Your Fave Author IN THE FLESH
The worst kept secret for FUTUREPROOF fans is now officially announced: The first date of what will hopefully turn into a year-long book tour is just around the corner. On Saturday, June 10th, from 3-5 p.m., I will be reading and signing FUTUREPROOF at the Berea College Book Store in Berea, Kentucky. Berea is my alma mater, so I thought this would be a great place to kick off the tour.
Berea, KY is about 40 minutes south of Lexington, and within a couple of hours from Tennessee, North Carolina and Ohio. I’ve been told that some are traveling as far as 7 hours to come to the reading. Holy shit, now that’s dedication. Thank you all for all of your support. I can’t wait to meet a whole bunch of you.
Talk soon (and see you sooner).
The Boy In the Bubble
Sunday night Ali and I had a great, ten-hour(!) reprieve from our wonderful children, which allowed to run downtown and catch a FREE day-long concert at Centennial Olympic Park. It was hot as all hell in HOTlanta that day, my friends, and we were armed for bear. My loving wife dutifully packed up her carryin’ purse with sunblock, a few Flaming Lips CDs, a couple copies of FUTUREPROOF (you didn’t think I ever really rested did you?), lip balm, Sharpies (in case we got a chance to talk to the band–which is also why the books were brought, in case you hadn’t already added the 2 to the other 2 yet), gum, cigarettes–you get the point. We hardly ever get the chance to do stuff like this, so we were prepared for anything.
De La Soul came on the stage and we were just blowing UP. The whole crowd was. It was an awesome experience to see them, one of the first hip-hop acts I ever loved, from way back in ’89, and there they were, dropping science and dope beats not ten feet from us. Beautiful.
In between bands, we walked up to a tent and checked out these graphic artists who were selling their silk-screened posters. I got the one artists’ contact info, Lindsay Kuhn, and spoke to him (of course) about commissioning an exclusive FUTUREPROOF print. Here’s a small sticker he did of a Beck/Flaming Lips concert:
The closer of the night was The Motherfucking Incredible Flaming Lips. As you can see in the pic at the top of this post, Wayne Coyne, their esteemed leader, is a crazy, awesome bastard, and he started the show flanked by a group of Santa Clauses and Space Aliens, then jumped into the crowd in that giant baloon-type thing. And there was a huge video screen, the other band member were wearing halloween costumes, there were continuous cannon-bursts of confetti showered on the crowd. It was just…a typical, beautiful Flaming Lips show. DO NOT DIE until you have a chance to go see one. They’re fucking amazing. I’ve seen over a hundred bands in my time, and the Lips are top 3 live. So anyway, with the cool of the Georgia evening settled upon us, and our spirits lifted by a joyful show, Ali and decided we’d wait and see if we couldn’t meet Wayne and the gang, maybe try to palm off a copy of FUTUREPROOF to him. We waited for more than an hour, were about to have to go, as the babysitter was told we’d be back by midnight and it was already nearing 1. But then Wayne and Michael (Ivins, the bassist/guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Lip) showed up. They talked to the small crowd still clamoring for them for about 25 minutes. So congenial and gracious. Then they signed the setlist for me
and Wayne accepted the copy of FUTUREPROOF, saying he’d DEFINITELY READ IT!!! Can you tell I was happy? I was. And still am. That man and his band–I’ve admired them for years, the artistry they put into everything they do, how they haven’t compromised themselves for commercial gain. They just keep on doing what they do and the fans reward them for it. And now they will read FUTUREPROOF. Couldn’t be happier. OK, now for some business-type stuff (nothing too heavy though, promise).
The Secret Code
If you felt like it, you could post this code somewhere on your website/Myspace page, which would provide a bunch of people a direct link to FUTUREPROOF. That would be kickass. Thanks. Oh, and thanks to Chad for telling me how to make the code appear in that little box as opposed to actually showing the images. Kids these days. They know all kinds of shit.
Tomorrow, in anticipation and promotion of Sarahbeth Purcell‘s chat (tomorrow night at 9 P.M. EST), I will be in the chatroom at www.futureproofbook.com from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Yes, TWELVE straight hours of typing (terribly). I’m hping that this will be a good way to meet a bunch of you guys, and that it’ll maybe induce a bunch of you to start using the chatroom more often. I am paying an assload for it, and it is currently used on average for about three hours once a week. I know a lot of you go in there from time to time, but I keep getting emails from people saying that they go in and nobody is there. So you guys must be missing each other or something. But not tomorrow. No sir. I’ll be in there all day. And then awesome author Sarahbeth Purcell will finish out the night. Not bad, eh? See you tomorrow!
