Page 48 - Vol. VI #10
P. 48

Selling a Book (continued from preceding page) “Executive editor at Simon & Schuster. It’s a huge
teur, that your insights into the human psyche aren’t deep enough to break skin.
step up.”
 She lowers her voice. “I’m not supposed to say it,” she tells me in a conspiratorial tone of voice, “because they don’t want to lose writers who want to follow their editors, but you know where to find me when your next book is ready.”
That same weekend he gets worked over in the Chi- cago Tribune and we break out the booze. We tie
one on, a binge that lasts several weeks, softening
the blow of our publishers not sending us on a na- tionwide book tour. Of not lining us up any morning talk shows appearances. Even an interview on some little radio program would’ve gone a long way with us. We both do a few signings at local bookstores, but after the first one, well attended by family and other writer friends, we don’t attract more than six or seven people, which includes the store clerks.
“That’s great,” I say. “I’m happy for you.”
And I am. We get along well, she earnestly believes in my writing, and I’m glad she’s getting the recognition she deserves. The thought of writing another book, however, is not on my immediate list-of-things-to-do and won’t be until I shepherd this new one into the world. But it’s the same story: my editor’s replace- ment rarely calls me back when I phone to see how things are going, and in the months to come I receive a handful of reviews. Publisher’s Weekly gives me another good one, but Kirkus pans it again. How can
Each Sunday I scour the venerable New York Times Book Review, hoping to find my novel there, and each Sunday the venerable New York Times Book Review somehow overlooks me. By the end of the year I’ve long since abandoned my search, and Morrow makes
I not suspect that it’s the same misguided, mean- spirted jerk who trashed me the first time? Does this reviewer have some kind of personal vendetta against me? What did I do to deserve it? Aren’t these indus- try journals supposed to switch up the reviewers, so you don’t get attacked by the same person more than once? If it were praise, I wouldn’t have a problem
with it, or even something in-between, recognizing my weaknesses while not forgetting to mention a few of the book’s strengths, but outright maligning someone who has worked so hard and done his best just seems petty, nasty and cruel. Make the reviewers write a novel or two before they go around attacking those of us who do. It crosses my mind to catch the next plane to New York and hunt the guy down at some posh restaurant in Manhattan and give him a piece of my mind.
“Make the reviewers write a novel
or two before they go around attacking those of us who do.”
 My friend tells me to let it go.
me an offer I can’t refuse. Originally listed for $18.95, I buy several cartons of my novel for the rock-bottom remainder price of sixty-three cents a copy. My friend gets his at seventy-three cents. We give away as many as we can to friends, relatives, acquaintances, and anyone who shows even the slightest interest in our work, real or feigned. We’re not choosy. I stow my car- tons in the storage bin in my apartment carport as the closet is too full from the remainders of my first book. My friend, more creative than me, makes two lamp tables out of his copies, placing each stack at opposite ends of his couch.
Cheer up, he says, you still have that big front page Sunday review coming out any day now. The Los Ange- les Times Book Review has a million-plus circulation, and, he assures me, they don’t run bad reviews on the front page.
Despite our disappointment, we know not to be ungrateful. Our other writer friends would kill just to get published. And we do, after all, have the book in hand. Something real. Something solid. No one can take that away from us. We’re not about to call it quits, and when we tire of whining and complaining, we both set off again down the arduous path of writ- ing another novel.
Or do they?
I soon learn that they occasionally make exceptions. A couple weeks later, there it is, my novel on the front page, only the review itself is just short of scathing. My friend is deeply sympathetic. “At least you made the front page,” he says. “Haven’t you heard the say- ing, there’s no such thing as bad publicity?” Sure, I’ve heard it, but try reading that you write like an ama-

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