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View Full Version : In Which I Receive Publishing Advice From Some Dude On The Bus



Kitty Pryde
08-28-2008, 01:46 AM
I was riding the bus home last night. The bus was jam-packed and I was trapped in a corner seat, with the wall to the left, a great big dude to the right, and a side-facing seat directly in front of me with an old guy in it. Choosing this seat was a tactical error, but hey, I love sitting.

I was writing in a notebook. I am really self-conscious about people reading my lousy first draft over my shoulder on the bus. I know I shouldn't let it bother me, but I do anyway. Anyway, big dude to my right was so big that he was sitting sideways in the seat so he couldn't even see what I was doing. Nosy McPublishing-Expert sitting in front of me was paying attention, though.

First he asked was I writing a book. I foolishly said yes. Then he asked was I writing my memoirs. I am in my twenties, and I look about 17 years old on a good day! What exactly would I have done to merit writing my life story? So he wants to know what kind of book, and what is it about, so I tell him it's a fantasy novel and I explain the basic premise. And then he wants to know what happens in it. I was fairly fed up by that point so I said, "Wacky hijinx ensue!" Then he wanted to know what was the great moral lesson. I told him (truthfully) that I hadn't gotten that far yet. And he wants to know about everything else I have ever written.

Then he told me not to publish it with a vanity publisher when I finished writing it. That if I did, the name of it would just be printed in a little catalog that no one would see, and no one would ever read it. That was fairly good advice, if a bit funny to receive from Random Bus Guy. Then he goes on to say that he self-published a book in the 1970s, about weight loss, and sold 21,000 copies of it. He's telling me all about the book, and how it tells you how to make a special low-calorie cheesecake, then you just eat loads of this cheesecake and you lose weight, etc. And that he has written 3 other nonfiction self-published books. At this point I am in full smile-and-nod mode.

I lost an hour of writing time because this dude would not stop talking! Weird bus writing advice dude, I salute you. Just stop bothering me! Who is the weirdiest weirdo to give you writing/publishing advice?

regdog
08-28-2008, 02:09 AM
You probably won't like what I have to say but it could have been worse. Random Bus Guy meant well and wanted to give you some helpful advice about avoiding vanity presses.

He was probably also impressed that someone who looked about seventeen was writing a book. In an age when texting is considered writing to most under 25's a twenty year old seriously writing is something that stands out.

And you could have been stuck behind the guy I got stuck behind on the Mass Transit here. Green Line trolley, slightly larger than a bus without windows that open. Guy gets on and we can smell him halfway down the platform. It's August the Green Line is a suana, no air, packed in like sardines and Sir Stinko plops his arse in the sit right in front of me. I thought my nose was going to start bleeding the stink was so bad. Public Transporation is a unique experience not for the faint of heart.

I would have traded big time for Random Bus Advice Guy.

Chin Up Kitty-you're going to run into all kinds and more of them than you can count. If nothing else perhaps you can work this encounter into a future story.

joyce
08-28-2008, 02:18 AM
Wow, I wish I could find that low-calorie cheesecake that would make me lose weight. I love the stuff. :D

KCathy
08-28-2008, 03:59 AM
That's too funny, but I was laughing at your post title before I even got to the helpful advice. I think it's hilarious that he says his book was such a hit and not to do it his way.

Jersey Chick
08-28-2008, 04:01 AM
I got sucked in by the thread title - Random Bus Dude sounds okay compared to most random bus dudes...

You might've lost an hour of writing time, but you do have a good story from it :D

Chumplet
08-28-2008, 04:10 AM
I think it's pretty impressive that he sold 23,000 books in a non-internet era, with no support from a large publisher.

Sometimes you just have to look up from your writing and absorb what's around you. He seemed like a nice fella and your book will still get written.

Neurotic
08-28-2008, 04:42 AM
Jersey Chick and HeaGrg are right, that's far from the worst conversation a random dude on a bus could strike up. Now if he'd been talking about his self-published erotic novel and then recited some passages and gone on to ask you whether you thought you could do that, you're heading into the region of the worst random bus dude conversation I've had to extract myself from while on a bus. Of course none of that has anything to do with publishing advice.

