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A book-related request for SJ.commers

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by Msaint, Nov 6, 2006.

  1. Msaint

    Msaint Member

    Hi all,

    First a little background: I originally heard of this site when I received a Google alert that a member here, Flanders -- thanks again, Ned -- recommended my first book, Committed: Confessions of a Fantasy Football Junkie (Scribner, Sept. 2004) for the late, great SportsJournalists.com Book Club. After just lurking for a while, I finally joined a few months back and I've really enjoyed the often brilliant, often hilarious, always insightful, sometimes forehead slap-causing discussion here, though I only occasionally post. (One time, thinking it was the general fantasy thread, I mistakenly started answering fantasy football questions in the NIAFL thread -- [Kinison]Thanks, Mr. Helper[/Kinison] -- and quickly discovered that it was like pouring honey over my head and lying down next to a hill of red army ants. Still, lesson learned: always read the post topic in its entirety. ;) )

    I'm writing today because my second book -- Just Kick It: Tales of an Underdog, Over-Age, Out-of-Place Semi-Pro Football Player -- came out a couple weeks ago, also published by Scribner. Considering you all are the real sportswriting pros with affiliations to sports pages, TV & radio, magazines, etc., I wanted to pick your collective brains about spreading the word on book #2. I've been lucky enough to get a few hits here and there -- e.g. NPR's "Only a Game", Boston Magazine/Globe/Herald -- and do some local signings/readings at Borders and B&N and the like, usually attended by disoriented homeless guys looking for free sugar cookies. But seeing as SportsJournalists.com, far as I'm concerned, is the epicenter of sportswriting talent on the web, and there's already been some mild -- OK, very mild -- interest in my first book, I wanted to see if any of you might be interested in covering Just Kick It, which is a look at the ubiquitous yet under-publicized level of semi-pro football...focusing in particular on one inner-city Boston team. As you probably know, book publicity is a bitch, and it's hard to cut through the clutter, especially for sports-related authors. I can't tell you how many well-meaning friends and relatives have said, "You know who would love your book? Oprah. She does books all the time. You should go on her show. I think that would sell a bunch of copies, don't you?" Thanks for the input, Uncle Larry. Maybe I should also marry Natalie Portman?

    Feel free to check out my book's Amazon page (below) if you get a free second, and if it looks like something that might fit for a column or a story, or you know someone at your paper/station who might be interested in reviewing/covering it -- whether for sports pages, book pages, anywhere -- feel free to PM me and I'd be more than happy to send you a hardcover, or answer any questions you might have. I hate even posting about the book and intruding like this, but after thinking about it I realized I'd be a fool not to, considering the talent and connections of the audience. Finally, please know that I checked with Moddy/Webby prior to posting just to make sure they were OK with it, and they gave me the go-ahead...after I swore to make a fat donation if the book starts selling more thanks to some help from SportsJournalists.commers. Seemed more than fair. ;D

    Anyway, sorry for the long post, thanks for reading & I hope the book sparks some interest.

    Mark St. Amant

  2. poindexter

    poindexter Well-Known Member

    You picked the wrong time and place to tout your book. Not one reference to GWB found anywhere in your materials.

    Anyways, good luck with this.
  3. JR

    JR Active Member

    And not one anti-Islamic reference; otherwise Hondo & Poin would be all over it.
  4. Jones

    Jones Active Member

    Hey Mark... Just wanted to say congrats on the book and the starred review from Booklist. Nice work.
  5. leo1

    leo1 Active Member

    i can't help since much i'm out of the business but you seem to be one of the few who comes here and actually gets it - unlike the dorks starting up new web sites and looking for writers who will write for free. also, the book sounds interesting; i'll check it out if i see it in the store and if it looks interesting i'll probably buy it. i assume you've already tried targeted mailings to book reviewers and books editors at major newspapers.
  6. Boom_70

    Boom_70 Well-Known Member

    Hey Mark - congrats on book. Sounds like one I will read. I knew some guys who played for the Marlboro Shamrocks - were they in your league?

    Semi pro football is perhaps the purest part of sport left. You have a bunch of guys playing for no other reason than they fact that they love the game.

    Question - did you ever write a short story about your experience in a newspaper? I seem to recall reading something like this .
  7. Michael_ Gee

    Michael_ Gee Well-Known Member

    Book is already on my list as Christmas present for pigskin-crazed mom and dad.
  8. Msaint

    Msaint Member

    Sorry, guys, I'll try to start off by slamming Deval Patrick, Ken Mehlman and/or Islamic people in general next time. ;)

    Thanks for the kind words, all. Really appreciate your chiming in. Yes, Boom, I wrote a shorter piece on this team, the Boston Panthers, for the Boston Globe Magazine a while back (December, '04 I think?), right after my first season playing. Leo1, yes, my publicist has hit most of the book editors/reviewers, etc. but it's always hit or miss, mostly miss, but the hits make the pavement-pounding worth it.

