Masters of the iUniverse

I waa braising portabella mushrooms when the telephone rang and a young woman with halting Spanicated diction greeted me and announced that she had been assigned as my Marketing Consultant.

This was news. As readers of this page may know, I published a couple of farcical mysteries four-five years ago, rooted in local politics and full of irritating portraits of our county Board of Supervisors and the people who harangue them at public meetings, all within the bounds of fair use. A lot of people bought them upon first publication, mostly owing to some coverage in the Washington Post, where I guess they were having a slow news week. Luz or whoever she was had a standard pitch, and asked what I had been doing since then to market the books, which I had paid to publish print-on-demand, just about breaking even (not quite).

Not much, I said, since they were essentially a massive prank on the local body politic, and while managing a campaign for the county’s perennial splinter candidate, for the express purpose of deep cover, I was in no position to appear at signings even with the traditional paper bag over my head. Since then I had just had other fish to fry, and let it be, figured I’d had my fun for a fair price.

Luz began to sound flustered and as if she suspected she might be out of her depth, but plowed on with a description of a “promotional package” that involved $499 out of my bank account and the services of a “person with experience in Hollywood scriptwriting”  who would read the book(s), compile a synopsis and presentation materials, and flog same to studios and producers. Did I think of my novels as having film or TV series potential?

“Yea, pretty filmic,” I said. “Hell, I threw in everything but the kitchen sink. You got your gory murder, political corruption, gratuitous blow job, fist fights, hostage scenario, romantic catastrophe, black magic, something in there for everyone.”

Luz giggled nervously and began to enlarge upon the number of POD books that had been optioned as film properties. Which amounted to about a dozen.

“Well, tell you what, it depends if my car passes inspection,” I explained. ” ’cause if I need a new power rack there goes my discretionary cash. But e-mail me the details.”

I’d have more fun writing a third in the series (if I could get a plot to gel) than screwing with all this really. Not that I don’t love the Walter Mitty fantasy of having the whole thing filmed on location, while local politicians give birth to twins; still, I’m a realist — hell, I never even buy lottery tickets. Luz sounds like a nice kid, but someone else will have to provide her commissions.


16 thoughts on “Masters of the iUniverse

  1. I agree that you should keep writing, but stay away from those offering to represent you for a fee. Though it sounds like you did a good job of totally confusing this woman. Poor thing.

  2. They should be paying you if it was legit.

    I remember the books well. They are a fun read that apply to almost any urban-suburban place, not just Arlington Co.

    • I’m feeling mischievous enough that I stuck a link to them in the sidebar here. Now that we’re having a fresh wave of skulduggery hereabouts I keep thinking there’s something there to work with. But how can I top shooting out the boardroom clock?

  3. I had a look at the Amazon web site. Reviews are very favourable. You were talking about books you wrote but I saw only one.

    Well, I knew you could do something like that! You are a very good writer and you should definitely continue to write.

    And yes, those bloodsuckers should be kept at a distance but finding some other useful way to promote your works is not a silly thing to do. A blog? Maybe there are tutorials around with practical advice, I got no idea.

  4. There was a second which I didn’t think came off as well. But I became fond of my hapless hero, who was always ending up in some embarrassing situation involving a woman and always finding out sleazy political truths that he couldn’t reveal without hurting someone he cared about. It seemed like something I could keep going but I got a little self-conscious with too many people hereabouts breathing down my neck. Now the locals are starting to forget and maybe I can lose that feeling of a reader over my shoulder, which is the kiss of death.

    Speaking of which, you may notice I lightly edited your comment to remove the book’s title and substituted a link to the Amazon page. I’m still taking a little trouble to stay under cover so someone searching on the book titles and author doesn’t get a Google hit on this blog. There were some really bad reactions from a few people…

    As for screenplays I already have a few experimental pages. I enjoy reading movie scripts and should be able to produce at least a rough one.

    Maybe I can do business with David Rochester over at Quotidian Vicissitudes, who should be catching a breather from his own novel by the time I am equal to doing anything. Sounds like he knows how to present a good inquiry, and I’d be a literate client for a change.

  5. I lightly edited …

    I am sorry, I had no idea about all this. The kiss of death … isn’t it exaggerated? But in any case. I visited this David Rochester at Quotidian Vicissitudes. He seems an interesting person, one that could help you. Apart from living in Oregon, he seems to have similar traits with you and Zeus: cats and fountain pens! I wish you all the best dear Sled.

  6. I do hope you continue on with the protagonist as well–he sounds like he has a lot of work left to do, sleuthing political secrets while struggling against sexual tensions with the opposite sex and embarrassing himself. I quite like him already and I’ve never even met him.

    The lady on the phone sounds like a sheister. I rarely trust strangers that call on the phone, especially in this outsourcing world of ours where opportunists reign.

    But definitely keep writing–you must!

  7. It sounds like fun, but our political systems (both in the UK and here in Aus) are so different, I think, from those in the US that I’m not sure I’d get it. I’m guessing the US ‘County’ is not the same as the UK ‘County’ in terms of politics and I have no idea what the equivalent of the Board of Supervisors would be.

    Obviously I should read it and find out 🙂

    • You can find big chunks of it at Google Books.

      Arlington is more like an incorporated township than an average American county. It’s ten miles by ten miles with a bite out of the northeast corner where the Potomac River crosses it (that land belongs to Washington D.C.). We have five “Supervisors” who are permanently re-elected in a flurry of ballot-box stuffing every November, in staggered four year terms. I think “town council” would probably be the closest equivalent. When one of them wants to retire the local Democratic party goes into a huddle and anoints a successor from among their groupies or the housepets of the local Congressman, who is a nationally famous blowhard, bounder and scheisster.

      And mind you, I have voted for more Democrats than Republicans in my life, but this is how I see it.

      So it’s just begging to have schlock written about it.

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