This week I’ll be pushing my sophomore literary effort, But I Love You, into the world with a plug-it-until-it-makes-people-puke enthusiasm. Then, when the dust settles, the pride built over a two-year crafting of words into story will do its best to withstand the free-flying stink of negativity that might eventually accompany it on its humble sale pages scattered across the internet. They’ll be good reviews (written by moms, friends, and even strangers), and they’ll be stuff that makes me question wether writing is my thing. That’s just part of the game. And like the first time, I’ll abstain from writing any particular individual to tell them just how wrong they are about it. I’ll remain chipper in the face of phrases like, “Do yourself a favor and skip this one. You’ll be glad you did,” and “Such promise to fall so flat.” There’s a bevy of other choice barbs and stinging insults, some written by folks who were kind enough to only read the first chapter before “awarding” My Dead Friend Sarah one or two stars. You take the punches and move on. Hell, if you are me, you secretly hope that your book turns the insides of someone so intensely that they decide to come after you. You wonder how hard it is to get a restraining order. You fantasize about a blurb on some celebrity dot-com rag that mentions how you went to court to testify against the stalker. You aim for the kind of crazy that drove you to write the book in the first place. I didn’t set out to create a polarizing tale the first time. And though I’d toyed with the idea of doing so for the second story, the notion lost steam as I realized that action in and of itself would betray me. In the end, like the first time, I’d like to think that I’ve managed to merge some very real-world observations on the way we live with a story that moves quickly and keeps people entertained and wanting more. There’s more to the story, but I’ll need that material to bug you later in the week as I try and coax you our of a few bucks and some of your time.
The Long-Con, I’m a fan.
Let me start by asking, has there ever been a legitimate request made via email for the banking information necessary to wire money? Do tell. I should probably back up here. Several moons ago, I received an email from a literary agent in Turkey requesting a complimentary PDF of my manuscript. I believe the agent may have mentioned the particular publisher from Turkey that was interested in the translation rights for my book. The entire email was spelled correctly, and if memory serves (it rarely does by the way, so beware) there were less than two grammatical errors–possibly none. Even so, I immediately dismissed the email, positive it was a scam. Still, I took to Google to do some research. There were other souls out there discussing the very same agency, not too many and not too few, with similar questions about this Turkish agent’s legitimacy. If you are an aspiring writer, you’ll probably want to get cozy with the website Writer Beware, which details many of the various scams used to prey upon the “oh-so-desperate-to-be-published.” But, even after going there and numerous searches, I could find no conclusive evidence that the agent and agency weren’t legitimate. Many legitimate publishing websites even listed the agency as one to reach out to in order to get published in Turkey. In the end, I decided to proceed with sending a PDF of the manuscript. I had detailed all the possible miserable outcomes of even that act, most of which ended with me and my wife somehow be kidnapped and tortured and dead, and surmised that at the very worst, someone out there might publish my book without my knowledge and try to make a few lira. That wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world I thought. “God speed PDF,” I might have said, and probably forgot that I’d even sent by lunch that day. That was way back in June I believe.
Then, sometime around September, lo and behold, I heard back from this gentleman again. He’d found an interested publisher there, and hoped that I’d not moved ahead with someone else (a nice bit of flattery I thought), and said if I was still interested that he’d like to proceed with drawing up a contract. Still one-hundred percent convinced that this was all a scam, I replied, “Absolutely. Please send me the details and I’ll review them immediately.” Again, I heard nothing for several days. I had a new job, was living in a new town, and not unlike the first time, the whole thing fell far into the deep recesses of my brain–probably filed somewhere under Potential Mistakes I’m Currently Making That Will Result in My Demise. It’s a thick file, so not everything sticks.
A few days later, another correspondence with a contract attached. I read it over countless time, consulted with other traditional published writers, googled the names of all partites involved, spun my wheels, and in the end decided to allow possibly ten percent of myself believe it was legit. $1000 advance, and a small percentage of any of the 1500/2000 copies they were planning on publishing in Turkish. Cool by me. “Let my fame grow in Turkey!” I might have internally shouted. I signed the contract, sent two paperbacks, and even then was still certain enough that it was all too good to be true that I decided to hold off on the usual grotesque PRing of myself (something I’ve also often surmised will lead to my early demise) until I received the first half of my advance–then and only then would I allow myself to make a glorious post on Facebook along the lines of, “Friends and Countrymen! I am now also a traditionally published author in the great land of Turkey!”
The receipt of my contract and books was made known via yet another email from the agent. At this point, I might have allowed my belief in the whole thing to shift to about thirty percent. A guy who has “Question Everything. Trust No One.” tattooed on his arm doesn’t go to full on optimism about potential good fortune overnight. Still, I was damn close to making it big news on social media–I’ve got a hole in my soul that needs filling after all.
