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I went to an economic outlook conference today in Murfreesboro. Most of the speakers talked about the economy, but at one point they gave out an award to an elderly businessman and he gave an entertaining but much-longer-than-scheduled acceptance speech. It turns out that at one point, H. Jackson Brown was doing the advertising for the award winner’s car dealership in East Tennessee. That led to the award winner telling the story of how Brown ended up, almost by accident, self-publishing, and then selling, “Life’s Little Instruction Book.” It made me feel a little inadequate, and a little guilty, at my offering and at how little I’ve done to promote it.
Why is it everyone who comes to Africa has to write a book about it? One silly beggar even dedicated his to me! Never came back or I’d have shot him in the pants!
— Johnson (played by Torin Thatcher) in “The Snows of Kilamanjaro”
I’d been meaning to post something about the novel for several days now, and when I heard that line on TCM just now it reminded me.
A couple of weeks ago, when I spoke to my nephew’s class, the teacher had suggested I talk a little about the fact I’d written a book. I looked for a nice clean copy to take with me as a Visual Aid, but I couldn’t find the three or four nice copies I had in the apartment, so I ended up having to take one of my weatherbeaten proofs, with the covers all curled up.
I found the books over the weekend; they were right out in the open, in a place I thought I had looked. I don’t know how I missed them.
I haven’t sold any copies, online or in person, for a while now. Now that the trip is over with, I need to figure out some way to get things started again, if that’s possible. Perhaps it’s not; perhaps the novel has run its course. But I keep thinking there’s something else I should be doing.
I tried not to push the novel on my mission trip teammates, though one or two of them heard about it and read it anyway. There was one who asked me about it several times during the week and I was sure he would buy one once we got back to the states; he hasn’t, and I think it would be inappropriate of me to remind him too directly. Maybe I can work it into the conversation next time I see him.
Fortunately, none of the three people to whom I have dedicated my novel has shot me in the pants. Not that I haven’t given them reason from time to time ….
When we were all in the car headed to Nashville Friday night for our symphony concert wrapup meeting, Dawn Holley asked me how the novel was going.
It isn’t, actually. It’s been a couple of months since I’ve sold a copy in person, and longer than that since I’ve sold one online.
My North Carolina brother wants me to try to market it to a traditional publisher, but I just haven’t had time to fool with that — or to do anything more aggressive about marketing the self-published version.
I do get occasional nice comments from people who bought the thing early on and didn’t read it until later. Of course, you never know how seriously to take nice comments.
Well, the good news is that I sold seven copies of my novel today at Lorena’s in Monteagle.
The bad news is that six of them were bought by Gail Drake, the proprietor, and the seventh was bought by one of her employees.
Even so, I did better than my hometown book signing, where I sold only five. 🙂
Gail bought several copies to send to various supporters of LEAMIS.
It was a beautiful day, and so Gail had me set up right outside the store, across from a LEAMIS display. There are a lot worse ways to spend a Sunday afternoon, believe me.
My co-worker Mary Reeves and her son Benjamin, who plays the lead in “Enter Laughing” (I play his grouchy boss) stopped by along with Mary’s youngest son, Buzz. No, they didn’t make the drive from Coffee County just to see me; they occasionally spend the weekend on some property in the Monteagle area.
Things have slowed down some with the book. I haven’t sold a single one online this month. New Covenant has sold out of the five copies I left them after the Shelbyville book signing, so I’ll be taking them my last two copies tomorrow. But at least two of the copies sold by New Covenant were bought by … my father. (“You know, you can get them from me,” I told him.)
I need to do something else to promote the book, but I’m not sure what.
New Covenant Christian Bookstore in Shelbyville has been very kind to me in regard to hosting a book-signing and selling the novel — actually, they’re out right now, although I’ll be getting them some more copies to sell next week – so I wanted to mention a personal appearance by Thomas Kinkade they have coming up this weekend. I’ve never been a big collector but I know people who really enjoy his work, and I know it’s a huge deal for Dennis and Andrea to be able to host him here in Shelbyville.
Just a reminder: I’ll be signing copies of Soapstone this Sunday from 12:30 until 3:30 p.m. at Lorena’s Gifts in Monteagle. Gail Drake, the owner of Lorena’s (it’s named after her mother, Lorena “Rene” Bass), is also the co-founder of LEAMIS and one of the three people to whom the book is dedicated, so it’s only natural that she host a book-signing.
I see from the schedule of events at the site that there will also be a LEAMIS presentation and a tasting of Kenyan food. So please come, if Monteagle is a reasonable drive for you.
You can now view a preview of the novel on its page here at the site.