At the end of 2019, I set upon an ambitious course, and boldly announced I would win a book award for my memoir “Freaknik Lawyer: A Memoir on the Craft of Resistance.” I had a full schedule of speaking engagements and book signings that would take me into early summer.
On February 20, 2020, I was invited to speak on an author’s program hosted by the Washington Memorial Library in my hometown, the same library that had refused to issue a library card to me at age ten when I went in to check out a book on Willie Mays. It was a wet, blustery evening, but a sizable crowd turned out to see their native son.
Then COVID-19 locked the country down. I canceled all remaining public appearances. One of the competitions in which my book was entered made their selection in February. They selected other books to anoint this year. I had hoped that winning a book award would lead to increased sales of my memoir.
What started as a promising year suddenly turned bleak. As I settled into a quarantine routine, I took out my notepad where I had taken notes about a program hosted by the Atlanta Braves on February 11, 2020 and began to write a 750-word article about the centennial anniversary of the founding of the Negro Baseball Leagues.
Before I knew it, I had 5,000 words in the books, and more words kept floating onto my computer screen. Six weeks later, I had penned “The Duke of 18th & Vine: Bob Kendrick Pitches Negro Leagues Baseball.” I’ve never written a book in less than four months. My first one, the novel “Paper Puzzle,” took 30 years to the day to complete.
I sent a letter to everyone who had purchased one of my previous books to market this book, offering them an autographed copy before the book hit the streets. This pre-order campaign paid for the first print run and earned a nifty profit.
As I was gearing up the marketing campaign for “The Duke of 18th & Vine,” I received notice that “Freaknik Lawyer” had won a Bronze Medal from the Living Now Book Awards for a memoir by a male writer. Just like that, “Freaknik Lawyer” had a new life, and I had two books on my hands to market.
While working on a marketing strategy for these two books, my neighbor of 27 years, Rev. Dr. C. T. Vivian, make his transition back to pure energy in July, 15 days shy of his 96th birthday. He was a confidant of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and a 2013 recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Three days after his transition, I set out to write a 750-word tribute to him, but the words kept coming, and two weeks later, I authored “My C. T. Vivian Story: A Powerful Flame That Burned Brightly.”
Initially, I offered this book in a letter to my loyal readers. The response was overwhelming.
Much of the year of the 2020 pandemic has been given to reading, writing, and marketing. As this year ends, we decided to wrap my work into The Harvey Collection, including “My C. T. Vivian Story,” “Freaknik Lawyer,” “The Duke of 18th & Vine,” and “Justice in the Round,” and offer them to learn more about Black culture and history. We prepared the following video to help with marketing The Harvey Collection. So far, the public has been willing to spend good money to read this collection.
Harold Michael Harvey is the Living Now 2020 Bronze Medal winner for his memoir Freaknik Lawyer: A Memoir on the Craft of Resistance. He is a Past President of the Gate City Bar Association. He is the recipient of Gate City’s R. E. Thomas Civil Rights Award, which he received for his pro bono representation of Black college students arrested during Freaknik celebrations in the mid to late 1990s. Harvey is an engaging public speaker. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.