishers said they were interested but “had just published a Lincoln book” (there are up to a dozen Lincoln books published every year) or “we like it but maybe if he were more famous” (from one of the Big 5) or some other variation of “no.” A few showed greater interest. In the end it came down to two publishers eager to publish the book. One had a non-traditional payment structure, the other more standard. We ended up at the more standard, more well-known, independent publisher.

December 31, 2020: About two months after indicating their initial interest, and two weeks after verbal agreement, Rowman & Littlefield sent me the contract (officially its trade imprint, Lyons Press), which I signed as New Year’s Eve revelers practiced their countdown chants in Times Square. The year 2020, aka, the year of the COVID, had been a rough year in many ways, but it ended on a high note.

June 23, 2021: Did I mention the deadline to write the book was six months? Actually, the original request was to submit by April 1st, which was an appropriate date for the impossible. After some brief negotiation we settled on six months from contract date, which was three months shorter than I had proposed (and 6 months shorter than my original intent, which I had already reduced in the final proposal). Luckily, I had been researching the book for a decade (see: history of), had well-organized notes and sources, and had partially written several chapters in addition to the two sample chapters included in the proposal. I submitted the final manuscript to my editor with a week to spare on the deadline.

June 2021-February 2022: Wait. Twiddle thumbs. Wait more. Cash check. The original schedule was to have the have the book in stores by February 2022. That was ambitious to begin with, and impossible in practice. Especially with COVID now causing supply chain disruption that made it difficult even to get paper to print on. Since most publishers work on two seasons (first half/second half annually), publication would be shifted to September 2022. Other books would be in the assembly line for editing, production, etc. ahead of my book. On the good side, my editor loved the final product and quickly “accepted” the manuscript, which meant the second half of my advance on royalties would boost my bank account by mid-summer. [For the record, there was no thumb-twiddling. I worked on other book ideas, marketing leg work, etc. during this time.]

Feb. 16, 2022: Received the copy edits to review. In addition to my acquisitions editor, R&L brought in a production editor, a copyeditor, and various assistants to shepherd the book through production.

Feb. 22, 2022: Returned copy edits with my agreement and/or changes. The edits weren’t too onerous, which is always a relief. They caught a few inconsistencies, misspellings, and fact breaks, which I gladly fixed. I also added in a couple of short new pieces I thought would enhance the points being made.

Mar. 24, 2022: Received proof pages. These are the “almost” final formatted pages. My last chance to make any (“keep them minor so you don’t screw up the pagination”) corrections.

Mar. 24, 2022: The very same day, I get the first back cover blurb (which are the “nice” things people say about your book that are printed on the back cover).

Apr. 2, 2022: Returned proof pages. This is the file I sent out to Lincoln experts to read and provide the blurbs above.

Apr. 4, 2022: Received dust jacket draft to review. I provided feedback, one of which was that they only included the one blurb I had previously sent them. I scrambled to get the people I asked to provide blurbs to speed up the process. I ended up with eight blurbs from some much-recognized experts in the Lincoln field and in the sciences, all key people related to my book topic. Their statements were all longer than would fit, so truncated versions will be on the book jacket when it comes out September 1st.

Apr. 8, 2022: Sent in final and shortened versions of the blurbs.

Apr. 11, 2022: Received index draft. This is done by an outside indexer for the publisher. Luckily, it was in good shape and didn’t need much in the way of changes.

Apr. 13, 2022: Call with the Director of Publicity at R&L along with my agent to discuss the process for publicizing the book. It was good to make clear what they were doing and what I had to do. I’m impressed by how much effort R&L is putting in to get the word out, including the actions of their extensive sales team across the country, sending advanced reader copies to book reviewers and major media outlets, and much more. That lets me focus on lining up book talks and interviews.

Apr. 15, 2022: Received final dust jacket design.

April 2022: Shortened versions of the blurbs go up on R&L, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other bookseller websites. The book pre-order pages had been up on those venues for a couple of months, but now they are filling in details.

April-June 2022: While R&L is handling all the big-name stuff and getting advanced copies out to book reviewers and salespeople (who are reaching out to independent bookstores, libraries, and places like the Smithsonian and National Park Service bookstores), I’m posting blurbs on Goodreads and starting a series of posts on my author website and my personal blog.

May 22, 2022: I am Master of Ceremonies for the Lincoln Memorial Centennial program on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Technically, this isn’t related to the book, but since I led the organizing team and emceed, it gave me some valuable visibility. I also get visibility as president of the Lincoln Group of DC and all of our activities.

May-June 2022: Starting to receive requests for advanced copies for book awards. R&L is sending out information to the media, book buyers, reviewers, etc. Lining up speaking gigs.

July 2022: Goodreads Giveaway for ten free print copies. I set this up and R&L sends out the books to winners. There were over 2500 entrants, which helps get the word out about the book.

August 2022: It has been two years since I sent the proposal to my agent and over one year since I turned in the manuscript. Yes, it can take that long. I continue to set up speaking engagements, interviews, and writing to promote the book. Oh, and preparing the presentations I’ll give. My event schedule is filling up nicely. It strikes me that I’ll actually have to prepare three separate talks (each of which will be modified for a particular audience): one that is an overview of the book and concept (for larger venues and broader Lincoln and/or science audiences); one focused on the Civil War science and technology aspects (for Civil War Round Tables); and one focused on the art and science of Lincoln (specifically for the Arts Club of Washington). I’ll also have non-book events, including a course I co-teach and board meetings for three different Lincoln organizations. It will be a busy fall.

