Adventures in Marketing: Week 61

Sold one “Cheesesteak.” (It was intended as a gift to a high school classmate, but she sent me $20.)

In other news…

a.) Information reached me that an on-line dealer in remaindered books was offering “Most Outrageous” for less than my author’s discount gets me at my publisher’s, so even though it has not exactly been jumping off my table, I ordered 10. Available here for a limited time only for $12 (40% below list).

b.) When I returned to the post office, Big Dawg (See Week 59’s report) said, “You was a wild young man, you and your buddy.”

“That was long ago,” I said.

“But good memories and good times.”

“Yes, it was.”

c.) Then just the other day, while I was on my lap top in the café, my book display to my left, a young woman asked if she could take y picture. She was a photo-journalism student at UC. “With toothpick or without?” I said.

“With,” she said. “It’s cool.”

She was from Denmark. I told her how much we liked “Forbrydelsen.”

I smile to think about it.


Adventures in Marketing: Week 60

Sold one “Cheesesteak”

The discerning shopper was a middle-aged UC math professor who had noted my presence at the café before but never spoken to me until now.

When he heard I also wrote about underground cartoonists, he told me his ex-father-in-law had written and/or made a documentary film about Lord Buckley.

“Lord Buckley!” I said. “I remember him from my druggie days.”

“his too,” he said.

In other news, “Heart” was turned down by another agent and my proposed new collection of cartoonist-related writings (tentatively titled “Son of Outlaws, Rebels, Free-Thinkers, Pirates & Pornographers”) by two publishers. The editor-in-chief of the second of these said he “really liked” my stuff but that the marketing and sales folk were opposed. While certainly understandable, this news did not make me want to jump out of bed this morning.

But my distributor guy says he will handle it if I self-publish and my production guy is hot to go ahead. so maybe it’s safe to throw off the blankets.

Pre-orders accepted.

The Hammer and the Paintbrush

My latest piece is up at First of the Month. It begins:

I had read Denis Johnson’s “Jesus’ Son” when it came out in paperback, 1993. I had read “Tree of Smoke,” which won a Nat’l Book Award in 2007. That, I didn’t like so much, but after Johnson died, in May, I decided to read the earlier one again. If you can recommend another book of Johnson’s to someone who didn’t like “Smoke” but did like “Jesus,” I am buying.

Adventures in Marketing: Week 59

No sales.

And no word from Logos Books, for whose Father’s Day display designed to break me big in the Big Apple I had sunk double-digits into a promotional budget. Well, maybe it will hold me over through the Fourth of July.


I had sent a gift “Best Ride” (my existential basketball novel) to an address that turned out not to exist. Since it had gone Media Mail, the post office wanted me to pay again to get it back. I had enough copies. I figured this a Sign from God. Give it to that guy, I said, indicating the clerk whose name tag read “Big Dawg” and who kept a Wilt Chamberlain commemorative at his window. I figured him a hoops fan.

When I came in yesterday, Mr. Dawg caught me. “Hey, remember slipping and sliding all the way to New York?” He looked at the woman who was waiting on me. “I can’t mention the other stuff. But it’s gettin’ good now.”

(“Best Ride” — and all of Bob’s books — are available at this very web site.)

Adventures in Marketing: Week 58

Sold a “Cheesesteak,” a “Schiz,” a “Most Outrageous,” an “Outlaws, Rebels…,” all to the same woman. (I gave her a discount for buying in bulk.)

She had arrived at the café, handing out Meyer lemons from a tree in her yard, to all the customers. Squeeze one each morning into hot water, she explained, to clear the body of toxins. She had blue eyes, a round, smiling face. She had short gray hair under a wide-brimmed straw hat. She wore a loose-fitting black top and wheat-colored Himalayan butterfly pants. She had also, I later notice, taken 18 books from the “Free” shelf and piled them on a chair at her table.

My work seemed to have interested her in me so much that she paid several visits to keep me posted on her thoughts. (And I felt grateful enough for her purchases not to interrupt.) So I learned of the health problems of her sister who operated heavy equipment at a nuclear waste disposal site, the personality of her brother-in-law, a Mohawk high-beam walker, the dialogue her own interest in the dharma had led to with a local Catholic worker-priest, and her suspicions that the Amazonian special ops warriors she read about in intrigue novels were real.

So I did not get a lot of work done that morning.

Adventures n Marketing: Week 57

No sales.

Gave away two “Cheesesteak”s. One went to a woman in Munich who had been an exchange student, senior year in high school, with whom I have been in recent correspondence, mainly about politics (French, German, USA). (She promised to cover postage.) The other was to a baseball-capped 83-year-old fellow, in town from Santa Cruz, visiting his daughter. He’d seen me in the café before and, this time, decided to see what I was about. “Do you write?” I said. “All my life,” he said. He had, he explained, storage lockers full of novels, paintings, cartoons, that he had never tried to have published or exhibited. “If I don’t do something soon, they’re headed for the city dump.”

