Sunday, July 26, 2009

Unconventional Marketing Tip #1: Make An Ass of Yourself

Last night: My friend came over to pick me up. We were going to another friend’s house for dinner, but we had a little time to kill. So we had a glass of wine. ONE glass. (But it was kind of a big glass, and it was almost 7pm. And I hadn’t eaten since breakfast at 11am.)

On the way to our destination, I spied a PetSmart. This reminded me that the little monsters were almost out of food, so I asked my friend to stop. And I ran in and grabbed some cat food and then I ran up to the register and plopped it down on the conveyor belt. Nobody in line. Fantastic: 30 seconds, and I’d be out of there.

Then I saw the sign, next to the cash register. It said: PLEASE LEAVE HAIRY ITEMS IN CART.

So, I asked the cashier: “What’s a hairy item?”

And he said: “What?”

I nodded at the sign, and I read it aloud, for his benefit: PLEASE LEAVE HAIRY ITEMS IN CART.

And he looked at the sign for a long moment, and then HE read aloud, kind of loud and slow—the way you might read to a small child, or an escaped mental patient: PLEASE LEAVE HEAVY ITEMS IN CART.

And before he was even finished, of course, I could see that the word was HEAVY, so I started laughing, and said, “I’m sorry. I don’t have my glasses on. And my eyes are fried.” I rubbed one, for effect. “I’m an editor and I’ve been working all day.” I shook my head at my own stupidity.

And he said, “An editor? Really?”


“I’m a writer.”

“Oh, really?”

“What kind of stuff do you edit? Fiction or non?”

“Both,” I said.

“I have a draft of a novel. Would you take a look at it?”

And then, because I am nothing if not a salesperson, I said, “For free?”

“Yeah.” He gave me a winning smile.

So I smiled, and I glanced down at the cat food, and I said: “Can I have that for free?”

“Point taken,” he said, and laughed. “How much do you charge?”

“Well,” I said, “it depends.” And I started digging around in my purse, looking for a business card—except that I don’t HAVE business cards, I run an Internet business—so I pulled out a notebook and flipped to a clean page and I wrote down my email address, and I was about to write down my web site, except . . . I drew a blank.

Then I looked up at him, and I blinked a couple of times, and I said: “I cannot remember what my web site is.”

And he raised his eyebrows, and said, “Really?” He smiled tentatively, and I started writing down permutations of what it might be, trying to figure it out. And then I started explaining, while I was scribbling—that “I never visit my own web site, and it’s in my email signatures, so it’s not like I type it very often, plus I have a couple of email addresses that have permutations of the web site in it, which is REALLY what is confusing me at the moment—and no, it’s not http://, that’s the beginning of my blog, not the website,” so I very firmly crossed that out, “and I only had ONE glass of wine, but all I ate today was two eggs, plus I just switched ISPs, so I have to think about the whole Netzero/Comcast thing, and I keep messing that up”—and then I made a big circle around and I said, “Yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s it.”

And I gave him the paper.

“Thanks,” he said. “I’ll email you.”

“Okay. Great.” And then I walked out the door.


About three steps out the door, I realized I didn’t have the cat food I just bought, so I turned around and went back in. He was holding the bag aloft, waiting for me.

Sunday morning. There is an email from him. He has attached a chapter. And it’s not bad. He can write. He wants an estimate for a line edit on a 120,000-word ms. That’s real money.

And the last line of his email reads: “Your web site is actually”


  1. Cute story, and I love your come back to the store clerk. ;)

  2. I think that this article about being stoned on one drink is too dumb. how can someone be so boozed up on one drink? is she a skinny broad with no meat on her bones. I feel that she is not a great writer and that she needs to learn more respect for others and others feelings before she writes about others and ask PERMISSION on when she writes about the man in the petstore for that he did not want his name or his store critized about.


Please be honest! Let me know what you think. I don't want to devote a bunch of time to a dud!