Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Market Share

   Clara took a sip of her coffee and said, "William mentioned something about his friend, Eb, writing a book."
   I swallowed a bite of my Egg McMuffin and nodded. "Yep ... it's a children's book."
   "Isn't that something?" Clara said, her coffee cup poised beneath her mouth.
   "Yes ... I sure was surprised ... not that I didn't think Eb was capable of it, he just never seemed to express much interest in that sort of thing."
   She set down her coffee. "Have you seen it?"
   "Yes ... he showed me a proof copy ... it looks great."
   "He's an artist?"
   "No, no ... he found an art student to help him."
   "That was pretty resourceful. How is he publishing it?"
   "He's got a small publisher lined up ... he wanted my opinion about it."
   "What did you tell him?"
   "I told him if they don't offer to seriously market the book, he might as well go independent."
   Clara picked up her coffee again. "I suppose that is one way to look at it."
   "Getting a book published these days is easy, so why give up any part of your royalties if you have to do all the marketing ... that's the hard part."
   She took a sip of coffee and thought about it. Finally she said, "Well, I guess I couldn't argue with that logic ... however, I'm not sure I'd turn down an offer from a publisher."
   "But you've done very well as an independent."
   "That's true, but, your chances of getting on the shelves of bookstores is much better ... and there is a certain ... um ... cachet that goes with a publisher."
   I sighed. "Yeah, that's true ... especially if it's one of the biggies ... but this is a small publisher."
   "So, what is Eb going to do?"
   "I think he's going to go with them ... he's just not confident enough to go it solo."
   "I can understand that."
   "I just can't believe that Eb managed to attract that attention of a publisher ... regardless of the size."
   "He must have a lot of determination."
   I starred out of the window. "I wish I had more of that."
   "Oh, I didn't mean to say you don't have determination," she added.
   "That's okay, Clara. I know what my limitations are."
   She patted my hand. "You've got more than you know ... determination, that is ... I know you'll do well, eventually."
   I smiled. "No doubt ... thanks for the vote of confidence."
   Clara smiled back. "Everyone has faith in you."
   "Except Uncle Billy."
   "Oh, no ... your Uncle is very proud of you."
   I smiled at Clara. "Maybe someday he'll even read one of my books."

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Java Jive

   "I'll have a medium black coffee, please," I said.
   The pleasant looking girl behind the counter stared blankly at me.
   "He wants a grande regular," interpreted Eb.
   The girl smiled. "One grande."
   "And I'll have a double tall cappuccino, extra-dry," he said.
   "A double tall cap, extra-dry," she repeated.
   She banged on the cash register for a moment, then said, "That'll be five fifty-six."
   I whistled quietly.
   Eb had his wallet out in a flash. "I've got it." He handed the girl a ten.
   "Gee, thanks, Eb."
   "My pleasure, Chris ... after all, you're helping me get my book launched."
   The girl handed Eb the change, then asked, "Name?"
   "Ed?" she asked.
   "Eeee, Beeee ... Eb," he said patiently.
   She nodded. "Your order will be up in a couple of minutes."
   "Thanks," said Eb. He pointed to nearby table. "Let's sit over there."
   I followed him to the table, sat down across from him, and watched him pull a proof copy of Bucky Bunny takes a Nap from his nap sack.
   He looked at the book briefly, then and handed it to me. "Here it is."
   I stared at the professionally rendered picture of a cute, but somewhat demented pink-colored, floppy eared rabbit on the cover. "Wow, this looks great, Eb."
   Eb smiled. "Really? You think so?"
   "Absolutely ... your guy did a great job." I started flipping through the book.
   "It was your suggestion to post a request for an artist at the Center for Creative Studies."
   I stopped at the page portraying Bunky curled up in his nest sleeping, a thought balloon over his head showed a row of carrots in a garden. The caption read, Bucky dreamed of treats in Farmer John's patch. "Well, I'm impressed," I said.
   "Eb," yelled the girl behind the counter.
   Eb held up his hand. "I thought the pictures looked good."
   "Have you decided how you're going to publish?"
   "That's what I wanted to talk to you about ... I've got an offer from a publisher, and ..."
   "Eb," the girl yelled a little louder.
   He waved his hand, but she still didn't see him. "That's what I wanted to talk to you about."
   "I'm indie author, Eb, I don't know what advice I could offer."
   "Eb," she yelled again.
   Eb stood up. "You know the business, Chris."
   "About as well as I know how to order coffee these days," I said. "Better go get our order."

