Margaret Hair: No other book like it

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Margaret Hair

Margaret Hair's column appears Fridays in the 4 Points arts and entertainment section in the Steamboat Today. Contact her at 871-4204 or e-mail mhair@steamboatpilot.com.

Key points

Joanne Palmer book signing, for "Life in the 'Boat," a collection of her columns for the Steamboat Pilot & Today

¤ 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday

¤ Epilogue Book Co., 837 Lincoln Ave.

¤ Free

¤ 879-2665

— Steamboat Pilot & Today columnist Joanne Palmer will not hype her newly published book, "Life in the 'Boat," herself. So, I am doing it for her.

Here is what we came up with in a Tuesday afternoon meeting, as far as slogans that might help sell copies of "Life," a collection of two years worth of Palmer's columns:

1. "It's a good souvenir, and there's not another book like it. We have cooking books and books of beautiful photography, but we don't have a laughable look at life in Steamboat."

2. "It's cheaper than a T-shirt. You don't have to wash it, and you don't have to worry about it shrinking."

3. "I'd love to see it in doctors' waiting rooms. So when you're sitting there, waiting for your mammogram results, you'll have something to pick up besides a magazine, and it'll probably make you laugh."

Maybe those are too long for sales slogans. Maybe the best way to sell a book that includes such Palmer favorites as, "I Cheated on My Hairdresser," "Traffic is Killing My Pie Obsession," "The Beer is Behind the Jelly, Dear," and "Who Wants to Be Frugal if You Have to Be a Tightwad?" is to explain the process:

1. "It all began out of motherhood guilt, because I never did my son's baby book," Palmer said. "Now he's 11, and I've started writing columns. I thought, 'Good, now I have a memory of my life in Steamboat.' And he can give it to his therapist when he's older and say, 'It's horrible. I never got a baby book. But I got this book.'"

2. "It has local appeal. This is not a national book. You're never going to get an agent to publish a book like this," Palmer said. So she didn't try. Instead, she published the book herself through Booklocker.com.

3. "I try to hang out at the grocery store," Palmer said about her column ideas. "I try to find something that - a lot of times it's about my life, but in a way that I hope has some broader appeal to people in general and people in Steamboat."

Sometimes the idea factory for column writing can be a confusing place. Let's go with goals for the book, and for Palmer's weekly column:

1. "My goal. If I can break even on it, great. This is not my retirement account or anything. It's a labor of love. That's the way publishing is," Palmer said.

2. "I think people need to laugh more. This is a really hard time now, in our economy," Palmer said. "It's hard to find humor sometimes, and I'm hoping this will help people a little, to just not take things so hard."

3. "I thought the paper needed a woman's voice in it. : I never thought I would do this for this long," Palmer said. "I thought I would run out of ideas, but it's kind of like practicing the piano - the more you go along, the easier it gets. And if I run out of ideas, I'll stop."

It's possible that the tagline Palmer already chose for her book - "How I fell on Warren Miller's skis, cheated on my hairdresser and fought off the Fat Fairy : True tales from Ski Town U.S.A." - is tidier than anything we came up with. But we had to do something, because when I asked Palmer whether she planned to pump up her book release in this week's column, she said:

"I thought about it. But then I was like, 'OK. That sounds pitiful.'"

Fair enough. The book is for sale locally at Epilogue and Off the Beaten Path bookstores and online at Amazon.com and Booklocker.com.

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