Monday, September 24, 2012

More Book Stories
Part Two

At times, synagogues, bookstores, magazines, and publishers and synagogues have been a pain.

I sent out emails to more than thirty synagogues in Northern California looking for speaking engagements. One was circulated by the program committee at one synagogue and a woman who didn’t understand what “Reply All” meant, sent this response to me along with all of the committee members, “Do we want to pursue this? I don’t especially.” Then another member wrote, “For free on a Sunday morning it would be well received.” But not by me.

After pleading and cajoling the tattooed, twenty-something head of consignments at a local bookstore, she reluctantly accepted one book, but only after I filled out a two-page form. Three weeks later, my wife went to that store and looked for the book in the Judaica section, the health and exercise section, and the humor section, to no avail. She checked with a clerk at a computer, and discovered the book — sitting on a shelf in a back room waiting to be put out.

When I contacted a Jewish magazine in Los Angeles to do a possible review, a young man invited me to visit his office when I was there in June. He would be happy to have a review written if I would spend more than two thousand dollars, and he’d throw in a commercial on a religious Jewish television network. Oy!

I even ran into some difficulties with my publisher — Create Space — a division of Amazon. When I ordered a much-needed two hundred copies of The Oy Way, I received them promptly as usual. The only problem was that the cover was a different color than all of the previous ones, and two pages in the back were missing. When I contacted Create Space and explained the situation, they matter-of-factly replied that instead of being printed in their plant, it was outsourced to another printer who misread the correct color. I told them that it was unacceptable, and they said that they would send another two hundred that they would print at their facilities.

I few days later, I received the rush order and was pleased until two days later I received another two hundred copies. When I called up Create Space and asked what I should do with them, they said I could keep them, which I did in a way. I gave away copies to more than thirty libraries around the country, gave others to a struggling Yiddish bookstore in Brooklyn, to the Henry Miller Library in Big Sur for fundraising, and also to KlezCalifornia as incentive gifts to contributors.

I won’t make any real money out of The Oy Way, unless more people buy it from my website here, or my upcoming You Tube videos go viral when they are posted next month. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

More On Book Stories

More On Book Stories
Part One

After The Oy Way was printed last spring, my real work began; I had to sell it.

I hustled media reviews and made presentations at synagogues, bookstores and organization meetings. Sales weren’t large enough for me to retire, but I had already retired in 2006. Retirement with a book to sell is no retirement.

I was pleased that bookstores in California, Michigan and New York had either bought copies outright or had taken them on consignment. The most fertile sales outlet was the relatively small Aleft Bet Judaica store in Los Gatos. At times, I would bring in five books and a few days later I would receive a call from the Israeli-born owner Nurit saying that they had sold out and they needed more.  Happily, I received such a call today, and I will be making a presentation and book signing there on November 13, and at numerous other venues in October, November and December. You can see the schedule under "What's Nu? on the website here.

At times, I ran into some not-so-positive situations.

I just received a copy of Washington Square Magazine that goes to 80,000 alums of San Jose State University, and they estimate that 50,000 digital readers will see it. I was a bit dismayed when I saw the visual coverage found above. However, when I questioned the layout, the editor and the art director said it would attract the readers. What do you think?

Speaking of SJSU, when I spoke on campus in March, I managed to convince the manager of their Spartan bookstore to take ten copies on consignment, which they did. I was unaware that they had become the Barnes & Noble/Spartan Bookstore, and as a vendor I had to fill out an eight-page form to be considered. Before I did so, I contacted a person at their headquarters back east, and asked them why I needed to do so with such a small number of books. Since you don’t question B&N, especially at their headquarters, they then asked me who was the publisher, and I told them it’s already on sale at Amazon. That ended my relationship with B&N for they would carry no books that were being published and sold by that competitor. I was lucky that I had found out before wasting any more time filling out that oppressive form. Tomorrow I go to San Jose State and rescue my unacceptable ten copies.

Part Two is on its way, or perhaps it has already arrived. If you have any spare time until then, go back to The Oy Way website.