A stereotypical portrait of a writer isn’t very flattering. Shove aside the romantic cliches of nights in front of a typewriter and passionate-yet-destructive love affairs*, and usually we’re painted as egotistical, neurotic, and drunk. I’m not really any of those things. Not yet! You know what drives modern writers into bits of egotism, neurosis, and binge drinking? AMAZON.COM!
Amazon and my publisher have updated my book’s listing. Now when you pre-order the book, you can see it has a cover and was written by me and not by an African-American history scholar who made an abrupt career change. This is good. I registered as the author, so that I can respond to non-existent comments by non-existent readers whose non-existent purchases are graphed out for me on scary charts that show me a map of the country and how no one anywhere is buying my book. Right now this is OK, as my book hasn’t even finished printing. But in a few months, real people will (hopefully) buy the book and have things to say about it.
Right now DIY Cocktails is ranked **4,789,584. This means that 4,789,583 other books sell better than mine. I’m not worried about that. Soon, however, it will actually be printed, promoted, and available for sale. I don’t think I’ll become obsessed with the sales ranking, since I don’t have any illusions about out-selling Dan Brown, Stephen King … or even Dale DeGroff and other cocktail book authors. But maybe I’m wrong, and I will compulsively check that number and compare it to other books and do some sort of math that has to do with royalties while I throw crumpled paper at the map graph and scream at Delaware because no one there bought a book.
I do dread customer reviews. Aside from my friends and family, I still find it hard to believe anyone will buy the book. And if they do somehow get tricked into buying it, I find it hard to believe they’ll have anything nice to say about it. Not because I think I suck, but because people usually don’t bother to say things on the internet unless they’re complaining. I know Amazon customers are not the same as YouTube commenters, but there has to be a pretty big center portion on that Venn diagram. I don’t want a bad review in a newspaper or magazine, but somehow I think I’d be able to stomach it and (after freaking out) convince myself “there’s no such thing as bad publicity.” But Amazon reviews aren’t publicity. I don’t want to become depressed because Alice from Toluca Lake didn’t like my book. BUT I also don’t want to become a pretentious snob who makes myself feel better about the bad customer review by snarking on typos, where someone is from, their probable obesity and unflattering hairstyle, and their supposed ignorance about everything cultured and beautiful. This whole thought process is already neurotic and the book hasn’t come out yet. See? I am not a naturally neurotic person. LOOK AT WHAT YOU’VE DONE, AMAZON!
*I use a MacBook Pro and live alone with two cats. Right now I’m typing on the couch while watching old episodes of Family Ties. Remember when Alex took diet pills so he could study more?