    And Michael, as a longtime Bostonian, I enjoyed your Herald and other work for years, so thanks for buying Just Kick It for Mom & Dad Gee.

    If anyone else has any interest, or publicity ideas, by all means pass 'em along...and again, many thanks.
  9. BYH

    BYH Active Member

    Hire Yawn to go around telling people how much he hates your book. Everyone who hears his dribblings will figure that you are a genius and buy the book. Voila! Best-seller!
  10. swenk

    swenk Member

    I once heard the president of a big publishing house say that the world needs agents, so the mentally ill will always have jobs. Another agent leaned over to me and whispered, "That's because all the good publicist jobs are taken by the lobotomy patients."

    Not very funny, unless you've written a book.

    Standing ovation for Mr St Amant, who clearly knows this major commandment of authorship: Thou must be the greatest advocate of thine own book, because no one else gives a damn.

    My heart breaks when I hear authors anguish, "If they would just promote it...." No. Stop. Unless you're a ready-made PR commercial entity/brand-name, and there aren't too many authors who fit that bill, you learn fast that publishers don't act--they react. They might send out the free books to the people on your list---then they'll call you (or me) to say, 'You know, we really expected you to lean on these people more, can't you call them?'

    If you're completely blessed, and your book starts to take off, you might get a little tour: 9:00 am appearance in Baltimore, 10:15 appearance in Buffalo...('Is that a problem? It doesn't look that far on the map! Wait, you flew there? From Phoenix? We thought you'd drive, we probably can't reimburse you.")

    And God help you if they really LIKE your book.

    Best philosophy is, expect nothing, be happily surprised if you get anything, and understand that 9-of-10 pals in the pressbox who say 'Send me one, I'll plug it!' are just doing early Christmas shopping.

    Oh, one more thing: buy 100 copies of the book at your discount, and hide them for your heirs. Once they're gone, they're gone.
  11. Msaint

    Msaint Member

    Words of wisdom, Swenk. I have my "See? Grampy wasn't always just sitting in his own filth, staring out the window and muttering to himself" copies for future St. Amant generations.

    Believe me, I learned early on that the author has to do most, if not all, of the heavy lifting. I think most people -- laypeople, that is, unlike those on this board who, if not having written/promoted a book themselves, are familiar enough with the publishing world to know better -- believe that once you get a book published, you just sit back as they wheelbarrow in stacks of money and dump 'em on your floor and/or you're sent out on whirlwind 30-city book tours on the private Simon & Schuster jet, staying at the Four Seasons, drinking Cristal and fending off "book groupies." Um, yeah, wrong on all counts...and my "groupies" are usually fat dudes with Patriots face-paint who want to know whether they should start Thomas Jones vs. the Giants or Ahman Green vs. the Vikes.

    And then there's the publicity misconception, that you kick back as a crack team of 100% dedicated-to-you experts at the publisher, simply by snapping their fingers, line up Oprah, Howard, Today Show, People, NY Times, and, of course, Juggs, after which you become famous. That's not to slam the publicists on either book, because they've worked hard to get the word out and landed me some nice hits upon which we've been able to build this second time around. Like I wrote in my original post, I've been lucky enough to do some local signings/readings here in Boston, get some national hits here and there and appear at some book festivals (while not big book-sellers, festivals, IMO, are great for general word-of-mouth, hob-knobbing with other writers in all disciplines whom you'd never otherwise meet, and for occasionally putting a schmoe like me on a sports panel next to someone like Buster Olney).

    So don't get me wrong -- it's not all gloom and doom and there's nothing in the world I'd rather be doing. Still though, if, like Swenk said, the author thinks he/she can just coast and let the publisher look out for the book's survival, he/she is, to put it mildly, ass-fucked. If you do have a publicist, he/she is working on several other books besides yours, which is why this line nailed it for me: "...expect nothing, be happily surprised if you get anything."

    Oh, and if anyone here asks for a free copy and then doesn't plug it, the next package you receive might contain a dead rat, a live scorpion or the excrement of either. ;)

    Feces jokes aside, I know that while many of you are already published authors, others might be writing their first books as we speak. And even though, thanks to your profession alone and the self-motivation/talent/drive that it requires, you're far ahead of the "writer's learning curve" than the average guy, if you ever have any questions about my experiences with the whole crazy publishing process -- agent-hunting, publisher-seeking, proposal-writing/-pitching, the book production process, publicity/promotion, whatever -- by all means PM me. I'm no wily literary veteran by any stretch, and there are some big names here* who have forgotten more about this stuff than I'll ever know, but I'll certainly help out where I can.

    Thanks again.

    * I've seen that Dave Kindred, who was kind enough to include my fantasy football book in one of his columns a while back (easily the highlight of my "career" so far), is a member here. I just started his Ali/Cosell book, "Sound and Fury".....just tremendous so far. If you haven't picked it up yet, do so.
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