Just finished reading Henry Baum’s book NORTH OF SUNSET, a uniquely crafted character study in the style of Elmore Leonard mixed with the social satire of Chuck Palahniuk. I hate summarizing plot and that kind of shit, because personally I like coming in to a book totally cold. But I will say that it’s written from the points of view of five different people, though told in third person. In other words, the narrator, for each different chapter, gets into the heads of the five main characters and really fleshes out what it is to be
a) a charismatic movie star with the world at his feet
b) his too-beautiful-to-be-real movie star wife
c) his slimy movie producer
d) a serial killer who targets the self-obsessed Hollywood types who go the extra distance at the DMV and pay the exhorbitant fee for a personalized license plate
e) the detective trying to solve the murders
From the start, I was in awe of some of the turn-of-phrase employed by Baum. He has some just brilliant lines in here. Lines like (from the producer’s p.o.v.), “There was a knock on the door. Jessica, his secretary who needed to be fired, poked her head in the door and said, ‘Michael Sennet’s here,’ with the small, unavoidable smile that girls always had when they saw Michael.” I just fucking LOVE that, when he writes, “his secretary who needed to be fired.” And it’s so brilliant because this is the first time you meet the secretary in the book, and with that one phrase (which had me laughing for five minutes), you know pretty much all you need to know about the her.
Let’s see…I’m just going to lay out some great passages here, and then you can connect the dots when you read the book. Here goes.
“Somehow it was cops who were most unaware of the subtleties of life while being most in need of the intuition.” Great fucking line, and the mark of a true artist, who can come up with a gem like that, that just sums up so much while using so few words to explain. Kind of unlike what I’m doing in trying to explain how great it is.
Oh, and there are some great writing insights here, too:
“If he were this rich, there would be no need to kill–he would be making a killing. Curt smiled. He liked that. He considered writing it down.”
“But he needed to do something. For the novel, for himself. He missed it. When he wasn’t planning a murder he felt as empty and useless as when he wasn’t writing, unredeemable.”
“One night before falling asleep, Curt had a great idea for the novel but he was too tired to get up and turn on the light in the cold apartment and write it down. I’ll remember it in the morning, he thought. It’s so obvious that I won’t forget it. Inevitably, he forgot it, and he hated himself for it, lazy shit.”
So, yes, as a writer reading about a writer who also happens to be a serial killer, I most related to this character. I mean, how many fucking times have I thought of a great line and told myself the line like ten frigging times so I wouldn’t forget it and then forgotten it? But I NEVER would have thought to make comparisons between writing and the act of murder. That, my friends, is the mark of true inspiration.
So check out the North of Sunset, see where all our hero worship has gotten us. Peer deep into the heart of American royalty, the movie star system and the darkness that lies within.
I did something incredibly liberating yesterday. I fired my agent. It wasn’t that she wasn’t a good agent or anything like that. She was actually very nice and was 100% behind FUTUREPROOF. But when you have a book that is self-published such as FUTUREPROOF is, you are put in a very unique position in that, while you are trying to get your book out there, trying to get people to buy and read it, trying to get buzz going, you are also trying to not get TOO much buzz going, as it leaves publishing houses with little room to promote your book once they eventually (hopefully) pick it up. So, since almost exactly three months ago, when I first signed with this agent, I have been straddling the fine line between publicizing the book too much and not enough. Then, as so often happens with me, I had a revelation, and decided that this route was no longer one I was willing to continue down. But let me start from the beginning.
Starting in September of last year, I began contacting reviewers on Amazon as a way to hopefully get people to read a free excerpt of my novel. If they liked it, I asked that they say so in the guestbook section of my website. No pressure. In this I way I hoped to garner a bunch of reader support, and therefore make the prospect of actually being picked up and published by a house that much more inviting to the publishers and agents which every writer knows is the end-all be-all of writing. I mean, how better to sell a product to a company that to demonstrate that it already has a built-in cusotmer base?
The “Grand Experiment” was an unqualified success. Within little more than a month I had gotten over 200 positive reviews from Amazon readers and reviewers, and all based on the 100 page excerpt of FUTUREPROOF I sent out. Soon, the clamor for the rest of the book was so great that I decided to go the self-publishing route. I figured, the book as a whole would sell itself just as well if not better than the first 100 pages did, and solidify for life the readers who had so strongly supported it in the first place.
