Marketing, Insomnia, and Podcasts…Oh My

“Persistence can look a lot like stupid.” Kristen Lamb

It’s pouring outside, the landscape is as saturated as a sponge, and it feels like one of those stay-in-your-pajamas kinds of days. Who am I kidding? I’m retired. Clothes are always optional. 

I have three things on my mind, when do I not, you’ll be relieved to know I’m compelled to share every gory detail. 

So I’ve been trying to keep up with all the demands of self-marketing your own book on social media (which is awkwardly self-serving), and can I just say it’s not going well? My tweets are not trending (big surprise), people are getting annoyed with all my ingratiating posts, and you know how they call difficult brides bridezilla? I’m an authorzilla. Okay, glad we got that out of the way, now we can move on. 

So you published a book. Now what? 

Is it neurotic to think my publisher should write me every day and tell me how fabulous the book sales are going? I don’t care if he has to lie, and the only people buying come from the same gene pool, at least I’ll be able to sleep at night. 

I watch my Amazon rankings like a slut, I mean sleuth, and every damn hour something changes. They have some sort of inexplicable algorithm that arbitrarily ranks your bloody book, and I don’t know how it is possible, but mine is always going down. I blame Jeff. He’s basking on some exotic island, maybe on the moon, while we fret over fickle rankings.

Just when a callous is forming on my finger from refreshing Amazon, a banner shows up at the top of my page that says #1 in mid-life crisis and family dysfunction. 

What the hell?

That disappears as if a bunny running from some sketchy guy with a black hat, only to be replaced by a new banner that says #1 in psychological humor and self-help gone wrong.

Okay, let’s ignore the banners because something super exciting just happened, reviews started showing up! (Yes, your payments are on the way) But seriously, that’s where it all happens. Apparently, Amazon likes lots of reviews, their algorithm is a bottom feeder, and if you are so inclined to feed the monster, I’d be ever so grateful. I’ll iron your white shirts, clean your kitchen, work on your taxes. Whatever you need. 

One-sentence reviews are okay, bonus if you use the words hysterical, brilliant, absorbing (or does that sound like a Depends ad?). Maybe something more like, I highly recommend, can’t…put…down, or I bought one for my mom. 

Not that you asked, but this is what I think about at three in the morning when I can’t sleep because Jeff flunked basic graphing in high school.

Last night I couldn’t decide if I retired too early. Or not soon enough? I debated whether this will be my last decade of life or only the fourth quarter. I get morbid when I can’t sleep, the sheets get all tangled, my neck starts to hurt, and Larry’s peaceful snoring is making me think such horrible thoughts I’ll have to go to confession next week. 

This is when I miss Shaggy most. He always got up with me, walked down to the kitchen, and sat with me while I pulled up a chair to the refrigerator with a fork and ate anything that wasn’t expired. He was motivated because I’m a giver, and I share.

Satisfied, I crawl back between the wrinkled sheets and pull out my iPhone to order some gel pens from Jeff for book signings. Not that I have any scheduled, but I was able to order two purple, two blue, and two pink ones before Larry complained about the light on my phone. Tempting, but I left the fork in the kitchen.

Here’s what I really want to know. When exactly should I be smelling the roses? Didn’t we prune that option months ago? What exactly does that mean? According to Gertrude Stein, “a rose is a rose is a rose,” but what if your rose has thorns?

And why is William Shatner mansplaining on UnXplained about hoarders? 

I consider myself a collector? But honestly, how many books can you own before it’s considered excessive? I’m counting them like sheep, and it’s not helping.

So this morning, we’re having some blessed coffee, and Larry says, “We need to hit all the local bookstores today and pitch your book.”

“Maybe, we should can some peaches or clean out the garage?”

“No, you’re going to get dressed up, memorize an elevator pitch, and sell your book.”

“An elevator pitch. I’d rather go without wine for a week.”

He sits down with his computer, types into some AI chat thing and asks for an elevator pitch for a lifestyle book. In 30 seconds, this perfectly written pitch types itself onto the page. Below is what he would like me to memorize. 

Are you tired of feeling overwhelmed and unfulfilled in your daily life? Do you want to make positive changes that will bring you more happiness, success, and satisfaction? My lifestyle book is here to help! With practical tips and strategies for everything from managing stress to cultivating meaningful relationships, this book will guide you toward a more balanced and fulfilling lifestyle. My book has something for everyone. So why wait? Start living your best life today!


In the meantime, I’m googling local bookstores. I print out a list, and Larry comes from the office to go over our itinerary. 

He says, “You might want to rethink Bascom Bookcase.”

“Why, it’s only a few miles away.”

“It’s right next store to the Pink Poodle (a local strip joint). They mostly sell pornography and blatantly sexual novels.” 