I also got a visit from a portly fellow in an electric wheelchair. He was not looking to buy but had been attracted by the cover. “I love cheesesteaks,” he said.

Adventures in Marketing: Week 56

No sales.

One hipsterish fellow, tall, thin, lots of blacks, lifted and paged through “Cheesesteak” and asked if it was a novel. When I said “No” but that “The Schiz” was, he lifted and paged through that.

Meanwhile, the Fathers’ Day display of “C,” “S,” and “Best Ride” has gone up at Logos Books in Manhattan. (I would post a photo if I could figure out how to.) This is the largest display of books by Bob Levin ever assembled without Bob Levin sitting beside them.

In other news (1) “Heart” was rejected by a small, independent publisher which said it sounded “quite interesting (but)… does not quite fit…”; (2) the super-agent/former student of Adele’s brother who’d suggested we call him was in a meeting when did and, six days later, seems not yet to have left it.

One of the neat things about writing on-line is that you never know whom you are going to hear from or when. In the past, I’ve heard from two relatives (one brother, one son) of players on Temple University’s 1958 (NCAA semi-finalist) basketball team and three fans of a B-movie actress who had made a big impression upon me as a teenager in “The Wild One.” Then the other day I heard from a niece of an actress I’d written about several years ago in the Broad Street Review, Julia Anne Robinson, correcting a factual error of mine and providing some new information. [The actual COD was smoke inhalation from a fire in her condominium caused by faulty wiring, and she was planning on becoming a nurse.] I had called the article “Whatever Happened to Baby Jessica?” but BSR’s editor thought differently:

See More

‘Marvin Gardens’ and Woodstock’s lost innocence

In The King of Marvin Gardens I sensed Bob Rafelson flinging his seasoned assessment of Nixon’s America into America’s teeth. Perhaps tellingly, the adults involved in this dark and quirky film subsequently…


LikeShow more reactions
Comment Share.

1 Darius Smith

Bob Levin

Write a comment…


Bob Levin

23 hrs ·

okay, you swine, i’ve changed my passord. let’s see you screw with me now. (and thanks to ace backwards for the suggestion.)

LikeShow more reactions
Comment Share.

1 Michael Dolan

Bob Levin

Write a comment…


See More Recent Stories

What did you study at University of Pennsylvania?

8 Pending Items


Headin’ My Way

FOM put up the second half of “Bob Reads Two Books.” Here’s the link:

Bob Reads Two Books (Part Two)

It begins:

Thomas Farber is a 73-year-old, Berkeley/Honolulu-based, author/editor/teacher. Boston-bred to a physician-father and poet-mother. Harvard educated, with 10-days of Yale Law School, quit for a more sizable hit of outlaw/adventure/romance, abetted by a Guggenheim, a Fulbright, “Here and Now” (El Leon Literary Arts. 2015) is his 29th book (novels, short stories, non-fiction, epigrams and more), a collection of 16 pieces, the shortest three pages, the longest 21, a mean of five.
It opens in 2014, with Farber looking at a snapshot of his parents, taken when he was five, his father now dead 40 years, his mother nearly 30. They “do not know…,” he thinks, “how they will age, how they will die – all that their strength and love cannot spare them.” It closes with him – recently confronted by a street crazy bellowing, “Do you want to die right now/” – facing major heart surgery, hoping to survive to write another book.
Farber did. This is it. But that assault was the event which fixated his mind upon the fate that had not yet reached him – but inevitably would.
Which will reach us all.

Adventures in Marketing: Week 55

Sold one Schiz.

I’ve known the buyer, a recently retired tenants’ rights lawyer, since he ran a legal aid outpost office in Chicago’s infamous Robert Taylor Homes, and I was a VISTA on the South Side. He asked if I’d felt a loss of identity when I’d stopped practicing. I said my identity had never rested on my being a lawyer. “It was more a trans-sexual thing, like I was walking around inside the body of a lawyer, but actually…”

Also swapped two Schiz’s, one for a poetry collection, one for a classy zine — and shipped eight books to NYC for Logos, 4 Schiz, 2 Cheesesteak, 2 Best Rides. (And a BR has been spotted in Powell’s in Portland. They want $8.95 for it. You can get it here, signed, for less.)

In other news, the only one of the health organizations I’d sought a plug for Heart from to reply said it did not give endorsements. I told its rep I understood perfectly — and that would be one more charitable non-profit not to receive a sizeable bequest from my estate.