In Consideration of Tiny
When I tell people I have a book coming out, the conversation generally goes like this:
"When does your book come out?"
"It's a little book."
"What do you mean?"
"You know, like a mini-book. It's tiny."
I hold my hands up in the shape of a small rectangle and smile nervously through the hole.
"Cool," they say, but I always sense a little disappointment.
"Great stocking stuffer!" I chime in.
This only makes matters worse. People can sense that I wish my book were bigger, but isn't it true that all men with little books wish they were bigger?
It's also true that tiny books are not a great financial value. No Costco savings with Boy of Mine. My book costs $12.95, and at fifty pages, that comes to almost 26 cents a page. That's directly comparable to Who Says Quack, a 16-page childhood favorite of my kids which costs $3.99, but includes pictures of barnyard animals.
Let's face it: mini-books have a stigma. Aside from associations with political manifestos and Jehovah's Witness pamphlets, most mini-books are either for kids or self-help.
Nobody minds forking out money for kids books, but if grownup books are too tiny, then it usually means they're the kind that are sold in little stacks on the bookstore checkout counter—impulse buys to boost our self-esteem while purchasing the bigger books we might begin but probably won't finish. Mini-books often sit next to the mini-chocolate bars and whimsical mini-faux-leather bookmarks. (For the record, I'd be happy to have my mini-book sold anywhere near a checkout counter. Getting a bookstore to carry my title is pretty much like knocking on a stranger's door and asking them politely if they'd be willing to bury your dead kitten.)
Boy of Mine is technically an essay printed as a book, but it still worries me that people might think I didn't have the attention span to write something longer. And that's more or less true. Ten thousand words was the limit set by the publisher, and it came as a relief because you try stringing ten thousand coherent words together and see how it feels. It took me two summers, if you count the first version which I sent to an illustrious New York City literary agent, who told me it could well be the worst idea for a book he'd ever heard of. After considerable sulking, I realized he was right, and that's when I climbed back on my mini-horse and tried again. Maybe little books are all I have in me? Maybe it's because all my life, I've been some version of tiny. That's me front row center, apparently sitting next to the second-shortest kid in the class:
I've been working for months to promote my tiny-book, and lately I'm wondering if I should ignore its literary merits and just go for more practical value. Perhaps a tiny book really can be better than a big book.
"You'll pick it up time and time again."
"As a flyswatter!"
"Can't find your facemask? Grab Boy of Mine!"
"Trouble social distancing? Buy a Boy of Mine Baker's Dozen!"
The other day on a bike ride, my daughter asked me why everyone called her cute. I didn't have a good answer, but I said, "Annoying, right? That's what people say when they see my little book."
Support Tiny Men Who Write Tiny Books!