“Well, Grow Damn It, will fit right in.”

I get the look, but I can hear him laughing as he returns to his office.

“Okay, we’ll only use that if we’re desperate.” Honestly, I’m sort of desperate now, but I keep that to myself.

The first store we hit is called Books Inc. It’s located in the Pruneyard, just a few blocks from our home. We could have walked, but for the pouring rain, so we drove and spent ten minutes hunting down a parking space. Don’t these people have jobs?

I have two copies of my book in my bag, along with the elevator pitch and all the links store managers would need printed on a piece of paper. I threw in some old business cards. Just in case.

We enter the store timidly. There are at least seven people rummaging through the stacks of novels. I’m giddy when surrounded by books. I note the general organization, crowded shelves, but welcoming atmosphere.

I approach one of the salespeople after she finishes up with a customer, and with as much confidence as I can muster, I say, “Can I please talk to the person who orders your books.”

She walks me over to a woman in the back of the store. The one who looks busy and annoyed. She says, “this is Robin.”

I shake her hand, “nice to meet you, Robin (I’m trying to act as professional as possible). I’m Cheryl Oreglia, and I’m hoping you’ll consider carrying my new book in your store.”

She must be related to Larry. I get the look over the rim of her glasses. She says, “do you have a copy?” And holds out her hand like my mother used to do when I tried to sneak a second cookie out of the kitchen.

“Yes, I do,” and I hand her a copy as if it is the first edition of some rare manuscript. She casually flips through it, remarking on the nice cover, the binding, and the general layout. I try not to look smug.

She says, “so this is through a traditional publisher?”

“Yes.” I forgot every word of the elevator pitch, and by the way, where the hell is Larry?

“Are you on Ingram?”

I can’t remember, but I say, “of course.”

She looks it up while I’m standing there and says, “Oh, there you are, but it’s not returnable.”

I look over her shoulder because I have no idea what she is looking at. And there’s my book, not returnable. 

She says, “We can carry your book on consignment.”

We chat for like ten minutes. The news is really good and really horrible, as if someone is making a cake and decides to mix in a little shit. Right?

Here’s what went down.

She says, “This is how it works. You need to get your publisher to allow returns and assign a proper discount on Ingram, or I’d be happy to consign your book, sell them at a twenty percent discount, and you get half the profit.” 

I’m calculating that as fast as I can, but either my math skills are rusty, or I don’t make a dime.

I say, “so, exposure is the profit.”

She says, “Exactly, books are a tough business. And I’d love to have you read at one of our author events once your books are in stock. We get approached by hundreds of authors a month. I only accept a few. You have a book I’d be happy to carry. Think about it and let me know.” 

I found Larry hiding in the back of the store by the biographies. Really? But we walk out with a new contract in our hands. 

He says, “let’s go celebrate at Luna’s with a margarita. You got your book in the door.”

I say, “But I’ll lose money with every sale.”

“It’s a win.”

After our celebratory margarita, we hit another store and came away with the same scenario. 

I’ll write Black Rose tomorrow and see what they think I should do. 

Besides being unable to sleep at night and forced to publicize my own book, I have the distinct pleasure of watching Larry read Grow Damn It from cover to cover! Every time he comes into the room, he sits down and picks up the book. He tries for stoicism, but sometimes I can tell he’s trying not to laugh because his face gets red, and he sort of jiggles silently. Then he puts the book down and sleeps. 

I should give it a try.

And here’s the third absolutely crazy thing that just happened. Wynne Leon asked if I would like to be a guest on her podcast and talk about the book! A podcast! This requires a rather specific skill set not common to writers, like talking spontaneously and not being able to edit words. Podcasts are done in one take, with no redacting, and you have to talk without saying “uh” before every sentence! She wants me to be funny. Clever. Professional. All the things I’m not. 

I know, just calm down, we’ll survive this with lots of coffee and lavender candles. 

She just sent me an email with the prompts. Shit. They’re really good. Tonight I’ll be lying awake in my wrinkled sheets, trying to figure out what witty things I can say about Grow Damn It! 

Whose idea was it that I write a book in the first place? That’s right. It was Nancy! 

Maybe she should do the podcast?

Anne Lamott says, “I still encourage anyone who feels at all compelled to write to do so. I just try to warn people who hope to get published that publication is not all it is cracked up to be. But writing is. Writing has so much to give, so much to teach, so many surprises.” An’t that the truth? 

I’m Living in the Gap, can’t sleep a wink, pricked my finger on a store-bought rose. How are you doing?

I used my cousin Mike’s music choice ~ perfect. 


Leave a Comment

  1. Wait, you only eat things that haven’t expired on midnight raids? Shoot, I’m going to have to rethink my strategy.

    And I’m so glad to know Nancy’s coming on the podcast too. 😀

    I think marketing a book is a lonely business. I’m so glad that Larry went with you to bookstores – that is brave. It seems unfair that writing a book and marketing a book are too different skill sets and authors are required to do them both.

