Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Love, Nancy

Today, I interview Ruth Haag, author of "Hope all is well there, Love, Nancy: Letters from a Friend with Breast Cancer." Ruth talks about compiling a book through letters on a difficult topic.

Tell us about yourself.
I write books that help people to understand life as it is, rather than how they think it should be. Most of my books are written for managers and employees to understand the dynamics of the work environment. I am the CEO/CFO of Haag Environmental Company. Haag Environmental Company remediates hazardous wastes.

Tell us about your new book, "Hope all is well there, Love, Nancy: Letters from a Friend with Breast Cancer."
The book is a collection of letters that Nancy wrote to me, and a few that I wrote to her, during the nearly four years that Nancy had breast cancer.

This seems like such a deviation from your management training books, or is it? It is, and it isn't. All of my books look at life, and how people relate to one another. The management books talk about those relationships at work. This book looks at those relationships at home.

When you and Nancy were corresponding, did you think you had a book there? If not, how did you know to save all those emails and letters?
Nancy and I had been corresponding for more than 15 years. I had written several books by the time that Nancy found the breast cancer, and it immediately seemed to me that there was a book in it. Of course I had envisioned that Nancy and I would write a book together, that would describe her full recovery, but that is not what happened.

Did you have to obtain permission from Nancy's family to publish the letters, if so, how did you approach them?
Yes, I did obtain permission. I simply E-mailed all of them, described the book, and asked if it would be all right. I also asked them if they had any letters to add. Her husband, Jason, provided the letter near the end that she wrote to him on their 25th anniversary.

I know my students ask me about my own memoir, if there were sensitive family secrets or things about my brother I left out. I imagine there are some things in every true story that may be left out to protect privacy, etc. Did you talk about this with the family or make any of those decisions on your own?
I did a little of both. There were a few items that I was unsure of, for which I sent the direct quote to Nancy's husband, Jason. He made the decision to exclude them. Nancy wrote a few things in motherly frustration with teenagers, so I had my daughter look those over and take out anything that she thought would be embarrassing if it were said about her. All in all, there are about three phrases and five words missing.

How did you find your agent/publisher and how did you approach them about the book?
Luckily for me, I own a publishing company.

Tell us about your marketing plan, who is your target market and how are you reaching them?
I have found that all types of people like the book. My very conservative male banker read it and said he got a little teary eyed at the end. I just took it to a store here in Sandusky, Ohio, and later that day the owner called and said, "All right, I didn't get anything done today. I picked up that book and couldn't put it down." An 80+ year old friend of mine said, "I wish Nancy had been my friend." The appeal of the book is that you get to become friends with Nancy. It is being marketed through interviews in print, radio and TV. I have one publicist who figures that part out. I have a second publicist who promotes my work on the Internet.

What kinds of books do you like to read?
I like mysteries best. My favorite mystery authors are Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Rex Stout, Ed McBain and Robert Parker.

What's next for you and where can we find your book?
My next book is entitled, "Help Your Boss Gain People Skills." It is a guide for workers. to help them learn how to communicate with their bosses. My books are available on my own Web site: www.ruthhaag.com, through Amazon.com, or can be ordered at any bookstore. They are also available in Sandusky, Ohio at "Our Place by the Bay"located at 186 East Market Street, Sandusky, Ohio 419-621-1169.


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