SOME BOOKS AREN'T
MEANT TO BE SOLD
I've been doing this column thing for a while now, and it may
be time to accept one of those offers from publishers who are eager to
compile the columns into a bestselling book. And I might, as soon as the
first offer rolls in.
Maybe they're hesitant because they looked into the history
of my first book, "Kids, Dogs and Other Pests," which was
released worldwide about 7 years ago. It also happened to be a collection
of columns which I had posted online for family and friends.
I remember when I checked with my publisher after the first
week and she announced that we stood at #1,550,295 on Amazon's Best Seller
"Is that good?" I innocently asked.
"We should move up the ladder fast," she replied.
"As soon as we sell a second copy."
She didn't seem all that excited that we had actually sold
one copy. But neither was I, considering I was the one who bought it.
All I could think about was my father's line, when someone
asked him about the dismal sales of the many books he published over his
career as an author. "Some people collect rare books," he would
say. "I write them."
But he did sell more than one, so he was way ahead of me.
Clearly, my publisher had dropped the ball.
Where was the publicity? Where were the book tours? Where was the
invitation to appear on the "Today" show?
"None of that came with the $800 self-publishing package
we bought," I remember my twenty-something daughter/publisher saying
at the time. "The only thing we got was placement on Amazon.com."
"WE NEED A PUBLICIST!" I demanded, giving her my
best artist tantrum, which wasn't much. "I'm drowning in
So my publisher called my niece, who worked in marketing, and
she sent out a press release. It was very well done and I was delighted
about all the nice things she said about me. However, I don't know where
she sent it, because sales remained at one.
My niece also wrote a nice review of the book on Amazon.com.
Then my publisher's boyfriend at the time wrote a review as well. Both of
them gave the book the highest rating, 5 stars. And that's without reading
it, since I know they didn't BUY IT because sales were still at one.
However, I upped my rating of my daughter's boyfriend from 3
to 3 ½ stars, thanks to his efforts. If he had actually bought the book,
I would have given him a 4.
"What are we going to do?" I asked. "I need to
at least double sales in the next week."
"How about Grandma?" asked my publisher. "I'm
sure she'd buy one."
My eyes lit up. My mother, who was alive and well when my
book was published, would definitely come through for me. Unfortunately,
she didn't have internet access. But she did have cash.
I had to buy her lunch, which cost me $30, but she forked
over the $9.95 for the book and I placed the order for her. Bingo. Sales
I was on my way to the Best Seller List. I just needed a few
more outlets. A friend offered to throw a book party for me, where I sign
copies for invited guests, but that sounded kind of desperate. I had
already sold two copies---I didn't need that much help.
Besides, I had my ace in the hole. In my real life, I happen
to own a bunch of retail stores, which sell a variety of merchandise,
including (heh, heh, heh) books.
"Order hundreds," I instructed my publisher, who also happened
to be in charge of purchasing for our stores. "Sales of my book could
be just the ticket that will put us over the top for the year."
My publisher rolled her eyes. "Do you really think
they'll sell in the stores?" she asked.
"Of course not," I answered. "I'm out to
increase sales in our retail stores---that's my real job."
"So how are you going to do that?" asked my
"It's brilliant," I replied. "We'll place the
books near the checkout counter and we'll do a promotion where if you make
a $10 purchase in the store, you get a free copy of my book."
My publisher looked skeptical, but I hadn't yet told her the
kicker. "And if you make a $20 purchase," I added, "you
don't have to take it."