The other day, my neighbor, a humble, weathered man, uneducated, but street-smart, with all the scars to prove it asked "What you been up to, Richard?" "Not, much. I just published a book." With a look of astonishment he shook his saying "I never knew anyone who wrote a book." "Yeah, now I have to go out a peddle it", I continued. He was amused by the word "peddle" and laughed out loud. A couple of days later, he commented "You been busy peddling you book? Who buys books anyway?" he asked incredulously. "Anybody I can trick into it", I said. He laughed out loud again.
And there you have it. Now that my book is published I have been busy "marketing" it. Actually, this is the best part of the whole thing. Writing, especially the editing was an exhausting and tedious process. But the peddling has been fun.
In a college I had an English professor, Mr. Noyes, an ivy-league clad, bespeckled man who taught us the love of Literature by reading to us. I loved kicking back, not having to take notes and just "listen" to the poems and stories come to life as he passionately read them to us! In a way, I felt as we were being cheated out of something since I had grown up listening to lectures all my life.
I love reading to people. Poems, stories mine or those by other writers. I love the audience response, the frowns, the smiles, the laughter, the tears which in turn make me read with more passion. The kids along with the old-timers listen with earnest intent as I take them on a literary journey into the mind, the imagination. I read for a 7th grade class the other day and they loved the stories and even rushed me at the end of the session for my autograph on little slips of paper they had torn from their binders. A couple of weeks later, four of them gave their teacher some money to purchase a book for them. I was honored.
So I am busy doing local readings and book signings and tricking people into buying my book. On Facebook I have gotten dozens of "Likes" from my "Friends", but few have actually purchased a book. Who needs "likes" or "friends" like this? But hey, I'm not into it for the money, mind you; but damn it, I had to pay a small bundle to publish it, and I also have to pay for each copy I sell. Have pity on me. Some people actually expect me to give them a copy for free! And I have handed out several freebies, too, asking them to help me spread the word on my book if they "liked" it. But for the ones who do buy a book, and actually read it, I must confess I am dying to know if they "liked" it, and in that department, so far, things are going well with many positive comments.
I called the principal from my old high school the other day, Modesto High School, which I graduated from in 1957, to tell him about my book, offering to do a presentation for the school or English classes (free), and finally got a response from an English teacher who scheduled me to do presentations for five sections of her Senior English classes! I will tell those students that I once sat in the very seats they are sitting in, walked the very hallways they walk, went to the same Friday night "Panther's" games just like they do, but that I began running with the wrong crowd until two of my art teachers discovered me, and put me on the path to a college education, a degree, a teaching career, becoming an artist, and now and author, and I will read them stories from my book, one titled "Los Tres Grandes", about how I discovered I could write after a Junior Composition assignment for a term paper, led me research the life and art of three of Mexico's greatest muralists, Diego Rivera, David Siqueiros, and Jose Orozco, and got an "A" on it and the teacher read it to the class.
More readings and booksignings are on the way and I am looking forward to each one, especially one I will be doing as guest author for National Poetry Month in April, at the college where I taught for 33 years. A homecoming, of sorts. And I will continue to peddle my book.
In fact, while I am on it, would you like to buy a book?