Thursday, May 31, 2007

Your thoughts?

First, let me thank you all for leaving comments over the last few months. My real life has been brutally time-consuming and stressful. Every time I get a comment, it reminds me that someone, somewhere was actually engaged enough by what I write to interact.

Oh, my favorite haiku was from David:
In turquoise pantsuits
they circle and wait for me.
The snow-birds return

Followed closely by FarFetched:
Crowded parking lots,
Sunday afternoon returns...
Rented it for free

I'd like to ask for a little help. Let's pretend - because I'm still not sure how this would/could work - that I want to write a book.

The blog posts are basically columns - despite their ranting nature. I looked at a Dave Barry book at Barnes & Noble -- and he has about 60-70 columns in there - with nothing linking them. I'm not saying I'm Dave Barry.

On the other hand, I don't think my meager talent extends to writing any sort of "War & Peace" opus set inside Wal-Mart. There's not really a continuing plot lines outside of the "I hate my job" and "Customers are mean." Jessica Simpson's "movie" (and I use the term loosely) with Dane Cook notwithstanding!

So what do you - the readers - think that a) a major publishing house would give me money for and b) people would actually pay $24.95 in a bookstore to pick up, take home and read?


Lisa B. said...

Yes to both questions. (Well, OK, I'd check the book out from the library instead of buying it, but I always do that!)

Your blog is also fairly well-known, which makes you a bit more "bankable" to the publishers. I say go for it.

Levi Levi said...

I would definitely include a column format, but when possible conglomerate the posts into chapters. For example, the first several posts (all about getting hired, trained, etc) would work much better as a chapter. Later on, as you become more involved in WalMart and get to do Customer Service, you could probably pump out a chapter chronicling how that happened and what it was like adjusting.


PS: I love trying to guess your age, race, etc. It's especially great when you tease with a few details, like mentioning that the store is in South Florida. Trynna figure out your indentity is definitely part of what keeps me reading.

Christi said...

Yes and yes. :) And there should be loads of folks out there that would help you pimp the book; you have a good strong fanbase, even if most of us are lurkers.

Sanne said...

First of all, I love the blog. When I discovered it back in august 06 I read back to every last post from the beginning. I am a lurker because I am not American and consequently I have never been in a wallmart. Wallmart would make our largest supermarkets like the neighborhood minimarket down the street.
So usually I cannot say anything more than "Wow, that's cool/funny/awefull" and well.... I don't like writing useless stuff.

I think you are really talented. The columns are funny and engaging. The strongest point in my view is how you bring the human element to life. You can discribe what happened in such a manner that also people who are completely unfamiliar with ghetto culture you discribe or american culture in general, can imagine the event and your frustration or amusement.
I think that's the most important thing to get a book to be liked by a wide audience.
Also people love to read about the stupidity of the human race.
I am dutch and a couple of years ago there was a book given out with the title: "I thank you from the bottom of my heart and also from my wifes bottom." It was entirely about the sometimes horrible english of my fellow dutch people.
Such tongue in cheek stuff holds up a mirror to ourselves.
And I think your writing does that too. The customer entitlement and rude nature of some people defenitely deserves a book.

Things that you should consider are if you would publish the book under a synonim or under your own name.
And even if you stay anonymous, if the book takes of there may be people in your own Wallmart who will recongize the events you discribe.
I would defenitely keep a book in column-format. It reads away easily. But that may be a matter of personal preference.
And some of the columns are a bit hostile. On a blog it is understandable since you were probably venting but it may not be marketable in a book. But you should discuss that with a publisher.
And get it into the American Bookstore so creditcard-less me can get her hands on it, ok? ;)

Good luck, I'm sorry for this super-long comment and the lousy grammar.

Wild Blue said...

Walmart is pretty popular in the news these days - I'd say your book would be a hit. You tell normal stories in a engaging fashion.

The only thing for certain is that if you don't try, the book will never been on the bookshelves.

kelmeister said...

Let me begin my saying I think you writing a book kicks all sorts of ass. This is your moment: look at the popularity of books like “The Nanny Diaries” and movies like “The Devil Wears Prada.” People are embracing work-place tell-alls, and as demonized as Wal-Mart is, I think the general public would respond well to your book.

Keep in mind I have never written a book, but I have worked in a number of bookstores and I am currently a librarian. With this experience under my belt I think I can safely advise you that the most important thing you must consider is who you want to play you in the inevitable movie version of your book.

