I have written a book about Atlantic City's history called Boardwalk Playground: The Making, Unmaking, & Remaking of Atlantic City. It's finished. I will publish it through my existing Winchester Books imprint.
From 2003 to 2011, I wrote a monthly column on Atlantic City history for Casino Connection magazine. Click the link. You can read many--but not all--of the columns.
My day job is all about gambling, and my previous books have been about some combination of gambling and history. This column gave me a chance branch out and write about a variety of topics: city landmarks going back to the 19th century like the Boardwalk and lighthouse, famous personalities like Nucky Johnson, and a few of the organizations that made the city a community, like the Beach Patrol and Free Public Library.
When the print version of Casino Connection ceased publishing, I stopped writing the column. I vaguely thought about pulling my work into a book, but with a number of other projects and commitments did not have the time.
This summer, with a few other things wrapped up or close to it, I made the time to seriously think about an Atlantic City book. After all, I was born and raised there, and the city has had a rough time of it lately. With all of the negativity surrounding the decline of the city's casino industry, I felt like I had sometime to say, something like, "This city has a really interesting history, and here are some examples." Hopefully a little more eloquent than that, but you get the idea.
Over the past few weeks, I've edited and expanded the existing columns and written more than a dozen new ones to fill in some holes. The result is a full-length book (about 80,000 words) that covers various aspects of Atlantic City history from the resort's 1854 founding through today.
This is a book I've wanted to write for a very, very long time. Growing up in Atlantic City and becoming a writer, it's such a natural for me to write a book about Atlantic City that I'm not sure why it took me this long.
What's the book look like?
The Queen of the Coast. The World’s Playground. The Casino Capital of the East. They all mean one thing: Atlantic City, New Jersey. Beloved, maligned, always-hustling sea since its 1854 founding, the seaside resort has seen it all: first class hotels, popular amusements on the world famous Boardwalk and its piers, Prohibition, gangsters, speakeasies, conventioneers, celebrities, urban pride, urban decay, a casino revival, a casino collapse—and it hasn’t given up yet.
Boardwalk Playground shares a hundred stories of Atlantic City’s high spots and low points of the past century and a half, with an emphasis on the hospitality business that evolved into casino gaming—and is evolving again. With sections on the city’s history, its classic hospitality, personalities, community institutions, and casino resorts, this book is essential reading for anyone who wants to know what gives Atlantic City its unexpected, enduring allure.
More specifically, I've broken the book into 5 sections:
- A capsule historical overview that, in 25 chapters, hits the high and low spots of the city's past.
- Profiles of the hotels, piers, and restaurants that made Atlantic City the "world's playground" for decades, like Million Dollar Pier, the Marlborough-Blenheim, and White House Subs
- Brief biographies of ten famous personalities connected with Atlantic City, from Nucky Johnson to Jacob Lawrence
- Chapters on community organizations, ranging from the Atlantic City Beach Patrol to the Seagulls professional hockey team that called Boardwalk Hall home
- Stories of each of the city's 15 casinos, including those that have been closed, with bonus material: a chapter on casinos that were never built, and closing thoughts developed from columns originally published in Vegas Seven magazine.
What do I need money for?
Why am I asking the Kickstarter community for help? Because I am a self-financing (and community-financed) author who needs a little help to get this project off the ground.
I have already completed most of the work. I have a finished manuscript that is laid out and nearly ready for publication. Nearly.
To make the book look its best, I want to hire a professional proofreader and indexer, which take money. Since I am doing the interior layout myself, I'm saving a great deal of money. I'm also doing the ebook conversion/layout myself, which is also saving money, and I have the kindness of a friend to thank for the best cover I could imagine. So I will be putting the money I get into polishing the book's presentation through a professional proofread and indexing. If I exceed my funding goal, I will put the surplus into marketing the book.
In addition to raising the money I need for publication, this campaign also gives me a chance to connect with people about the book. I'm very excited about it, and really want to get the word out.
Risks and challenges
So what could go wrong? First, let me tell you how things will go if they go right.
I have a proof reader and indexer lined up, and I have already finished the template/skeleton of the layout. For this book to go live, all I have to do is release my manuscript to the proofer, input the changes, upload the corrected manuscript into the finished book design, send it to the indexer, add the index, and upload it to CreateSpace. From there, I'm ready to go live.
Formatting it for ebook will take a few more hours, but since I have done this before, I don't see any major complications there.
So, if I don't foresee any complications, what could go wrong? I could be killed, incapacitated, or have another dire personal emergency, in which case I wouldn't be able to do all those above steps. Besides that, I have plenty of time allotted to meet my October 2015 publication goal.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (28 days)