The sky is falling! Literary heroine Henny Penny (or Chicken Little, as she’s known in the USA) was one adept bird at sounding the alarm. Wikipedia classifies her story as a variety of folktale that pokes fun at paranoia and mass hysteria, but sometimes we panic for perfectly good reasons.
For the past two weeks I’ve been performing the incompatible tasks of marketing a new book and researching climate change for the next volume in the series. I’ll confess, it’s making me crazy! As I send out cheerful Big-G City announcements and deploy my “friendly author” smile for the book-buying public, in the back of my mind I’m bemoaning the carbon footprint made by a 40-mile round trip to the nearest book store. And what about the book orders I’m mailing out today? Okay, the 2-mile round trip to the nearest post office isn’t so bad, but from there the books will roar across the country in fossil fuel-burning trucks and planes.
Carbon-wise, e-books seem the best solution to my dilemma. But not everyone (myself included) can bring themselves to make the e-book bargain. Call me a hypocrite if you must- -I plant trees, but I also buy print books. I like the heft of a hardback or trade paperback and my eyes like getting away from screens. And e-books aren’t completely innocent, as the “e” stands for “electronic.” Plenty of fossil fuels get burned to make electricity. Just sayin’.
Now, where was I? Oh, right. Would you like to buy my new book? Many of my author friends struggle with this part of the business and so do I. Great marketing skills rarely reside in artists of any kind and writers are no exception. Marketing takes a different kind of imagination, organizational smarts and plenty of patience. I’ve sent out dozens of e-mails announcing Big-G City to fans, book stores and libraries. I’m very, very happy to have two events scheduled in coming months and my books are starting to appear on book store and library shelves. It’s heartening to receive congratulatory Facebook posts from encouraging friends and downright thrilling when someone tells me they’ve ordered a copy. On the down side, some people never get back to me. I’m guessing they’re too busy, out joy riding in their personal jumbo jets and not giving a hoot about the rest of us, let alone the future of the planet.
Oops, did I say that? Hang on, give me a couple of seconds to . . . there, I’ve got my marketing face back on. We all have our demons and my big indulgence is books: writing them, reading them, buying them, recommending them. If humankind ever reaches true enlightenment and each of us is given a carbon allowance, equal for every person on Earth, I’m sure most of mine will go for books. For others, it will be more difficult. Remember the recent presidential candidate who owns so many vehicles he has a personal six-floor garage with an elevator? There’s such a thing as an embarrassment of riches, and then there’s just plain embarrassment.
Yes indeed, we know how to consume. We’re chewing through Earth’s resources like billions of hyperactive termites. I’m keeping a tight lid on my use of fossil fuels and consumption of material goods, and I hope you are too. That is, unless, you’d like to buy my new book?