A wonderful thing just happened. A man sitting at a table next to mine stood up and started putting his coat on to leave. Next to the journal I was writing in, I had set out my three published books as an experiment. A few years back my friend in Portland, Steve Carey, told me about a woman who went to different coffeehouses, put a stack of her books on a table while she wrote in her journal, and sold her books that way. I finally got up the nerve to do that today.
The man asked, “What books are you reading?”
I stopped writing in my journal. “I’m not reading them, I’m the author of these books.”
The man picked up my two fictional books and quickly browsed their front and back covers. “What’s Morning Pages about?” he asked.
“It’s a book about a writer who breaks out of a writer’s block by writing three pages as swiftly as he can every day for twelve weeks. He doesn’t even realize he’s writing a story a day. Put all the stories together and they add up to a novel.”
“Is it autobiographical?”
“Pretty much so. I write from my experience and spice it up with fiction. The other book you’re holding, The Immortal Mouth, is a collection of thirty short stories.”
“Are the books for sale?”
“Yes, and so is this one,” I said, holding up Write Now! “They’re ten dollars apiece.”
“Is Write Now! fiction?”
“No, it’s a non-fiction book about writing.”
“I like fiction,” he said. “I’ll buy these two.”
I signed each book for Tim Padgett, thanked him, shook his hand and watched him walk out the door.
Tim Padgett is telling me I should show my books every time I sit down to write in a coffeehouse. The next time I do it, though, I’ll print on a large card: “Books for Sale by Author—$10 each.”
Speaking of advertising, I have a classified ad coming out in Poets and Writers Magazine next month. Here’s what it’s going to say:
EACH WEEK I WRITE an essay about writing and the writing process on my website. I’m the author of two books on writing: Write Now! On the Road to Getting Published or How I Learned to Sell My Book and Morning Pages: The Almost True Story of My Life. Please visit my website. www.joesutt.com