Sarah Avery (dr_pretentious) wrote,
Sarah Avery


I got the weirdest thing in the mail. Someone whose name I don't recognize mailed me two books she self-published. One of them is a sort of how-to manual for becoming more creative at drawing. The other is a coloring book. To the stranger's credit, her copyright page suggests that she self-published by going to a printer herself, rather than through a vanity press, so she's not completely clueless. The coloring book is pretty attractive, as coloring books go. The drawing book, I'm not really qualified to assess.

Why on earth did these books come to me? There's no note, card, letter of introduction, no explanation of any kind. Just my luck that, when I'm in the middle of a big book purge, trying to change which room I use as my study, two unsolicited books should show up at my house.

Dan's guess is that the author found my contact information in connection with Writer's Weekend and concluded that I could advance her career somehow. That would be a very strange belief for her to hold, considering that I haven't yet managed to sell any of my own books.

Suppose this person does imagine that I can help her in some way. Why would she not include a note mentioning what that way was?

The address on the parcel tacks my Ph.D. on the end of my name. Why did she think she needed to put it there? Perhaps I gave her my card. But then, a lot of people ask for my card, usually prospective tutoring clients. She could be anyone, except that her address is in Maryland.

While I was in Maryland visiting family for the holidays, I recall a bunch of strangers who interrupted my usual writing session in the usual cafe. "We're taking bets," they said, "on whether you're a teacher, a writer, or a journalist." A teacher and writer, I admitted, and hoped they would let me get back to writing. "Oh, I write books, too," said one of them. "Tell us your name, and we'll buy your book when it comes out." People who interrupt my writing in cafes to find out if I'm a real live writer say that all the time, and it's sweet of them, and maybe they even believe it. I tried giving this bunch the usual rueful spiel about how, even if I sold a book tomorrow, it wouldn't come out for a year and a half, which is a long time to remember the name of a person you only met once. That long delay is just part of how the publishing industry works these days. "Oh, no," they insisted. "We'll remember you."

Maybe they did. It never occurred to me before that anyone actually might. Or maybe this is someone else altogether.

Do any of you want to take up drawing? Do any of you who have children want a coloring book? These books appear to be fine specimens of their kinds, and if I'm not going to use them, they ought to go to someone who will. Whoever this woman is, they were her labor of love.
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