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And now for some really jerky behavior

So a couple of weeks ago I was sitting with Mel of Stirrup Queens — I know! — talking about jerky.  But I'm jumping ahead.  I will get to the meat in a minute.

I've written before about how I sometimes get e-mail asking me to talk up certain products that might interest my readers.  Occasionally these pitches come from people who show some small familiarity with what I talk about here, so they're for things like baby clothes or children's music or intoxicating adult beverages.  Usually, though, they fall a bit wide of the mark.  "Dear Mommy Blogger," they tend to begin, "I enjoyed the humorous anecdote about your child or children that you have no doubt posted at one unspecified time or another.  I believe your blog would be a perfect venue for a review of our client's new product, the Blue Light Special™.  Driven by cutting edge technology our team of scientists call incandescence, the Blue Light Special™ is no ordinary electric prostate warmer..." 

And it goes on from there.  The pitches usually wind up with an offer of a giveaway or a discount to blog readers.  Which is nice, I guess, in these troubled economic times.  Who am I to say no to an extra 4.25" probe, absolutely free with purchase?  I mean, my God, it's dishwasher safe.

You will forgive me, I hope, if I sometimes fail to pass along the once-in-a-lifetime value.

Joking aside, I don't generally accept these offers for a few reasons.  First, as described above, they rarely dovetail with my interests or the theme of my blog.  Second, I feel I'd be undertaking an obligation I don't want: What if I don't like the product?  The PR people would hastily assure me that then they'd be just as happy if I pretended they'd never offered me an ass full of voltage.  But that feels weirdly dishonest to me.  So I avoid the whole issue by politely declining.  Or, uh, ignoring those e-mails.  You know, whichever.

Anyway, Mel and I were talking, and she asked me what the strangest product I'd ever been asked to pitch was.  Baked beans, I answered promptly.  (At the moment I'm reconsidering.  Maybe it's not that outrageous.  People eat beans.  Possibly even some infertile people.  See right there?  Synergy.  And I'd bet money that dog's been neutered.  He probably knows a thing or two about how it feels to have a jacked-up reproductive system.  Also to hump legs.  Synergy!)

Jerky Now, Mel, as most of you know, writes what is in my opinion the most thoughtful, perceptive, inclusive community-spirited ALI blog there is.  Which some crackerjack PR operative decided would be the optimal vehicle for promoting...beef jerky.

Mel's vegetarian.

She's also a writer, one who's worked for the last few years on a book about infertility.  Navigating the Land of If: Understanding Infertility and Exploring Your Options is the culmination of I don't know how many late nights and freakouts and figurative paper cuts and literal tears.  I want to celebrate its publication and its author: a great writer and an even better listener; the most generous blogger I know; someone who once called me a whore, making me laugh, and then hastily apologized, making me laugh even harder.  Someone who didn't punch me in the face when she listened to some of the things I said about infertility, which made me want to punch myself in the face when I thought about them later.  One of our own.

I'm proposing a virtual book party for Mel.  You're invited.  Read the book, write a review, talk it up — on your own blogs, sure, but also on major retailers' sites.  Ask your local bookseller to carry it.  Sneak Stride boldly to its shelf and face it out.  Leave it in hotel nightstands — the Gideons won't mind sharing.  Look, you can't buy that kind of publicity!  (Well, you probably can, but not without some snarky blogger squinting at your pitch incredulously and asking, "Baked beans?  Really?  No, seriously?")

I know a lot of us are already planning to buy the book.  (Mine hasn't shipped yet.  Screw you, Amazon Prime, with a dozen Blue Light Specials™.)  But in case you haven't ordered your copy yet, you can win one here.  Twenty winners will receive a free copy of Mel's book courtesy of the very nice people at Seal Press.

Post a comment to be in the running.  Winners will be chosen at random; please enter only once.  I'll do the drawing on Wednesday, April 29.  Then once people have the book in hand, we can talk about the unstoppable marketing juggernaut we'll mount on Mel's behalf.  I am holding my hand up to my ear, pinky and thumb extended.  Oprah!  Call me!

Like I said, I don't normally do this.  But considering everything she's done for the community, Mel is worth the exception.  I'm not worried.  I haven't read her book yet, but I'm pretty sure I'll like her jerky just fine.