I was recently asked if I would speak about my book at a local college. This got me thinking about what I would talk about. Sure, Writing 101 is to write what you know and what you’re passionate about. But also high on a writer’s priority list is choosing a subject and an angle with broad appeal. After all, both are key to a writer’s success. More interest from more people means more sales. As stated in the author profile on the back of my book, I penned my first poetic account of an Ali fight after his shocking victory over George Foreman. It also states it was well received by all who read it then. What it doesn’t state is how I noticed the difference in compliments offered on the piece. Men were drawn in by the fact that it was about the sport of boxing. They commented on the realistic description of the action and of Ali’s antics and bravado. Women seemed to appreciate more the artistic expression, the pace, style, flow, and rhyme pattern. Being that it all was important to what I was trying to achieve, I was appreciative for them all. But over the years as I continued to plan the book, I kept that info tucked in the back of my mind. As I wrote individual pieces here and there over the years, the format for the book took many twists and turns. (But everything was held onto. First stored in a large envelope. Later, when the envelope was full, it was kept in an old jigsaw puzzle box.) I went back and forth over whether to write a basic biography with a few poetic accounts added in or a book focusing strictly on the poetic accounts. Most female readers aren’t big on sports books in general, and even less so when the subject matter is boxing. And there are numerous straight out biographies in print on Ali already. So, I felt my best chance at attracting some female reader interest, and to somewhat separate my book from the pack, was to go with the latter. I posted an early version of one piece on a poetry writers and readers site. One male reader called it a “cool ass poem” while female reader feedback stated, while not into sports, they loved the artistic expression in the piece, and therefore enjoyed reading it. I felt both supported my decision. Further confirmation came from my female editor who stated, “The concept is well-thought out and expertly crafted. Using the Greek ode as a model is fitting, and the strict parameters in which this is written only help to elevate it to a worthy and beautiful piece of art. The respect and admiration for Muhammad Ali is palpable. It is evident in every word.” However, the risk in doing it this way was potentially alienating some sports loving male readers not in to poetry. As one male reviewer stated, “David A. Bates’ collection of sports poetry, Odes on Ali: A Tribute to the Greatest, may be viewed with some initial skepticism by those readers who love sports writing, but I hoping they can suspend their disbelief just long enough to read Bates’ brilliant introduction and one single poem. I’m convinced one poem will render them as incapable of not continuing to read this most amazing recreation of Ali’s career… There’s drama, action and suspense in every line as Bates’ careful choices of words and rigorous adherence to the structure of his poems give each line power and real, you-are-there authenticity. Odes on Ali: A Tribute to the Greatest is an original and most impressive book of sports writing and an outstanding collection of poetry all at once.” These comments from both genders told me that I’d achieved my objective and made the right decision. Hopefully, readers from both genders will suspend any preconceived aversions and take a chance. I am proud of, and pleased with, the book I wrote. Only time will tell if it that equates to any commercial success.