Cigarette Money

To my astonishment, my novel girl has already received eight superlative reviews on Amazon——and most everyone who has read it has enjoyed it immensely. Even my mother, who said my previous books were “not my cup of tea,” enjoyed it, and she’s very particular about her tea and the cups in which it is served.

Yet sales have been unimpressive. I’ll be lucky to make cigarette money on my royalties, which is particularly disheartening since I don’t smoke.

At the suggestion of my publisher, I stuck my ingrown fungus-infected toe into the cesspool of social media to promote my book. I have numerous Facebook friends, Linked-in links, and even a couple dozen Tweet followers, but I don’t think my efforts have led to more than a few sales. A supremely talented Afrikaans poet, who lives on a remote South African farm and a British author of some renown both loved girl. Maybe my efforts would result in greater sales, if I devoted more time and effort to alerting the social media of my every thought, coming, and going, creating a Proustian Remembrance of Things Present, 140 characters by 140 characters. I prefer, however, to practice law and write, and I find marketing my books vaguely degrading.

The more I explore the social media, the more I fear that we’re approaching a tipping point where there will be more writers than readers. Everyone, who’s not flogging a book, seems to be spending most of their free time on their phones. According to a recent study, ten percent of those surveyed admit to checking their phones while having sex, and we are left to speculate how many don’t admit it. I’m not saying that girl is always better than sex, but it’s certainly better than the kind of sex during which one or both participants feel compelled to check his or her phone.

I could go on and on, perhaps even hitting an entertaining stride, but query is anyone reading this blog? If you are, let me know, and I’ll be more amusing in the future.

In the meantime here are some snippets from Amazon reviews:

WOW… one of the best books I have read in a long time.

This book will be one that I’ll probably re-read.

If current events, incredibly memorable characters, shocking content and a compelling storyline are your idea of a good read then you’re in for a real treat with “girl”. With the wit, talent, storytelling skills of the expert litigator Chan provides us with insight encapsulated with human emotion that is driven by anger, pleasure, sex, drugs, politics and family.

I was riveted by Hannah’s saga, which ranges widely across the geographical and moral landscape. I’ve admired Mr. Chan’s earlier novels as well, and this one maintained his high aesthetic and linguistic standards… It is just a matter of time until this author breaks into a much wider audience.

Great premise. Chan gives us a serious challenge to our notions of morality and piety wrapped inside a super-high tension battle for mental and physical survival, relieved at just the right moments with observations and literary allusions that are funny, witty and wise. No way to put this down after you read page one.

girl follows 25 years of an extraordinary woman’s life. Gorgeous writing, lyrical and revelatory, infuriating and hilarious, thrilling and touching, an absolutely beautiful book.

A jolting, unforgettable voice, girl has a raw energy we all responded to. It has real lyrical qualities even though the subject matter can be shocking.

Compulsively readable. The heroine’s twenty-five-year journey from fifteen-year-old rape victim, rejected by her family, to survivor, to charismatic leader would be excruciating if it weren’t for Chan’s lapidary prose and lacerating wit. I can’t think of another author who alternates between breathtaking satire and profound insight as deftly as Chan.

I look forward to your comments, positive or negative, and if you read girl, I’d love to hear what you think. I can be emailed directly at


Filed under writing

4 responses to “Cigarette Money

  1. “The more I explore the social media, the more I fear that we’re approaching a tipping point where there will be more writers than readers.”

    I hate to break the news to you, but we’re already past that tipping point. The number of self-published titles in 2013 increased to more than 458,564, up 17 percent over 2012 and 437 percent over 2008. A couple years ago, 60 percent of Americans admitted to not reading a novel, while 40 percent of college graduates claimed to never crack another book after graduating. Those numbers are only increasing. In short, there are more books in print today than there are readers.

    I caution you in reading the data provided in this article—The Ten Awful Truths About Book Publishing—(you may stop writing altogether):

  2. Yes I’m reading. And yes I’m writing too. Sadly I think we might be past the tipping point as well. But on the positive side I do absolutely love reading. And writing.

  3. I agree with Sheila above, Mr. Chan. We do what we love. Don’t lose hope. Reading and writing are rewarding in a myriad of ways.

  4. Reblogged this on Prospective Perspectives and commented:
    An insightful blog on publishing and marketing for the 21st century writer

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