September 1, 2022: RELEASE DATE! On the day the book is officially released, I’ll be doing a big interview with the renowned Abraham Lincoln Book Shop in Chicago. Join us as Dan Weinberg digs into the details of the book and how it came to be. Order the book in advance from him and you’ll get a special signed “day of release” bookplate.

August/September/October/November 2022: Speaking events, interviews, fingers crossed for additional printings, book awards, etc.

As you can see, publishing a book is a serious slog on a sometimes-mind-bogglingly long timeline. The process can work faster in some cases, but also slower. This is for a non-fiction biography, which takes years of diligent research before you even get to the proposal stage. It’s a commitment, a huge one. That commitment doesn’t stop once the book is submitted; it’s just getting started. I’m lucky to have a great team at Rowman & Littlefield to help pull the book production and sales side together, which lets me focus on the public appearances side of things. They’ve been great to work with and I know that any success is because of the combination of talents, theirs and mine. Self-publishers lose that in-house expertise and sales potential, all of which they must do themselves. Some people, and some books, work better as self-published (especially if you want the book out faster). But it’s also harder to get a book in bookstores, both big box and independent, if you self-publish.

With just over two weeks to release date, my job now is to line up more opportunities to make people aware of the book. Oh, and I need to finish preparing all those presentations.

Pre-order the book at the usual bookseller venues, including, and especially, your favorite local independent bookstore (or the Abraham Lincoln Book Shop as per above). If you’re in the area, come see one of more of my presentations. If you want to book me to speak to your group, send me an email (see my author website media page).

My next post will take a look at how all of us can help support the authors we love to read.

David J. Kent is President of the Lincoln Group of DC and the author of Lincoln: The Fire of Genius, now available for pre-order. His previous books include Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity, Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World and two specialty e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate.

Check out my Goodreads author page. While you’re at it, “Like” my Facebook author page for more updates!

The History of The Fire of Genius

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I wrote previously how I transitioned from science to history. Then I made some observations on the science of history. Digging into the history of Lincoln: The Fire of Genius seems the logical next step. There are actually two ways to do this.

First, what about that title? The title comes from a somewhat obscure science lecture that Lincoln delivered several times in 1858. Moderately attended, the lecture was not exactly his best oratory work, but it ended on the following line:

The patent system…secured to the inventor, for a limited time, the exclusive use of his invention; and thereby added the fuel of interest to the fire of genius, in the discovery and production of new and useful things.

The lecture has been dubbed “Lecture on Discoveries and Inventions” based on a few lines early in the content, although there was no actual title given in the papers we have. The book, Lincoln: The Fire of Genius, discusses that lecture and a related science speech he gave in a chapter appropriately enough called “The Science Lectures.” Lincoln’s point in the above quote is that the patent system was instrumental in driving innovation, a point that was proven during the Civil War.

Okay, that’s the first part. The second part is how this particular book came to be.

Back in 2015, which gives you some idea of how long this project has been boiling in my brain, I wrote about Speed Dating for Agents. You can click back to read the whole thing, but one line noted that my pitch (in 2012) was for a non-fiction book combining science and history. While the agents I spoke with that day liked my idea, I actually walked away from that conference with an opportunity to write the book that became Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity. That led to my Edison book…and then two e-books…and then to my first Lincoln book, Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America.

Needless to say, writing all those books dragged me away from the book I originally pitched. That book “combining science and history” would eventually become Lincoln: The Fire of Genius.

Of course, the book I pitched is not The Fire of Genius, not exactly. Looking back at my notes for that book I can safely say that the concept evolved over all those years. The idea I wanted to express became more focused. The thread of science and technology through Lincoln’s life became more tightly woven into the fabric of the times as well as Lincoln’s place in those times. Even while I was writing the other books, I continued to do more research on The Fire of Genius. I spent more time at the Library of Congress, the National Archives, and a dozen other libraries around the country, both in person and online. I visited many of the places that Lincoln lived and worked. I had many conversations with Lincoln scholars, including such luminaries as Harold Holzer, Michael Burlingame, and Sidney Blumenthal. Each was encouraging about the concept and provided reams of helping insights. Blumenthal even wrote the foreword for the book.

The end result of this combination of time and research has led to a much stronger book. My publisher has been great, providing not only the editor but a copyeditor, production editor, a variety of assistants, and the director of publicity to guide the marketing. I’m proud of the product that I, and they, have produced and can’t wait to finally hold a hard copy in my hand.

As I write this, the release date is only a month away (September 1, 2022). And today is also the day my Goodreads Giveaway of ten hardcover copies ends, so if you’re reading this on July 31st, go here to enter the contest. [If you’re reading this in August 2022, check out Goodreads for a chance at 100 e-books]

The book is available now for pre-order on the Rowman & Littlefield website (Lyons Press is a trade imprint of Rowman). You can also pre-order it on Amazon and Barnes and Noble (click on the respective links to pre-order). Release date is scheduled for September 1, 2022, after which you can also find it online, in chain and independent bookstores, and elsewhere.

For those of you who are writers, my next post will dig through the process of proposing, contracting, writing, editing, and waiting that the book goes through as it transitions from an idea to a physical book on Barnes and Noble’s bookshelves. Stay tuned.

David J. Kent is President of the Lincoln Group of DC and the author of Lincoln: The Fire of Genius, now available for pre-order. His previous books include Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity, Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World and two specialty e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate.

Check out my Goodreads author page. While you’re at it, “Like” my Facebook author page for more updates!

[Photo source]