Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Too Far from the Madding Crowd

"Would you like some more coffee, Chris?"
I offered my cup. "Yes, thanks, Marge."
Irv held out his cup. "Me too, honey." Then he said to me, "Yeah, it was embarrassing at the time, but I sure got the 'Colbert bump' ... sales are at an all time high."
I took a sip of coffee. "This is delicious, Marge." 
"Why, thank you." She smiled and retreated to kitchen.
I set the cup down on the table. "How the heck did you get on Colbert's show in the first place, Irv?"
"My publicist arranged it ... the guy is a wonder."
"You have a publicist?"
"When I started getting those speaking engagements, I figured I needed some help."
"I was meaning to ask you that ... how did you get those speaking engagements?"
"I just sent out a lot of letters to mechanics and builders organizations ... you know, people who would be interested in tools." He took a sip of his coffee. "This is good."
I nodded. "It sure is."
"So, what have you done to identify your audience?"
"My audience?"
"Yeah, people who would be interested in reading your books."
I scratched my head. "I don't know. I've never thought about it."
"You've never thought about your audience?"
"No. I just write what I like ... and hope there is someone out there who might like it, too."
"You're Uncle is right ... you are naive."
"He said that?"
Irv smiled. "We were talking about something else. Look, why don't you do some research and come up with a demographic of the kind of people who would like your stuff."
"Demographic? I wouldn't have any idea how to go about that."
"Root around on Amazon ... see who reads the kind of books you write."
"I'm not sure I could find any books like that."
Irv shook his head. "You mean to say that you think your books are so unique that there is nothing else like them?"
"No, I don't mean that ... I just have never spent any time looking for 'em."
"Well, it's time that you do."
After another cup of coffee and some talk about the Tigers acquiring Prince Fielder, it was time to go. As I walked down the street toward my house, I saw Alma Beeler's Cadillac drive by, and I could've sworn I saw Uncle Billy hunched down in the passenger seat.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Wisdom in the Alley

Uncle Billy sat down after converting a nice three-ten spare. "Cheryl told me you were a little depressed about your lack of book sales."
"She told you that?"
"No ... I made that up."
"I'm not depressed ... it was just a little frustrating to read about how successful some of these authors on Amazon and Kindle."
"Well, maybe they work at it a little harder than you do."
"That's suppose to make me feel better?"
We watched Eb roll a strike.
"Maybe you should talk to Irv Nesbaum," said Uncle Billy, "he seems to have a handle on things. Did you see him on the Colbert Report?"
"Yeah, I saw it."
"Colbert ripped him up one side and down the other ... but Irv took it in stride ... he knew the publicity he'd get from it."
Eb came and sat down next to Billy. "Get from what?"
"I'm talking to Wonder Boy, here, Eb," said Uncle Billy.
"Excuse me." Eb got up and walked toward the bar.
Billy continued. "I'm just sayin', talk to a guy who seems to be having a little success ... you might learn something."
"Yeah ... maybe."
Hank walked back from the lane. "You're up, Bill."

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Will Write for Food

"You seem a little depressed," said Cheryl.
I swallowed a bite of warm breadstick. "Yeah, maybe."
"Well, what?"
"What's bugging you?"
I took a drink of Labatts and set the glass down. "I read about this dude who made a hundred thousand dollars selling his books on Kindle."
"A hundred thousand? Last year?"
"In the last three weeks."
Cheryl coughed, a fine mist of coke sprayed my face. "Three weeks?"
"That's what he claims."
"How much have your books made on Kindle?"
"Let's not talk about that."
"So, are you saying someone else's success makes you depressed?"
I pushed the spaghetti around my plate. "No, I don't begrudge his success ... more power to him ... I just wish I had little more."
"You judge your success as a writer on your sales?"
"No ... but you know what I mean ... I'd just like to have a little reward for my efforts."
"Did lack of sales stop Van Gogh from painting?"
"Oh, come on now ... don't go gettin' all philosophical on me ... the guy sells a gazzilion books and I sell five ... and it's a little frustrating ... that's all I'm saying."
"I understand ... really." Cheryl signaled the waitress for the check.
I started to reach for my wallet.
She held up her hand. "Don't worry, honey, I've got this."

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Lotto Ticket and a Tall Boy

"The Colbert Report?"
"That's what he told me," said Uncle Billy.
I slipped into the left turn lane in front of Manny's Deli and Liquor. "Irv Nesbaum is going to be on Stephen Colbert's Show?"
"Is there an echo in here?"
I turned into the lot. "How did you find that out?"
"I ran into Irv at McDonalds this morning ... "
"Oh yeah? You 'ran into him'?"
"Okay, so I knew he'd be there ... anyway, I figured we needed to have a little chat."
"How'd that go?"
"Fine. He's not going to say anything to Clara."
I pulled into a parking space. "You want me to go in with you?"
"Nope, I know what I need," said Uncle Billy. "You want a lotto ticket? The jackpot is up to seventy-eight million."
"Sure, get me one."
Uncle Billy held out his hand.
"Oh, for God's sake." I fished out my wallet.
"Hey, no tickee, no laundry."
I handed him a dollar. He smiled and got out of the car.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Bowling Sub Rosa

"I was really sorry to hear about your friend, Bruce," I said.
Uncle Billy sat staring off into the distance. "I knew him my whole life."
The crash of bowling pins got our attention. Eb walked toward us, his arms in the air. "Two strikes in row ... I'm rollin' it now."
I slid over to make room for him on the bench. "Uncle Billy's missing your friend, Bruce."
Eb shook his head. "He was a damn good bowler."
Billy looked at Eb. "You're an idiot, Eb, you know that?"
"I'm just saying ..."
"Well, just shut up, okay?"
Eb looked hurt. We all sat quietly and watched Hank pick up a 5-7 split for a nice spare. Billy got up an rolled a strike and a spare and I followed with two open frames.
I sat down next Billy. "Sorry," I said.
He just nodded.
"By the way, did I tell you I saw Clara this morning?"
Billy leaned back and stretched his arms along the seat back. "She mentioned it to me ... said you thought her book was okay ... but you'd already told me that."
"Anyway, sounds like she has a good plan to get it published ... she's meeting with Irv Nesbaum."
Billy's eye's narrowed. "Yeah, she told me that, too."
"Does that bother you?"
"Why would her meeting with Nesbaum bother me?"
"I don't know ... she said you acted a little strangely when she asked if you wanted to join them."
Billy pulled his arms down and leaned toward me. "Remember that party that Alma Beeler invited me to?"
"Yeah, I guess so."
"Well, I went ... alone."
"So, Irv Nesbaum and his wife were there."
"Oh ... and you don't think Clara will be happy to hear about that?"
Uncle Billy looked around to see if anyone was listening. "Not if Nesbaum tells her that I didn't leave that night."
"How would he know that?"
"'Cause he saw Alma give me a ride home the next day."
"You're up Bill," said Hank.
Uncle Billy stood up. "Just keep your trap shut, okay?"