Larry Jordan

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The Joe Shlabotnik of Spiritual Writing

Sep 06, 2023 by Larry Jordan, in The Way

Joe Shlabotnik was Charlie Brown's favorite major league baseball player. Joe's unfortunate claim to fame was making spectacular catches of routine fly balls.

Sometimes, when people see me spending time marketing my book they ask, "Geez, can't you just put the book up on Amazon and be done with it?" Sure, lots of people do that, and some of them sell some books, but generally, books don't sell themselves, and books require a lot of care and feeding.

To me, having a book is a lot like having a pet. Once you commit yourself to the book or the pet, you realize how often it needs to be fed or petted or walked. Whenever you have a minute of free time, your book is looking at you with its puppy dog eyes, begging you for some attention.

Imagine that you write a song and sell it on SoundCloud for $0.99. For less than a dollar, people download your song and listen to it whenever they want to, whether they are sitting on the couch or driving their car or mowing their lawn. Most songs are worth a lot more than $0.99.

A book is a big ask. A $15.99 book costs much more than a $0.99 song, and it requires a much larger commitment, four or five hours of dedicated attention. Many books are NOT worth more than $15.99, and many people are NOT going to buy a $15.99 book on a whim.

A writer accumulates domain names and email marketing platforms and web hosts, like a pet owner accumulates chew toys and dog beds and flea collars.

I have accounts at Amazon, Bargain Booksy, BookBub, Bowker, GoDaddy, Goodreads, IngramSpark, Library of Congress, MailChimp, PubSite, and Square. I have an EIC and an LLC. I have a business bank account, and I pay a franchise tax. Who are all of these people, and why am I writing them checks?

I was "complaining" about this to a good friend, and he cut me off immediately. "You love this stuff," he said. "You go all-in whatever you do, you like projects, and you enjoy getting your hands dirty and learning new things. You like complaining about it, too, but I know that you love it." True.

Some ballplayers have Joe DiMaggio-level talent, and some have Joe Shlabotnik-level talent. Some writers have Larry McMurtry-level talent, and some have Larry Jordan-level talent. 

Sadly, for the the Jordans and Shlabotniks, things don't always come easy, and we often appear to make spectacular catches of routine fly balls (but we enjoy it, even when we complain about it.)

The Way: Meaningful Spirituality for a Modern World is available for pre-order here: