. Enjoy the people who have made up the mosaic of The Last Block in Harlem.
My first book, The Last Block in Harlem, before it was picked up by Amazon Encore, the new publishing venture from Amazon, was originally self-published.
I took it to the streets of New York City, literally putting ten books in my bag each day, walking up to people and asking if I could present my novel to them.
I took pictures of people after I sold the book to them as I made my way through the streets of New York.
It was one of the great experiences of my life.
Below are images of people in the street I sold my first edition to, along with pics people started sending in from around the world. If you’d like to see pics of people from around the world with the 2nd edition of the book, Click Here.
This one kind of hurts right now because its from Sunny Arizona. The woman holding up the book now, mother of two, is the sister of a kid I used to play little league baseball with and eat sliced oranges. When she heard about the book, she reached out right away cross country and ordered herself a copy. At least something, somewhere is getting some sun. Nice.
Heeelllloooo Brooklyn! The elements have nothing on this Park Slope lit lover as she braves the snow to sport her copy of The Last Block in Harlem. Thanks for the love, its spreading.
The woman read the first line before she bought a copy, handed me 10 bucks, then just cracked it open and started reading it right there. I walked across the street and watched her read my book for about 10 minutes. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life.
The Man was about to hope on a plane back home to dublin. He really enjoyed the fact I was walking around with my dream in my bag, and told me that he had many a story to tell as well. Sir, if somehow you read this or anyone you know notices you in this picture, please get in contact with me. You were the first to bring the book to Ireland.
Talk about global reach. This was taken at Chingis Kahn Square in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.
She was one of those pretty women in New York sitting alone and, for some reason, just looked like she had done a bunch of shopping but had yet to buy anything that actually satisfied her. I told her what I usually tell about a hundred people each day and she took interest and really enjoyed being part of the whole journey. I found that, quite often, people wanted to buy the book to be part of my journey. Each person who took a chance on me has indeed become part of me. No matter what I go on to do, those early days pounding the pavement in New York will resonate deep inside of me.
This one was one of the sweet one. This guy here was enjoying his book, but was listening to me trying to sell to the people on the next bench. They were both carrying pretty expensive handbags and looked at each other after I gave my pitch. “Were in the middle of a very important conversation,” they said. I moved on to this guy here and he bought a copy right away. These are the best sales for sure, as the people who passed me by must feel a little silly about turning away such a unique moment. For me, I remember someone selling their books in the subway on my way home from whatever advertising gig I was working at the time. I bought a copy, but was struck how this guy was out there doing what I thought to be amazing. I cant stand still, so I decided just to approach folks. People such as this guy make it all worth it.
Time Machines. The woman reading this book was, at one time, the girl on the other side of the classroom in high school. She was there for countless emails about the process of the book and, when she heard it was done and ready, ordered a copy off my site and brought some love out to Cali. Amazing how literature can connect you to people who you never thought were paying attention at all. The satisfaction of seeing this woman reading my words is far beyond finances. Connection.
Mother and daughter. Mom was visiting from Italy and didnt speak any English whatsoever. The daughter translated what I was doing, and mom bought one for herself and one for her daughter. The book went with mom on the plane back to Italy the next day. Have hustle will travel.
She said she was buying it because she wanted to see her daughter what it meant to live their dream. One of the more amazing things I heard while doing this. Her smile was amazing. I think that on this day, I went 3 hours without selling a copy. My feet were tired and I was thinking about how stupid I was for doing it this way. There were moments like that when it was close to 100 degrees and I felt insane. Then, someone smiles at you and you just feel incredible. I hope that she kept it and, well, that the first edition will indeed be worth a good amount of something. The experience itself, even as I recall it now, is something that is very hard not to have anymore. The past will never be again, which is why there is a future to look forward to. Yes.
This guy was very classy. He was in the middle of a giant shoot with a bunch of models (thats who is on the bus in the background) and he said he only had 2 seconds. I took 10 and he smiled, got himself a copy, and posed for a sweet pic. Everyone else waved me off, but this guy took a chance and kept me going through the day. it was one of those long, hot New York Summer Days, so people such as this man were more helpful than a decent glass of water. His vanished back into the bus. Gotta admit that I was thinking the bus full of models was going to come running out asking for a copy, but alas, its New York not Hollywood. Next book.
Every once in awhile, there is a picture that comes in of someone with the book that just throws you back. This young woman, a devourer of literature, stacked up all her friends next to her and posted up against the wall to take in The Last Block in Harlem in her Los Angeles home. To even be close to any of the folks in the stack is an honor, and one of the joys of my life. Much thanks for this shot, its in my mind as I go through my day.
This family was on a trip from Iowa. I usually didnt stop people who were walking, but for some reason I could feel that this guy wanted a direct interaction with the city. When I stopped him and pitched, he was very interested and couldnt wait to support.
Woman. Sundress. New York. Daytime. Something to read? You gotta have it, right? She said she wasnt that into having pictures taken of her, but when I took the picture, she gave on of the better shots!
I just remember the unusual glow following these two around.
She was sitting with a guy in the park. The guy waved me away as he wanted to continue talking with this girl. As I turned to leave, she asked to see the book. After cracking it open, she handed over 10 bucks. The guy looked like he was going to cry. Lesson learned: support literature or get cut out of the story.