    I’d say that if that’s the best that AI can do on the elevator pitch, we have nothing to worry about AI taking over the world. As I was driving my kids to school today, I felt softer and more appreciative of my life. That was a gift your book gave me – to appreciate the life I’m in amidst all the imperfections, inconveniences, and idiosyncrasies. You said to me that this book wasn’t for everyone. Right – it’s only for people who want to nurture and feed their lives.

    And thanks for the reminder to do a review. I’m on it. Love that Larry looks almost finished with the book. Looking forward to talking to you tomorrow- you are going to be great! 😀❤️❤️❤️

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Okay, it’s 8:30 am, I’ve been up since 6:00 am simultaneously going over the prompts, and avoiding the prompts by playing solitaire on my phone! I’m hopeless. I was a little worried about what I would wear when I remembered ~ ITS A PODCAST ` ~ no one can see you! Well, that a relief. All kidding aside, I’m actually really excited to meet you Wynne, to share my stories, to spread the word about my book. You’ve offered me a tremendous opportunity and I am truly grateful. Just a word to the wise, expiration dates are often just suggestions, but when it come to pork, pasta salad, and fish pay attention! Much love to you, C

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Persistence can look a lot like stupid. LOL. And Larry reading and smiling…I feel all of this.

    Truth be told, I can’t sleep either…not Monday or Saturday and only two hours on Thursday…which culminated into a necessary day (and a half) off.

    Courage, brains, and heart, Cheryl. Trust the mysterious wizard. (I say this to myself as well). Your growth will be revealed.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh Crystal, you are amazing, and I’m adding you to the list of people I can call in the middle of the night. My sister will be relieved! Courage, brains, and heart ~ I have two out of the three! That should be enough. I think I’m going to grow damn it today! Hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

  3. You have listed almost every reason why I have never wanted to publish a book.
    If Larry is laughing when reading your book, I would see that as a huge plus.
    Good luck with the Podcast, and the Bookshops.
    Best wishes, Pete. x

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank Pete, I appreciate the good wishes, because I desperately need them. The thing about books is you can publish and not do all this pushing. Maybe sitting back and seeing what happens naturally might be a better plan. Larry likes the book and that’s good enough. Hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Claudette, I’m feeling your support, and yes, patience is a must! It’s a slow process and maybe I need to just let it flow instead of pushing it with all my might? Your good wishes are much appreciated, hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, it appears Mr. Bon Jovi and I will be slumbering in heaven, in the meantime I plan to be a linguistic savant, and blow you away with my podcasting skills. Oprah will have to get in line! Hugs, C

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Belladonna, you always make me smile, and then lean back on my bed rest (because I’m still in bed) and give a little sigh of relief. You get me! Thank God. I love your attitude, screw them. It’s not like I haven’t always been annoying! Love you, C

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You are the best! If I’m not good at anything else I know I’m good at being annoying! Just ask my kids and my husband! LOL
        I find the people that are annoyed with doers promoting themselves are non doers! so who cares what they think.
        I can’t wait to hear you on the Podcast, I know you are going to be amazing. Channel your inner Larry. LOL

        Liked by 1 person

        1. OMG! I just finished the podcast, what a rush, and I really hung on to your “channel your inner Larry,” comment! Fabulous. It posts tomorrow! I’m on an adrenaline high! xxoo

          Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Susanne, you’re right, it’s wonderful and grounds for celebration. I just finished recording the podcast, it posts tomorrow! I am so excited, mildly mortified, and my blood pressure is through the roof! What a rush! I so appreciate your support and wise words. Hugs, C


    1. Hi Rebecca, what a life! And I wouldn’t have it any other way. The podcast posts today. It was so much fun recording although I was nervous as hell! Funny is debatable but I just pray I didn’t say “um” before every sentence! Hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ll definitely be leaving a review once I’m done. I’m only like a quarter of the way through so far but already loving it. Lol those #1 banners are hilarious but also awesome.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Pooja, sorry for the delayed response, I’m just seeing your comment now! Thank you for your kind and generous support! I’m so appreciative. I hope you enjoy the rest of the book! Keep me posted. Hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Stacey! I’m ridiculously pleased you bought my book! I mean you were the one who taught me how to write properly! I hope you enjoy the essays, maybe they’ll garner a smile or two, keep me posted (only if it’s good news, of course) Hugs, C


