[How This Book Came To Be, A Letter From Thaddeus Golas Part 4]
At the beginning of 1972, I myself was about to enter a maelstrom, not from belief in portents and wonders, but from misreading social cues. I survived, and the book survived, but it took enormous strength of will to accomplish it. (This story of Joe C, the "publisher" of the first printing, is recounted fully in my autobiography.)
When the date for delivery of the manuscript to the typesetter was less than two weeks away, I quit my job so I could concentrate on the rewriting.
My studio had a refrigerator but no kitchen. For my one hot meal a day, I used a hot-pot to heat up boil-in-the-bag frozen entrees and vegetables, and then used the same pot to heat water for coffee. But now I had no money even for that and was half-starved during the last revision of the book, living on occasional sandwiches of Velveeta cheese and wheatberry bread. I could have gone to the home of friends for dinner, but that would have taken too many hours out of the day. I was in a frenzy of concentrated effort.
I revised the book completely. I cut up the Xeroxed version and spread the pieces on the floor, moving sections around. Then I pasted the pieces on regular stationery, leaving room for typed corrections and additions. I did a chapter a day until the book was done. Then I stopped revising, because I knew it would lose its spontaneous quality if I made the book any more literary.
I was using all I learned from working on hundreds of books as Production Editor for Ballantine Books and Fawcett Publications. In fact, I began to feel that everything I had ever done was contributing in some way to this one small book.
While waiting for the published books to arrive, I went to the library and made a list of two hundred bookstores, including all the stores that knew me as a salesman for Harper's in the mid sixties. I typed labels and prepared envelopes, ready to send out sample copies as soon as the book was delivered, with a note that it could be ordered from Book People, a distributor in Berkeley. I also prepared labels for major book-chain and department-store buyers.
(A year afterwards I learned that the sales manager of B. Dalton gave the sample copy to his secretary, who convinced him he should order it. Their computer automatically reordered books selling well, and B. Dalton for years accounted for about a third of the book's sales. I owe a lot to that secretary.)
I went to various bookstores in San Francisco, leaving one or two dozen copies on consignment. When I visited these stores a couple of days later, they were already sold out. As a former book salesman, I knew that was a miracle. The book was selling itself. There was no limit to the number it would sell. As I write this in 1995, The Lazy Man's Guide to Enlightenment has been in continuous publication for twenty-three years.
For the first time in my life, I felt like a man who had done his work.
How This Book Came To Be
A Letter From Thaddeus Golas
Lazy Man's Guide to Enlightenment Contents