Selling Books

Selling Books

You know how some authors publish books and then other people buy the books and read them and are struck by their merits and enthuse about and gloat over them privately and also speak of them to their friends and acquaintances in glowing terms along the lines of, “You should check this book out! It’ll shift your perspectives, widen your horizons, enliven your soulfire! You should give this book a try. I am proud of myself for having discovered it and for being ripe for the Beauty of its multitudes, and I am excited for you to read it and then infer from my recommendation that I am intellectually savvy and spiritually aware!”

We were thinking we would like to do that, to publish those kinds of books. But what kind of books are those? And is it possible we’ve already published one or two of them, but nobody knows because everybody’s just gotten so in the habit of never reading our books that no one knows about our great literary accomplishment(s)?

Hard to say. We’ve written a lot of books, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we’ve written any good books.

Let’s go over our books and see if there’s any that simply need a little publicity to take their place upon some high, exalted rung of world literature. Or maybe we have a book or two that’s close to being timeless art and just needs a little tweaking.

Our first two books, First Loves: Love at a Reasonable Price Volume One and First Essays are generally understood to be failures. The former a few people started but no one finished reading; the latter no one started to read.

So then we combined the more readable stories (of the manufacture, marketing, and sale of Pure Love) and essays from those volumes, along with advertisements for Pure Love, some poems, and a few other readable writings from our websites. The resultant book was titled, A Readable Reader, and though almost no one has heard and believed this proclamation, to this day (four years and three days after the current version’s publication date) we believe this book to be readable, and perhaps even worth reading. However, the writings within this book are from like twelve to five years old; they count as a reader-friendly collection of our early works; and as such, it seems kind of sad to lead with this book — as if we’d not managed anything any good in recent years. Furthermore, how often do collections of stories, essays, and Pure Love advertisements capture the hearts and minds of sizable portions of the reading public?

Our fourth book Superhero Novella was published (most recent version) in February of 2020, making it actually our third book, yet it is clearly our fourth book because it was written in the summer of 2019 — years after the bulk of the material in A Readable Reader. Superhero Novella was a stunning almost-success. Its few readers — including its author and editor — agreed that it had great moments, and some memorable characters, but that the protagonists were rather too similar to each other and to the narrator, and that in some spots the story drags a bit. There was also at least one criticism of the hero as being too flawed to gain the sympathy that make readers want to travel with a hero through his or her tale. But we feel like there were lots of protagonists worth hanging out with and rooting for, and that even this at-least-once-maligned hero turns out to be alright in the end. Anyway, for this book to sell like hotcakes, we’d need to redo some of the characters. Picture a shower floor that has not been pitched correctly. You have to take up the tiles, and do some combination of chipping out the cement and adding in new cement to get the pitch correct, and then try again with the tiling. Now imagine a shower maker who has never learned how to work with cement in any convincing way. And so, unsure of how to create full-and-well-alive characters and thus wary of any attempts at dismantling and recreating characters and the fictions built atop them, we’ve set this book to one side for some time. Anyway, whoever heard of a best-selling novella? I mean, sure, could happen, has perhaps happened here and there. But for unknown authors, leading with a novella in this time and place seems like a good way to remain unknown.

Our fifth book — and here we’re confident of the ordering of the books — was Fixing Frankenstein, a fluffy bit of fan fiction. Or is it? Maybe there’s some value in rewriting this classic work of fiction with a narrator with a drive exactly opposite to that of the eighteen-year-old Mary Shelley. Where young Mary demanded tragedy, middling-aged Bartleby demands happy endings; and Fixing Frankenstein is a study in the tension between these two literary impulses. Furthermore, the rewriting of King Lear to a quick and happy close is poetically fun and not without intellectual merit. And finally, who else is going to send the protagonists of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein to prevent Goethe’s Werther from killing himself in any tongue, let alone in the original language of Die Leiden des Jungen Werthers? However, we’ve never read this book all the way through, and there’s a lot of hyperlinking from the original storyline to our interventions and back to the original story line. We’re not even sure the book technically works; nor have we given it a thorough aesthetic once-over. So we should read it all through sometime; and the fact that we don’t ever get to that read-through suggests to us that the book will bore everyone. Still, maybe it’s good; we just don’t know. And so we set it to one side and move on down the list.

The first part of Diary of An Adamant Lover (book #6) was written like 2015; and then we picked up again at some point; and then in the summer of 2023, we created a second half that is most charitably described as “experimental” and least charitably described as “more of the same old philosophical obsessions and political bellyaching”. So, well, hard to say. The first part moves along nicely, we think. And then, well, we thought we could wake the nation up to the dangers of Donald Trump while simultaneously providing us all with a philosophy that would reinvigorate democracy by helping us to share the essential reality by remembering that deep within we already share both Reality and the universal values that connect that Reality to our various realities. And so the book, well, the book — also, we wanted to speak of the Hurt. In short, the book is an interesting snapshot of our shattered little souls and so some kind of art — but does it have mass-appeal? We don’t know. We’re tired. We’re lonely. We set the book to one side.

The seventh book Bartleby Willard and Amble Whistletown have released into the wide world is Manchild of Elfland, part 1: Rumors of Love. Now this book has a plot and also, we believe, distinct characters. It’s a fantasy novel, but with Bartleby’s incessant metaphysicking, but much not so very incessant. So it’s Bartleby Willard, but it’s also maybe a popular novel. Right? Maybe. Let’s read this one through, make a few final edits, and then see if we can’t drum up something of an audience. Yeah, Okay, sure.

Author: B Willard
Editor: A Whistletown
Copyright: AM Watson

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