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measuring success one Cottonelle commercial at a time

April 12, 2010

So I’m sitting here tonight, not writing, not reading, not doing much of anything except waiting for my youngest son’s night nurse to get here so that I can watch the Amazing Race with her before I go to bed. (Is that weird? We kind of have a ritual. We watch Amazing Race together and So You Think You Can Dance. I am also proud to say I got her hooked on Friday Night Lights.)

Anyway, I have the TV muted and I see a Cottonelle toilet paper commercial come on. For a brief second, there’s a guy dressed like a football player and he’s rubbing this roll of toilet paper down the side of his cheek. (His FACE cheek.) His eyes are closed and he’s got this look – like almost pornographic. He really, almost pornographically, loves this toilet paper. Then in a flash he’s gone and some puppy rolls across the screen and that’s that.

It made me think several things: A) How much did that actor get paid? B) Did he get paid more than I did for my first (or second or third) book? C) Are my books my own equivalent of almost pornographically rubbing toilet paper on my face? Or are they more like my own version of the girl in the Progressive auto insurance commercials (admittedly a HUGE step up from three seconds of toilet paper porn)?

I don’t know. I hope that for both my sake and the toilet paper football guy’s sake that we are both beyond testing the waters of our craft, but not yet at our peak. I think my books are great, just as assuredly he thinks his toilet paper enjoyment is great. I hope that each of my books reaches more people and a bigger audience, just like I’m sure he hopes he gets bigger commercials and maybe a bit part on Law & Order one day.

I don’t know if my books are my own equivalent of rubbing toilet paper on my face in a loving way or not. I hope they’re something more, but I don’t want to be narcissistic.

We all have stepping stones to success, but I guess once you start achieving that success your goals have to change. When I first started writing, I just wanted to finish writing a whole book. Then I just wanted an agent. Then I just wanted to get published. Now I just want people to like (and buy) my books.

If I am in the almost pornographic toilet paper face-rubbing part of my career, that’s OK. But hopefully I’m moving on to guest starring as the kind of familiar, but not quite recognizable person in the top right Hollywood Squares square. That’s a good goal to have, right? Cause after that, it’s a Lifetime TV movie role (which I think is the equivalent of having a publishing house pay to have someone make you a book trailer). After that, it’s gravy, baby.

Or, you know, a gravy-filled book tour sponsored by toilet paper everyone wants to almost pornographically rub on their faces.

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