Few books sell themselves. And fewer and fewer publishers sell the books either. It's up to the author -- an experience first-time novelist Lenny Kleinfeld talked about in last week's Hot Type.
The column drew a response from Carol LaChapelle, who emailed me to tell the story of her own first book, Finding Your Voice, Telling Your Stories, "which is based on my 20 years of teaching writing workshops in Chicago." When she was negotiating with a small press in Oak Park she told the publisher, "If you publish this book, I'll sell it." The book came out last year and LaChapelle has been hustling it ever since, while telling the story of her "guerrilla marketing" on a blog she launched when the book was.
Sample entry, October 14, 2008, "Sometimes no one shows..." It's the story of her signing party at a south-side bookstore nobody attended. Well, she said, her publisher had warned her there'd be days like this.
And on January 5 she moaned, "Oh, cursed book! How my life has become one long marketing slog because of you. It’s not enough to do book events and write a blog and join social networks and tack up book postcards all over town, no, now I have to show up at parties and work the room like some literary lounge lizard crooning my book tune."
And yes, I am aware her note to me was a blatant guerrilla-marketing tactic.