Death by Petticoat: Update

The publishing world moves slowly, but it moves. The latest developments for the history myths book are as follows:

1. The third version of the cover art is the final one. I like it! You may not realize this if you haven’t had much experience with publishing, but authors have little or nothing to say about the covers of their books, so I was delighted that this publisher actually asked my opinion of their design. I’ll show you the difference. The first design was nice, but it was very Victorian in feel, which didn’t set right with me or with Colonial Williamsburg. Yes, some of the myths are Victorian, but still, it just didn’t seem right. And I loved the little skulls on the lace, but the impression I got was that of a curtain or window shade, not a petticoat. By the third design, the window shade had taken on more of a petticoat shape and the title font had become less Victorian. Not blatantly any particular era, just old-fashioned. And they got my name right, which is always a plus!












2. The subtitle has been changed a third time, shortened to AMERICAN HISTORY MYTHS DEBUNKED. The word Myth-conceptions was deemed by the marketing people to be too confusing, and frankly, I agree. I mean, you and I get it, but will it mean anything to the casual shopper? Probably not.    

3. The launch date is set for June of 2012. They are laying out individual pages now. 

4. 63 myths were ultimately selected for inclusion. All of them have been featured on the blog (or will be shortly), but they are shorter, snappier versions of what you can read here. I left out any historical documentation, like references to books or quotations, because this is “pop history,” after all.  Light, fun, and informative. 

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13 Responses to Death by Petticoat: Update

  1. Pat Smith says:

    Mary,
    The final cover is a winner! I can’t wait for this to publish. It will make a perfect gift for so many on my list! Congratulations on bringing a great idea to fruition.

    Pat

  2. This is a real winner! We are doing a program for our historic interpreters on some of the myths you have uncovered. I’ll insist that they all buy your book and will request that it be sold in our museum store. Can we request an autographed copy?

  3. gio says:

    Congratulations! The cover is beautiful!

  4. Nann says:

    I just this afternoon began reading “Just My Type” by Simon Garfield. It’s a book about fonts. There are many comments about coordinating the font to the message conveyed by the text. Your cover art comparison demonstrates just that!

  5. Hello. Congratulations!!!

    However – no doubt you saw that word coming from a block away – leaving out all references is a big mistake. In my opinion, books like this serve two audiences. The obvious one is for the reader searching for lighthearted fun, something to read at bedtime, or for a fun break in routine, etc.

    The second audience am people like me, real historians who have been fighting with this sort of thing for years. Serious American history writings and discussions are full of this stuff. Without references, your book simply becomes another undocumented series of entertaining opinions. A few basic footnotes wouldn’t kill the fun but would preserve the importance of this material as historical information.

    Your book could satisfy both needs, the serious information it provided and as entertainment. Footnotes Rule!!

    • marymiley says:

      I agree, but authors have to compromise too. The book’s audience is really the general public, not museum professionals or historians. Those people can access the blog where there is a give-and-take of information and updates when new information comes out (see the hoe cakes myth where I had to re-post). And I haven’t left out ALL references, I just don’t detail them in the same way I would in the blog. For example, the myth about dressing naked table legs, I wrote, “‘The idea that 19th-century Americans were such prudes that they covered their furniture legs with little skirts seems to have come from a satirical book written in 1839 by an Englishman about his American tour. In Frederick Marryat’s Diary in America, he makes fun of the American habit of saying “limb” instead of the more vulgar “leg.” Then he says he visited a boarding school for young ladies in New York where he saw a piano that “the mistress of the establishment . . . had dressed all these four limbs in modest little trousers, with frills at the bottom of them!’” No footnote, no page number, but the reader still gets a sense of the source.

      • Good compromise. Thanks for the example.

        By the way, my very Victorian grandmother (mother’s side, born in 1892), who remembered the announcement of the Queen’s death, always spoke of limbs, never legs. I gave her a hard time about it.

        I was always surprised that my grandfather, who’d fought in World War I and played football for the University of Michigan, never said a word about it. Probably more of a gentleman than I.

        Incidentally, in 1915 or so, the coach told his team if they couldn’t win the game, to do as much physical damage to the other team as possible. So the pointless violence is nothing new.

        Thanks again for the clarification.
        Gregory

      • marymiley says:

        I have the same story in my family! My grandfather, born in 1897, used to tell us how his mother chastised him for saying “leg” instead of “limb.”

  6. kim says:

    I like the final version of the cover! Made me want to pick it up!

    kim

  7. Deborah Brower says:

    Very clever cover. It reflects the lighter side of a serious subject I can hardly wait, we’ve needed a book like this for a long time.

  8. Anne Nydam says:

    I love the final cover. It looks perfect.
    Also, thanks so much for including the longer, less “pop” versions of the myths on this blog. I really appreciate the references and more depth!

    • marymiley says:

      And what makes the blog better than the book is the dialogue that occurs when people correct a mistake I’ve made or point out something I hadn’t considered.

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