And so, finally, as I’ve surely bored you toward this post’s conclusion, today, seven or so months after the initial contact from this agent from Turkey, I received an email asking for my bank account information in order to wire me my advance. Ha. Of course. After a bout of even more Googling on him, his company, and the whole scenario–I still can’t say one way or another, and my mind has me believing that the party or parties involved are performing an excellent long con. There are numerous sites and posts out there that would seem to prove them absolutely legitimate. And yet, I can not commit. I am absolutely convinced that I have finally met the grifting bamboozlers that I myself have always romanticized myself to be. Patient, attentive, and going after the most skeptical of souls–doing an amazing amount of seeding, cajoling, and crafting in the hopes that a long, long way down the road I might bilk you of your money with something as obvious a swindle as a wire transfer. If I haven’t already.
I can only surmise that a big part of why many of society’s ills remain, by and large, unchanged is that there exists a general fear of unmanageable retaliation. We don’t all know one of the many martial arts that might equip us to thwart the blind aggression that might ensue if and when we point out the perverse behavior of another human being, or for that matter, a corporation. We share our personal stories about all that bothers us at our dinner parties, amongst friends on nights out fueled up on our trusty truth serum, and from behind the only seemingly cloaked key strokes of our home computers. But how often do we stand up for what’s right in the actual moment?
Easier to let things slide. Less hassle to pay an extra dime here or there and not have to do the infinite amount of leg work required to right a painstakingly obvious wrong. “Unbelievable,” we might mutter as we watch a woman drop a dirty diaper from her SUV and into the gutter of an otherwise pristine Brooklyn brownstone block–true story that one. And I did watch a braver soul attempt to get her to pick it back up, I believe her response was, “It’s not even soiled.” You see, a pee-peed diaper is just fine.
Rare is the day that I don’t encounter a situation that if put into perspective becomes crystal clear in its wrongness. That might be the net result of being a city dweller, an avid walker, and a guy who always has his peepers scanning left, right and back again for potential thuggery–and that’s regardless of the city street I find myself on. I doubt anyone has ever given the quaint sea-side town of Mendocino, CA a more thorough examination, or painted so many possible, though not probable, acts of pure evil onto its ocean-air-fresh canvas.
As tends to happen when I abstain from blogging for a period of time, I’ve made a mockery of getting to the point. I suppose on this evening, when I am looking back at many of the things that actually occurred to me, or in front of me, over the course of the last four or five weeks, I am wondering–when was the last time I made a fuss over something egregious in an effort to end it, better the situation for others down the road, or at the very least point out its absurdity publicly in the hopes that others might see it for the farce that it is. What was the last incident in your life that you took the extra time to do the same?
Just a few months ago, I finally got around to having a long-overdue full-body skin cancer screening. I apologize for whatever mental images of me that might provide you. Like the tree I fell from, I am a man of many freckles and moles. And somewhere, buried in the complex history of the extended family, I believe there has been melanoma–and so, I’m never really super keen on getting checked out, for fear of what they might find. This time around, after an exam that included lab results concerning two, I was given a clean bill of health yet again.
“Yes! Another year, free of worry.” I thought.
At least ‘free of worry’ regarding my moles, until of course, a few days before the next exam that I had planned on having with the very doctor I’d just seen around the same time next year. I liked her bedside manner–it was an appropriate mix of motherly caring, put-off and disgusted girlfriend, genuinely interested scientist, and awkward first-time stand-up comedian.
“Good for me,” I thought. “Hard to find a Dermi you can trust.”
Even our recent decision to move didn’t phase me. I surmised that Boston would be close enough to head back specifically to see her. The whole experience had been just that good. Plus, she’d made me promise to come back in a year to see her again, and I had. And this Dermi, in my opinion, was a real keeper. Or so I thought.
Last week, I received a letter from the clinic that she was a part of. The note was brief, and I am paraphrasing here, but it read, “Dr. X, has decided to leave us. She will be opening a practice elsewhere, etc. But, we’d still appreciate your business.” I was simultaneously crushed that she’d decided to go and elated that she too, like me, had decided to call it quits for a bit on NYC.
“Maybe she’s even going to Boston,” I thought. “Wouldn’t that be something?”
A few days later though, while going through paperwork to dispose of before our move, I reread the letter from the clinic. What it said hadn’t changed, not one bit. But, upon this second examination of the words they’d use to explain her absence, I began to formulate a new theory of what had occurred–why they dismissed her, what she had been up to, and how the letter itself was just their way of sweeping the whole ugly affair under the proverbial rug.
