Dear Amazon,

Thank you for your recent email suggesting I purchase my own book The League for the Suppression of Celery.

In the letter you say, “Based on your recent visit, we thought you might be interested in these items.” Indeed, I AM interested in a book I’ve written and you’ve probably astutely deduced this because I go to your site a dozen times a day to see what my Amazon ranking is and then depending on how big or small the number is I either brag to my friends about it or singlehandedly eat a large crab and artichoke pizza with extra cheese while watching re-runs of Desperate Housewives.

I mean, the book is good, yeah, but I’ve already read it. I wrote it. I wrote it and then I rewrote it something like twelve times because I wanted to make sure it was really great.

One of those rewrites was a “redraft,” a process that an author friend of mine suggested I try. “It will be really helpful,” he said. “It will give you a fresh perspective on the work,” he said. Both of those statements were true, but he didn’t mention it would also give me a raging case of carpel tunnel syndrome in one hand and introduce a plethora of new typos that I would have to diligently search out and destroy in subsequent editing sessions.

Unfortunately, I failed to catch one of those typos and it appeared in a few copies of the printed book which made it look like I don’t know the difference between “wear” and “where.” Which I totally do as illustrated by the sentence, “Where is the scarf I want to wear when I accept my Nobel Prize for Literature?” But I’m hoping, like misprinted stamps, those copies will eventually be worth a lot to collectors and sell on eBay for thousands of dollars.

Anyway, after a dozen and a half edits, the book was published! And after it was published I even bought a copy for myself because I wanted to make sure the experience from the consumer side was really good. Because, you know… customer service. I even read THAT copy. Which was cool because when you are on a bus and people ask you what you are reading they are totally impressed when they find out you’re reading a book you’ve authored.

Except they also tell you they’ve “always wanted to be a writer too” and you have to deal with one of these inevitable scenarios: 1) They want you to co-author a book with them loosely based on a memoir they wrote in high school; 2) They want you to write a book about an interesting thing that happened to them that they not only tell you about in agonizing detail, but also swear “it will make a great movie;” or a personal favorite 3) They’ve always wanted to write, but just haven’t found the time.

That last one always gets me because I have a full time job and I’m raising two kids and I volunteer in several local civic organizations. I wrote my novel on an old laptop balanced on a wobbly TV tray that was so tiny there was no room for the mouse, which I balanced on the arm of the sofa. All this took place in the living room with the TV blaring endless hours of SpongeBob Square Pants re-runs so my kids wouldn’t notice and immediately ask me to cook them something which is what usually happens the minute I sit down to write.

(By the way, one of my favorite episodes is the one in which SpongeBob gets all fan-boy over his jellyfishing idol Kevin and stalks him at a jellyfishing convention. For a week my youngest son and I would imitate SpongeBob’s starry-eyed greeting (“Hiiiii, Kevin…”) so frequently that finally he begged me to please stop calling him Kevin. It was a good joke while it lasted, though.)

So, yes Amazon, you are right… I am really interested in this particular book, but sending me the same invitation to purchase it five times in two months is a bit excessive. The first time, I thought it was cute and funny. But after this fifth time it made me start wondering exactly what is going on over there.

Is the problem the mathematicians? Because when it comes to purchasing my own book, I’m really not your target market. I realize they are math people, not marketing specialists, but even I know enough to understand there is probably some kind of magical thing they could do to the algorithm in math-speak to say “if this lady has purchased this book before, don’t send her mail to purchase it again because she probably won’t.” I know they can’t word it exactly like that and the line of code would have a lot of crazy symbols in it and probably an equal sign and/or something in binary maybe? But you get the idea, right?

I’m sorry I can’t be more helpful in this regard, but my experience with mathematics is limited to dating a guy who was a math minor in college and really clever with numbers. Not nearly as clever with relationships, though. Also, his cat would only drink water out of the tap from the bathroom sink and it drove me crazy, because did you know that 783 million people do not have access to clean and safe water?

Thank you for recommending my book to me. I hope you will also consider recommending it to other customers who will undoubtedly be delighted by a “smart, funny and entertaining read” that is “hard to put down at night” according to one of its many Amazon 5-star reviews.


Wendy Russ

PS. Tell the mathematicians the same customers might also enjoy Spongebob Squarepants.

Wendy Russ is the editor of Easy Street.