The Little Author That Could

“How’s the book going?”

It’s a question I get all the time from friends and family. While I appreciate their interest very, very much, I nearly always give the short answer: “Great! Thanks for asking!”

The long answer is–frankly–really, really long, and I can’t just say half of it and expect the person I’m answering to fill in the blanks, so the short answer has to suffice under normal circumstances.

Here is the long answer, though, in case you’re wondering:

My book, considering it was published just last spring and I’m doing the bulk of the marketing for it myself, is doing pretty well for where I’m at on my timeline. It is very, very difficult to market a book, to get stores to carry it, to get people to notice it.

I have sent press releases, thrown a launch party (epic!), participated in book signings and fairs, and carried the book in the trunk of my car just in case I need to show it to someone (or on the chance that someone might want to purchase one!).

I have donated copies to a couple of local libraries and schools.

I have contacted book stores, gift shops, and boutiques, asking them to consider carrying my book.

I have sent countless emails, and have made many phone calls.

Is there more I could do? YES. There is always more to be done. My to-do list is a mile long.

The fact is, marketing a book takes time and effort. It doesn’t happen overnight, and (unfortunately) it doesn’t happen with the snap of fingers.

It is often tiring, sometimes frustrating, and occasionally sweaty work (okay, not much on that last one).

It is not for the weak.

That being said, I have continued to chug chug chug like that little engine that could (as any person who is marketing a product would want to do if they wanted to be successful), and I have achieved a couple of major goals I set for myself back when I was actually writing the book.

They aren’t sales goals, by the way.

I will never become rich from writing my book (even though Jim is still holding out hope). I have said it before and I’ll say it again, if you are working on a book in order to become wealthy, you may as well close up the laptop right now. My book is not destined for the New York Times’ Bestseller list; it never was. My book’s purpose is to help families with older kids have fun in Chicago and its surrounding suburbs. That’s it.

I wanted to get my book into the brick-and-mortar Barnes and Noble stores (Borders too, but, um, that won’t be happening now, will it?), and I wanted to get my book into the gift shops of iconic Chicago tourist attractions like Skydeck Chicago.


Just in the past couple of weeks (after some back and forth with the Barnes and Noble Small Press Department, which took place months ago), I found out that my book is now being stocked at more than twenty Barnes and Noble stores within the Chicagoland area.

Today, I found out (after some emails and waiting and more emails and waiting and more emails, all also starting months ago) that the company which runs the gift shops in Skydeck Chicago, the Chicago History Museum, the Adler Planetarium, and several more AMAZING tourist destinations in this area will be contacting my publisher to place a book order next month, in time for the spring season.

My heart is full today, and I am proud of my efforts. Being persistent about work that is often tiring, sometimes frustrating, and yes, occasionally sweaty, all becomes worth it when you reach your goals. I wouldn’t change a thing.

So yes, my book is going “Great!” Thanks for asking.

By the way, YOU can help me by "liking" the Chicken in the Car and the Car Won't Go page on Facebook, and if you have friends who live in or are traveling to the Chicago area, PLEASE tell them about my book! Thanks!

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  • Grandma W

    Your Dad and I are so PROUD and HAPPY for you ! It makes my heart swell with pride. Tell Jim I’m still on his side and it may still happen. I like to say just wish upon a star and it will happen. But we all know it takes lots of work, nothing worth the effort is easy. We have always had great faith in all you kids.

  • Amy M

    Decided to go out blog reading tonight and I’m glad this post was first to show up in my Reader. I love this news and I love your book. Very exciting that CITCATCWG is making its mark on the map! 🙂

  • Momo Fali

    Wonderful! Also, it should be noted that I can’t think of anyone more NOT weak than you. Wait, is that a double-negative because I said, “can’t” and “not” in the same sentence? I mean, you’re strong. There. That’s better.

  • Heather

    I am so so so so happy for you and SO SO SO proud of you, my friend. You are inspiring to me, your determination and knowledge is what keeps that little flame about my own book burning in the back of my mind.

    Congrats, girlie, you deserve it. 🙂

  • Michelle

    Whoo! Go you. so ummmm is the Deer Park location one that will have the book? You are doing awesome. And I love your book. And my friends who have the book love your book.

    • Melisa

      Yep, according to the B&N website, it’s in stock at the Deer Park location. But CALL FIRST (or have whomever might be going to buy it call first!) just in case. And thanks. 🙂

  • quintmom

    i KNOW you could have gotten some publicity when last summer a pretty well known set of teenage quintuplets asked for your help on how to navigate chicago as total rookies, oh well

    • Melisa

      Hi Quintmom!

      I’m glad you brought this up. I get emails every now and then like yours last summer, asking for recommendations/help on what to do in Chicago with teens (and tweens, of course). It puts me in a really tough position. Naturally I have all kinds of ideas (Nearly 200, if you go by the title of my book! 🙂 ), but I literally wrote the book on what to do in Chicago with teenagers. The easy answer to a request for Chicago activity recommendations is “Why don’t you buy my book?” and I’ll tell you why:

      1. The biggest reason is because I spent nearly six years researching, writing, editing and otherwise working on this book. It was the most labor-intensive projects of my life, up there with raising my sons. 🙂
      2. The cost of my book ($14.95, and that’s if you don’t catch a sale on Amazon) is really a bargain for all of the information you get.

      I am more than happy to give general recommendations to people who ask me for them, as I did when I got your email. I don’t ever, however, get into specifics or assistance with specifically planning what a family should do when visiting Chicago because–even though as I mentioned above that I will never get rich off of my book–selling my book is something that I am trying to do (like any other author!). My book is THE GUIDE for navigating Chicago with teens, even if you’re all total rookies.

    • Melisa

      Thanks Tara. The hard work doesn’t seem QUITE as hard when there’s a success like that. I’m grateful!

  • Beth Aldrich

    I am so thrilled to hear of your building success with the book. Even with a large publisher, it is so hard. The marketing is a full-time job and getting it stocked in various stores is no easy task…so I commend you and wish you continued success. Good writing is a gift and you are gifted!

    • Melisa

      Thanks for the kind words, Beth. Much appreciated! 🙂
      I know that YOU know exactly where I’m coming from!

  • Victoria Noe

    Too bad we don’t get a commission every time someone asks how our book is going. 😉 This is a terrific article, and I’ve shared it on my Facebook page and on Twitter. Many writers don’t understand how exhausting the marketing can be, but you’ve obviously done a great job. Congrats!