Necessary Background Info

When I was a teenager, I was close to my maternal grandfather, Milton M. Brown. I was fascinated by the time he spent as a "delegate" in Herbert Hoover's WWI Commission for Relief in Belgium (CRB). He was one of only 185 American supervisors who ever worked for the CRB. After he died in 1979, I inherited all his diaries, correspondence and photographs from that period (1916-1917).

From 1986 through 1989, I worked full time researching the time period, WWI, the CRB, and numerous delegates. From those efforts, I wrote an 850-page historical novel, Honor Bound. I had a few nibbles -- agents and publishers who asked for the entire manuscript -- but no one offered a contract. In the late 1990s, I made a half-hearted attempt to rewrite the novel, but it didn't go far.

After my second book, Facing Your Fifties: Every Man's Reference to Mid-life Health came out in 2002 (and was included in Publishers Weekly's Best Books of 2002), my agent looked at Honor Bound. He suggested the topic would do well -- and fit my writing strengths -- if it was a history book written in novel-like style.

At the end of 2012, as I turned 60 years old, I came to the conclusion that it was time to take up this incredible humanitarian story again and see if I could make it work.

After more than a year of researching and writing, and with the help of a talented book team, I published Behind the Lines: WWI's little-known story of German occupation, Belgian resistance, and the band of Yanks who helped save millions from starvation. 1914. It detailed the complex and chaotic beginnings of the CRB and CN during the critical first five months of the war (August to December, 1914). It was released in October 2014 in time for the 100-year anniversary of the start of WWI and the CRB.

Since then, I'm happy to report that Behind the Lines has garnered national recognitions and reviews that include a Kirkus Starred Review (only 750 out of 10,000 books annually reviewed by Kirkus are awarded a Starred Review) and inclusion in Kirkus Reviews' Best Books of 2014. The last sentence of the review states: "An excellent history that should catapult Miller to the top tier of popular historians." You can read all the reviews at the book's website, which can be reached by clicking here.

Since 2015, my main goal has been to finish researching and writing WWI Crusaders, which tells the riveting full story in one volume of the American CRB delegates from August, 1914 to May, 1917, when the last Americans had to leave Belgium because of America's entry in the war.

Below are my blog posts. Each week through to the end of 2018 I’ll start each blog post with a “Don’t-Forget-WWI-Project” item. It’s my way of honoring all those who participated (willingly or unwillingly) in World War I (1914-1918).

It's also my way of drawing attention to my new book, WWI Crusaders: A band of Yanks in German-occupied Belgium help save millions from starvation as civilians resist the harsh German rule. August 1914 to May 1917.

After the "Don't-Forget-WWI-Project" item, my blog post will be about my self-publishing WWI Crusaders and my PR and marketing efforts to get national media exposure for this incredible humanitarian story that has all but been forgotten today.

I hope you find something of interest within this blog. For more information about Behind the Lines and WWI Crusaders, please go to the books' website by clicking here.

Post #42: Anxieties and Frustrations March On

Friday, August 10, 2018

DON’T-FORGET-WWI-PROJECT: Invasion. During the past week, 104 years ago on August 4, 1914, the Germans invaded Belgium to get to their real goal, France. Belgium was no stranger to invading armies. Before the country was established in 1830, the region was known as the cockpit of Europe because it had witnessed many other nations’ battles across their land—most notably Napoleon’s Battle of Waterloo in 1815. Now in August 1914, the Germans were disregarding Belgium’s neutrality, so the little Belgian army fought back. More than 7.5 million Belgians were in harm’s way and faced possible mass starvation. Learn more at

My Post: Truth be told, I’ve been stressed and tense over a number of things since my new book WWI Crusaders completed the production stage and entered the promotions/marketing/PR stage.

Like the tramp-tramp-tramp of German soldiers marching into Belgium in August 1914, my anxieties
and frustrations have been recently goose-stepping through my life. Everything from the printer being slow to print the book, to a lack of replies on critical emails, to frustrations over trying to set up pre-orders on

Okay, I have to admit I can be melodramatic at times (a trait not unknown to my siblings as well). So, things aren’t really that bad.

One reason I might be overreacting to these numerous niggling challenges is because the book came out of the production stage looking SO great. Every time I pick up the book, I’m still impressed with the wonderful presentation my book team created. Such success led me to feel like I was cruising on the downside of any publishing problems. I should have known better!

Anyway, while there have been – and continue to be – numerous points of contention in my life, I have to say I’ve spent a few productive weeks working on updating my book’s website, revising my Facebook and Linkedin pages, and developing marketing strategies for getting as much exposure as possible for the book and its great story.

This week, with the help of expert Eric V. van der Hope, the Amazon pre-order page for print books got up and running. You can see it here at

That page is also now linked to my Amazon Author page as well. I hope to have pre-orders for the ebook version set up in a few weeks.

The really good news, as mentioned in my previous blog post, is that I have a national book publicist on my side. Smith Publicity, with team leader Marissa Eigenbrood, is doing a great job making initial media contacts, distributing advance review copies (ARCs) to the right outlets, and circulating a press release and a short article I’ve written.  

Now, comes the hardest part—waiting!

It takes 4-8 weeks, if not longer, for reviewers to get to my book (if at all). It’s even worse with the all-important industry leader, Publishers Weekly, which will only consider self-published books through its BookLife program. And BookLife says it takes 6-12 weeks to merely decide if they will review you book or not. If you’re lucky enough to be told they will review it, THEN it takes an additional 4-8 weeks to get the review!

If you’re lucky enough to get reviewed, there’s no guarantee it will be a good review. I, of course, have a strong belief that WWI Crusaders is a good book, but I’m the author so I don’t really count!

The reason why good, national reviews are hard to come by is because of the sheer volume of books published every year. About 15-20 years ago, before self-publishing became so popular and easy to do, traditional book publishers generated about 340,000 new titles a year. That was impressive by itself. But now, adding in the explosion of self publishing, more than 600,000 NEW books are produced every year in America alone!

These stats are staggeringly depressing for any author who is hoping to get some exposure. They certainly explain why the odds are very low for any author to gain any media attention, and why garnering any such exposure is an incredible feat.

So, with those happy thoughts tramping-tramping-tramping through my head, I’ll get back to work and leave you ‘til next week.  

End of Post.

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