Today I learned a good lesson about owning a business…

Remember how I told you all that my book was being sold in the best English language book store in Switzerland, and that I was so excited and happy that someone bought a book when I was right there talking with them about it and so impressed with myself for being such a good promoter of my book and blah blah blah zzzzzzzzz? Well, I was so high on myself and my “achievement” that I completely dunced out on the most basic of business transactions – the receipt. You know, that little piece of paper you don’t pay much attention to, until you need it? Yeah, that one. Stupid little old me just glided into the store on his own high-on-life vapors and dropped off 5 books a couple of weeks ago – and then went and did the same thing yesterday – both times without getting proof of actually doing it.

And if that weren’t bad enough, I wrote an email yesterday to my connection at the store, the very awesomely patient Julia the Buyer, and cheerily remarked about how 3 books had been sold – and then wrote again after I dropped off another batch o’ books to ask her how/when I’d be getting paid for the ones that sold. Not recognizing that I should have done that before I ever even thought of bringing one copy into the store. Yeah, that didn’t actually pop into my mind until almost a month into this process…

And to make matters worse for my OCD/already overly anxious mind, Xanat and I went to a big Carnival type party (Fasnacht) an hour away in the streets of Basel – and until I got my first dose of confetti bombing, I was pretty much just birthing an ulcer worrying about how I was going to explain to everyone how I’d lost a couple of hundred dollars worth of books just by being the dictionary’s poster child for “naive”. Even Xani’s assurances that “we live in Switzerland, Greg. If we were in the States or México, I’d say you should worry. But you know how it is here – everyone’s honest.”

And so thank all that is good and right in this world that when I finally got a chance to write Julia again, she backed up Xani’s claim by stating “…people usually don’t cheat you here. ;-)”, and that she’d be happy to sign whatever form I write up. A couple of hours later, I dropped off two copies of the first invoice/contract I’ve ever written, and while I don’t actually have them signed just yet (she was in a meeting), I’m anticipating that I’ll be able to consider this a good lesson in what I need to do from now on instead of a what I never should have let happen.

I know that a lot of you out there reading this are probably just shaking your heads, wondering how someone so obviously detail-oriented could bypass the most important details of all. I don’t really have a good excuse, because I am also the most skeptical person I know, and would have told anybody else that they should have considered these things from the start. All I can say (as I paraphrase Rick James) is that the ego is one helluva drug – and when it gets all pumped up on itself, it can make some really basic and fundamental mistakes. Hopefully I can let this be a lesson learned, and keep this good vibe going…

Last day of free Amazon ebook promotion!

Well, folks – this very interesting experiment in marketing and promotion is about to wrap up today (at 11:59pm PST). As of the time of this writing, 640 ebooks were given away, which is equally exciting (because hopefully some of those people will actually read it and share it with others) and dismaying (because as much as I know how good it is to get the book out there to as many people as possible, it’s still difficult not to spend a couple seconds considering how much lost income that adds up to). I could link countless articles here about how the publishing world has changed and people don’t buy as many books as they used to (especially when there are so many ways to get them for free now) and go on about how the book is no longer the “product” but the author is (just like in music and film and so many other creative arts), but I know you already understand all of that. And actually, I don’t have any problems with the way things are now; I’m most definitely happy to have self-published (and don’t even need to call myself an “indie” writer or some other pseudo title to feel better about it), and while I would never say never to a book deal, I feel like I’ve learned a lot about the business (and more importantly, myself) in this process and I’m glad I did it this way. From now on, I’ll always know that I can make it happen, in the way I want it to happen (and for not very much money).

As for the financial aspect, I’m not even going to act like I’m not trying to establish this as a source of income – but as you can see above, I’ve reduced the price of the ebook to 99 cents (effective tomorrow), and that is from the humble acknowledgement that the game is played differently now, and I’m not interested in being a sitting on the bench anymore. In fact, I’m even taking it to the next level – I’m getting the details worked out now for my own little book tour, and that means I might be coming to a city near you (if you live in the Northeast or West Coast of the U.S., that is). My experience at the book store here in Zürich the other day was a real eye opener for me – not that I wasn’t already thinking about coming to the States, but man…that was the final push to get me to put it into effect. I know that if I can talk with people in person, I’ll have much more fun than sitting here behind the digital divide trying to connect with all of you – and I think it will work out better for all parties concerned.

So, if you haven’t already picked up a free copy of the ebook, then head on over to the Amazon page today before the promotion is done (and for anyone that already has a copy, it is DRM-free, so you will always be able to share it freely with anyone you choose) – and I hope to see you in person real soon!

Cool things happen in bookstores…

I went to Orell Füssli in downtown Zürich this afternoon to take some pictures of the book in the store, and the coolest thing happened. Well, actually, a couple of things.

First, it took me a minute to find the books, but when I did, I got all excited – and being the dork I am (especially here in Regulation Central, where everything is done so strictly), I picked up a copy and took out my ID and walked over to two of the staff who were casually talking, and said, “Hi. This (pointing to my name on the cover) is me (pointing to my ID). I’d like to take some pictures of the book here in the store; is that okay?”

Now, I had already gotten permission from the buyer (a very cool woman named Julia that set up the in-store-stocking of the book in the first place), and the staff knew this and said that they were expecting me. (Of course. Because this is Switzerland.)

But then, the guy smiled and walked over to where the books were stacked, and asked if I wanted one of the book stands to prop it up and make it look better. So of course I said yes, and he left me alone to play interior designer/fashion photographer. This was the first shot:

So I’m there, happy as can be, taking photos and beaming like a little kid – and this woman (holding the book below) walks over and strikes up a conversation.

And it turns out that her partner is an aspiring writer, and while I’m talking with him, she goes and buys a copy, and then comes back to join the conversation – all without me having to “sell” her on the book at all. I ended up chatting with both of them for a while, and got a chance to vibe in that spontaneously connecting way that makes life so beautiful, and we all left with big smiles on our faces. Thank you Jennifer and Joe, you guys made my day!

And that’s it, right? That’s all I need to do – go to bookstores and talk with people, in person, and make that direct connection. Because in the end it’s not really me, or the book – it’s the space. It’s the vibe in that special space.

Because bookstores are where cool things happen…