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April 15, 2011


I got a letter from a very nice lady
who opened a Mom and Pop bookstore
in Clinton, NJ.

She wanted me to come
and read from my Chapbook to promote sales,
and by the way, could I bring some more copies
as she only had two on her shelves.

She struggles to maintain her existence.
The Big Box Stores and now Amazon
had her on the ropes
but she was sure, she had found a niche –
and her two copies of my book
were two more
than the Borders 5 miles away carried.

She shared her frustration
that a reporter from the local weekly paper
had written about the first book from a new author,
who lived in town and came in all the time.
The article ended by pointing out
that the book could be purchased on Amazon –
though the book, and a promotional poster, stood prominently
in her bookshop window and on a little table
in front of her checkout counter.

I paused in my reading.
Wonder after the small merchants
are pushed out and the government bailout
for the big guys doesn’t work,
who will sell the two copies of my book.

“By the way,” the letter ended,
“I have to warn you. It’s BYOA”.
How’s that?

“Bring your own audience.”

Ray Brown

Consider purchasing my book of poems, “I Have His Letters Still” – Poetry of Everyday Life ($11.95).  Available on Amazon at or purchase an autographed copy at

3 Comments leave one →
  1. October 14, 2010 12:22 pm

    Usually at readings where I was featured, I’d bring my wife, mother, and sister, and invite at least another fifty to attend, hoping at least five would make it. Poets in the open reading usually brought someone along to help build up the attendance list, but even with all that, there were times few came. And there were times, like at Border’s in Paramus, where I sold copies of my book A Family of Sicilians…and over one hundred people came, many of whom ordered copies!

  2. April 15, 2011 10:32 am

    I like the ending! Cute! I read about many poet and author friends who struggle with self promotion, but its part of our job description. I am hoping just to get published then I will feel I have met my goal, all the rest is licking my plate from a good meal.

    You should come to the poetry gatherings here in Princeton, the workshops and such, get your name out there. I was just reading your book last night, by the night stand…

    • Ray Brown permalink*
      April 16, 2011 9:37 pm

      Thanks. I hope you are enjoying the book. Send some informtion about Princeton area readings when you have a chance. Thanks

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