The image is of a flat stone skipping across the water. Each skip gets a little shorter as the stone loses energy. Then a brief last slide, and the stone disappears.
Unless you’re Malcolm Gladwell or Stephen King, or the author of a top ten bestseller (the odds on this are about like a ghetto kid making it to the NBA), that’s the way it is when you publish a book. A couple of months of interviews, signings and reviews, and then the world moves on in its ceaseless quest for the New. Your beautiful book sinks like a stone. Or at least it feels that way – Goodbye book! Nobody loves you anymore! When my first book, GONE BOY, came out, I didn’t understand what was happening. At this point in the process for the second book, DEMON OF THE WATERS, I understood all to well, and became depressed. This time I’m philosophical.
HUBERT’S FREAKS hit bookstore shelves mid-March, and now I can feel the attention beginning to wane. But instead of considering suicide or drinking myself into months of oblivion, I’ve come to realize this is when the real work begins. My baby is out there on its own now, but there might be things I can do to help it.
So I’m writing a lot of emails. I’m trying to be helpful to movie people. I’m feeding journalists who are interested in following the story of the art world shenanigans that have fouled things up for the book’s protagonist, Bob Langmuir. I’m visiting bookstores and I’m reaching out to niche markets, just like it says to do in all the books that tell you how to publicize your own bestseller. I’m loading the website with HTML content and soon I’ll get it all tricksy with Java and Flash, so that when – IF – the paperback comes out interested browsers will have a sticky destination with click-throughs to Amazon, B&N, and me.
I’m starting to feel a bit like Charlie Lucas on the Grind Tape he made in 1965, trying to lure customers to the ticket booth at the back of Playland on 42nd St.
“Come back here, in the rear, where the show is going on right now. Hurry along, hurry along, hurry along. Come on in. You are just in time. It is show time. It is show time in Hubert’s Museum. A real live show… There is no waiting. There is no delay. Oh yes. This is a continued show… This show is for ladies, gentlemen and children… We have six live acts. They are alive, living, breathing as you or I. Hurry along. This show is for ladies and gentlemen, children. Hurry along, come on in…”
Maybe nobody buys the pitch. Maybe tens of thousands of people walk past that fantastic doorway - where Joe Buck stood, trying to work his innocent hustle in “Midnight Cowboy” - oblivious of the wonders within. But it beats getting depressed. And it gives me something to do while I’m stewing over the proposal for the next book. You’d think I’d learn.
Hurry along, hurry along. This is a continued show...