Peddling…I Mean Promoting My Book By Jill Sawyer

It’s a sunny, warm day and I am eager to try out an ingenious idea for promoting my book…if only I don’t get arrested. This being Saturday, I don’t have to pay the train station’s $8 parking fee. I open the back door of my Honda and gently pull out the rolling tea cart that I bought at Goodwill for only $12.

“Let’s see,” I say out loud after I grab the bag packed with my murder mystery, the post cards showing its availability on Amazon, and tape for hanging my posters (I paid a lot for these big guys). Oh yes, and the envelope of change…in case I get the customers I’m hoping for. Then there’s my shoulder bag with water bottle, mints, and a novel for my own reading pleasure as I await potential customers.

Rolling my table up the ramp to the platform is a breeze with these coaster wheels. I tape my posters to four of the station’s columns, then get settled on one of the passenger benches, gazing down with pleasure at the six fresh copies of Metro-Line to Murder on display. I remember to check up and down the line for “official types” who might report me as an unlicensed hawker. Nope, no one in sight. Lucky for me modern ticket-purchasing machines have no eyes.

I settle in and lift my face to the sun, absorbing the warmth. Footsteps approach from the left and my eyes follow as a suited man glides by. Several more do the same, most staring straight ahead, but a few take quick, furtive glances at my display. The 9:44 for New York will arrive in five minutes, which leaves little time for anyone to check out my crime novel. The train arrives and pulls out. I maintain a pleased smile on my face for anyone looking at me from the train. Who knows how far this could travel if I establish a vibrant presence?

The next train will arrive in half an hour. I smile because this “marketplace” rocks. My book is about a murder that happens right here on the station platform of this wealthy suburb. So what could be better? “Location, location, location”, I tell myself.

Within ten minutes more passengers begin to amble up the ramp and onto the platform. Several women pause, glance down, even ask if I am the author and then congratulate me when I nod. I decide not to launch into a sales pitch if they hurry forth. But, if the pause lasts three seconds, I say, “Most of the action takes place right here in Darien”.

One elderly woman says, “Hmm” and picks up a copy to read the back cover but then sets it down. Maybe she is going to a matinee and doesn’t want to carry 314 pages of sheer intoxicating reading, so I offer her one of my reminder postcards.

An attractive, middle-aged woman with her eleven-year-old daughter quickly approaches. She catches my eye and takes in the scene. “Oh, would you look at this,” she exclaims. “I’ll be right back. Have to get our tickets.”

In no time she returns and after a few questions, picks up a copy to thumb through. I feel a building expectation that this might possibly be my first “station sale”. Done. All I have to do is come out with eight dollars change for her twenty. This one exchange doubles Amazon’s royalty.

Two more trains, two more sales! Hey, it beats minimum wage. Plus! I haven’t been arrested.

Jill Sawyer received her BA in philosophy and psychology at Sarah Lawrence College, an MAT at Manhattanville College, and an MA in English Literature at West Conn. She taught at New Canaan High School for 26 years and lives in Norwalk, CT where she serves as a volunteer tutor at the Center for Global Studies. Several of her essays have been published in The New York Times and local newspapers. Her recent interest has turned to fiction: short stories, poetry, and her recently published crime novel.

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