Sometimes when youre walking around the streets of New York City selling books, you just have to feel your way and go with where you believe the people are to buy your book. These two were having a smoke in front of their hotel about to hit the sidewalks for an adventure (they were from London I believe) when the adventure found them. We talked for a good 15 minutes and the energy they gave me kept me going throughout the day.
This gentleman was one of the first to support the effort. Even before I took to the street, when the first run was first off the press, he met me over a turkey melt and a cup of coffee and picked up 3 copies. We had worked toegether in the past, and he kept me going when I had tired eyes from gettig up at 5 to write this beast. He is one of the good ones walking around on this planet. St. Louis represented well.
This guy was having a pretty rough day when I walked up to him. He kind of lost himself in what I told him I was doing and didnt think twice about picking up a copy of the book. The woman next to him, I cant remember what she said, but she wasnt into getting a copy. Mattered not. You must hustle to keep your dream from only staying a dream.
Cool couple. The both had the same posture. They asked a million questions about how I did what I did, but in the end, got a copy and wished me well. I think they were pretty high society but trying not to be when in public. Does that make sense? Thats a great part of this city is that you really dont have to try to hard to be who you are. Just be you and someone walking around selling their novel might step into your life.
Looked to me like they are on their 3rd date. Just moving into something serious. Ah, summertime in New York. The best thing about this is just walking up to people and finding out their stories. I think people who come here come here because amazing things can happen if you open yourself up to them. These two are probably out making future models right about now.
Amazing. Usually I never stopped people who were walking by, but they were just glowing and I figured what a great addition to their day – a book. So, I stopped them and asked if I could present my novel to them. We talked for a while and they walked away with my book and became part of the story. I watched them go with my book, looking until they vanished back into the city. Beautiful from the inside.
Some Women in New York as just put together and ready to accept new things in their lives. She was enjoying the moment on her park bench when I presented to her. She smiled. I think she was a writer herself and enjoyed the fact that literature was still in the hands of the people. Well, see, she is the people, so in her hands. Anyhow, that was the vibe from her. Fantastic.
One of my favorites. I think he had just finished shopping or something. I had tried to sell to someone sitting on the bench next to him and she told me, well, to get the hell away from her. No matter. I walked up to him and he looked like he had just been presented something better than he had seen all day. Now, I wasnt about the money on this other than making back my investment and helping to pay the bills, but he thought that 10 was too little to spend on the book, so he laid 15 on me. It wasnt the money, but the value he put into my words.
Somewhere near 23rd and Broadway. She was waiting for him, but while she waited, I sold her a book. He walked up with my signing the book, but he was cool and secure in himself and their love. I snapped a shot of the both of them. New York. Only in. Could have turned out very different but the path was good. Nice.
These two were sitting under their favorite tree. It was the birthday of the woman with red hair. Her best friend thought it appropriate to give her the book as a perfect birthday present. After all, how many times are you sitting in your favorite place in the world and a present just, well, presents itself to you. They were laughing at the moment as I walked away. New Yorkers, after they think they have seen it all, are always very amused when they see something new.
This guy was great. He didnt say anything, just bought a copy to read with his morning coffee. Nice.
“See there son, you can do whatever you want. WHATEVER!” Amazing.
She was deep into her own world, but thought enough of the one I was presenting to her to come out of it for just a little bit. People who dont take off their sunglasses are tough to sell to because you have know idea where theyre looking. Still, a very cool woman.
Sometimes the city writes the captions for you.
This guys birthday. She bought it for herself. The fact that his wife of over 50 years was happy was present enough for him. Now get away from me and let me enjoy with my wife. Good Luck.
Another of my favorites. This guy was directing a movie or something. During a break, I walked up and did my thing. “You got a lot of balls,” he said. “Coming up to me and talking to me. Nobody does that.” Never wanted to be nobody.
I dont remember how I did this one, but they were running. What?
This woman was one of my angels of the city. I saw her nearly every day while selling. We talked often. She never had 10 dollars with her. She would always be reading a different book. I never pressured her to buy because I enjoyed the conversations and the energy she gave me. One day, she bought a copy. A few days later, I happened upon her and saw her just finishing my book. Amazing. A few months later, she invited me up to her apartment to meet her husband and the 3 of us had coffee.
On this day, I think it was around 95 degrees. I was sweating like crazy. Still, they listened and didnt think I was a mad man. I think I sold 5 copies to the next five people I talked to. I should have taken them with me.
They were about to hop on a plane ride back home. England I think. Double banger – they picked up multiple copies. International distribution at its most grass roots.
I think this man was an architect on his way back to Mexico after some big meeting here in the city. The women seemed to hang on his every word. He was one of those guardian angels to let me know I should keep going.
This guy has one of the greatest jobs I ever heard of: He makes the animated stars at the Space Show in the Museum of Natural History
Woman. Dog. Coffee. Book.
“I only read non-fiction.” Perhaps this will change your mind. “Perhaps.”
Great dad. His son, in that age of not wanting to do anything, opted out of the photo, but this guy was right on. He loved the idea behind selling your books just walking up to people and wanted to be part of the dream. Very cool. I remember his kindness.
This was her first day ever in New York. Welcome.
Not sure why, but its usually the woman half of the couple that buys a copy. Look at how much they match.
Mom and daughter. Mom is from Italy. Doesnt speak a word of English. The daughter bought a book and translated to mom about what was going on. Mom picked up a copy. Viva Italia!
Mom and daughter sharing a moment in New York, taking a piece of Harlem home with them.