Book Promotion Part II

Book Promotion Part II

Promoting my book feels a lot like dating, something I was never all that enthusiastic about. In truth, my knowledge of dating comes mostly from friends and clients. And these days, it often involves the Internet. However, whether you meet potential dates at bars, at work, through friends or dating sites, the process involves a great deal of disappointment, rejection and frustration. Yet despite the unfortunate moments, the people I talk to feel that they need to keep trying; they never know when Mr. or Mrs. Right will amble along.

That’s what book promotion is beginning to feel like for me. I’m coming to realize that promoting “Small” is not about bursts of energy and sizzles of good luck. It’s about dedication and hard work—over the longest haul. And it involves disappointment, rejection, and frustration, interrupted every once in a while with fireworks.

Last week I gave a reading at my father-in-law’s retirement community. Located in Oakland, near Lake Merritt, this community has a reputation for attracting retired professors from UC Berkeley, and professionals, people who continue to engage fully in the Bay Area’s cultural offerings.

Before I had even begun, four members of the audience had dozed off. Three or four people got up and left mid-way through my presentation. No one applauded when I finished. And despite the beautiful book display I had arranged, I sold only one book. One member of the audience did apologize for not buying one. “I’m trying to downsize these days. I’m getting rid of books, not buying them.”

Of course, I knew not to take the evening personally. I was aware that the response was due to demographics, not to my book or to my presentation. But despite my intellect working overtime to convince me, I have to admit to being upset. More than upset. By the next morning, I had begun thinking, This book promotion is going nowhere. It’s a waste of time. There’s nothing I can do; I’m going to give up.

If I had had this reaction when I submitted my book to small publishers, “Small: The Little We Need for Happiness” wouldn’t exist. But I persisted, and I now have a beautiful book I can hold in my hands, run my fingertips over the smooth, matte cover, open to the delicate line drawings from my stepson, Nathan Maffin. If I had let discouragement get the better of me, this beautiful volume would have remained a dream, a longing—a failed quest.

So I will continue to promote. I will contact the library to see if they have decided yet on my request to give a talk there one evening. I will look forward to this weekend, when I am going to talk and read at a pop-up clothing sale a friend invited me to. And I will continue submitting queries to magazines that seem like likely candidates for a short feature on thinking and seeing small.

And I will report back to you as soon as I have any news!

New Orleans Wall

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