We gave the typesetter the corrected pages in batches as more responses came in from the stars. In our correspondence we gave them only a month to respond. Finally we had all the corrections in, had substituted some stars for others, or else had a certified receipt that our unanswered letter had been received. However, it seemed like all the juice had been taken out of the biographies. They wanted everything controversial out, whether or not it was true was immaterial. But at least we were back in business. The typesetter ended up redoing a quarter of the book (at $6 a page), and we sent the corrections to the printer.
To print the changed pages cost us another $3900, but C'est la vie.
We decided that we were going to have to raise the price of the book. With a retail price of $19.95 we'd only get about $9 from the distributors and with our marketing costs, in addition to all the charges to redo the book, we were going to lose money big time. With mixed opinions we voted to raise the price to $22.95.
Meanwhile, all along we had continued to be nervous about our hopes for success. We'd still gotten only 2 orders from our mailing months ago. 2 out of 5000 was not a very good percentage.
"People are just flooded with junk mail these days, that's all," we had assured ourselves time and time again. "So we won't do a mailing to individual people anymore. We'll think of a new marketing strategy!"
We decided to try ads in the big tabloid magazines, like "The National Gossip!"
"They have millions of readers, right?" Unfortunately, when we called to find out the rates for advertising, we were told that a full-page ad was a mere $15,000.
"What about a teaser in the classified section?"
It was $30 a word, so we tried it.
"YOUR NAME IS FAMOUS -- find out why." : $210.
Personally, I thought it was a stupid idea. "Just be direct," I insisted.
The other kids agreed.
"But teasers are supposed to be a great selling device. I read a lot of articles about it. Trust me!" Dad insisted.
Mom shrugged, not wanting to rock the boat.
In the end, Dad won -- 1 vote to 4.
We got a lot of responses all right. We'd actually continue to get responses to that series of teaser ads for years to come, from practically every country in the world. Unfortunately, the responses were not exactly what we had in mind.
I'm sure a lot of intelligent people read those sleazy tabloids. Unfortunately, the ones that answered the ad were a little on the wacko side.
Someone enclosed 38 cents in an envelope and scrawled out in hieroglyphics, "pray for me."
"Tell me about the Lone Ranger," another letter said.
"Yes, PlEAse mak me famousee" quite a few letters begged.
"I know my name is famous! Send me $50 and I'll tell YOU why!" another one offered.
I refused to open them after the first couple of batches came pouring in. There wasn't one letter that we had even the most remote chance of getting an order from.
We did get a few nice reviews in some local newspapers from around the country. But most of the reviewers that had expressed interest said they weren't going to run the review until after they'd seen a copy of the finished book -- to make sure it was legitimate, I guess.
The printer called near the end of January. The books were on their way. They'd be in Eagle Rock in two days.
We had been very specific about the delivery, I should point out. Mom told them we worked out of our home. The printer assured us the trucking company delivered to "small publishers" all the time. They knew what they were doing.
But, of course, two days later Mom got a call from the delivery man.
"I can't come down Main Street," he grunted.
"Why not?" Mom gasped.
"Power lines are too low. I've got a 62-foot rig. I can't bring it down there!"
"Why did they send such a big truck?"
"Don't ask me lady. I just deliver the stuff. It's way in the back, with a hundred other shipments I gotta deliver. Look, you want the stuff or not?"
"Well, yes!" Mom was crying by this point.
"Well, lady, you're gonna have to come and get it. I'm at the gas station just outside of town. I'll be here for another hour. If you ain't here by then, I'm sending the stuff back."
And they called themselves Friendly Trucking?
We spent an hour and a half unloading boxes out of the truck into Mom and Dad and Suzie's cars, while the trucker sipped his coffee and periodically yelled at us to hurry it up, because he had a lot more stops to make.
Fifteen trips later we carried the boxes we'd stacked on the sidewalk into the house and dumped them into the living room.
"We'd better spread them out only one or two high so that the floor doesn't cave in," Dad warned.
By the time we'd finished, the living room was a sea of boxes. We were tired and sweaty, but finally, after all we'd been through, ASTAR Publishing Corporation was in business.