Instantaneously, I came to believe the following: She had never had a license, hadn’t even gone to school, had tricked the other doctors who owned that clinic into hiring her with the same bedside manner shenanigans I mentioned before, she loved other people’s moles, maybe their skin, she collected moles and skin bits, moles were like her trophies, she wasn’t a serial killer yet, but you could be sure they’d found tons of small pieces of her former patient’s bodies in the refrigerator of her small studio apartment on the Lower East Side, and in due time, just shaving pieces of moles off for keep sakes hadn’t been enough, a loud scream had occurred from a room at the clinic, and the other staffers ran in, only to find her having attempted to shave a patient’s head or other limb clean off.
Given the other resident Doctors’ oversight, it makes sense that they’d make the claim that “she’d decided to move on.” Obviously right? They aren’t going to pen a letter detailing what you and I now know really happened. Fortunately, I know how to read between the lines, and read between them I do.
Perhaps less fortunately though, I now worry that the entirety of my two visits with her, in which she most definitely took those two little pieces of me with her for her frozen collection at home, was all for not–at least as it pertains to my clean-bill of health, I mean, she’ll have them to pet and love on still.
And so, I’ll have to be a bit more careful in selecting the next Dermi, because ZocDoc.com, really doesn’t detail this sort of thing.
I was recently asked (via my publicist) by the editor at SellingPower.com to do a six to eight hundred word blog post that focused on salespeople. Or something of that ilk. After penning the submission below, they passed. Since the bulk of the post is about honesty in selling, and they didn’t care for it, I’ll have to roll with the assumption that it’s a concept too dreadfully boring to engage anyone–and that ultimately they were hoping I’d write some op-ed piece about how abusing alcohol had made me an incredible force to be reckoned with in the world of marketing. Or maybe, just maybe, when it comes to writing something of a semi-serious nature–something that doesn’t revolve around the umpteen ways I might die today–I’m just not a very good writer. Or, and what I’ve chosen to believe, is that they aren’t fans of honesty–maybe there is no place for it in the world of movers and shakers. I doubt that’s why they passed, but believing it to be the reason certainly helped put myself at ease with the rejection. Either way, seems a pity for the message to go nowhere. And so, I present to you my dear readers the blog post SellingPower.com decided wasn’t right for them. Enjoy.
An Honest Pitch by Peter Rosch
Full disclosure: I am writing this blog post in the hopes of selling a few more copies of my debut novel, My Dead Friend Sarah.
Honesty is my policy, and I’m of the opinion that at the end of the day, honesty is paramount to successful selling. Honesty doesn’t mean unsexy, unfunny, un-almost-anything for that matter. It simply is the basis for how I attempt to begin all my communication crafting about the goods, services, and other can’t-live-withouts companies pay me to hock. I am selling for a living, but as a consumer I try to remain suspicious of my motives.
What have I sold? Countless pairs of jeans, numerous brands of beer, electronic gadgets, deodorant, soaps, treats, eats, services and even personalities. Sixteen years as an awarding winning creative cog in the global marketing machine–as a writer, art director, strategist, creative director, and brand visionary–have me feeling just qualified enough to share my beliefs regarding convincing people to part with their hard-earned dollars. My most recent creation? Unilever’s AXE Susan Glenn campaign out of Bartle Bogle Hegarty New York.
I consider myself a living breathing contradiction. A man hell-bent on influencing the masses towards purchases they hadn’t considered, who himself rarely puts his own money on the table for many of those very same items and services. As a marketer I’m ferocious; as a consumer I’m beyond cautious.
“Question everything. Trust no one.” These words are permanently inked just below my left shoulder, and while the tattoo’s origin isn’t specific to transactions involving my money, right or wrong, it does serve as a guiding principal in my purchasing patterns. Agendas are everywhere, and now, more than ever, the infinite number of marketers, big and small, who shout at me daily in their efforts to take my time, money, and perhaps a little bit of my sanity, is mind-boggling. And I believe I’m being honest when I say to you, many of them are out and out lying to me.
Can I also honestly say that in all my time as an advertising creative that I’ve never bent the truth on a single project in order to woo a consumer? No. But, I will tell you that my most successful efforts, across a colorful spectrum of brands, have had one glaring thing in common: the messaging was born from a truth. A truth inherent to the product and its benefit to the consumer, or a truth that is inherent to the way people choose to use and live with a brand, product, or service.
It makes sense doesn’t it? Who among us wants to be lied to? I don’t enjoy it, and, like you, I have a great disdain for anyone who wastes my time. And if you are lying to me in an effort to grab my attention by making too-good-to-be-true claims that prey on my insecurities as a methodology to a quick buck, you are, in fact, wasting my time. And I am fully vested in the belief that even if you do successfully trick me and others from time to time, eventually that ill-conceived kernel in your sales pitch will come back to bite you on the ass.
