Sometimes my posts are a little bit experimental. This one’s really frivolous and, for some of you, it will serve as the perfect sedative. So, turn away. Don’t look. I won’t get my feelings hurt if you read no further.
I suspect my business is no different from others who sell things. If you have a store, there’s always someone who wants you to stock their merchandise. But when it comes to the book world, especially these days, you wind up getting phone calls, e-mails, postcards, and all manner of stuff from authors.
I was very careful not to use quotation marks on the word author, though I considered it. And the purpose of this post is primarily for me to vent – not to trash anyone. I’m not unsympathetic, at all, to these authors who self-promote. In fact, some of my best relationships with writers came from unsolicited contacts with micro- and self-publishers.
No, this is not a statement about quality, per se. But I do get a lot of “please sell my book” communications that are fired indiscriminately, like a shotgun. Yes, I might have a patron who wants to buy a book about the flowers of Eastern Washington’s deserts, but I’m unlikely to buy a case at a “short” discount, plus freight costs and without the privilege of returning them if they don’t sell.
So, to the point …
I received a letter during the holidays that was, inadvertently I’m sure, so generic and which demonstrated so little understanding of what might inspire me to champion the author’s book that I kept it on the top of my to-do list. Herewith, without revealing the author or the book, is a special Bookstore Mad-Lib author letter. Please note that the author gave so much attention to his request that he addressed it to me like this:
Dear Mr. Contact Name,
(What if I were a woman? At least he was respectful in calling me Mister.)
Briefly, if you’ve never seen it before, the whole Mad-Lib concept is to work from a generic story while leaving out key elements – nouns, verbs, proper names, a color, an adjective, a quantity – providing those pieces first and then wedging them into the pre-written story.
Here, satirically, I deconstruct a finished letter and invite you to play Mad-Lib with it when you construct your author solicitation letter.
Dear [a first name][a last name],
Everyone knows the importance of [an activity or outcome] as they get [a state of being], but so many of the [blank] and [blank] programs available today seem to overlook [types of people] in their marketing and design. There seems to be little out there for the [adjective] individual who just wants to be [state of being] and feel [quantity] [emotion or condition], not lose [a quantity] [a thing] or gain [a quantity] [a thing]. Now, there’s an option for the [age group] [activity] crowd: [My Book Title] by [first name] [middle initial] [last name] ([evocative name for publisher] Press, ISBN 978-1-999999-99-9, [Month, ordinal Date Year, $00.00]). Full of [adjective], [adjective] [compound adjective] advice, [My Book Title] can help any [type of person] improve their [blank] and feel like they’ve [blanked].
[My Book Title]’s easy to follow suggestions show readers how to [something you do] that will increase their [something you can increase], allowing them to reap benefits like:
– Having fewer [noun] and [noun]s (and taking fewer [adjective] [noun]s)
– Gaining an increased [something you can obtain] and improved [something else you can obtain] (without the help of [adjective] [noun]s)
– Achieving better [something] to diminish [something]
Specifically developed for the [age group] crowd, [My Book Title] understands the [noun]s, [noun]s and [blank] needs of [age group] people. It is specially designed to help people over [age] fit [something] into their lives simply and sustainably, helping to ensure [a quantity] of years of [something great].
If you are interested in reviewing [My Book Title], interviewing the author, or need additional press materials, please contact the author at [firstname.lastname@example.org]. For more information, visit [http://mybooktitle.com].
About the author: [My Name] is a [number] year old [vocation] in [my City, St.] With work, a family, a vocation and obligations, life is full. Using common sense [techniques] and a common sense [a discipline] coupled with [unusual activity] training techniques, he has found the formula to remain [condition of being] at an age when most are [doing something not-so-good].
I fully expected it to be signed “Sincerely, Insert Author’s name.
That is all. Good night folks. More and better to come in your daily opportunity at NewAlbanyBooks.