Those four words, along with the perhaps inevitable exclamation point, constitute the title of a remarkably useful little book. It’s got a subtitle as well, or maybe two: “How to Demolish It Forever and Establish a Productive Working Schedule in One Afternoon” and “A Proven System.”
In all the years LB’s Bookstore has been up and running, first on my website and more recently (and successfully) on eBay, its listings have been limited to my own books. With a single exception—this slim volume by Jerrold Mundis. I’m not sure when I first started selling it, but it’s been quite a few years now, and it’s been far and away our most popular item. Year after year, the one book I didn’t write outsells all the books I did.
So let me tell you about the book and its author.
Jerrold Mundis has been a self-supporting freelance writer for half a century, and a close friend of mine for thirty of those years. He made his bones as a writer of fiction, and has recently ePublished much of his early work, including his Shame & Glory saga of African-American slavery and freedom. More recently, Jerry has concentrated on non-fiction, emerging as an expert in two specialized areas. One is personal finance; his How to Get Out of Debt, Stay Out of Debt, and Live Prosperously has established itself as the classic work on the subject.
The other is breaking writer’s block.
There’s a longstanding principle that you teach what you need to learn, and it’s never been more obvious than in Jerry’s case. His own personal struggles with debt led to all his writings in the field of money. And a fierce ongoing battle with writer’s block gave birth to his technique for overcoming it.
After he’d refined his method, he began conducting intensive multi-hour one-on-one sessions with blocked writers. The method proved so effective that he was able to offer a money-back guarantee—and it didn’t cost him anything. No matter who his clients were—writers of fiction or non-fiction, novices or veterans, doctoral candidates who stalled out on writing their theses, businessmen unable to get out their sales letters—Jerry’s method got results. It worked.
He wrote a book about it, and in 1991 St. Martin’s Press published it as an 88-page hardcover, priced at $13.95. Books for writers almost always rack up most of their sales in trade paperback, so this was a curious decision on the publisher’s part, and the book did not set the world on fire. When it went out of print, Jerry bought up the remainder and stuck them in storage. But he didn’t have an outlet for them,and after a year or two he tired of paying the warehouse charges and told me he was going to have the lot pulped.
I liked the book too much to see it die that way. And I had LB’s Bookstore up and running by then, and thought this would be a good item to offer. It has indeed been our top seller, year in and year out. For most of that time we sold it for $19.95 plus $5 shipping, and when we shifted the store to eBay, we listed the book for $14.99, plus $3.99 shipping.
Then the other day David Trevor pointed out that we might consider putting the book on special, as our stock would otherwise last until sometime in 2045. He suggested a price point of $9.99.
“Don’t be a kitty cat,” I said, approximately. “Let’s make it irresistible. The eBook of Break Writer’s Block Now! is selling for $5.99. That’s too cheap for a brand-new hardcover, but so what? That’s the price. $5.99.”
And so it is. I don’t expect we’ll keep it that low forever. When David tells me we’ve cleared enough of our storage space, the price will go back up again. But I’ll guarantee it for 100 copies minimum.
It shouldn’t need a sales pitch, not at $5.99, but I can’t resist pointing out that, in an era when self-publishing has become a genuine option for everyone, it’s neither the unapproachability of agents nor the intransigence of publishers that’s holding you back. All any writer really requires is the ability to get the words written. To whatever extent that’s a problem, Break Writer’s Block Now! is the solution.
You may want to buy more than one copy. If you’ve got writer friends, or wannabe-writer friends, or a retired uncle who keeps talking about the memoir he wants to write, well, you can see where this is going, can’t you? And at this price you can afford to be generous.
P.S. While I’ve got your attention, let me mention Affirmations For Writers. This is the tape I developed in connection with the Write For Your Life seminar in the mid 1980s. It’s designed for repeated listening, and aims to help you change the way you think about yourself as a writer. (The music track is by Jeremy Wall, longtime keyboard artist with Spiro Gyra.) We’re offering it now as an MP3 download, priced at $9.99; because we deliver it by email, there’s no shipping to pay, so that’s the total price anywhere in the world.