Burt Prelutsky

Recently, I hosted a book-signing here in Los Angeles. If you’ve never had the experience, my advice is that you not press your luck. For openers, there’s the matter of sending out invitations. You don’t want to send them out too early, running the risk that people will forget. On the other hand, you don’t want to wait too long, lest they make other plans.

Once the invitations are sent, you have to sit and wait for people to respond, and “wait” is the operative word. In L.A., people don’t like to commit too soon just in case something better pops up. Finally, because you need a rough estimate in order to know how much wine, cheese, cokes and cookies, to supply, you send out reminders.

Because this particular book store uses an outdoor courtyard for these events, you’re not only going crazy waiting for people to respond, you’re spending half your time on your knees praying it won’t rain on that special day.

About a week before the book-signing was scheduled to take place, I calculated that slightly over 100 people would be showing up, and I shopped accordingly.

The book in question, “The Secret of Their Success,” is a collection of interviews I began doing back around 1992. But even after I’d done more than 60, I’d been unable to find a publisher. Then, last October, a publisher found me. While searching for something or other on the internet, she’d come across an article I’d written in which I mentioned that in spite of having interviewed the likes of Gerald Ford, Billy Wilder, Jerry Herman, Steve Allen, George Carlin, Art Linkletter, Henry Mancini, Judith Krantz and Sid Caesar, and having probably been the last person to have interviewed Gene Kelly, Sammy Cahn, G. David Schine and Ginger Rogers, the book had been spurned by any number of publishers who hadn’t even wanted to look at it. She sent me an e-mail, asking if it was still available and, if so, she was interested.

We decided I’d conduct a slew of additional interviews. That allowed me to add several friends and notable acquaintances, including Pat Sajak, David Horowitz, Jamie Farr, Michael Medved, Dick Van Patten, Dennis Prager, Ronn Owens, William Peter Blatty, Bernard Goldberg, Melanie Morgan, Lionel Chetwynd, Roger Simon and Ward Connerly.

At the event, someone asked me which of the 78 interviews had made the biggest impression on me, imagining, I assume, that I’d probably mention President Ford or perhaps Gene Kelly or Ginger Rogers, but I had to admit it was actress/singer Andrea Marcovicci. It wasn’t what she said, as interesting as that may have been, but, rather, the circumstances of our conversation.