I don’t buy or use everything I sell, and I don’t believe I have to think something is perfect for me in order to shill it to others. But for this salesman, it is increasingly important that what I’m saying about the items I’m trying to move be deeply rooted in a truth for the customer and target looking to benefit from their various uses. The golden rule is golden for a reason. Sell to others the way you’d have someone sell to you. It might just be that simple.
Every so often, I am treated to a lovely dream by my frenemy, my brain, in which I find myself awaking in a little white room upon a very sterile white twin bed, tucked under spotless white covers–tightly, and unable to move, even though there are no signs of restraints being used to prevent me from lifting myself from the bed to investigate past what my eyes can see: a small white table next to the bed, a glass with what appears to be water, and a window not much bigger than two foot by two foot on the wall to my left that might have the outside world on the other side, but the sun is so bright that everything is blown-out, and thus, not discernable.
Sometimes a human–possibly a doctor, researcher, agent, or any other manifestation of authority–enters the room to check on me. I try to speak, but I can’t. They do no speaking themselves, and reveal nothing as to the nature of my detainment. Usually this person hovers over me, staring at me, saying nothing and performing no examination or other molestation–just delivers a grin that rides the line between sympathetic and pleased. When he or she is gone, I’m left there to ponder what events might have taken place prior to my awakening, what are the circumstances surrounding my detainment. But there is never any true recollection–just speculation and the construction of numerous possibilites that might explain how I landed there. This is usually followed by a temporary bout of panic that either grows to the degree necessary to awaken me in the reality we call reality, or is just enough to seemingly reset the dream–and have me find myself in that same little white room again, for what feels like the very first time. And repeat.
Some might refer to this as a reoccurring dream, but it doesn’t happen with enough frequency for me to classify it as such–unlike say, the dream I often have where I know I’ve only a few days until a long prison term, and I spend much of it trying to figure out how to prevent a destiny I know I’ve already cemented for myself, despite not knowing what actions did the cementing.
I tend not to read too much into dreams–at least not my dreams–and these two narratives in particular are probably only a three on a ten scale that measures a dream’s disturbing-factor, ten being the most twisted ones that leave me not wanting to ever go back to sleep. But maybe, like so many things I think and imagine, that which is disturbing to you–a ten on your own scale–has become commonplace for me, my darker thinking routine enough to no longer see the spectacle of it all. Often the first thing that comes to my mind regarding the outcomes of a situation revolves around a twisted little nugget of a possibility that my friends and family might not have hypothesized if even given a day to dwell on potential scenarios.
Ugh. It almost sounds like I’m bragging, and maybe I am, but I certainly hope you won’t hold it against me–let it feed whatever insecurities you might have just enough to consider, and then put into action, a plan that finds you abducting me and reconstructing my Little-White-Room dream in order to get back at me. On the off chance that you do go forward with this very complicated form of retribution, please note: the bedside table is on the left of me, as is the viewless window, and the door to the room, which has no knob, should be placed to the right of my bed and in the farthest corner from me in what I can only guess is about a 12 x 12 foot room. Thanks!
Dear owner of the dog downstairs,
No need to apologize for your dog’s dislike of me. Oh wait, you didn’t apologize, nor have you ever apologized. Like your dog, you seemingly have zero respect for the rest of the world and the personal space of its other inhabitants. Even so, there really is no need to apologize. Your dog gets it. I hate him, and I hate you. Hard to hide that kind of negative energy from some of nature’s special little critters. And so, in a weird way, even as I loathe your beast, there is also a growing respect for his ability to see through my mask of ambivalence–so, don’t get too bent out of shape about it. You might be thinking, “Gee neighbor, you must hate dogs.” I have used the word “gee” for a reason, I believe it helps me paint you as the lumbering moron I believe you to be for my readers. Anyway, I don’t hate dogs–anymore than I hate people. Some dogs suck, like yours, and some people suck, like you. Part of me should be fearful that you might come upon this blog post, do some quick math via google, and ultimately decide to unleash the filthy mutt (bad choice of words, since I’ve never seen it on a leash) to feast upon my flesh. I’m pretty sure you don’t do much reading though, call it a hunch. Well, until next time, I’ll be honing my ability to trick your dog into thinking everything’s cool. “Keep your enemies closer,” and what not, right? Enjoy the rest of the day that I almost allowed you to let me ruin for myself.
The dude upstairs who hates your dog, but respects the keen sense of energy fields it, unlike you, possesses