Letter to Dave Barry

The following letter was actually sent to Dave Barry on by author Nan McCarthy on 22 Oct 1996. Nan and I were on an author's mailing list together at the time, and she gave me permission to share it with the world.


Dear Dave:

I've been seeing all the publicity you've gotten lately for your new book, "Dave Barry in Cyberspace," and I have to tell you I'm a little, um, jealous. You see, one of my books hit bookstores recently too and I am not getting anywhere near the publicity you've received. I realize that this is probably due to a lot of reasons, one being that I am not nearly as funny as you are and another being that I am not a nationally syndicated columnist, and well, yes, probably another reason is that there isn't a sitcom modeled after my incredibly interesting life called "Nan" on any of the major television networks. Also it is probably because life just isn't fair. I tell my kids that all the time when they complain that the other guy got more sprinkles on his cupcake, but I never really believed it myself until I started seeing your face plastered on the cover of every magazine in the universe and all these glowing write-ups about your book in all of the book review sections of every major and minor newspaper throughout the free world.

Maybe it is even because your book is better than mine. I don't know, because I haven't read your book yet. I do plan to read your book, though, and I've even put it on my Kris Kringle list for Christmas. I'm sure I will probably like it, too, because I enjoy reading your column a lot. When my family and I are reading the Sunday paper and I begin laughing out loud (that's LOL in cyberspace as you already know), slapping the table, wheezing, and generally busting a gut, my kids ask me what's so funny and my husband says, "Mommy's probably reading Dave Barry again." So even though I enjoy and admire your writing, I am still kind of pissed off that you've been getting all this fabulous publicity while I'm supposed to be satisfied with two miniscule reviews in the New York Times and Publishers Weekly.

The problem is that with more than 5,000 new books being released every month, the chances of getting my book noticed by a significant portion of the reading public are pretty darn dismal. (Unless, of course, I was Baywatch's Pamela Anderson Lee, whom I read just received a three-million dollar advance for the rights to her book. I'm sure she got that big advance because she is a really great writer, and I'm sure that when her book hits the stores, she will get almost as much publicity as you have received. Memo to self: check prices on breast enlargement surgery after finishing next book.)

I know there are a lot of crappy books being released every month, but I don't think mine is one of them. I think my book is pretty good. I would even go so far as to say that I think my book will sell a respectable number of copies if enough people find out about it. I know my publisher thinks I am a huge pain in the ass because I keep sending them all these little reports and memos and reminders about things I have been doing to promote my book and things I would like them to do to promote the book. I've been doing things like sending CHAT to all of the newspapers where I live, to radio stations, and to famous people. I sent a copy of my book to Oprah, explaining that I, too, am in the Chicago area, and if she had me on her show she wouldn't even have to pay for a plane ticket. She hasn't called me or anything yet, but I still get a little nervous every time my business line rings. I also sent a copy of my book to the White House, even though I am not a Democrat.

I have all of my friends going into bookstores across the country and asking for my book. They then report back to me with e-mails like this: "Nan, I went into the Borders bookstore in San Francisco last night and they have two copies of CHAT in the fiction section, spine out, next to Cormac McCarthy's 'All The Pretty Horses.' I turned both of your books face out and put them on top of Cormac's books."

Since my book came out I've been frequenting my local bookstores to make sure they have CHAT in stock. The Barnes & Noble near where I live knows what kind of car I drive. I'm pretty sure they've posted a full-time lookout at the door, who, when he sees my Jeep pull into the lot, whispers into his two-way radio, "The package has arrived." Before I've made it from my car to the store, the clerks have had enough time to take all three of my books out of the back room and place them on the front table display, next to the 4,872 copies of "Dave Barry in Cyberspace," just so that I will be temporarily happy and not send another whiny e-mail to my publisher, who is paying them to do this.

Anyhow, I was just wondering if, the next time you're at one of the bookstores as part of your cross-country book-signing tour sponsored by Random House, and after you're done signing all those books and entertaining the huge, fawning crowd with clever quips about all the weird things us cyber geeks like to do, would you mind checking to see if they have my book in stock, and if you do happen to find a couple of copies, would you put them face out--on top of Cormac's books?


Nan McCarthy
author of CHAT: a cybernovel and owner of Rainwater Press

Copyright ©1996 Nancy J. McCarthy
Posted with permission of the author.

Posted July 29, 2005

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