When Books Find You

I’m not a terribly superstitious person, but for some reason I believe that books find me exactly when I need them. What I’m reading always seems to mirror what I’m going through. It’s as if my inner knowing guides me to titles that will help to illuminate the way.

Most recently, this happened when I picked up a book I’ve had on my shelf for a long time but never bothered to read. Henry James’ The Jolly Corner.

It starts out like a ghost story, but turns into an epic battle between a man and the man he might have been. An excerpt:

He found all things come back to the question of what he personally might have been, how he might have led his life and ‘turned out,’ if he had not at the outset, given it up.

“It comes over me that I had then a strange alter ego deep down somewhere within me, as the full-blown flower is in the small tight bud, and that I just took the course, I just transferred him to the climate, that blighted him for once and for ever.”

“And you wonder about the flower,” Miss Staverton said. “So do I, if you want to know; and so I’ve been wondering these several weeks. I believe in the flower,” she continued, “I feel it would have been quite splendid, quite huge and monstrous.”

“Monstrous above all!” her visitor echoed, “and I imagine, by the same stroke, quite hideous and offensive.”

“You don’t believe that,” she returned; “if you did you wouldn’t wonder. You’d know, and that would be enough for you. What you feel – and what I feel for you – is that you’d have had power.”

How to Market Your Ebook

You can spend $97 for a marketing book you find listed first when you Google the terms "How to Market Your E-book" or you can peruse these tips for free: I'm going to assume here that you wrote a good ebook, made sure it was edited for content and grammar and have uploaded it to several retail sites (e.g., Amazon, iBookstore, Barnes & Noble). Assuming that starting point, try the following.

1. Pay to have someone create a cover for your ebook that is graphic and eye-catching.

2. Write a succinct book AND author description for your e-book that includes keywords related to the subject of your ebook.

3. Upload a sample of your book to Wattpad, Scribd and other community reading sites to generate initial impressions and buzz.

4. Send free versions of your ebook to friends and ask them to write reviews for you on the retailer sites where you sell your ebook. (Note: Amazon is clamping down on this, but reviews still matter.)

5. Use Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to announce your ebook for sale often. But remember to post interesting items not related to your book in-between your announcements.

6. Write a blog post about your ebook.

7. Submit your ebook to be reviewed on subject related websites and blogs.

8. Email your network of friends, relatives and colleagues to announce the book is on sale.

9. Include links to your ebooks on sale in your email signature block.

10. Mention your ebook on forums or community boards related to the subject of your book.

11. Set a competitive price for your ebook and then experiment with changing the price.

12. Create a video for your ebook. You can do a trailer or an author interview or even a making of the ebook video.

13. Timing. Release your ebook and grow its sales just before consumers traditionally expect it. For example, weight loss books are usually sold in January so if you were selling a weight loss book you'd want to get it out into the market a few weeks before New Year's Eve.

14. Offer incentives or give-aways to ebook purchasers.

15. Do a give-away on Goodreads (you just need an author account).

What am I missing? What have you done that's been effective?

My ebook: 20 Things I've Learned as an Entrepreneur


I've been making my way through fiction books that have won the Pulitzer prize. Below is the list and my progress (read = bold).

2017 - The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

2016 - The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen

2015 - All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

2014 - The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

2013 - The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson

2012 - none

2011 - A Visit from th Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

2010 - Tinkers by Paul Harding

2009 - Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

2008 - The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

2007 - The Road (McCarthy)

2006 - March (Brooks)

2005 - Gilead (Robinson)

2004 - The Known World (Jones)

2003 - Middlesex (Eugenides)

2002 - Empire Falls (Russo)

2001 - The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay (Chabon)

2000 - Interpreter of Maladies (Lahiri)

1999 - The Hours (Cunningham)

1998 - American Pastoral (Roth)

1997 - Martin Dressler: The Tale of an American Dreamer (Millhauser)

1996 - Independence Day (Ford)

1995 - The Stone Diaries (Shields)

1994 - The Shipping News (Proulx)

1993 - A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain (Butler)

1992 - A Thousand Acres (Smiley)

1991 - Rabbit at Rest (Updike)

1990 - The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love (Hijuelos)

1989 - Breathing Lessons (Tyler)

1988 - Beloved (Morrison)

1987 - A Summons to Memphis (Taylor)

1986 - Lonesome Dove (McMurtry)

1985 - Foreign Affairs (Lurie)

1984 - Ironweed (Kennedy)

1983 - The Color Purple (Walker)

1982 - Rabbit is Rich (Updike)

1981 - A Confederacy of Dunces (Toole) (this gets a half; couldn't get all the way through it!)