Seriously, though, have you ever read "The SantaLand Diaries" by David Sedaris? Every Christmas season at the bookstore where I worked, one of the managers would perform a dramatic reading. If you haven't already read it, I think you should check it out to get an idea about how to "string together" some of your stories. It probably also couldn’t hurt to head over to the library and ask about other books dealing with work, just to see how other people have constructed theirs.

However, since your book would be based on a blog, one option that I've often imagined for your eventual book would be chapters of your columns (maybe expanded a little for length; maybe collected together in "WEEK ONE, WEEK TWO" format), interspersed with reproductions of receipts (identifying info removed, of course) or lists of things people have returned that week. Douglas Coupland often does this in his books; check out “Microserfs” for examples.

Another angle you could approach the book from could involve including chapters about how Wal-mart actually operates. I’m always fascinated by those entries you do when you talk about sales, loss figures, corporate polices and the like. Talk about some of the people you work with: are they struggling with pay/insurance, do you find that most of the people you work with are doing it out of desperation or for a second job like yourself? Barbara Ehrenreich, in her book "Nickel and Dimed," worked at a Wal-Mart in Minneapolis. I'm just saying that if you wanted to go overboard with your book, publishers might be interested in an exposé, in which you could include research about people who work and shop there, interviews with sociologists and economists. Do you ever read They always have awesome insider info about Wal-Mart that could provide grist for your book.

I agree with Sanne, though: one of the big things you’re going to have to decide early on is if you’re going to tame your fiery wit, hahaha. It’s entirely up to you. A publisher may say, “The sarcasm and anger that works on a blog may not sell in a book.” But you have every right to say, This is who I am, and I’m not changing. I guess it’s a lot like Gordon Ramsey and Simon Cowell in that respect. A publisher may embrace it wholeheartedly. Who knows?

But I would definitely buy your book. And I would buy it from a Wal-Mart, just for irony’s sake, and to see if the space/time continuum would implode or something.

Rob the Webkahunah said...

I think compiling your blog entries into chapters with clever titles would make for a book that many publishers would give a signifigant portion of their anatomy for. Considering that you already have titles in place for many of your "sub catagories" like "howler monkeys" and "women of a certain age"

add in some original content introducing each chapter and I think you've got yourself a best seller.

Remember... your book would have two things going for it that are very popular right now: a disdain for wal-mart, and really, really stupid people.

I will admit though, 24.95 is a little steep...but I would totally buy it to show my support for you. I would probably still buy it in paperback if I had no idea who you were, though... I have scads of paperback books about mankind's inherent stupidity.

Erin Bradley said...

Yes. And yes. One thing that might help you with plot/structure/etc. is to remember that you can riff on the concept of rants a little to include stories that are sad/happy/bizarre/poignant/etc. It's less limiting, you know what I mean? Most of your stuff already either is that or has that possibility, so keep that in mind as you're thinking about a full-length book. Also read a fuckload of memoirs. "Gig" is a good one - a collection of short essays of people writing about their jobs.

coneja said...

A book would be a great idea. You could do sort of a guide book format: What Not To Do at the Wal-Mart or something to that effect. That could let you group similar misadventures into chapters.

I second the idea of putting in reproductions of receipts with funny explanatory notes.

I hope you do write a book! ^^

Steve said...

This is an awesome idea! I think you could do a couple of things, either go through your experiences chronologically as a sort of "biography" of your time at Wal-Mart, or just take your columns and organize them into chapters. You should definitely do it, you could point to the traffic of your blog site if a publisher needs any indication how popular this would be.

Anonymous said...

I highly recommend you write your book. However, I agree with taking out some of the comments about wishing ill on people. It fits well in your blog, but not as much in a book. Also, you might want to consider that if you do get the book published, there is always a possibility of lawsuits, so consult with a legal professional first.

I think organizing the chapters into "howler monkeys", "women of a certain age", and whatnot would be a great idea. It would eliminate the chronological order that you would have if you just took everything from the blog and put it into book format. Also, you might want to write a short intro at the beginning of the chapters to define what you mean by "howler monkey" etc.

Oh, and if you do get your book published, I would expect your job at the Wally World to come to an end for any reason they can find to fire you at any point in time.

DolfanDad said...

