Saturday, June 25, 2016

Famous Up and Down the Block

I've been lucky in my career as a writer. I got my first story idea on the way to my first day of college and little more than a couple of decades later I got my first publishing deal. By today's impoverished publishing standards, the money for a paperback original deal was pretty good. By the standards of the time, it was modest at best. I was thrilled anyway.

My first book, "The Concrete Inquisition," would be sold and read all over the United States. I learned from my sister who was vacationing in Mexico that a resale copy was even available south of the border. Great, I thought, I'd reached two out of three of the biggest countries in North America.

My second traditional publishing deal, a two-book deal with a combined advance adding another zero to the payout, put Canada on the list of countries my work had reached. An Italian edition was considered for one of those two books but was never completed. For all I know, though, Italy being Italy, it might still be under discussion.

With my move to indie publishing on Amazon, I went global. Today, I know that my books have sold in the U.K. (my second biggest market), Ireland, France, Germany, Japan, India, Australia, New Zealand and even one book in Brazil.

So I have a global brand. With plenty of room to grow, of course.

Even so, I was surprised the other day when I took a morning run. I was on my way to the park near my home when I stopped, while running in place, in front of a neighbor's house. A woman with two small children was enjoying the pleasant weather. Her front porch had a shade/privacy screen that I admired. I said hello and asked where she got the screen.

Without having introduced myself, she nonetheless said, "Oh, you're the writer, aren't you?"

She pointed and added, "You live in that house over there, right?"

Not getting the least impression she intended to burgle me, I said she was right both times.

"What kind of books do you write?"

Her dossier on me was obviously incomplete. I told her mysteries, thrillers, the occasional comedy.

She asked where she could get them and I told her to visit my website:

I thanked her for the information about the screen — she gave me the website for that — and continued on my run, asking myself how she knew about me.

I'm generally friendly with my neighbors, know a handful by name, but I'm not a big socializer. My wife, child, work and siblings take up most of my time. So having been known, somewhat, by a person down the block surprised me.

It became obvious to me almost immediately that one of the neighbors who knows what I do must have spread the word, and the woman I talked to had found it sufficiently interesting that she remembered at least some of the details.

She even said that she'd buy a book, being a mystery fan.

Who knows, someday I might be out for another run and see a front porch book club discussing my newest title. I'll have to stop by and say hello. See how many of them already know me.

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