"The notion that such persons are gay of heart and carefree is curiously untrue. They lead, as a matter of fact, an existence of jumpiness and apprehension. They sit on the edge of the chair of Literature. In the house of Life they have the feeling that they have never taken off their overcoats."
- James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The only thing left to do is everything

There are lots of experts and analysts who know why Borders failed, but from my perspective, it looks like their biggest problem was they didn't want to read the writing on the wall, much less follow the directions. When Amazon became The Place to order any book you want at any time you want it (and at a cheaper price), it should have been a warning bell for all booksellers. When they created the Kindle, that bell became a siren. Barnes & Noble heard it and answered with an updated web presence and the Nook. It may save them.

I'm talking about this because, no matter what business you're in or life you lead, you need to pay attention to the signs. If you see changes to your industry, figure out how to get in front of the curve. If you see changes to your neighborhood, your family, your health, get out and do something about it.

How far do you want the flames to crawl up your leg before you call the fire department?

In a weirdly coincidental manner, when I released Hit or Missus, the Kindle sales of my humor book, What Would Erma Do, shot up. They tripled in May, then doubled in June, and continued to rise significantly through July and August. What Would Erma Do is now consistently in the Top Ten of Amazon's Humor/Family & Parenting Kindle books. I can't explain it.

But I can capitalize on it.

My original plan was to complete the rough draft of the third (as yet unnamed) Peri book, then put out a second humor book, and perhaps another short story, before returning to edit the draft. I've rearranged my schedule, instead, to put Peri aside now. I'm assembling a second humor book.

It's very similar to the first book - I've selected fun and interesting columns from the next two years and inserted readers' comments and editorial amusements in between. They're not filler, you understand. They add to the context of the columns. The rough draft is complete. All I need to do now is edit.

Oh, and think of a good title.

The first one, What Would Erma Do? Confessions of a First Time Humor Columnist was just so perfect. How am I going to get people's attention with this new book?

My first thought was actually Two Years Before the Masthead, although I think it's too snooty and literary. It still makes me laugh, because when I read the book Two Years Before the Mast, I thought the title referred to an event. You know, two years before something happened, something called "The Mast." HA HA HA.


I looked through the draft, searching for That Phrase to serve up to readers, the words that would jump off the page and create a title people would find catchy. There are quotes, but I couldn't think of how to make them title-worthy. For example:

"I could justify my love of cookbooks if I actually cooked."
"The pursuit of beauty is not a speed event." 
"Wolves mate for life because they can't speak English."

After a day or three, I started thinking about my bio - both the one in the newspaper and the one on my website. The newspaper says:

"Longtime Placentia resident Gayle Carline tracks those moments that shape her days as a wife, mom, computer whiz and horsewoman."

My website bio says:
"Gayle Carline is a typical Californian, meaning that she was born somewhere else. She moved to Orange County from Illinois in 1978, and landed in Placentia a few years later.

Her husband, Dale, bought her a laptop for Christmas in 1999 because she wanted to write. A year after that, he gave her horseback riding lessons. When she bought her first horse, she finally started writing.

Gayle soon became a regular contributor to California Riding Magazine, and in March, 2005, she began writing a humor column for her local newspaper, the Placentia News-Times. Every week, she entertains readers with stories of her life with Dale and their son, Marcus.

Believing that she should experience reincarnation while she is still alive, Gayle has been a software engineer, a dancer, and even a flying angel for the Crystal Cathedral’s Glory of Christmas.

In her spare time, Gayle likes to sit down with friends and laugh over a glass of wine. And maybe plan a little murder and mayhem."

I start thinking about my spare time. In my spare time... hmm... what could I do with that?

Using that train of thought, I've come up with two ideas:

1. And In My Spare Time, I Juggle Horses

2. And In My Spare Time, Wait, I Don't Have Any

What do you think about any of these? Or do you have any bright ideas?

I absolutely need a title so I can contact my cover designer and get him started on a cover. Please, if you've got any notions at all, let me know.

Don't misunderstand - I'm still going to write mysteries. But that genre is very competitive and I'm going to be working a long time to get a bigger share of the pie. In the meantime, I can see that humor is a smaller field and more lucrative, at least for me. I'm changing course only slightly, because I've heard the warning bell.

1 comment:

Angela Roe said...

I completely agree with you. Knowing how to predict what will happen ahead of time isn't nearly as important as recognizing what's happening currently and adapting to it. Well said.

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