How Not To Sell Your Book
Alot of wrapping to do today. So am resurrecting a v funny piece about my efforts as book seller. (Apologies to those who have already been there.) This will run in two parts.
April 24th – April 30th
My book has finally arrived at Barnes & Noble on Union Square. And it’s not stuck up in that Siberia on the 4th floor where no one can see it. It’s on a plinth, a pedestal, right there on the first floor where everyone can see it. So why isn’t anyone calling? Every day I go up and hover around the plinth. Security and the guys at information keep staring. Maybe because I’m standing there, reading my own blurbs and guffawing. I open my book. I laugh some more. I exchange a look with browsers nearby, as if to say “Wow! You gotta read this. It’s hilarious.” Then I buy my own book. I do this not once or twice but three times. Every day the stack dwindles. The book is really moving.
May 1st Official pub date Amazon: 5,282
My celebration dinner with my editor is cancelled. Her street is blowing up. I can barely hear her on the cell phone. Please, don’t let this be an omen.
The book has disappeared from the plinth. It’s up in that Siberia on the 4th floor.I go up and surreptitiously sign three copies. (A signed copy can’t be returned to the publisher.)
I buy a hundred more copies from my publisher. And I begin giving them away. I give them away at French Roast in the Village and at Dean and Deluca and outside PetCo. My son gives them away on the Q train on his way back from school in Brooklyn. I even give them away to Three Lives, my favorite independent bookstore.
May 5th Amazon: 2,243
Slipping into its cozy, womb like space on a Monday morning, I approach the bespectacled, gray haired lady behind the counter.
“Do you have The Nearly Departed?” I ask. “I’ve heard it’s hysterical. It’s been in Entertainment Weekly, Vanity Fair, O.”
“No, she says. “We’re not carrying it. But I’d be happy to order you a copy. What’s your name?”
Total panic. Me, who has been making reservations at restaurants under fake names all over Manhattan for over ten years, suddenly draws a complete blank. “Brenda, Brenda Farnham,” I finally spit out. (Farnham is my husband’s last name)
Celebration dinner with editor at Wallse. She brings along a nice review from The Millbrook Round Table. Who knew Millbrook had a round table? Where is Millbrook?
May 7th Amazon: 1,237
The lady from Three Lives calls and leaves a message. “ Brenda Farnham? Your book is in. Listen, I’m just wondering, are you by any chance, related to the author BRENDA Cullerton? Because you look a lot like the author photo on the flap.” She’s chuckling. Oh, the humiliation. But I go in, sheepishly pay cash for my own book, and give her a free copy with the reviews inside.
On a rare trip into Midtown Manhattan, I drop by another big chain of bookstores.. “I’d like to buy a copy of the Nearly Departed,” I say, oh so casually, to the boy with studs puncturing his lower lip and tongue. He’s manning the computer.
“Could you spell that for me?” he says.
“You’re kidding, right?”
“No, I’m not. Spell nearly, please..” He’s looking at me as if I’m stupid. Then the typing begins, a befuddled second look. “Uhhh. You’re in luck. We bought one copy. It’s downstairs in the basement on the shelf marked Depression.”
I sneak down the escalator, gently remove my life story from oblivion, sign it, and place it prominently, together with two of my own extra copies, on the New Non Fiction table upstairs
“Look at the bright side,” I say to myself. “People all over Manhattan are reading your book. Just keep it up, keep buying your own book and pretty soon, you’ll be able to pay for a country place and your kid’s private school tuition. “
“What in hell are you doing?” my husband finally asks, as the stack of The Nearly Departed in the hallway outside the living room door grows like that killer mold in apartment buildings that I read about in the Post. “You’re missing the whole point here, Brenda. Other people are supposed to buy your book.”
“You don’t understand promotion,” I tell him, huffily. “I spent twenty years in advertising. I know exactly what I’m doing.”
“So do I,” he says. “You’re blowing your miniscule retirement fund on a book that took you five years to write and left you totally broke and unemployed. You’re insane.”
While counting the days till I take off on a truncated book tour, I discover the new found joys of Googling myself. It’s a form of masturbation, this Googling. And I’m doing it so much, I’m amazed I haven’t gone blind. There are 281 results for Brenda Cullerton after a 0.16 second search. But why is the book sandwiched between Ripley’s Believe It Or Not and 16 different listings for Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader? Another on-line bookstore has me listed under Diet and Health, which is definitely weird, considering the fact that my book is about a severely dysfunctional family of alcoholics who are dying.
To be Continued…