I love your blog and I would definately spend money on a book, but you would need to start saving some stories for the book that you can only get there because if I could basically read your whole book here there isn't much of an incentive. As for publishing groups, I think you just need to find the right one. But the only you are really going to be taken seriously in my opinion is to write a manuscript.

I agree with previous suggestions that you would definately need to re-organize all posts into specific chapters. Anyways, good luck!

Anonymous said...

I don't have any useful advice for writing a book but I'd buy it and read it. I love your blog! I check in every day to see what new shenanigans are taking place at Wal-Mart. And like another poster said, you'll never know until you try.

grundes said...

I can't say for publishers, but I'd read the book, although I'm not sure if I'm going to buy it for $25.

I also think a column in a magazine might work. You could merge several posts under one theme for each issue, like "10 scams to get cash instead of credit that won't work" or "puke and other bodily excretions on the floor" etc.

peacemongermom said...

Here's a link to a woman who has a blog that was very recently turned into a book - you might contact her - she may be able to put you in the right direction in terms of how she did it, who she talked to, etc.

Good luck!

Noncenx said...

I check you blog everyday for a new post, kind of a daily fix along with FARK but I can't say I would pay for a book of Wal-Mart snippets. You are an extremely talented writer but I can't say the subject would be worthy of a book. A blog is the perfect medium for this, the only trouble is you don't get paid.

You mentioned Dave Berry, what makes him popular is the humor he can weave into most every situation. While I enjoy your posts they're not funny in the sense of anyone laughing in a good natured way, they're more of "attacks" on stupid people. While everyone can relate, I don't think if would be something people would be willing to pay for.

Just my opinion.

Also, I saw this earlier...something else to keep in mind

"Wal-Mart Cashier Says He Was Fired Over MySpace Bomb Joke",2933,276592,00.html

yoyo said...

I think you should go for it!

There was a brittish paramedic who wrote, writes a blog, (
and the best excerpts of his blog were turned into a very good book.

Your writing is so good, and the bizarre and scary things that happen to you so..readable (sorry..) you could deffinately make this happen.

Anonymous said...

I definitly buy it ... for all the time I said to people around me.. you shoul read this blog... having the book in my hand should be more apealing...

Sorry for my bad english...

Florabora said...

I think this a viable idea. You might have to fictionalize it up a bit. Have you read any of the columns/books by Hollis Gillespie? She writes for the creative loafing publications in the south east. I think if she can sell her books - you should have no problem (except, maybe, in wally world)

Kim said...

Yes, I would buy it. From Wal-Mart, of course. And then I would return it. ;)

Anonymous said...

You should take a look at this...

Tyler said...

I definitely think you could publish this. I have no idea how much material is required to substantiate a book, but I'm sure you're most of the way there. The stories are funny, cheeky, and are loosely enough connected that you don't have to read them in any order for them to be enjoyed.

If you're not able to solicit your creation to any major publisher, you could always use to publish it yourself. Anyone can buy it directly from that site, and it's only printed when it's purchased, so there's no contract or sales requirements.

FARfetched said...

Two things:

1) Look at all your posts and decide which ones you want to include in the book. You'll probably find an order that suggests a narrative or story arc.

2) Get an agent.

You might want to check out The Kossack's Guide to Book Publishing as well — at worst, it will give you leads to agents worth dealing with.

Good luck! I'll grab a copy for sure!

Anonymous said...

Go for it! I'd read it, and I'd certainly reccomend it to anyone whose ever worked or been in a store before.

Anonymous said...

For the love of god please publish the book. Everyone can relate to being in a Walmart and seeing all these whackos you write of, but not to the extent of being forced to interact with them like you are. I would totally buy your book.

Sarah said...

I think a book is a great idea! I second if you decide to go the self-published route. It would be great if there were unique stories, that are only in the book. I don't think many people would pay to read what they can read on your blog. At the same time, I don't want you to stop bogging because it is so entertaining. I check it every day!

amyd said...

Oh, man! I am lending my support to the book idea. I think kelmeister has the best advice. I personally am a long-time lurker, first-time poster, and I love your stuff! Yeah, maybe tone it down a bit mean-wise, but the chronological idea is good. I actually read all your past entries in order, and it was nice to see some follow-thru that way with certain events.

mreighties said...

