Okay. So, not everyone wants to read a “heavy” book about teen suicide. I get that. It is often much more comforting to build a fire, sit in a comfy chair, and read an entertaining book that sweeps you away from the miserable polar vortex that has descended on half of the country.
But there’s another vortex, if you will. While it may not be entertaining, it’s damn important. The rate of teen suicide has reached a 40-year high. That’s serious stuff: dead serious. (Hmmm . . . good title for a book.)
But all is not gloom and doom. There is so much we can do to help break the cycle of teen suicide. We can feel good about how we talk to friends and family. We can be aware of the warning signs and make a move if we think there’s trouble up ahead. We can line up some folks we trust who can connect with health professionals who know how to treat underlying problems like depression and/or anxiety disorder. Hell, we can just be a good friend.
A marketing pro whom I respect read the 2nd edition of Dead Serious over the holidays. (Yep, I snagged the title.) Maybe not the best time to read anything heavier than A Christmas Carol or to watch “It’s A Wonderful Life.” (If only it were so.) She thought the book was important and well done. But her gut told her that this is a book that people would much prefer to buy online or check out from their local library. She had a hard time envisioning readers walking up to the cashier at their local bookstore, smiling at the person behind the counter and plopping down their money for a book about suicide. They’d feel uneasy. Or maybe embarrassed. You know, like the boy buying his first copy of Playboy or a young wife sheepishly purchasing a how-to about kinky sex.
Well, the marketing pro may be right. I hope not, but what do I know? I just write the books and hope that someone else can help sell them.
But then, I wonder, what accounts for the fact that the 1st edition of the book sold almost 90,000 copies some three decades ago? There was no social media. No online book sites. No Twitter. No Facebook. No Instagram. And no ebooks to be downloaded at the library. Nope. People either bought a book at a bookstore or librarians bought copies to fill their shelves.
Mind you, thirty years is a long time ago. I’ve unearthed some of the yellowed accounting notices that I received from publishers back then. All they reported was whether the book had been sold in the U.S. or Canada, how many copies, and the price per each. And that was it. Translation: I don’t have a clue who bought the book or what motivated them. I didn’t receive any comments on my web site or customer reviews on Amazon. I was in the dark and will forever be.
You could do me a big favor and help clear things up. Walk right up to the bookstore cashier and, with a wide grin and charge card or cash in hand, tell her how long you’ve been waiting for a book like this one and how anxious you are to get home, stoke the fire, settle in to that cushy chair and have a good read.