Selling Books

David Hume once said that his Treatise of Human Nature “fell stillborn from the presses,” because sales after publication were so miserable. He later wrote a couple of  shorter works titled An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding and An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals and they sold quite well. Ironically, the Treatise is today regarded as his most important and best work by far. But, believe me, I know how David Hume felt: waiting to see how the book will sell that you have watched move slowly into published form, how many people will actually read the words you wrote — or buy the book and make sure it has a prominent place on the coffee table — can be a frustrating experience. To say the least.

I have been fortunate enough to publish thirteen books, but with one or possibly two exceptions they have not done well. It is to be expected, I suppose, since I write about things that don’t interest that many people — I do not write pot boilers or romances. Serious topics are not everyone’s cup of tea. However, as thrilling and exciting as it is to watch your book through the many stages of publication, the period after publication can be hard on one’s ego, one’s sense of self-confidence, if the book doesn’t move off the shelves. Because no matter how much we tell ourselves that we don’t care if no one buys it, we do care! It’s a fact. It is some sort of validation, I suppose, but there it is. Most of us need it.

In any event, my most recent book, shamelessly promoted on this blog, has also fallen “stillborn from the press.” I never thought it would be a best-seller, but I did think some (many?) of my blogging friends would want to have the book. After all, it contains several hundred of the best posts I have written and it is dedicated to my Fellow Bloggers. But as someone asked, why would anyone buy the book if it’s available on the internet for free? The answer, I suppose is that it is a BOOK! It is something that one can hold in one’s hand and return to from time to time. One never knows when the words on the internet might disappear into cyberspace, or WordPress goes belly up and all would be lost forever. So I thought: why not preserve some of the posts that are worth preserving? I have written over a thousand blog posts, most of them not worth the time of day. In the case of this book, however, I carefully selected the ones I thought were worth preserving, those with the broadest possible appeal. And I have arranged them into chapters and placed an index at the end of the book to help readers find what they might be looking for.

As noted, the book was dedicated to my fellow bloggers who inspired me to keep writing and delighted me with astute comments from time to time. I named three specially who have “been there” for most of the blogging trip. But as of this writing only two bloggers have ordered the book and I must confess I am a bit dismayed. But then I recall that these are busy people who have lives of their own and who are also writing their own blogs and they may well have better things to do or they simply forgot. So I am writing this gentle reminder that the book is available at It will never do well, I am certain of that. But my hope is that it will do better than it has so far. Pity poor David Hume. It can be a frustrating experience.


Note To Readers:

Lisa suggested that I indicate how the Ellis Press web page works.  Go to the site and click on “Order Info.” Click on “Printable Order Form.” Print off the document and look for “Hugh Curtler.” Indicate how many copies you want (!), include your check (or a 20 pound note if you are in England and you dare) and send it off to Ellis Press in Granite Falls, Minnesota. They will let me know of the order and I will write an inscription and send the book to you directly. Ellis Press will pay for postage and handling.

If you prefer to use a credit card, the book is available on Amazon, though it may take a few days for them to process the information Ellis Press sent them. Note that books sold by Amazon will not bear my inscription.

I hope this helps. I am really not good at this sort of thing — as you can probably tell.





16 thoughts on “Selling Books

  1. Hello, dejected author!
    Well, as a publisher, for 13 years, of academic books and a journal (and 2 failed journals!) and now as a writer – I think I am very well placed to understand both sides of this sad tale! Even people who need and want a book for essential reasons often take forever to buy it. And publishers don’t always know how best to market it…
    I for one said I would buy but couldn’t use a card which, from England, makes it all the more difficult and I’m afraid in this age of buy-online having to go out to arrange an international money order/write and post a cheque is a big stumbling block.
    How about asking your publisher to set up a pay online system? They really should. It’s not difficult, I’ve done it once and am about to do it again. (And will be touting for sales myself in a few months’ time!)
    Good luck and keep your spirits up – and be patient. ,

      • Don’t like Amazon. Soooooo …
        Am going out now to our local Post Office a mile down the road to get an international money order. May walk, since it’s sunny. Next step, write a note, print out the form, get a suitable envelope. Assemble. Next step, take to Post Office to find out price off posting – pay – and post. Eventually, Hugh.




    OTTO SAYS: “In the end the development in itself is the reward for those of us who seek to express ourselves creatively or artistically.”

    Carry on, Hugh….carry on. I’m right behind you……

  3. Hi from the cyber, and this comment will most-likely join many others for your Selling-Books post! I see (now) that I missed seeing the “Huzzah” post, which revealed the title. I had checked Amazon several times and had found no new leads….

    Just now I followed the link to Ellis Press which showcases “Alone in the Labyrinth” but doesn’t give pricing info or an easy link to purchase… When going to the ‘order’ page, it puts you back to a generic hit/miss option, one that any of us who adore you would follow, but one only has a tiny slice of time to retain the attention of “Joe Curious.”

    There might be a small glitch to people who don’t have easy ways to send a check! I thought, “Check? Do people still use checks?” (I am a rare rare hybrid that just uses cash – easier here where the hamsters generate the electricity!)

    With graduation on the horizon, it should present an option to the ‘What to give the graduate’ gift dilemma.

    Anyhow, there’s a post about to go out, which mentions taking a break with a good book! Now I can link to your post!

    Am about to head to a meeting at a museum but wanted this brief time online.. I suspect that your sales will pick up once some reviews start circulating! That’s an incredible title, btw, which plays an important role in selling anything!

    • On the Ellis Press site click on Order Information and you can download an order form. The cost is $20.00 and Ellis Press covers the cost of mailing. If you need to use credit cards the book is available on Amazon. The title is “Alone In the Labyrinth.” Many thanks. (For you, it would be easier if I sent it to your son — no??)

      • Si; but to pass along the info to others, it’s good to know all of the details.. Thanks, Hugh, and I’ve yet to check email this session for that mailing address… Until next time online, perhaps at the end of today..

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  5. Hugh, thanks for your patience and link. I am in the middle of tax season, so I had set aside the order. I will fire it off today. I look forward to seeing it. Keith

  6. Dear Hugh! I have printed the order form, but not yet written the check and mailed it. I am so sorry for my delay, but I will be mailing it this weekend, for I truly do want my inscribed copy. And believe me, it will be READ, not just relegated to the coffee table (I don’t have a coffee table anyway 🙂 ) My apologies … like Keith, I am in the middle of tax season, but also having the vision thing, so I am behind even on breathing! Thank you for the reminder … and Hugh? Don’t let it get you down … remember that some of the greatest authors were only recognized posthumously. Wait … that didn’t come out the way I meant it to. We love you, Hugh!!! ❤

    • It is a busy time and I do recall you are having problems with your eyes. I do hope the latter is improving and that the former doesn’t tax you too much….sorry. And I know you are right. I tend to raise my expectations too high and find them dashed far too often. It’s a problem I hope to work on before I am posthumous. And believe me, the love is mutual.❤️

      • I think we all do that … human nature. It is the reason, I believe, that some people never follow their dream, whether it is to write a book, become a singer or an actor, or even a politician. The fear of failure. Hang in there … I am mailing my order form today!!! Meanwhile … here’s a HUG!

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