I have a dilemma unusual for a writer – I don’t want to promote my own work. Slacker that I am, the fact that I actually have work to promote is already cause for celebration so you’d think I’d be happy. Instead, I look forward to celebrating my latest publishing credit like a turkey looks forward to celebrating Thanksgiving.
The reason? I don’t want to become spokesmodel for a particular demographic. Many a man or woman has landed on the chopping block due to unflattering imagery. The examples are more plentiful than e.coli on a kitchen counter so I have plenty to fear.
Baby boomers from a bygone era may remember a pert actress named Dorothy Provine. She arrived on the scene in the sixties appearing in a string of popular movie hits like The Great Race and Its’ A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. Her star was on the rise. And then she did a commercial for a hygiene product. End of career. She worked with great actors like Spencer Tracy and Jack Lemmon yet is remembered mainly for “feeling fresh.”
Florence Henderson: denture wearer.
Sally Field: brittle bone sufferer.
Kirsty Ally: battle of the bulge.
Need I say more?
The unpleasant association in my case is a book title. Most writers would be pleased to be included as an author in a best selling series of books. I was too. If nothing else it’s a good sound byte.
But imagine, for example, you’ve written a story about a hospital visit. You make only an oblique reference to the reason for hospitalization and focus instead on the humorous peripheral aspects of the experience. You submit to a best selling anthology called “Turkey Broth for the Brain” to be included in a volume entitled Turkey Broth for the Hospital Patient’s Brain. So far so good
You are pleased when you receive your acceptance letter and happy to be onboard until you notice that although they purchased your story it has now been shifted to another book title.
Gentlemen, imagine telling all your friends about your latest publishing credit: Turkey Broth for the Brain of Male Enhancement Patients. Gals, how would you like to be included in a tome entitled, Turkey Broth for the Brain of Wig-Wearing Wallflowers?
Bet you can’t wait to proudly post that title on your website and send out a local press release. Tell your neighbors tell your friends. Suddenly a hygiene commercial is starting to look pretty good by comparison.
Okay, so the title in question isn’t quite as hideous the aforementioned books but it does have unglamorous associations. What’s an author to do? The options are limited to using a pen name or faking your own death.
So that’s my dilemma. I hope you’ll all rush right out and buy the latest edition of my work. Sorry I can’t tell you the title. If you want to find out you’ll just have to attend a local book signing. No need to ask who I am – I’ll be the only author wearing Groucho glasses and a hazmat suit.