It started with a message on my answering machine. The voice sounded like that of an Indian woman, and the only syllables I could understand were “Tale o’ de Troupe,” which were repeated several times. The next time the person called, I picked up. I immediately explained that I couldn’t understand a thing that was being said, and offered up my e-mail address.
It was a book marketing company based in Green Bay, Wisconsin, but I’m convinced they do a lot of outsourcing. I asked about that in an e-mail and got no response. When I finally got copies of the e-mail ad (allegedly sent to one million recipients) and the media release, I was interested in the very idiomatic English. For example, the title of the press release was “Bumping with This Tricky World’s Unexpected Twists.” In paragraph one, it says “People have their respective roles and characters to play; these characters are just beginning to learn who they are. There’s nothing in the world that lasts so everyone is responsible for making his own life precious by letting go of expectations and enjoying the joy that life brings.” These were ideas that I shared with the company, but their phrasing was quite different. I decided to go with the weird wording just for the hell of it.
My friend Helen shared an image of some woman in Nairobi, holding the phone in one hand and holding an infant to her breast in the other—and being the breadwinner for dozens of family members. I didn’t make a single sale from these peoples’ efforts.
One day in January, however, I got an e-mail from someone who had bought the book off his Website but it hadn’t arrived. I promptly looked at Paypal and, sure enough, this person had ordered a copy. I sent it to her immediately. It turns out she was someone I was drinking with at the local pub, The Black Cow, during last year’s blackout, with whom I discussed my books. So, I’ve decided that drinking at the Cow is a good marketing strategy and I plan to do it often.