Marketing from a Man of Few Words

 

It's true that I have decidely mixed feelings about my current publisher. I went with a POD (print-on-demand) publisher by design, and this one—an imprint of the largest POD company—was recommended to me by a friend who runs a publicity agency.

 

What are my mixed feelings? I’m pleased with the two books that resulted from my association with their design team, including the editorial staff, which was somewhat competent and pleasant to work with.

 

This almost negates the fact that they took way too long getting my books to the finish line and they did not disclose all the important aspects of our publishing contract. They also did not disclose that their marketing division—in my experience—is populated mostly by dunces who do not have the requisite finesse to sell used cars.

 

Mixed feelings? I guess, although it’s a little like saying I have mixed feelings about global warming, the economy and lima beans.

 

I received a call from one of their not-quite-ready-for-prime-used-car-sales marketing consultants yesterday, and we had a terse conversation that began with “Chazz” saying something like, “So, Matthew, can you swing $291 a month?”

 

Interestingly, his timing was quite good as I was looking for a cool, new way to spend $291 per month, as gas prices are so wallet-friendly these days. “Sure,” I countered half-cleverly and very truthfully, “If you can guarantee me $1,000 back, I can swing it.”

 

 

Chazz went on to describe some kind of relationship that my publisher has with the New York Review of Books that they are excited about. I asked him to email me something, along with endorsements from those who have used this product successfully. He promised me an email, to be followed by a call within two days.

 

A man of his word, Chazz’ pitch hit my inbox with this subject line:

 

“Matt, Can we make it for your book to NYRB?”

 

 

I kicked myself for not being able to master his advanced command of syntax, and vowed to apply more brain grease to the task. But I soon decided that Chazz was the language-challenged one, and it was my challenge to keep a straight face while reading his drivel.

 

Dear Mathew Goldberg,

 

Now, given the fact that Chazz had a big picture of my All That Twitters book on top of his letter and my name was spelled correctly on that cover (let me triple-check: okay), it was a turnoff to have my own name misspelled by an elite marketing wizard at my publisher.

 

 

It got much better from there, and I promise you that I’m only cutting and pasting. Maybe, you’d like to count the mistakes in the crucial first paragraph below.

 

We have leaned towards having your book advertised in New York Review of Books, a one of the most influential magazines for culture and literature books in the United Sates.The New York Review of Book’s has been introducing new authors and titles to the reading public since 1963. With total paid circulation of over 150,000, your advertisement will reach library directors, bookstore owners and publishing decision makers who not only read books but also buy them – 4,032,000 collectively at an average of 32 books per year each.

 

 

I stopped counting after seven errors—not including the math mistake I will address in a moment.

 

That paragraph almost had me leaning towards leaving the United Sates of America, a one of the greatest nation’s on the planet. Yes, I’ve even heard that some United Sates culture and food lovers not only eat food but also buy it.

 

Chazz went on to tell me that the 150,915 subscribers (collectively, but presumably, not simultaneously) purchased those 4,032,000 books. Funny, but my orange, dollar store calculator came up with an average of 26.7 books per year.

 

 

A tip of this Goldberg to Chazz and his colleagues: If you’re going to show us the math, please get it right.

 

The ad went on to introduce several other gems, such as:

 

ACTIONS TAKEN AS A RESULT TO READING THE NYRB IN THE PAST 12 MONTHS

 

Slots are very limited however, you only need $291 to secure a spot.

 

(Actually, a one-month slot costs $291.66 x 3 ($875), and if I only swing $291, it costs me an additional $30.)

 

Perhaps, I’m in a more sarcastic mood (I revere irreverence, but not sarcasm), but how can I expect someone who works for my publisher to know how to communicate with a modicum of intelligence, class and honesty?

 

That thought crossed my mind, until I read this note of reassurance from Chazz: “Will make sure the ad about your book will look good in the magazine.”
 

My wife has often accused me of being a much better buyer than seller, and it has taken all of my restraint to not respond to Chazz’ call to action:

 

You may reach me at me at 1-555-555-5555, extension 5555. Remember this a very limited offer to authors.

 

 

So far, so good. I have resisted the urge to call him at him, to take advantage of an offer (however limited) that is not available to plumbers, musicians and lima bean-eating chipmunks.

 

Before I sign off, I will assure you that Chazz played no role whatsoever in the writing and editing of my books, which will inspire you to laugh, smile and think, if only a little.

 

 

Please click here to check out Matt's unique humor books.

 

 

To speak to Chazz, or to receive one of his inimitable emails…

 

 

 

 

 

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