Just out of interest, did he ever share the great moral lesson in his all-you-can-eat cheesecake book?

dgiharris
08-28-2008, 04:50 AM
I got sucked in by the thread title - Random Bus Dude sounds okay compared to most random bus dudes...

You might've lost an hour of writing time, but you do have a good story from it :D

Very true, I would consider the story worth more than that hour of writing time. No doubt, 'he' will end up being a character in one of your stories some day :)


I think it's pretty impressive that he sold 23,000 books in a non-internet era, with no support from a large publisher.

Sometimes you just have to look up from your writing and absorb what's around you. He seemed like a nice fella and your book will still get written.


I doubt if he sold 21,000 books about losing wieght while eating cheesecake.

My guess would be that he bought 200 books, was about to say 200 but twenty-one....thousand came out :) so he went with it.

21,000 books at ten dollars a pop (very very cheap vanity press rates, more like 20 dollars a pop) is two hundred and ten thousand dollars.

that is a lot of money to spend upfront for a book. That is four 1970s houses easy.

Anyways,

I always view those peoples as opportunities to develop new characters. The most interesting person I spent 3 hrs talking/debating with was a 45 year old bi-sexual man that was proud of his ability to live on six thousand dollars per year.

He had his own PBS show in which he would expound on his philosophies: why you should drink 2 cups of your own urine every day, why aliens are among us, why we should worship the Earth goddess, etc. etc.

That guy is a character in my head and I know one day he will play a pivotal role in one of my stories.

Go with it. Also, don't be shy and feel self conscious when people read over your shoulder. They are your audience and in a sense your employers. If they are interested enough to keep reading over your shoulder, then you are doing something right!!!!

Mel...

MattW
08-28-2008, 04:56 AM
V
I always view those peoples as opportunities to develop new characters. The most interesting person I spent 3 hrs talking/debating with was a 45 year old bi-sexual man that was proud of his ability to live on six thousand dollars per year.

He had his own PBS show in which he would expound on his philosophies: why you should drink 2 cups of your own urine every day, why aliens are among us, why we should worship the Earth goddess, etc. etc.

That guy is a character in my head and I know one day he will play a pivotal role in one of my stories.
I should introduce that guy to my most interesting encounter at a communal table in a sushi restaurant. Physics professor/karate instructor who was studying magnetic ley lines and how it influences your chi. He claimed he could walk through walls or levitate to the moon if he prepared hard enough.

dgiharris
08-28-2008, 05:00 AM
I should introduce that guy to my most interesting encounter at a communal table in a sushi restaurant. Physics professor/karate instructor who was studying magnetic ley lines and how it influences your chi. He claimed he could walk through walls or levitate to the moon if he prepared hard enough.

You have to love these people. Truth is stranger than fiction, you can't make that shit up...

Well... you could, just wouldn't be as good :)

Mel...

Clair Dickson
08-28-2008, 05:17 AM
Apparently, I'm the quilly one... I would have ignored him. I'm pretty good at tuning out conversations I want no part of, particularly in the break room at my retail job. Some people mean well, but my tolerance is limited. Somedays it's more limited than others. (Though, yeah, I probably would have noted him as a character, even if I didn't participate in any conversation. I may be antisocial, but I'm still a writer. Or is it and.)

Ciera_
08-28-2008, 05:29 AM
I would probably have taken this as an opportunity to tell him that my book was about my year spent among a colony of ants and how much I learned about life, love, and my own spirituality from the experience. And how many secret plans the ants have for the future of the earth.... ^^

regdog
08-29-2008, 08:41 PM
I would probably have taken this as an opportunity to tell him that my book was about my year spent among a colony of ants and how much I learned about life, love, and my own spirituality from the experience. And how many secret plans the ants have for the future of the earth.... ^^


:roll:

Kitty Pryde
08-29-2008, 09:03 PM
Go with it. Also, don't be shy and feel self conscious when people read over your shoulder. They are your audience and in a sense your employers. If they are interested enough to keep reading over your shoulder, then you are doing something right!!!!

Mel...

That is an excellent way to look at it. I shall endeavor to convince myself of this!

heyjude
08-29-2008, 09:48 PM
Here's a weird one: My husband met a woman in the bar the other night who worked at Random House. She gave him a couple of pieces of publishing advice, which was nice but...

my husband met a woman in the bar. And told me about it. :Shrug: