Michael Perry — The Jesus Cow

This book is FUN! It’s full of wonderful, quirky characters and situations. It all takes place in a tiny town at the off-ramp of the interstate somewhere in Wisconsin. You have a quiet, unassuming farmer, Harley, left with only 15 acres of his father’s farm. There is a literary professor turned environmentalist, living at the bottom of an old water tower on Harley’s land. A greedy developer is trying to buy up Harley’s property so that he can take advantage of the location off the interstate. A woman who is a hard working scrap metal yard owner shares the intersection. Harley’s best friend, Billy, lives in a trailer on a corner of Harley’s land with a multitude of cats. And there is this woman who shows up in a red pickup truck that turns Harley’s head.

One of Harley’s cows has a calf on Christmas Eve at midnight with an image of Jesus on its side. You can only imagine the kind of stir this causes.

The book is a romp. It’s Michael Perry’s fist novel, although he’s a bestselling author of nonfiction books. I hope he writes more fiction.

On Writing and Selling Books.

I love to write a new story. I don’t even mind going back and editing a few times or formatting and designing covers for publishing. I even do that for other people. But I don’t like marketing. I like doing a website or two (another thing I do for other authors), sending out a few emails, doing book signings here and there, but I don’t like selling myself and my writing.

The book I just published in June, Mangrove Madness, has been hanging around for years waiting on an agent and a couple of publishers to make up their minds about publishing. It might have gone through if I was better at selling. But instead, I got tired of waiting for something to happen, took it back, and published it myself.

It’s a mystery to me what sells a book to a major publisher or what makes it into a bestselling novel. I just finished reading (or partially finished) a book by a New York Times bestselling author. Within the first few chapters I had figured out who committed the murder the female PI was investigating. Plus, I knew she was going to lose her boyfriend because she was being so stupid and not listening to what he was saying. I checked the end of the book to see that I was right then put the book aside. How and why does something like that sell?

I know people who write much better novels who are self-publishing and selling very little. But the business of writing and the business of marketing are two very separate things. Most of my friends who write are not expert marketers. A few can do both. I guess I need to learn marketing or hire someone who is good at it.

Wish me luck with marketing my new book.