September 4, 2011

Glenn wrote a book. Wanna buy it?

If the Internet really is the “information highway”, as little Anna Paquin promised us in those TV commercials back in 1994 (seems more like 1944 from the vantage point of this post-Steve Jobs era), then this blog has been parked at the side of the road for a couple of weeks.  Did you miss me?  (Don’t answer that…)
No, I didn’t run out of topics or ideas; no I wasn’t frolicking on a nude beach in the south of France or climbing the Apennine Mountains in Italy.  And for those of you who know me better than to suspect any of those: no, I didn’t sit in an armchair for two weeks drinking diet lemonade and watching marathon reruns of Law and Order.
I wrote a book. 
And how did you spend your summer vacation, hmmm?
Okay, to be more exact, I spent a good portion of the summer converting two separate blogs into a book manuscript and securing a publisher.  These past two weeks I subjected that manuscript to an intense process of continual re-writing, revision, proofing, correcting and polishing until … well, until the sight of my own writing made me want to barf into a trash can, if you must know.
The result, sometime later this autumn, will be my first book.  The title is THE OPERA ZOO: SINGERS, COMPOSERS AND OTHER PRIMATES.  The publisher is Kendall Hunt, a firm in Dubuque Iowa that customarily publishes textbooks written by college professors. 
My book is no textbook; I think it’ll be fun for casual and serious opera fans alike.  I actually began blogging as a method for getting a book written in dribs and drabs, a little at a time.  The first blog consisted of a journal I kept while being part of a summer opera festival in Rome, Italy.  Recording impressions of the sights, sounds, people and food in one of the world’s great cities, I also take the reader behind the scenes of a production of Johann Strauss Jr.’s Die Fledermaus to see how an operetta is staged from the first rehearsals through the final performances.
The rest of the book consists of selected posts from this very blog which you, dearest reader, are now perusing.  I tend to have a somewhat irreverent sense of humor, and this colors my perceptions of the opera world.  I describe the essays making up the rest of THE OPERA ZOO as what you might expect if Garrison Keillor, Woody Allen and Dave Barry decided to collaborate on a book about the opera world. 
This whole getting-a-book-published deal has been an educational experience in itself.  Ever try it?  It’s a trip.  I wrote this book mainly to sell at my speaking gigs, which is how I earn my living as a full-time employee of Virginia Opera.  In the state-wide adult education program I've conducted since 2004 (you can read about at one of the links at the top of the page), I give between 150 and 175 talks each season from September through April, to retirement communities, civic groups, lifelong learning programs, corporations, colleges, women’s and men’s clubs, church groups – you name it; any place where curious adults gather. 
I also give pre-curtain lectures prior to each of the Opera’s thirty-two performances each year, in Norfolk, Richmond and Fairfax, Virginia.  That’s in addition to broadcasts and podcasts on public radio stations in those three communities.  Altogether, the total audience provides a platform which convinced the publisher I could sell enough books to make THE OPERA ZOO a relatively save investment.
I’ve learned all about the importance of a “platform”, which turns out to be 99% of the ball game in getting published. 
Question: why do you suppose fledgling authors’ books get rejected?  Because they lack talent?  Because their writing is trite, derivative or dull?  Guess again, poopsie – it’s because they have no platform; no notoriety in their field; no reputation which will draw readers to the bookstore with MasterCard or Visa at the ready.
And why do you supposed functionally illiterate movie stars and athletes who have probably read three books in their lives get fat contracts to “write” their memoirs with the “help” of a ghost writer?  Because they enter the game with a platform of millions of admirers who will buy the book even if it’s three hundred pages of drivel with pretty photographs.
There are degrees of “platformicity” (my spell-check didn’t like that word much; I don’t blame it…); global, national, regional and local.
Me? I’m a local yokel with a platform of forty-five thousand or so.  If ten percent of my audience buys the book, I’ll be thrilled.  If five percent, I’ll be happy.  If one percent, no one will have lost any money.  And hey- I can say I’m a “published author”, a status befitting my essential dignity and distinguished mien, wouldn’t you agree?  Sure you would; I can tell.
You can help.
Mama Kendall and Mama Hunt raised no fools; THE OPERA ZOO will not receive a printing of thousands of copies flooding Barnes & Noble outlets in every mall in America.  This is what publishers call a “niche genre”.  Wisely hedging their bets, Kendall Hunt will base the printing on the number of advance orders I, Glenn Winters, can collect between now and the end of October. (Why then?  Because by then the first production of Virginia Opera’s 2011-2012 season, Verdi’s Aida, will have been put to bed and I’ll have hawked the book to most of my available audience, providing Kendall Hunt with some hard numbers of pre-orders.)
The projected price is around $30.  Want to buy my book?  Email me at this link; I’ll add your contact information to the spreadsheet of pre-orders and you’ll be notified when THE OPERA ZOO: SINGERS, COMPOSERS AND OTHER PRIMATES is released.  There is no pre-payment to pony up; just tell me you'd like a copy. "Will you sign it?" you ask?  Hell, I'll put on lipstick and make juicy red lip prints on it if that's what you want...  It’s projected to be ready in time for the holidays.
It would make a really sweet, thoughtful gift…  just sayin’…

1 comment:

  1. nice comment from the star of current Covent Garden Flying Dutchman in today's London UK Indy, "At least it's set on a ship and not in a bank or a gymnasium!"