Dear [insert name of anonymous publicist who I don’t know and who hasn’t bothered to use my first name]:
Thank you for your email. While I am certainly thankful for many of your colleagues’ packages in the mail (particularly when they pay close attention to my site and seem to grasp that I do, in fact, have a life), your email is yet another in a long line of nuisances, hastily fired off into the ether. Honestly, what were you thinking?
Like my peers, I do not understand why you think I must abdicate fifteen hours of my time to read your book, and only your book, and why you are so forceful about it — particularly when I have never heard of it (apologies on this front, but, for the most part, I steer clear of vanity presses and lunatics) and, by some remarkable antipodean panache on your part, have utterly no interest in reading.
No, I’m not interested in reading a self-help book. No, I’m not interested in a Beyonce biography. It would have helped if you had bothered to read my blog or tracked any of my numerous interests and obsessions. (There’s a handy category list to the right, if you’re interested.) It would have helped if you hadn’t referred to me as “Ms. Champion” (how could you have parsed Edward as an XX name?) or “Dear Dude” or any number of impersonal epithets that lack even a whit of wit or a soupçon of consideration. It would have helped if you had actually learned how to write intelligibly. And by “intelligibly,” I don’t ask for much: basic subject-verb agreement and consistent tense, as befitting a professional, much less a civilized member of the human race. It would have helped if you had offered me something more glaringly specific than “I’ve written an autobiography.” Well, that’s fantastic! I wrote about the slice of potato pizza I had the other night in my private journal, but I’m not out there emailing folks about it, demanding that they read my nonsense. It would have helped if you didn’t feel that you were entitled to have your author interviewed by me or your vanity press extolled by me or your author’s Toyota Corolla hand-washed and waxed by me. And, no, I’m sorry, but I won’t reproduce your press packet verbatim here. And I’m also a bit particular about who I give oral sex to.
Tell me, publicist. Why should I give a damn about your book? What makes you think that I am obligated to read it? Seduce me. I’m an easy lay when it comes to certain subjects and certain types. And I’m not exactly silent when I have an erection. That’s what your job is all about, isn’t it? An “autobiography” or a “novel” or any number of general terms are entirely useless to me. You may as well tell me that you want me to read something bound together in paper. Wow, that’s like every one of the several thousand books I have sitting in my house! That’s like any number of the numerous novels and autobiographies that I am sent on a numerous basis! Are you the kind of person who points to the sky and asks me what color it is? (It’s vermillion, in case you needed to know.) Do you really think I sleep with just anyone?
So here’s the deal, publicist. I don’t care who you are, but if you can’t be troubled to address me by name or read my site, if you can’t be troubled to pique my interest, if you can’t be troubled to demonstrate either the reality (or the illusion) that you really believe in this book, then I will immediately shift your book to the absolute bottom of the pile (that would involve shifting you to Book #489 in order of reading priority, which means that I should get around to perusing your book circa 2009), assuming of course that you’re sensible enough to actually send me the book in the first place, which is the best way for me to read something. Asking me if you can send me a book (instead of just sending it to me and then following up by email) is a bit like sheepishly asking a girl if you can kiss her at the end of a date: it’s a bit embarassing for both parties. You just sorta do it.
I suggest you get in contact with your more successful contemporaries, who understand that a way to
a girl’s a lit geek’s heart is through cognizance, creativity, consideration and, most importantly, a far from humorless disposition.
[UPDATE: Maud reports that her site is listed in the Fall 2006 Crown catalog as an “online promotion and advertising” venue for Da Chen’s Brothers. She was listed without permission. (Also listed on Pages 53 and 71 are Bookslut, Beatrice, Authorbuzz, Dear Reader, Book Movement, Bookbrowse and Book Buffet. Did any of these sites lend their permission for “major online ‘teaser excerpt’ promotion?”)]
[UPDATE 2: On the subject of publicists who promote well, what Dan said.]
[UPDATE 3: In an unexpected development, Carla Ippolito has revealed herself to be the author of How I Fricaseed My Dog and Learned to Call It George, which Mr. Birnbaum has thoroughly raved about in the comments thread.]
[UPDATE 4: Scott Esposito offers his five cents on the issue.]
© 2006, Edward Champion. All rights reserved.