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Postcards. . .And (Please) Buy My Book —Erik Cagle

November 2007
EVERY NOW and then we receive a printer’s promo piece through the mail. My name will end up on a list with prospects and incumbent clients for a printing company, and I’ll get a taste of their sales program.

Well, my publisher strolled up the other day and asked me to figure out what was wrong with a mailer he’d gotten via snail mail. I pored over the piece and began to panic. . .what was the gaffe? Spelling? Poor print job? Elaine Benes’ nip slip again? Just what was wrong with this postcard?

Dave laughed at me. I couldn’t see the forest for the trees.

One side proclaimed, “Don’t forget. . .Free Overnight Shipping! until October 31st.” The other side repeated the shipping offer and some other services, including 24 to 72 hour production on all catalog products, custom quotes in three minutes or less, and an automatic open account (up to $2,000) with no credit check. Hey, sounds like a great deal to me.

Still, I was clueless at this point. So I scanned over the mailing address and checked everywhere for typos. There were none. Poor color? Nope. Registration off badly? Not the case.

Worse. Of all the transgressions a printer can commit, leaving off the name and contact info for your company from the mailer is easily the most egregious.

I’m not kidding. No company name, logo or otherwise was included, gentle readers. Someone piddled a whole lot of printing and postage costs down the gutter, with a guaranteed response rate of zero percent.

I took to the Internet, hoping to find evidence of origin. The postcard mailed from New Albany, IN, and the “free shipping” graphic appears to indicate southern Indiana as the epicenter. Alas, none of the phrases produced any likely results in my search engine. Seemingly, I’d reached a dead end.

A week later, we received another postcard, this time with the company’s name and number logoed on one side. Huzzah!

OVERHEARD ON RADIO: On the commute into the office one day, I was downright shocked to hear a radio advertisement for the Canon ImagePRESS C7000VP digital press. Canon tapped a mature medium to reach out to what is generally considered a mature industry and, given the glut of content on the Internet, this was probably a smart move. The copy was concise and well-written, capped with the slogan, “Produce, persuade, perform on paper.”

Forgive me if this isn’t verbatim; it was hastily written down on the back of a gas station debit card receipt while traveling at 70 miles an hour.

BAN THE BUN: When last we saw Fred Buck, musician, print salesman extraordinaire and the pride of O’Neil Printing in Phoenix, he was extolling his company’s virtues in an effective e-mail pitch. Not long ago, Fred wrote to say that his son, Daniel, starred in a commercial for burger joint Carl’s Jr. to promote the “flat buns” on their sandwiches.

The risqué commercial, which can be viewed at www.youtube.com/watch?v=RNlakElmwFs, was actually taken off the air amidst protests and a lawsuit brought on by Tennessee teachers. They apparently objected to a female “teacher” dancing suggestively in the video and drawing attention to her own buns, which clearly are not as flat as the ones sold at Carl’s Jr.

Dan Buck’s formidable rap skills and an interview with the budding young actor can be seen on www.carlsjr.com.

NOVEL CONCEPT: After hundreds of hours spent writing and rewriting, 2 a.m. marathon sessions and 10 years of developing ideas and then trashing them, I’ve completed my first novel. “Gross Misconduct” is a story about lost love and one man’s dream to play professional hockey, but ostensibly it’s a story about discovering one’s true self, and not always liking the reflection on the other side of the mirror.

“Gross Misconduct” contradicts fictional convention that dictates our hero, the protagonist, must change in some meaningful way by the novel’s end. Instead, everything around him changes. That’s all I’ll give away.

I think you’ll find the price is quite reasonable. This is a fast, accessible read, closer to the sparse short fiction style of Raymond Carver (he made it seem effortless) rather than the dense, literary flow of Margaret Atwood.

It’s meant to be fun, modest and, above all else, brutally honest.

It will never win a Pulitzer Prize, but I think you will find it reading time well spent. A caveat: It’s not for everyone, especially those whose sensibilities are easily upset.

For more information or to order, visit www.lulu.com/content/1341891 .
 

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