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Susan Ito trying to do it all: reading writing mothering spousing daughtering working living

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Virtual Garage Sale

Book Group Expo turned out to be a lot of fun, except for an unfortunate snafu regarding my book, which collided with some self-esteem issues and turned into a great big pile of humiliation.

So, the organizers told me to bring my book and that the book vendors – Keplers, Cody’s and Books Inc. would be “happy” to sell it on consignment. I explained that (sniff) my book is out of print, and that all I have left is half a garage full of returns. For those of you not familiar with the term, "Returns” are books that were purchased but then unsold by bookstores, and then returned to the publisher. They all have little gluey rectangles or ovals on them, which used to be where they slapped on the price tags or bookstore stickers. Many of them have ugly black lines along the sides of them, which = Utter Rejection. When the book went out of print, the publisher offered me to buy back the returns, or to allow them to be (gulp! choke!) shredded. I opted to buy them.

So anyway I rushed out of the house like a madwoman on Saturday, and forgot to bring a carton of my sad little books. When I arrived, the conference organizer said, “Where is your book?” and I said, well, they’re not in great shape, thinking of those horrible black marks and glue-gunk. But they insisted that I must have my book, and that possibly I could prevail upon a Famous Writer, who lives not too far from me, to bring the books with her when she came to the Expo.

So I called my wonderful Spouse and asked him if he, after his long hard day of working like a Dog, would be willing and able to transport a bagful of my books to the Famous Writer’s house. Bless his heart, he said yes. The FW said yes. They had a rendezvous and he handed over the books.

But this was the part I had not fully thought out. My panel, after which time the booksellers sell the books from a Special Table to the audience members streaming out of the panel room, was Sunday morning at 10am. The FW’s panel was not until 4pm. So when my panel was over, there were no books. The books arrived, in a grocery bag, looking sad and marked-up, in the Green Room around 3pm. I took my bedraggled little bag of books around to the book vendors, and none of them seemed particularly pleased or willing to deal with selling Returns (the scourge of bookstores). And since my panel was long over, the people who had been most likely to buy them, were long gone.

I came home with my bagful of books. I felt terrible. I felt ravenously envious of all the authors who have gorgeous, newly-minted, hardcover books that the conference goers were snatching off the tables and buying with their credit cards. I felt so sad for my poor book which we had such grand dreams for.

My co-editor and I were terribly inexperienced and quite naïve, as Carly Simon once sang. We had no big marketing plan other than sending postcards to a few thousand adoption agencies. We had no marketing or publicity budget, and a modest little website that was cobbled together by a friend’s 12-year old (I am not exaggerating). If we were to do it now, we would do things very differently. We had done our research before publishing the book, and we determined that 5 million people in the US had been personally “touched” by adoption (had adopted, been adopted, married someone adopted, given someone up for adoption or was a sibling of an adoption person). We figured, if just one percent of those five million bought our book, we would be doing great. Um, that did not turn out to be the case. Maybe we did not have enough publicity. Maybe we needed more advertising. We should have had a blog, but that was in the Time Before Blogs (1999). In any case, we never made back our little advance, we never went beyond our first printing, and we are now officially OOP (Out Of Print).

So now I launch my Virtual Garage Sale. These lovely books are available for the low-low price of ten dollars each. Including shipping and handling. It is a wonderful book. I still read some of the pieces and get teary.

If you would like a copy, or ten, of A Ghost At Heart’s Edge, please email me. I will send you a Paypal invoice and then you can pay instantly with a credit card. It couldn't be easier.


Blogger expatmama said...

This is a great book, Susan. I hope it gets out to more people! I linked to it in my blog.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006 2:02:00 AM

Blogger melanie said...

This is a great book. As I told you I gave it to my aunt as a gift (she adopted a little girl, now 12!), and she loved it, loved, loved it. Plus all the reviews I've read on Amazon all say it's the only collection that so completely touches all the sides of adoption, and how adoption touches so many different people.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006 8:58:00 AM

Blogger Susan said...

You guys are the greatest. Thanks for the boost!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006 10:25:00 AM

Blogger Bustopher Jones said...

I want one of those for my niece! Can I buy one next time I see you?

Wednesday, June 21, 2006 11:09:00 AM

Blogger Susan said...

bustopher: YES!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006 11:18:00 AM

Blogger Quit Bloglin' Me said...

I sent my copy to my cousin's adopted daughter from Peru (it would have been nice if she'd acknowledged it!). Anyway, I'm going to email you so I can get another one. it IS a good book!


Saturday, June 24, 2006 12:12:00 AM

Blogger C(h)ristine said...

i just sent in a request to purchase!

btw, susan--i think amazon has a "blog" feature where the authors of each book can blog alongside their book...

Wednesday, June 28, 2006 11:18:00 AM


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