Tag Archives: amazon

Lame Adventure 373: The Big Shill

As mentioned in my previous post, I have finally revealed the nature of my Manhattan Project. I have written a book, Lame Adventures: Unglamorous Tales from Manhattan. It’s comprised of a foreword and 25 Lame Adventures illustrated with 44 black and white photographs. Most of the tales originated on this site, but compared to how polished they are now in book form, it was as if I initially wrote them in Pig Latin.

Wraparound cover!

Wraparound cover!

When I started writing Lame Adventures in January 2010, I had dreams of a book deal. I quickly learned that that is probably the most common dream of every writer with a blog aside from the usual dreams about flying or walking in public naked. With the proliferation of bloggers all chasing the same elusive dream, I realized that catching it was not going to happen for the vast majority. Therefore, I was determined to find another way to make my dream come true while remaining true to my brand for this is my Lamest Adventure ever.

Last summer, I heard about Create Space, a self-publishing service that’s affiliated with Amazon. This intrigued me very much. I thought that I might be able to put my tome together in time for holiday season. That was almost as daft an idea as when I revealed at age five what I wanted to be when I grew up.

Me: A Beatle.

There are formatted Word templates on the Create Space site that can be downloaded at no charge. That’s what I used, but with significant tweaking. Create Space offers a variety of paid services that can quickly add up to a king’s ransom. To me, the point of self-publishing is two-fold, to have a calling card showcasing one’s dexterity with the quill, and to make a few bucks — not to sink into debt. What I did was assemble my own stellar creative team. Everyone worked for free or for a paperback copy of the book. Aside from purchasing proof copies to see how it looked in print, my primary expense was $15.40 for the helium-filled balloons that are carrying me over Central Park on the cover.

Balloon receipt complete with character building rotisserie chicken stains.

Balloon receipt complete with character building rotisserie chicken stains.

Milton was on board with me from Day One. He was instrumental in helping me select the blog posts I rewrote, and he guided me with the new material written exclusively for the book. Recently, he confided:

Milton: I’ve read your book so many times I feel like I’ve written it myself.

The book contains eight tales featuring his signature pith and wit.

After missing my holiday season deadline, I lowered my sights and aimed for one that was attainable: allergy season. I would have liked to have finished my book months earlier, but I did not want to reveal my real name, Vizsla Crankenhack, on a half-ass vanity project. Over the course of the seven months it took my team and I to put this book together, we like to think that the end result is now full-ass, and much better than it’s current listing on Amazon’s Best Sellers Ranks: 320,815.

Milton, my graphic designer bud, Godsend, and I remain old school about books. We think that the paperback can serve as a fashion statement.

Perfect compliment to bare hands.

Perfect compliment to bare hands.

Slenderizing with stripes.

Slenderizing with stripes.

Goes down easy with beer.

Goes down easy with beer.

Furthermore, this slender tome is the perfect accessory to carry in public spaces, especially if those spaces are tubular — trains, planes, tunnels, sewer pipes. It can also provide a welcome diversion to upcoming summer beach reading for anyone craving a fix of life in the Big Apple while soaking up rays in Paradise. If you’re not living in New York, but you’ve always wondered what it’s like to be a real New Yorker, allow this book to save you thousands of dollars on air fare, food, lodging and line waiting. Hot tip: try to get your mitts on a copy now before the New York City Tourism Bureau bans it. Did someone say?

Someone: Collector’s item?

Response to Someone: Nice try but no.

Bottom line: if you like this site, odds are good that you’ll like the book. For readers that prefer e-books, Godsend is working on the Kindle conversion. It should be ready soon. Meanwhile, the trade paperback featured in these images is available on Amazon here in the US and in the UK. We’re still trying to activate the Search Inside! feature. As for why it appears to be in the Children’s book section instead of Humor, I have an email into Amazon asking if this is their idea of playing a joke on me.

Lame Adventure 240: Let’s Make a Deal

Two years ago October I renewed my subscription to The New Yorker, a magazine I have been subscribing to as of last count, a million years.  Two years ago I landed a very satisfying deal – a two-year renewal for $49.95.  I figured:

Me:  When my subscription is up for renewal again, by then the economy will be back on track, my salary will be better, and all will be right in the world.  Sweet!

Two years later, everyone I know (myself included), as well as millions I don’t know (the 99) are all continuing to suffer as things continue to go very  economically wrong in this world.  Sucks!  On top of that, my subscription to The New Yorker is again up for renewal and I was not getting offered any deals remotely comparable to what I got two years ago.

The blow-in card proclaiming that renewing for two years to the tune of $129.99 because that was “the best deal” outraged me.

Condé Nast, you can't be serious!

The email they sent me to renew at $39.99 was disappointing.

This is supposd to make me happy?

I then did what I always do when searching for a bargain, I logged onto Amazon.  Even Amazon let me down with their one-year renewal for $69.99 and two years for $99.99.

Sound effect: the downbeat.

Resigned to the reality of these inflationary times, I decided that I would have to shell out $39.99.  Before logging off, I decided to peruse the customer reviews when I read one written by “katehof” from Norfolk, Virginia.

“You might get a better deal by calling The New Yorker subsciption (sic) office directly: 800-825-2510. My mailed renewal notice price was $89.95/2 years, but they offered me $50/2 years when I called and spoke to a CSR.”

I called the number and got through to a customer service rep called Dana, but I suffered a brain freeze and called her Amanda, the name of Coco’s new assistant, who I have already called both Miranda and Penelope.  This was almost as awkward as a business call I had two weeks ago with a very patient, polite and professional chap named Enrico, one of my company’s computer systems customer support specialists.  As Enrico was helping me set up a monthly tile purchases report that my boss, Elsbeth, had been demanding for the better part of three years, I was multitasking.

I was reading my personal email.

My longtime friend, Martini Max, sent me a missive where he referred to me as “Bartelby”.  Suddenly, Enrico went silent during our conversation.  This struck me as odd and I wondered if we had been disconnected, until it dawned on me that I was now calling him Bartelby.  This prompted me to stop reading my personal email, to ignore my momentary lapse into Demented-ville, and to immediately resume calling him Enrico.

While on the phone with Dana we had the following exchange:

Me:  Can you provide me with a better renewal rate?

Dana:  I can give you one year for $29.95 or two years for $39.95.

Me:  If I tossed ten more bucks your way, would you give me three years for $49.95?

Dana:  Hold on.

Short pause.  Dana looks into the Orwellian computer system and discovers that I’ve practically been reading this magazine since birth.

Dana:  Okay, you can have three years for $49.95.

Me:  Wow, that’s great!  Thanks!

That’s 141 issues at $5.99 each that would cost $844.59 off the newsstand, or 35 cents a copy delivered to my sanctum sanctorum via this thrifty renewal rate, provided that my marginally competent US Postal Service letter carrier can handle the assignment of delivering every issue.  For a moment, I considered asking Dana if I paid $100 for my renewal, could I just have a lifetime subscription?  Yet, I thought that might be pretentious.  Instead I asked her:

Me:  What happens if I die between now and then?

Dana paused.  Apparently, that macabre question threw her for a loop.  She was talking to a potential dead woman.

Dana:  Let’s hope you don’t, but if you did, the remaining issues in your subscription can be transferred to someone else.

To me, that’s almost as good to know as that 1-800 number.  Thank you katehof from Norfolk!

Poignant cover by Barry Blitt for this week's issue. Note the price, $5.99. Ugh.