Writing Moments – Do Your Neighbors Know What You Do?

OVer the past several years, I’ve written several books, edited books for several published authors, and been rather visible among publishers and authors in various locations, but locally, I’m known as the kid down the block. I’m no longer a kid, but they haven’t figured that out.

After one particularly lucrative job of editing a book for a well known writer, I received payment in the form of a personal check. That isn’t highly unusual, but it was a rather large sum of money, and I deposited it early one Monday morning. I understood the bank policy not to put cash directly in the account when a personal check is deposited, so I wasn’t surprised when the teller reminded me there’d be a three day delay on the deposit.

Imagine my surprise, however, about six hours later when a local law enforcement official came knocking on my door. He alerted me that he was here investigating check fraud, and although he didn’t have a warrant, he wanted to ask me a few questions. We laughed (I knew him well, and trusted him as a friend and law enforcement officer). I was curious about his questions, and his reason for visiting me, but was floored when he gave me more information.

He was investigating the deposit of a rather large sum of money into my bank account earlier, and wondered if I could explain the name on the check. I told him I’d edited a book for the writer, who sent me the check. He said, “Really, you edit his books?”

I invited the officer in and pulled the contract and manuscript from my files.

“Well, I’ll be daw-goned. You really do edit his books?” His eyes showed complete surprise, and I knew I was going to have to produce more proof.

I picked up the phone and dialed the number on the contract. “Hey-hey, got a minute?” I asked the man who answered on the other end of the line.

“Sure, what’s up Jani?” He asked.

“There’s an officer here, questioning the deposit I made earlier. Can you reinforce the contract, the manuscript, and your identity for him?” I asked, knowing the writer was going to have a hay-day with this incident.

“Sure, I can…” he paused.

I handed the officer the phone.

Each identified the other and they talked about the literary services I provided. Then the officer handed me back the receiver.

“Jani, how many times have I told you that you must MARKET what you do in your home town. If they don’t know what you do, who will buy your books?”

We hung up the phone and I chatted with the officer for a few moments. I’ve learned to plan “writing moments” in public places, where people recognize what I do, ask me about writing, and remember that I’m a writer. Now, they buy my books!

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