I work at WM in the back and hardly ever know whats going on in other areas of the store. I enjoy reading your blog cause it gives me insight to what you (working behind the counter) go through every day you are on the clock.

I would buy your book in a heartbeat and (if you are still working at WM) would hope this blog is still here to read about your future experiences.

MrE :)

Tenacitus said...

About two months ago I was listening to NPR (because that's what I do) and the discussion was about bloggers who have transformed their blogs into blooks - blog books, or books based on blogs.
Absolutely you should go for it. I've thought about it myself from time to time but, as you say, the "I hate customers" theme can't or shouldn't be the whole of it.
The format and eventual theme, I have found, usually reveals itself through the writing process, not the other way around. Tell your story; the rest will come naturally.

Anonymous said...

Wil Wheaton made a pretty good book out of his blog a few years ago..."Just a Geek". Maybe that's a model in a way... though yours wouldn't be a biography.

Jina said...

By George I have the money saved just tell me when it's going to be released!!!!! I will buy the first hardback copy out of the box. I'll read it cover to cover 100 times and I'll be your best advertisement :) I think it would work best as a biography format, maybe beyond the incidents at work. i wouldn't take out any of the flavor you post in your blog (wish ill on people all you want!!!) it's part of your charm, and makes it that much more comforting to know i'm not the only service desk employee who really does envision thoughts about hoping their car has a small gas leak and has caught on fire from a cigarette butt someone flicked out the window of their pinto while they are screaming at you about the TV they bought a year ago that went out but they want you to do something for them - even though they have no reciept, no box, but by God they have the 2 year service pamphlet, therefore somehow they are entitled to a new TV even exchange...

ohh... I really do like my job ;) it's the HUMOR of it. It's why I love my job and why I love reading my posts. Then maybe - perhaps - people who have never worked in service will beable to begin to understand that the world does not revolve around them, and our job is harder than they imagine.

I really admire your writing and I really hope you DO write a book. Would you consider doing book signings????

Anonymous said...

Trust me, you need to publish this stuff. It'll be a cult hit. I was recommended to your site, word is getting around

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
High-Maintenance & Hostile Heidi said...

Not only would I pay $24.95 for a copy of your book, I'd buy copies to give to all of my friends, relatives and co-workers at Christmas! I've already steered many of my friends to your blog, and they LOVE it!

I wouldn't "tone" down the "meanness" either because you're not really that mean, especially considering the idiots you encounter on a daily basis. I think there's a lot worse things you could call somebody than "fat cow" or "women of a certain age" or "howler monkey."

To be honest, if you didn't have such witty comments about the annoying customers you deal with, there would be NO blog or story because no one wants to just read "a woman returned a jar of recalled peanut butter."

As for remaining anonymous, you can always use a pen name. Of course, if you get rich and famous from your book, you probably won't need your job at Wal-Mart, anyway. :)

Linda said...

Since I live down the street from a WalMart and have watched it slide from bearable to totally uninhabitable, I love the blog (I too just read and enjoy). I'd also add a chapter of things people tell you. Like the lady in front of me on a very late Sat. night who had the cashier ring up 2 items, then subtotal, 2 items, subtotal. Then at the end, she started deducting things she didn't want to add more to it.
I'd also support you as I have had at least $25 worth of reading and laughing. Only those who frequent WalMart would believe your stories.
Thanks for the laughs.
Linda in Texas

Katie said...

What do you have to lose? Go for it!

heather said...

You should definitely try to get this blog published in book format. You are a talented and original writer. Good luck.

Dawne said...

YES! Your writing is fantastic :)

Anonymous said...

Yes yes, I would definitely pay. I would pay to even read your column. You should put a donation button on the side or something (either from amazon or paypal).

Beverly said...

I have to say, I have laughed myself silly reading some of the stuff you've written about. I work at a small community college in the south and I get my share of crackpot questions so I can certainly relate to your (rather often) feelings of dismay at the sad state of fairs in America. I do go to Walmart because we don't have a Target or anything else to choose from with the exception of Family Dollar or Dollar General and their stuff is even crappier and more cheaply made than Walmart's. I have sent your blog to all my friends and have laughed so hard I cried. I would most definitely pay $18.88 - isn't that the walmart pricing scheme? - for your collection of stories...

tho I doubt seriously that Walmart would sell it so I would have to go to Target or Amazon. You are hilarious and witty and I love it.