Peevish Pen

Ruminations on reading, writing, rural living, retirement, aging—and sometimes cats. And maybe a border collie or other critters.

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Location: Rural Virginia, United States

I'm an elderly retired teacher who writes. Among my books are Ferradiddledumday (Appalachian version of the Rumpelstiltskin story), Stuck (middle grade paranormal novel), Patches on the Same Quilt (novel set in Franklin County, VA), Them That Go (an Appalachian novel), and several Kindle ebooks.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Anticipating interest—not!

I’ve been lit-spammed.

Recently I received an email from someone I didn’t know. The subject line said “VWC Information.” Since I’m a board member of the Virginia Writers club, I get lots of email with this as a subject header.

However, this email wasn’t about club business. It was a promo for someone’s book. The person who wrote the book wasn’t even a member of the VWC. The person who wrote the book doesn’t even live in Virginia. I don’t even know this person.

To avoid a lawsuit, I’ve changed some of the words in the book’s title—I’ve bolded my changes—and I’ve deleted the sender’s name. Here’s what the email said:

Dear Fellow [insert writing job here]/Educator:

Interesting twists on mechanistic conversation are examined in my newly available book, Nuts, Bolts & Very Bad Jokes: Mechanics Discuss Humor and Auto Maintenance in Their Own Words.

The attachment features a picture of the book and some relevant details. In lieu of opening attachment, view info./pic at [a Typepad addy with only one entry—a plug for the book].

I hope you'll consider acquiring a copy. And, for mechanic educators, that you might consider using the book as a supplement in your courses on mufflers and limerick writing.

Thank you so much for your anticipated interest.

[name deleted]


Uh, “anticipated interest”? The actual title of the book didn’t grab my attention any more than the letter’s passive opening sentence did. The self-published book is apparently about writers telling how they do a particular type of writing that I don’t ordinarily do. In their own words. (Whose words would they use if they telling what they do?)

To be fair, I went to the emailer’s blog. It had one entry that told a bit about the book and showed the cover. There was no link to a website with excerpts from the book or reviews of the book. Not even a press kit. How would someone who might really, uh, “anticipate interest” about the book even find out basic stuff about the book?

Apparently, the author figured that writers would want the book. I’m more-or-less a writer, and my email addy exists in numerous places in cyberspace (such as on the VWC website where he no doubt found it). Apparently, the author figured that teachers might snap up his book up to use in class. I’m not a teacher anymore, and the book doesn’t sound like something I could have used in any classes I taught. And doesn’t he know that very few teachers can pick their texts? They have to get approval from department heads, etc.

Doesn’t the author know that lit-spam doesn’t work well? Even though I’m a self-pubbed writer, I’m unlikely to buy a self-pubbed book about writing. Good books about how writers write are picked up by commercial publishers. If I’m going to read a book about how to write (Hale’s Sin & Syntax and Lukeman’s The First Five Pages are two excellent ones I’ve recently read), I want the book to be written by experts who are commercially published.

Self-pubbed books are for small niche markets. To target a book to writers is to aim for a large market, not a small one. Self-pubbed books are best promoted locally and in person. To email strangers several states away is a waste of time—for both the sender and receiver.

Pardon my passivity, but interest is not anticipated by this receiver.

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