Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Blog a Bookmark

I am fond of bookmarks. I have several. Some came by way of gifts, others were collected in my travels. Now that I am a published author I have a bookmark that depicts my book’s cover. Across it and about a third of the way down is my name and website. A great promotional tool, this bookmark has become my calling card.

Since the release of Belly of the Whale in April I have distributed hundreds of bookmarks. Few people escape without taking one home. Since I work with different people every day I can cover a lot of territory without going very far. Most recipients are interested, if not excited for me and about purchasing Belly of the Whale.

The last few months have been hectic with marketing and promotion also coupled with traveling. I have passed through several states in only a few months and have not wasted a minute in my ongoing desire to get the word out about Belly of the Whale. Airports, airplanes, hotels and cabs, anywhere I can leave a bookmark I am there.

On a recent trip to the mid-west, I found myself exploring a part of the USA that I’d never been to before. We were in Oklahoma and any preconceived idea of what the state of Oklahoma was supposed to be like vanished. Every turn brought something new and unexpected.

In a place called Guthrie, formerly the Capitol of Oklahoma, we found a charming downtown area to walk around and shop. One business in particular, caught my eye. It was a boot maker, Dorwart’s Boot Shop. The inside had a few boots displayed, some large books and lots of leather pieces strewn on workbenches.

A man with a cowboy hat came over to talk with us. He asked if he could help me. I wanted to know about the process of making western boots; I entertained the thought of being able to afford a pair. The man had patient eyes; he looked at me as I stumbled through my inquiry. He told me about the measuring of my feet and how precise it would be. I asked the price and he smiled an easy smile and said that the starting price was $2100.

I gulped and laughed. So sorry to have wasted your time I said, but your starter price is way more than I can pay, but perhaps when I sell a million copies of my book I’ll come back. He asked about my book and I gave him a bookmark and my spiel. He listened and then asked me what my favorite color was. Red I said, because if I could have a pair of boots I’d want them to be red.

The cowboy opened a drawer and pulled out several pieces of hide, each in a different hue of red. I settled on one shade and he whisked off the piece to one of his machines. When he returned he had a strip of leather, narrow at one end and bulged out at the top. He showed me where on a boot this piece would fit, the loops at the sides and then he explained that it was his gift to me, a red leather bookmark. My eyes filled with tears and I had to turn away for a minute. The cowboy smiled again, come back for the boots when you’re ready, he said.

I dream of those red western boots made by the cowboy at Dorwart’s in Guthrie, and I’ve hung the leather bookmark over my desk, next to the quote: ‘Writing is an act of faith…”

Blog what you hear, see, feel and think.

Linda Merlino, author, Belly of the Whale

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