  5. Welcome to authordom Cheryl. Lol, you were warned. I’m with Anne Lamott love the writing, and not so much everything after. Like you, I tried to get my books in stores and figured out it would end up costing me money. No thanks. Btw, I listened to the podcast. You did great, and I enjoyed listening to you. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m just going back to these older posts and realized I missed your comment and several others! And you, I was warned, and dove into the authordom anyway! It is amazing what I didn’t know, what I don’t know, and how much I am learning. It’s a tough business. I really had no idea, but I have to say, I really enjoyed doing the podcast once I calmed down and enjoyed the process. It was a fun experience. Thanks so much for listening! Hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Cheryl-I was already looking forward to listening to your interview. And shouldn’t a retired teacher still be able to think on her feet? Anyway, I guess I’m glad, and I know you’re relieved, that you got the prompts in advance.
    As with your deal up there in Nor Cal, I’m discovering local authors in the one still existing local bookstore here in Kalamazoo. I think in that respect your sales and marketing are off to a great start!
    Finally, I would like to purchase a personally autographed copy of your book. What would be the best way to do that? I think I still have your email from when you’d sent me a rough draft so would it be better to communicate arrangements that way?


    1. Sorry for the delayed response Sue, I missed a bunch of comments on this post. It’s strange, I was so scared to do the podcast and then I ended up loving the experience. Wynne was so organized and she made it all run so smoothly. I’m so glad your discovering new authors in your area. Selling books is a rather complicated business but I’m giving it my best. So you want a signed copy? That’s awesome. Email me your address and we’ll make arrangements. Hugs my friend, C

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Info just emailed. No hurry to get to it. I’m sure you’re having too much fun with the grands. Wherever you are (in CA), I hope the sun is shining like it is here in MI, with no snow or even rain predicted till the end of the week!


  7. Hi Cheryl,
    I continue to follow your blog, and totally enjoy the experience. I see a lot of parallels in our lives, and some of them aren’t that fun. It seems that your stress meter has hit 11. (That’s way more than 10.) Marketing your book, promoting your creativity. These are things that don’t come easy and are certainly not in my wheelhouse. Kind of glad it is you and not me.
    Random thoughts on this post:
    Authorzilla….made me laugh.
    Watching your amazon rankings like a slut. Reminded me of watching my NCAA tournament bracket rankings, well, for about 2 days, until my hopes were dashed.
    Dogs are great. I miss our dog Truman. With regards to Shaggy following you to the dining room, the line “He was motivated because I’m a giver, and I share” is underrated and continues to make me chuckle.

    Chatgpt I fear this may be the death of creativity. Maybe I could have had ChatGPT write my response to your blog? How lame would that be? On the other hand, perhaps I am merely a Luddite.
    With regards to the Bascom Bookcase, I approve. However, you will need a second addition, with more pictures. Tasteful of course.
    Insomnia….Welcome to my world. An inability to sleep for me reflects the fact that there are too many unresolved stresses in my life. My mind churns from one to another while I fail to sleep. Its hopeless.

    Anyway, hope you get some sleep. Sorry Shaggy isn’t there to comfort you.

    Speaking of dogs, has there been a change in Jim’s dog status?
    Speaking of stress meter, mine has been at about 3 for the last months. I have vacillated between working too hard, and unemployed about 5 times in the past 14 days. The meter will finally come to rest on unemployed on 3/31. Lots to chat about when we see you next.

    Thanks again for writing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Mike, I’m going to start with the last paragraph, unemployed on 3/31! Wow! This is big news, sounds like your days of always being on call, dealing with private parts, and plumbing issues are soon to be a faint memory. Congratulations. You will love waking up, having nothing on your plate, and completely clueless as to what day it is! Welcome to the club. It’s fabulous. And although I miss Shaggy, this is a time in our life when caring for a pet would be difficult, maybe we’ll be dog owners again in our late 70s, for now we’re on the go. Jim and Sue on the other hand, lost their beloved Hogan, and welcomed Stella into their home a few weeks ago. They move fast. Jim insists he must have a dog and so it goes. So glad you enjoyed the post, things are calming down for me, as the first phase of marketing is behind me. Now it’s signing up for book fairs, pitching to libraries, and bookstores. I have to say I went into this very naive but I’m learning as I go and just hoping to continue writing. I love it. I’m so excited for you and Gail to enter into this glorious stage of life! Hugs and love, Cheryl

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Welcome Jaye and Anita! I’m thrilled to have found my long lost relative! Thank you for the kind and generous words and for your interest in Grow Damn It. I would love to know what you think when finished! Humbled and grateful, C

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Hello, your post is a humorous take on the struggles of self-marketing one’s book on social media and dealing with the unpredictability of Amazon’s algorithm. You’re so frank about anxiety over book sales and rankings and shares her thoughts on Amazon reviews. Also love how you talk about personal life, retirement, and the doggo. Overall, your post is a fun read and will resonate with anyone who has struggled with self-promotion or Amazon rankings.

    Check out my blog on marketing


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s