Month: September 2012
Missionary Ken Landiault uses scary magic to teach children at Hosanna Church, Marrero, Louisiana.
I opened my Facebook page. One message. A pastor’s wife enjoyed having dinner with us and suggested we meet for dinner again. I quickly responded, “Yes.” I owed her husband a copy of Finding Faith in the City Care Forgot for contributing “It’s Not What You Can Do: George Zanca” to the book. My husband’s rotating two weeks of day shift, two weeks of night shift work schedule made finding a time to meet for dinner a challenge. We offered to visit their church and go to lunch after the service.
Before we left for church that morning, I asked my husband to put a box of books in the trunk. I walked into the church with the complimentary copy for Pastor Zanca in hand. As soon as I stepped in the door, a woman who had read my first book and loved it wanted to purchase the book in my hand. I had more books in the car and service had not started yet, so I sold her the complimentary copy. While waiting for her to find her wallet, another woman asked to purchase the book. I waved to my husband. “Go to the car and get two books, please.”
Service had started by the time I sat in the front row seat reserved for me by a friend. During announcements, Pastor Zanca said, “A famous author is visiting the church today.” Embarrassed by his confidence in things not yet true, I elbowed my friend to stand and take a bow. She did. We laughed. Pastor Zanca invited me to the pulpit to say a few words about the book. I wasn’t prepared to speak. I returned to my seat, trying to recall what I had just babbled. Three people tapped me on the shoulder to purchase the book. During the five minutes of greeting one another that followed, I told Pastor Zanca I had more books in the car for interested purchasers. He relayed that information to his congregation.
At the end of the service, my husband brought the box of books to the back of the church. I had not planned to sell books and was not prepared with change. The first man handed me a $20. “I’m sorry. I don’t have change,” I said.
“Keep the change,” he responded. I was selling the book for $15. It retailed for $16.99. Why would anyone give me an extra $5 for a book swirled in my mind unable to take root and send a response to my mouth. The man tossed the $20 into the box of books, took the book out of my hand and left. That scenario happened four times, except for tossing the $20 in the box. By the third time it happened, I resigned myself to accepting the extra $5.
When the last person paid for her book, I paused to ponder why people gave me $5 above my asking price. Then I heard, “How much for the book?”
I looked up to see Sister Mac smiling at me. “Fifteen,” I responded. Her smiling face fell in disappointment. I’d met Sister Mac twenty years earlier. She was widowed and caring for her adult handicapped son. He had recently died, and she was living alone on half of her former income. That is when I knew why people were paying above my asking price. God had paid for Sister Mac’s book.
I opened the email titled “Welcome to Marketing.” The nine months of labor producing Finding Faith in the City Care Forgot had given birth. I might add that was nine months working with the publisher. Four years of talking to people about their faith preceded the labor pains. Anyhow, the official release date was set for September 2012, but books could be purchased from the publisher and the author. I put the link to the publishers purchase page on my website and ordered books.
An acquaintance purchased the first five books via the publisher’s website after some initial difficulties. The website would not cooperate. I called the marketing representative that had been assigned to me by the publisher. He promptly called my friend to take her order.
Since that first order, the marketing representative came to my rescue more than once rectifying minor glitches. He is professional and quick to respond to my concerns. On one occasion, he was trading emails with me at 8 p.m. I heard and read via the internet negative things about Tate Publishing. I have been dealing with them for a year. Not one of those negative comments has proved true.
I questioned that anyone would spend money on something I wrote. I was surprised that my first sell was not one but five books. The second sale was to a professor of sociology at Vanderbilt University. He was in town conducting research for a book. A pastor gave him my name. I met with the professor to give him more names. We discussed people I had interviewed. He bought my book for his research.
Delivering a complimentary copy to everyone who told me his or her story was first on my marketing agenda. I started by making appointments with people who lived in the same area of town. The Northshore Literary Society met the second Sunday in July. I made appointments in Kenner, Metairie and on the Northshore but things did not work as planned.
First stop, Betty, the subject of Never Too Old. I drove into the parking lot of the assisted living facility. Collected the complimentary copy and the extra copies she wanted to buy. Betty met me in the foyer. “Come up to my apartment and we will talk,” she said. I would have loved to, but had another appointment in less than an hour. We sat on two comfortable chairs next to a Grandfather clock that chimed on the quarter hour.
For the next thirty minutes, I received a reality check on aging. A was a woman who had lain on the floor for three days before she was discovered near death. The incident prompted the residents develop a system of cards that hung on the door. If the card stayed out too long, someone would check on the resident. Then someone complained about the invasion of privacy, and the system was abandoned. Betty pointed to a device her daughter made her wear. If Betty fell and could not get up, she pushed a button on the device to alert her daughter. I wondered if I would live long enough to need a device.
A woman approached us. “Is this a private conversation?”
“No,” I said. “Join us.”
Betty showed her a book and explained that I was an author. I don’t really consider myself and author, but I suppose I am. The woman politely looked at the book and returned it to Betty. The automatic door opened for a man to exit. He failed to exit fast enough. To our horror the door shut pinning the man immobile. I arose to rescue him. The motion sensor picked me up and opened before I save the day by freeing its captive. The man shuffled out the door as though nothing had happened. “Happens all the time,” said Betty.
The woman departed, and Betty launched into a discourse about the religious wars that had decimated her Bible study. A Baptist minister criticized the Catholics. The Catholics responded by removing religious flyers announcing Protestant events. In the fray, four Catholics stopped attending Betty’s interdenominational Bible Study. I swallowed my distaste for organized religion and reminded myself that church is where spiritually immature people belong. The clock chimed, rescuing me from expressing opinions better left unsaid.
I drove to a bookstore café to meet with Kathy Frady, The Creative Dramatist. By quarter after three I wondered if she forgot. My ride to the Northshore would arrive in fifteen minutes. I felt my cell phone vibrate. A text from Kathy said “On the way home. Waited in the bookstore and did not see you.” I was sitting in the café. My first lesson: be specific when meeting in a large building and call if the person is ten minutes late.
My ride arrived for a soggy forty minute drive to St. John’s Café in Covington, where I had two deliveries. The rain had stopped by the time we parked at Café. My phone vibrated. The voice mail requested directions to Joe’s Café. “Who is this and why are they asking me for directions to Joe’s Café? Wrong number,” I said to my friend. I put the complimentary copies and a few extras in my brief case for Pam Harrelson, Make Me Ordinary, who wanted to purchase a few copies for her family.
I delivered a complimentary copy to Pam Ewen, Faith, Trust, and Reason and then promptly sold every book in my briefcase. Pam Harrelson walked in. I had told her Joe’s Café. She was the supposed wrong number. She patiently waited while I returned to the car for more books. Lesson number two: double check my information before sending it to people.
When dealing with people being specific and accurate is important. After doing seventy interviews, I thought I was diligent about such things. Apparently, not!