One of the joys of college – back between 1969 and 1974 when I was finishing the final two years for my Bachelor’s at Salem State – was participating in guerilla theater. I’d swung way over to the far left, in terms of personal, political, and cultural outlook re: the world and how it operated, by the time I stepped foot on the Salem, Massachusetts campus, and as has always been the case of birds of a feather together, it didn’t take long to make the acquaintance of and become fast friends with others of like mind – let’s call them Yippies for clarity’s sake. My Yippies. And as practicing Yippies, we performed us some guerilla theater. Bustin’ in on Young Republican forums, seemingly wild and impromptu skits out on the public commons, acting out and for sit-ins, lock-ins, mill-ins, takeovers, and musical gatherings. Just doing our things in giddy hopes of – as always – sticking it to ‘The Man’.
I reminisce here today in anticipation of my soon-to-be-published newest book – “Get in the Car” – and my intentions and plans for hawking it. Now, it has been many years since I created my own Etsy Shop and sold my artist and, later, author creations there exclusively. It always felt a little hokey, an artsy/crafty place, and I rarely had much in the way of sales. And I never felt much connection with or allegiance to the vast majority of Etsy sellers, most of whom I was sure were selling and making money way beyond my widely scattered sales. But it was, simply, convenient.
When I began self-publishing my books through an Amazon subsidiary I received a virtual pittance for sales on Amazon, paperback or Ebook, so I added my paperbacks to the Greeting Cards I offered on Etsy. For a slightly better profit and, again, ease. Truth is, taking into consideration the cost of paying people with technical skills I do not own to create book covers and the interior formatting acceptable to publisher upload requirements, and adding my discounted cost as the author of my own books which I ordered to ship out for Etsy sales or sell person-to-person, I have lost money and remain in the red with all of my books save the first – “Ring Around the Rosy” – which having sold 74 copies to date has me a smidge ahead.
All of which is factual and perhaps and hopefully historically interesting. But somewhere along the way, and unbeknownst to me, the original Etsy founders or some down-the-line generation of owners sold out to a more “corporative” entity – my wife Susan explained this to me – which became apparent a couple of months ago after my sale of a handful of Greeting Cards to a friend in San Francisco resulted in a significantly less amount of money being transferred to my connected credit union account than in sales past. Try as I may to get some explanation there was absolutely no possibility of speaking with an actual Etsy human about it, and after traversing through numerous rings of hell and finally able to send an email asking why, received a response a week later thanking me for my ongoing support of Etsy and suggesting I join an Etsy marketing team. Seriously – that’s what I got. Which is when I decided I was bailing on Etsy, making yet another decision in my life to fight the powers that be, even if only a little, one more time try my best to stick it to ‘The Man’. Another corporation left behind – “Not with my money you won’t.”
Therefore, with my newest book “Get in the Car”, to step out of the main stream of “sales” and move forward selling on and within what I shall hereafter refer to as “The Guerilla Store Experience”. A little like Hendrix – the “Experience” thing – burning down the house, baby. I have yet to brainstorm adequately with myself what specific qualities of interpersonal activity in the marketing and promoting landscape, as well as any physical spatial realities, might be made use of when pushin’ the book. But, re: the opening paragraph, as a veteran of “guerilla theater” from back there in the ever-lovin’ sixties and seventies, I do have a vision which includes rushing outside any and all mainstream sales behavior, or anything approaching normal, with the selling of any of my creative stuff from now on.
So, save me the acting out. Buy the new book. It’s cool. You’ll like it.