Yes, yes, yes …. I SHOULD be on Oprah. I know that because EVERYONE tells me that. And I know that because FIRST COMES LOVE, THEN COMES MALARIA is true and riveting, uplifting, motivating and ever-so-slightly spiritual – all things Americans need right now. Plus, it takes place in Africa, touches on themes of racism, sexual abuse and overcoming hardships – all things that Oprah loves. Yes, of course! My book would be perfect for Oprah.
Well, guess what? Every other author in America (possibly in the entire world) thinks their book should be on Oprah. And, if they’re any kind of writer at all, they have a list as compelling as mine as to why it ought to be.
Hey, besides world peace and a guarantee of lasting health and happiness for my family, there is nothing I’d like more than to get that phone call from Oprah. (I hear the phone call from Oprah comes with a guarantee of lasting health and happiness.) There are probably few things my publishing house would like more. And there are few things less likely to happen. Let’s face it, getting your book chosen for Oprah is about as likely to happen as winning the lottery or getting hit by lightening. And there’s not much that most of us ordinary Jane and Joe writers can do to increase those odds.
Recently someone told me they were “disappointed” in me because I hadn’t gotten my book to Oprah yet! Like was I supposed to excuse myself the last time I was having dinner at Oprah’s house, sneak off and tuck a copy of FIRST COMES LOVE, THEN COMES MALARIA under her pillow with a little love note???? Someone else suggested I send Oprah a copy of my book – along with a stuffed penguin! (No, I don’t get the whole Oprah/penguin thing, either.) What do people think? I’m sure my publicist – like every other publicist in America – has or will pitch my book to Oprah’s people at some point. And yes, I’ll probably send her a copy and a lovely, endearing note myself. (Hey, a girl’s gotta try, right?) But c’mon … let’s all be real here.
While getting your book chosen by Oprah can certainly guarantee a HUGE readership for your book, we have got to let go of it as the ultimate measure of success. Because if getting to Oprah is the yardstick, then there’s an awful lot of great writers out there (most, by the way) who might just as well pack it in right now. We all can’t sit on Oprah’s couch (we wouldn’t fit). But there are a lot of other readers out there – millions, actually – who we can get to. And while their endorsement might not guarantee us riches and continued publishing success, it certainly can be affirming and encourage us to continue to do what we do. And if we write because we love to write or because we have a story that we just MUST tell, then we can be grateful for affirmation and encouragement wherever we can find it.
P.S. Of course, if you happen to know Oprah’s address, do send it along. Also, know where I can get the perfect stuffed penguin?