I’ve never been comfortable with self-promotion, but with a book coming out this summer I better get over that in a hurry. The publisher, Sunstone Press, does very little publicity, meaning I’m basically on my own in drumming up attention for “Did I Really Change My Underwear Every Day?”, a humorous look at the problems of aging.
I hope I’m not wrong in thinking this is what friends are for, to help in situations like this, because I’ve drawn up assignments for a number of people I’ve met over the years, both here and overseas. At the moment, the list looks like this:
M.M., an administrative law judge in New York City who hears housing and food safety cases, will add a new penalty to all guilty verdicts – 16 hours of community service standing on sidewalks with copies of my book. (The proceeds from any sales would be turned over immediately to M.M. I trust her.)
T.I., an American journalist now running a radio station in Kandahar, Afghanistan, that broadcasts in Pashto, will require all job applicants to produce a copy of the book before he agrees to interview them. (Although there are no plans for any foreign translations of “Did I Really Change My Underwear Every Day?”, wouldn’t it be depressing if it were a better read in Pashto than in English?)
K.H., a retired newspaperman in Maine, will show up once a week at the book section of LLBean in Freeport, in a different disguise each time, asking for the book. (If you knew him, you would know he looks sort of different every day anyway.)
P.O’B., a talented lady and coffee lover in Philadelphia, will take a copy to the busiest Starbucks she can find and sit there for half an hour Monday through Friday holding the book up high and laughing very hard and wiping her eyes. (I already owe her a lunch, so I will have to upgrade that to a really good dinner at an expensive place.)
L.P. Jr., a family friend who leaves soon to teach English in Vietnam, will arrive in Hanoi with a copy of my book hidden in a jacket cover that says “My Five-Step Plan For A Completely Free Vietnam.” (L.P.’s probable detention would be welcome publicity for both of us. He loves Southeast Asia, and, with his picture all over CNN and in the newspapers, he may well get a better offer from one of Vietnam’s neighbors.)
G.K., a deacon of the Catholic Church, will sound out the priests he knows in Brooklyn about whether they could make buying “Did I Really Change My Underwear Every Day?” a part of the penance at confessions this fall. (If G.K. can arrange this, I really must promise to read his blog, The Deacon's Bench, more often. )
R.E., a long-time friend, has a brother in the Australian Senate and will pester him about slipping in an occasional mention of the book during parliamentary debates. (If there’s ever an Australian edition, I sure hope they don’t insist on putting a hyphen in the word “today” as some prissy Australian editor did at RFE.)
D.O., a well-known New Hampshire broadcaster now out of the business, will stroll up and down the aisles of the state liquor store on Interstate 95 South – a favorite stop for tourists – chatting people up while clutching two new books – mine and the one he helped write, “Crosscurrents of Change: Concord, N.H. in the 20th Century.” (He’s a very engaging, persuasive guy, and I’m betting he will stir up some interest in both our books. If he doesn’t, at least he can bring me a couple of bottles of cheap bourbon the next time he visits Long Island.)
C.B., a journalist I hired years ago at CBS News, Radio is now a big shot at ESPN and will finagle a way to get close ups of my book resting on the ESPN anchor desk. (In exchange, I do hereby solemnly swear to stop all the joking about his hair and the orange ski boots he once owned, though he now denies ever owning them.)
L.C., an old boss who was great at sending flowery memos of praise to the staff, will write snappy advertising copy. (I’m counting on him to churn out something better than “best damn toilet reading I’ve come across in 45 years, and yes, that includes Sears’ catalogs.”)
F.S., a former newspaper columnist, lives near Camden Yards and will set up a stand outside the ballpark before every Orioles’ home game, selling my book along with a free bottle of water. (It probably won’t take him long to get tired of filling up the water bottles at home, but I think he’ll do it since he had never made a great apple pie until I gave him a fool-proof recipe.)
Let me stress that this is only a preliminary list. I’m still working on assignments for friends in Alaska, Hawaii, Oregon, California, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Georgia, Texas, Connecticut, New Jersey, New Zealand, Australia and Germany.
If you would like to help but don’t see your initials or your state or your country above, let me know. While you’re welcome to make as many suggestions as you want, be advised I’m looking for someone willing to shave their head or get a big tattoo or both, for purely promotional purposes.
Be patient if it takes me a while to get back to you. Right now I’m focusing full-time on things my brothers and sister in Missouri, California and Indiana can do to help. I’m sure they are going to love what I have in mind for them. Among the suggestions I received was one from an old friend – a cheeky cuss about my daughter’s age – who thinks I ought to take a stack of my books and set up shop in the entryway of a funeral home. There, “with a big broad smile” and a pen in my hand, I would sign copies of the book. He didn’t say whether I would be doing this standing or reclining. I think I know which he had in mind. (Addendum posted April 30, 2011)
(Posted April 15, 2011)
Among the suggestions I received was one from an old friend – a cheeky cuss about my daughter’s age – who thinks I ought to take a stack of my books and set up shop in the entryway of a funeral home. There, “with a big broad smile” and a pen in my hand, I would sign copies of the book. He didn’t say whether I would be doing this standing or reclining. I think I know which he had in mind.
(Addendum posted April 30, 2011)