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Mining the Niche


During six months of research on the history of mining in Waterford, I came upon characters

with stories begging to be told. The purpose of the research was to answer questions posed by

members of the Waterford Historical Society. Were there ever any mines in our town?

Pegmatite and mineral deposits of feldspar and mica were everywhere in Oxford County? What

about in Waterford?

I didn’t set out to write a novel with direct appeal to a particular segment of the reading public,

but, in my historical fiction PROSPECTS, Mining Maine for Riches, a Novel, I told some of those

tales using various characters, some based on historical persons, some completely fictitious, to

accurately portray an Oxford County mining boom which occurred at the end of the nineteenth

century.

To my surprise it turns out that PROSPECTS has a great appeal for a very large niche of people,

rockhounds and collecting geologists. These people belong to clubs that organize field trips to

old and abandoned mines where attendees bring buckets, hammers, and chisels to find

valuable crystal specimens. This niche and the allure of mining history exists across the country

and around the world. Maine holds the honor of being a place where mining has been going on

long before the State split off from Massachusetts in 1820 and where people have found a lot

of gemmy material.

During Covid 19-year 2020 all the signing and reading events for my new novel PROSPECTS

were cancelled. What was I to do to promote the book? First, I approached the brand-new

Maine Mineral and Gem Museum in Bethel to see if they would sell the book. After all, I had

discovered the cover photo of a tourmaline gem displayed at their opening. They agreed, but

the Museum was soon after closed tight with both Covid restrictions and damage caused by a

serious water leak. I joined several gem and mineral sites on Facebook and began some

amateurish advertising. The only platform available for readings was Zoom. I grabbed as many

opportunities as came my way.

Then, in September, I came across an announcement for a “tailgate sale” event run by the New

England Mining Association to be held outdoors at the Havey mine in Poland, ME. I had a

tailgate, boxes of books, a couple posters and a cash box. What else was I doing on a Saturday

afternoon beside sitting indoors isolated from life? At nine am I arrived and displayed my

wares. By 4 pm I had sold twenty copies for cash to masked collectors who also happened to be

readers.

I will be returning to the NEMA event for the fourth time this April and again in September. At

each event I have sold between sixteen and twenty copies. Also on my schedule for 2022 are

two other rock shows thrown by organizations in Portland and Topsfield, MA. I have also begun

to sell copies on-line by asking businesses who regularly post on the FB sites if they want to sell

my novel in their shops. This is what I call “mining the niche.” Who can say if I will continue to

be successful with this demographic? As long as the prospects are good, I will continue to dig.


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