1980 - The Executioner’s Song (Mailer)

1979 - The Stories of John Cheever (Cheever)

1978 - Elbow Room (McPherson)

1977 - None given

1976 - Humboldt’s Gift (Bellow)

1975 - The Killer Angels (Shaara)

1974 - None given

1973 - The Optimist’s Daughter (Welty)

1972 - Angle of Repose (Stegner)

1971 - None given

1970 - Collected Stories by Jean Stafford (Stafford)

1969 - House Made of Dawn (Momaday)

1968 - The Confessions of Nat Turner (Styron)

1967 - The Fixer (Malamud)

1966 - Collected Stories by Katherine Anne Porter (Porter)

1965 - The Keepers Of the House (Grau)

1964 - None given

1963 - The Reivers (Faulkner)

1962 - The Edge of Sadness (Edwin O’Connor)

1961 - To Kill a Mockingbird (Lee)

1960 - Advise and Consent (Drury)

1959 - The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters (Taylor)

1958 - A Death in the Family (Agee)

1957 - None

1956 - Andersonville (Kantor)

1955 - A Fable (Faulkner)

1954 - None

1953 - The Old Man and the Sea (Hemingway)

1952 - The Caine Mutiny (Wouk)

1951 - The Town (Richter)

1950 - The Way West (Guthrie)

1949 - Guard of Honor (Cozzens)

1948 - Tales of the South Pacific (Michener)

1947 - All the King’s Men (Warren)

1946 - None

1945 - Bell for Adano (Hersey)

1944 - Journey in the Dark (Flavin)

1943 - Dragon’s Teeth I (Sinclair)

1942 - In This Our Life (Glasgow)

1941 - None

1940 - The Grapes of Wrath (Steinbeck)

1939 - The Yearling (Rawlings)

1938 - The Late George Apley (Marquand)

1937 - Gone with the Wind (Mitchell)

1936 - Honey in the Horn (Davis)

1935 - Now in November (Johnson)

1934 - Lamb in His Bosom (Miller)

1933 - The Store (Stribling)

1932 - The Good Earth (Buck) (I made a movie about it in the 8th grade)

1931 - Years of Grace (Barnes)

1930 - Laughing Boy (Lafarge)

1929 - Scarlet Sister Mary (Peterkin)

1928 - The Bridge of San Luis Rey (Wilder)

1927 - Early Autumn (Bromfield)

1926 - Arrowsmith (Lewis)

1925 - So Big (Ferber)

1924 - The Able McLauglins (Wilson)

1923 - One of Ours (Cather)

1922 - Alice Adams (Tarkington)

1921 - The Age of Innocence (Wharton)

1920 - None

1919 - The Magnificent Ambersons (Tarkington)

1918 - His Family (Poole)

Book Lovers Unite!

I haven't succumbed to the technical gadgets for reading - yet. I know I have an old fashioned streak, but there is just no substitute in my mind for a book. This New York Times article reminded me I'm in the right place - San Francisco: "where the average annual per capita expenditure on books is perennially among the highest in the nation. Same goes for booze — according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, San Francisco is the only city that ranks in the top three for both (New York is ninth by both measures). Hence all the readings in bars."

Links mentioned in the article worth perusing:

SFStation Literary Arts


The Rumpus


Mechanics Institute Library

My Ideal Bookshelf

If you know anything about me you know I love books. I have them stashed everywhere in my house and am always reading a couple at a time. So it only makes sense to me that books are art. My friend Beth, who has a keen sense of all things cool, turned me on to Jane Mount, an artist. With a name like that, I believe she is just doing as God intended. Check out her art here.