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

You Never Know

   "Honestly, I didn't think you'd go," I said.
   "Why? Just because Irv Nesbaum is a putz?" Billy replied. "Hey, you better get over ... Manny's is in the next block, you know."
   I eased the car into the left lane. "I know where Manny's is, Uncle ... I've been taking you there for five years." I slid into the turn lane. "Well, I was surprised you went."
   "I've got no problem with Irv these days ... he's a putz, but I let that go."
   "Well, you seemed to get along okay." I turned into the jammed parking lot. "What the heck is going on at Manny's?"
   "Must be the lotto crowd ... it's up to four-hundred mil ... hey, there's a spot," said Billy.
   As I neared it, a hidden motorcycle was revealed. "Nope." I cruised down the lane. "I saw you chatting with him for quite a while ... what were you talking about?"
   "He was just telling about his new place on Orchard Lake ... sounds like quite a layout."
   "Hard to believe that the guy was selling hardware at Home Depot just a year ago."
   "Just goes to show what a little hustle can do when you're marketing books."
   I glanced over at Billy. "It's not the books that made the money, you know ... it was all the endorsements and speaking engagements."
   "Did you know he has his own line of hardware now?" said Billy. "Oh, hey ... that guy's leaving ...  put your blinker on."
   I stopped and watched the man get into his car. "That's what I'm talking about ... Irv really found a hot topic to write about."
   "So, why don't you do something like that?"
   "I'm a fiction writer, Uncle."
   "There doesn't seem to be any money in that."
   A second car pulled up behind me and tooted his horn. "I don't do it for money, you know." I flicked on my blinker and waved the other car around.
   "That's for sure ... what the heck is that guy doing?"
   "He's taking his time, that's for sure."
   "So, are you buying a lotto ticket?"
   I watched the first car finally pull out of the parking space. "Yeah."
   "Cheryl told me you had a dream about hitting it."
   I maneuvered my car into the slot. "She told you that?"
   "You seem embarrassed."
   "It was a stupid dream."
   "So, why are you buying a ticket?"

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Movin' on Up

   "Oh, hi, Alma. Come on in." I opened the screen door for her.
   "Thank you, Chris ... it is a little warm out here."
   "How are you?" I asked as she stepped inside.
   "Fine, fine ... how about you?"
   "Keepin' on ... you know how it goes." I looked past her at the moving van parked in front of the Nesbaum's house. "What's going on out there?"
   "You haven't heard?" She seemed pleased to offer a scoop. "Irv and Marge are moving."
   "Moving? Really?"
   "Yes ... they bought a new house on Orchard Lake."
   I watched Irv gesturing to the van driver as he backed up the truck in the driveway."Orchard Lake. Wow, ol' Irv is moving up in the world."
   Alma nodded. "I guess his new career has worked out rather well."
   "You mean as an author?"
   "Yes ... but, I think it is really all the speaking engagements he's done over the past year. And the new book has done quite well, too ... I heard he was going to be on the Today Show next month."
   "I did hear that ... he sent out a notice on Facebook ... but he didn't mention anything about moving."
   "Yes, it was a bit of a surprise ... in fact, that's why I'm here ... I'm inviting the neighbors to stop by for a little social gathering at my place this afternoon ... a sort of impromptu going away party."
   I saw the van driver jump out of the truck and walk over to Irv. "What time?"
   "I was thinking around five ... I hope Marge and Irv will be available by then."
   "Well, I'll certainly be there."
   "Oh, good." Alma reached for the door to leave and then paused. "Say, could you see if your uncle would be interested in coming?"
   "Billy? I'm not sure how happy Irv would be to see him ... those two haven't been the closest of friends."
   "You think not?"
   I blushed slightly. "You know, Irv has caused Billy some ... uh ... well, embarrassment."
   "I'm sure they're over that ... I know Irv would like to see him."
   "Okay ... I don't know what he's doing today, but I'll give him a call."
   Alma smiled. "I hope he can." She open the door and stepped out into the hot sun. "I haven't seen him since we went to Branson."

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Another Round

   Rod and Mario were lamenting a painful Tiger's loss.
   I took the last swallow from my beer. "Please, turn it off Roger."
   The bartender reached for the remote. "You boys want another round," he said, flicking through the channels on the TV.
   "I sure could use one," said Uncle Billy.
   "You buying?" I asked.
   "I thought you were," said Billy. "Isn't this the day you get your royalty payment?"
   "You remembered?"
   "I never forget anything that means you have money to buy beer."
   I put my arms on the bar and leaned forward. "Well, this month the stipend was a little meager."
   "What? No three digit deposit?"
   "No ... only forty bucks."
   "Forty bucks? That's a 60% decrease."
   I looked a Billy. "So, you're an accountant now?"
   "Why the big drop off?"
   "Who knows?"
   "I thought you said you were going to do a better job marketing Headwind than that other book ..."
   "Northern Cross."
   "Yeah, Northern Whatever. What happened?"
   I pushed my hat back and rubbed my face. "What can I say ... I suck at marketing."
   "Come on ... how hard can it be?"
   "It's extremely hard ... especially marketing something as esoteric as a book. You've got to build a platform and ..."
   "Platform? What the hell is that?"
   "Your image, I guess. You know, what you're all about."
   "Well that sounds like about ten minutes of effort on your part," said Billy. "Hey, Roger, bring us that round."
   The bartender set down the remote. "Sure, Billy."
   "You're buying?" I asked.
   "Why should we all suffer because you can't hustle your books?"