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June 20, 2001 - Itís
been incredibly hectic, exciting, and still overwhelming (and more than two
weeks). The book is out . It was
officially published on May 29th. That
night I opened my PR campaign at the Barnes & Noble in Westport, CT, not
that far from Bridgeport where I was born. Two auspicious beginnings. The
turnout was incredible, thanks to Bob and Elaineís friends, friends of my
parents, the whole group of my Hispanic friends that I first met when they
lovingly took care of my mother, lots of relatives, a fairly sizeable group of
people who had seen an article about me in the CT POST two days earlier,
around ten people from my high school class, two from my elementary school
class, and probably a whole bunch of customers who stopped by to see what the
standing-room-only crowd was all about. It was pretty exciting.
The next day I took an Amtrak train to Washington.
Debbie Sharpe-Lunstead who is the events coordinator for Travelers Book and
Music Center on Wisconsin Avenue had invited me to stay with her family and I
accepted. (Her family was great. Debbie and I met on the phone when she booked
me to do an event in her store.)
I was in Washington to do talks and signings in
three bookstores and to be on Diane Rehmís nationally syndicated show out of
WAMU in Washington. The Rehm show was on the morning of the 31st. I
was nervous. Her show is two hours long and she has a tremendous following in
Washington and all over the country. The first hour was Janet Reno. I was
worried that my life and book would sound shallow after her interview.
Diane Rehm was terrific. In the two minutes we
talked before the show, she put me at ease. I was only nervous the first
couple of minutes. Her questions were good and I felt she was genuinely
interested in what I had to say. I was able to tell some good stories as well
as share with the listeners my enthusiasm for life. During the call-in part, I
felt a connection to the people who had questions. Only one caller threw me a
bit. He wanted me to talk about my life among cultures around the world in the
context of Carl Jung. It was a little like a college exam question. Diane
helped me out of that one.
The three bookstores (Travelers Books, Barnes
& Noble in Falls Church, VA, and Politics and Prose on CT Ave.) were very
successful thanks to old friends Susan Lechner and Debbie Barr, new friend,
Debbie Sharpe-Lunstead, and the Diane Rehm show. When I got home after the
Barnes & Noble signing, the same day as the Rehm show, there were 50
e-mails from all over the country from people who had heard me that morning on
the radio. I had tears in my eyes reading the e-mails from so many people who
were touched by my life. All of them had had to go my website in order to
e-mail me. Many of them shared their lives with me.
So now Iím back in CT, answering e-mails that Iím
getting from readers of the book. I just got number 128. They are absolutely
fabulous. People who have read the book really do feel as though they are
"unmet friends." Many of them have been touched deeply by my choices
and are looking within themselves to find their own dreams. Most of them are
inviting me to visit them on my tour, and they are all telling me about their
lives. I love it. And I do plan to stay with as many unmet friends as I can.
I have nearly finished planning an itinerary into
December. Itís a lot of driving but I canít think of any other way to
connect around the country. I canít afford to fly and rent. Iím hoping the
itinerary will get posted on my site at the same time that this entry goes up.
Once that happens, Iím ready to book groups, stores, libraries, places to
sleep, and media interviews all over the country.
In two days Iíll be talking at R.J. Juliaís in
Madison, CT (the 20th at 7 PM). And the next day Iím moving out
of Uncle Irvís in Fairfield to base myself in Mitch and Melissaís house in
Shushan, New York (not too far from Albany). From there I will spider out
through New England and New York, with a side trip down to Annapolis,
Maryland, until September 4th when I will be leaving for my trip around the
country, driving the Nomadmobile (that I still havenít bought) west from
A couple of days ago I excerpted dozens of the
wonderful e-mails Iíve gotten and sent the package to the publisher. (I was
going to put the excerpts up on this site but I have been told I need
permission from the writers.) My editor reported that the marketing woman was
very impressed and that they were going to do a second printing of 2,000
books. Two thousand? Iím sitting here thinking hundreds of thousands and
theyíre printing two thousand. I could sell that many at a flea market!
Maybe I should do the flea market circuit!
This is such an up and down business. Every time I
get another great e-mail, I feel wonderful. Then I realize that my publisher
has never put an ad for my book anywhere, no banners on websites, and I have
yet to walk into a bookstore where my book is on one of the front tables
(unless Iím talking there). Itís a tough business. If every one of those
2,000 books sells (Iíve never asked for the original print order because Iím
afraid to know), I will make about $4,000 (10% of the cover price of $23.00
minus 15% agentís fee). I have already invested $12,000 of my own money on
promotional help, and Iím about to spend the next year on the road for this
book. It seems a bit lopsided, but I donít know how else to get my message
out there. My e-mails are all telling me that I can make a difference in
peopleís livesÖÖÖ..and Iím going to go for it the only way I can Ė
with energy, creativity, and caring. Iím hoping to create a base of people
who love the book and its message and who will pass the word on to more people
who will do the same. Itís been done before.