Jewish World Review Sept. 12, 2002 / 6 Tishrei, 5762
http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | It is not as easy to sell a book as one might think. The honorable and ethical writer will degrade and humiliate himself, sell his soul to the sales department of his publisher or the devil, or both.
This is one day in the life of an author who will remain nameless, and these are his notes:
11:30 a.m. Arrive at bookstore. Books are on a bridge table in back of the store. Asked if they would move the table to the front. Manager says it's never done but he will make an exception.
11: 45 a.m. Sit at table with four pens. Ask manager if he read the book. He says, "No, I can't read every book in the store."
12:00 p.m. Told manager to have his security guard stand next to me when I sign books because my fans can get unruly.
12:15 p.m. Awfully quiet in the store. One lady comes up to me and asks where the Martha Stewart books are. "I don't know. Would you like to buy this book? It's more sexy than Martha Stewart." She sniffs and moves on.
12:30 p.m. Asked manager if he was sure he advertised in the newspaper. He replies, "Of course I did. There is no sense having a book signing if no one hears about it." The manager tells the security guard he is no longer needed.
12:45 p.m. A man comes up to the table and picks up a book. He opens and reads the jacket and then looks at me. I'm very excited - I have a live one. Then he starts to read a chapter. Then he looks at me again. Then he puts the book down and walks away. A deadbeat if I ever saw one.
1 p.m. A lady comes by with her 10-year-old son. She says to him, "You see that man sitting there? He is a writer. Not like the Harry Potter books, but still a writer."
The son asks, "Can we buy his book?"
The mother says, "It's not for children. But you can get his autograph in case someday he becomes famous, like Dr. Seuss."
1:15 p.m. Man comes up to table and says, "Do you remember me?" I say, "I think so." He says, "Then what is my name?"
"I'm thinking," I say.
"VMF-113. Marine Corps. World War II. We slept in the same tent."
"Of course. How could I forget? You're Drum."
"No I'm not. I'm Sullivan."
"Right. How about buying a book?"
"How about giving me a complimentary one for old times' sake?"
The manager says, as he watches me sign it, "That will be charged to you."
2 p.m. I say to manager, "I might as well sign the unsold copies."
The manager says, "You can't do that. If you sign them, we can't send them back to your publisher."
I say, "Thanks for asking me to the store."
He says, "Thanks for coming. As we say in the book business, You win some and you lose some."
By coincidence, Mr. Buchwald has a new book in stores titled "We'll Laugh again."
Like this writer's work? Why not sign-up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.
09/10/02: To lose one's center