Thursday, July 2, 2009

PET PEEVE THURSDAY--How's the book doing?

Today's guest is Jeffrey Cohen, author of the Double Feature Mysteries.

"How's the book doing?"

People ask you this all the time when you've gone miles out of your way to let them know you have a new book coming out, or just out. They're showing interest in your work, your welfare, your career. It's a very kind gesture on their part.

It drives me nuts.

Duh See, I pride myself on my conversation. I like to be thought of as witty or at least interesting when I'm talking with or to other people. And a question like that--"How's the book doing?"--leaves me at a complete loss for an adequate answer. I've tried things like, "How's the book doing WHAT?" or "The book's just fine, and it was asking about you," but the fact is, I really don't know what to say when friends, acquaintances or perfect strangers drop that particular question in my lap.

How's the book doing? The fact is, I haven't a clue. I can look at the Amazon sales numbers, which are at once depressing and meaningless. I can gauge the number of reviews or Amazon mentions when I Google the book's title (and any author who says they don't is LYING!). I can count up the emails I get from readers or visitors to my web site ( But assuming that the question "how's the book doing" refers to sales figures, it will be months before I have an answer. Publishers don't call we aspiring mid-listers with regular reports unless something highly unexpected (like people buying a lot of books) happens. We wait for accounting reports, which come months after the book is published, and even then, have to be read to me over the phone by my agent, because I don't understand one single digit listed on the page.

So when me meet, believe me, I appreciate your interest in my book. I honestly do. I'll talk to you for hours about my book if you don't shut me up, and I'll think you're a wonderful person for indulging my ego so selflessly. But please---PLEASE--don't ask me how the book's doing.

I really don't know.

And what's bugging YOU today?
Jeff Cohen is the author of the Double Feature Mystery seNight at the operationries. His current book, A Night At The Operation, is third in the series and now available. Check out Jeff's web site. Jeff also blogs on Mondays at Hey,There's A Dead Guy In The Living Room (Mystery Publishing from Idea to Bookshelf).