THE GARAGE SAILOR
Pricing, Proofs and Packaging – Part II
Following a quarter century’s experience in the ad industry, I’ve gleaned a little insight into marketing and promotion. That knowledge has always been expended on behalf of others. Blowing my own horn is anathema, icky and crass. Still, advertising is nothing if not dirty work but I realized I’d need help: A good friend will help you move; a great friend will help you move a body.
You can’t judge a book by its cover even though you do. Early on in my career in the ad business I learned that if I didn’t have the answer at my fingertips I’d better know who to call. I phoned CreativeWorks, a Calgary-based design shop, my friend Rene. “My third novel,” I said. “I’m going full indie. I’ll need a cover, all that stuff.” He was laconic: “I’m going on holiday and I’ll need something to read besides. Leave it with me.”
Rene read The Garage Sailor manuscript and got it. His preliminary vision was almost exactly what I’d been imagining. He refined his graphics a tad by incorporating the Who’s Live at Leeds bootleg stamp for the title and lifting some elements from punk rock’s DIY ransom note design. The novel’s plot revolves around the tribulations of a lonely record collector saddled with the duties of attending to a diabetic cat. Rene added ears and whiskers to the O on Sailor. The final art is magical, the plot at one glance. Genius.
Provided I’m still around, the first of May 2020 will denote a singular demarcation in my life: 30 years as a Montrealer and an additional 30 as an Albertan. The characters in my previous two novels were wistful ex-Montrealers. Yet I consider myself a regional scribbler, an
you’re not based in Alberta ,”
one agent sniffed to me. The reality is that my novels sold only in Toronto Calgary and .
My publisher’s distribution seemed haphazard: this title in this Chapters or
Coles but not others; that title in some independent bookshops, but not all of
them; Murder Incorporated available
on Amazon but not Duke Street Kings.
The marketplace for The Garage Sailor
appeared too arcane, daunting and bizarre. Edmonton
Spike the project. Feed the cat. Shovel snow. Nobody reads fiction anymore anyway. Between Scrabble games at our dining room table Ann said to me, “It’s a good story. I think you should go ahead with it.” I agreed that maybe The Garage Sailor was better off out there in the world than turning yellow, pages curling constrained by a blue elastic band, in my desk drawer.
Sometime in the early 80s while I was using a Bic medium ballpoint pen to fill in the warranty card for my new Smith-Corona electric typewriter, my friend Jim was sussing the future shock implications of personal computing and the advent of the new digital age. We spoke this past winter. I said, “I don’t know how I’m going to do this Sailor thing.” He said, “E-commerce, my friend.” I said, “Easy for you to say.” He said, “Leave it with me.”