Judson Merrill writes to his Indie Bookstore

My literary career is young but it’s never too early to begin massaging the feet of posterity. For the benefit of scholars and fans alike, I will use this space on The Outlet, on a semi-regular basis, to release a selection of my correspondence and other papers. Enjoy. (Universities interested in acquiring the complete Judson Merrill archive should contact me through my web site.)

Dear Longfellow Books,

First, let me thank you for your many years of service to my hometown, the great city of Portland. These days there are fewer and fewer independent booksellers and it is heartening to see your store thrive and grow because it offers such a personal, human touch.

After years of receiving your emails sharing news and recommendations from the world of letters, I want to return the favor and share my own exciting literary update.

This week I released my new novel! Soldered in Half tells the dynamic story of a mechanical engineer with a dream but family obligations that threaten to weld that dream to earth. It’s edgy, but uplifting.

Please find below a link to Amazon.com where you can download Soldered in Half for your Kindle or other digital device with Kindle software. Being a brick-and-mortar store, you might not have a lot of experience with e-books but they present an exciting new opportunity for emerging authors such as myself to cut out the middlemen and reach readers directly.

And Soldered in Half has sparked an immediate connection with those readers. In the three days since the book has been available, it’s skyrocketed from 18,780th place in Amazon’s rankings to 7,400th. At this rate, Soldered in Half will be the number one seller on Amazon.com in two more days!

And I’d like to give you a chance to grab onto those coattails. I think Longfellow Books is the perfect promotional partner to help me build on the book’s early success. After all, you’re my local bookstore. Or, you were. Obviously, I couldn’t stay in Maine and make it as a writer. I’ve moved to the Big Apple and my bookstore here is a Barnes & Noble. Sure, they send me emails, too, but they’re mostly for massive online coupons. (Little do they know the discounted books I’m buying from them were recommended by an independent bookseller in Maine. Score one for the little guy!) Call me an idealist, but I don’t want to deal with that sort of anonymous corporation. Hypothetically, if I sent B&N an email similar to this one, 8 days might go by and I still haven’t heard back.

First, of course, you’ll want to read my book and make sure you feel (as I do) that we’re a natural team. So download the book (it’s just $9.99 — I tried to set the price higher but Amazon drives a hard bargain — lucky for you) and next time you’re walking around the shelves on a slow morning and need something to read you can reach (digitally) for Soldered in Half. I’m sure you’ll be drawn in by the gripping story. It’s trenchant, but approachable.

Once you’ve loved the book, I’m sure you’ll agree our first step is to set up a reading and book signing. Yes, it’s an e-book but I’ve done some experimenting and a sharpie works equally well on the back of a Kindle and human flesh. As far as reading dates go, I looked back through your old newsletters and it seems you give your biggest authors Thursday night slots, which is fortunate, since I’m free on Thursdays and can fly in for the event. (Don’t worry, I know times are tough for independent bookstores and I’m not going to stick you with a first-class airplane ticket. I’m happy to fly coach.)

With that event as our marketing springboard, I believe we can develop other exciting opportunities together. As an example, I know there are elderly or otherwise computer-illiterate readers who might suspect an electronic book is from the devil. In order to help us both reach that market, I am prepared to offer Longfellow Books the exclusive Maine rights to sell print editions of Soldered in Half. This is a new business model for a new millennium. Once we hammer out the details, you will be free to set up a terminal next to your New Fiction display, where customers can download the book and print it out on your printer. You won’t even have to shoulder the costs of hosting the file since it’s already posted on Amazon.

I could go on about the projects we might develop together, but for now allow me to close by giving you a taste of what readers are saying about Soldered in Half. The review most often voted helpful by Amazon’s users, by bookface234, reads, “Soldered in Half is … a roller-coaster … I’m speechless. The story [made me laugh] and [experience other powerful emotions.] This book absolutely … refunded … my full purchase price.” Another anonymous review said simply, “It’s lyrical, but resonant.”

Thank you much for your kind attention and I look forward to working with you.

Judson Merrill

* * *

Previously: Judson Merrill sends Letters to his Editor, tucks copy of story under Editor’s daughter’s sheets.

-Judson Merrill lives and writes in Brooklyn. Some of his work, including his e-novella The Pool, can be found at judsonmerrill.com.

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