In January of this year, FUTUREPROOF was finally ready for publication via Lulu.com, a front-runner in the exploding self-publishing world. People started buying and talking about it. It was routinely ranked higher in sales on Amazon than other books published through traditional means by already-established authors. I got this Myspace account and met many more authors (I’d already met James Frey, Josh Kilmer-Purcell, and had my book edited by Dan Pope). Many of these authors agreed to chat on my site, as part of my goal to not only find success as an author, but also to strengthen the voices of ALL authors, who, even after being traditionally published still face the uphill battle of generating buzz and keeping it going. And yet, despite the fact that literally hundreds of readers and many already-published authors were reading and supporting FUTUREPROOF, including the legendary Jay McInerney, I was still getting nowhere in my quest to get FUTUREPROOF published by a mainstream publisher. So I started thinking. I started thinking real hard.
I thought to myself, “What’s the difference between a self-published book and a book published by a mainstream publisher?” Well, I can only think of two things.
1) A book published by a house is generally given the benefit of the doubt as to its literary value, whereas P.O.D. and self-published books are widely thought of “vanity” projects and otherwise completely disposable, because if they had that much worth, then why wouldn’t they be published by a house? As books like Will Clarke’s and other P.O.D. successes can attest, there are definitely worthy books that have been over-looked by the mainstream presses, only to be picked up after the authors proved themselves through self-publishing. And blogs like PODDY MOUTH are proving this fact on a daily basis. Publishers are making news today for ignominious reasons, such as the latest debacle involving the now-disgraced Kavya Viswanathan. So what does that say to the reading public at large when a 17 year old Harvard student is given the largest advance for an unpublished author in publishing history and her book is not only put together by a book packager, but plagiarised on top of it? And books like FUTUREPROOF are left to die on the vine.
Secondly, a book published by a maintream publisher generally has a better chance of getting publicity just through the fact that most chain bookstores won’t carry self-published books, and most major newspapers won’t review self-published books. So how to change this? Well, what if somebody decided to forgo mainstream publishing all together, and put all his efforts into taking his P.O.D. book and publicizing it through the same outlets?
<!– D([“mb”,”What this would take is some big time backing from other well-known
authors (such as James Frey and Josh Kilmer-Purcell and maybe even Jay
McInerney and Chuck Palahniuk), as well as a good bit of corporate
sponsorship, say from Lulu itself. If I was to somehow get 2,500
copies of futureproof into the hands of willing newspaper book
reviewers and bookstore acquisitions people all across the country,
then had a big name such as James to back this as the next phase in
the long history of publishing, I think that this could not only make
Lulu the biggest name in publishing this year, but would substantially
change publishing at we know forever.
I\’ve had an agent shopping futureproof for the last three months and
while we have had some near successes, in the end the book has just
not been able to garner the support it needs from them, and definitely
not on the level of success that I have had with other (published)
writers and most especially with readers. Every week new polls come
out regarding president Bush\’s popularity, and these polls say that,
based on the opinions of 1,200 or so people, he has incredibly low
approval ratings nationwide. This is how polling works. They take a
cross-section of people, ask them how they feel, and based on the
answers from that incredibly small percentage of people, the pollers
project how the entire nation of 280 million people feel. Based on
that assumption, that a small cross-section can realistically reflect
the common sense on a matter, futureproof will have raging success–if
it can just get its name out there.
So I\’m considering (VERY seriously) firing my agent and going at this
full-force. It\’s one thing to find success, but a completely different
animal altogether to change things. I want to change things. I want
futureproof to have the audience it deserves. What can Lulu do to make
this happen, to change everything as it commonly is known? I can tell
you this much, if we can make this work, get buzz going, this will
make (Book Section) headlines across the country. And Lulu will be a
huge beneficiary of the profits.
Get back to me.
What this would take is some big time backing (which FUTUREPROOF has) from other well-known authors (such as James Frey and Josh Kilmer-Purcell and maybe even Jay McInerney and Chuck Palahniuk), as well as a good bit of corporate sponsorship. If I was to somehow get 2,500 copies of futureproof into the hands of willing newspaper book reviewers and bookstore acquisitions people all across the country, then had a big name such as James to back this as the next phase in the long history of publishing, I think that this could not only make Lulu the biggest name in publishing this year, but would substantially change publishing at we know it forever.
Every week new polls come out regarding president Bush’s popularity, and these polls say that, based on the opinions of 1,200 or so people, he has incredibly low approval ratings nationwide. This is how polling works. They take a cross-section of people, ask them how they feel, and based on the answers from that incredibly small percentage of people, the pollers project how the entire nation of 280 million people feel. Based on that assumption, that a small cross-section can realistically reflect the common sense on a matter, FUTUREPROOF will have raging success–if it can just get its name out there.
It’s one thing to find success, but a completely different animal altogether to change things. I want to change things. I want FUTUREPROOF to have the audience it deserves. So I’ve fired my agent and have to decided to never look back. I’ve gotten far too many rave reviews from so many different sources (only 4 or 5 being from blood relatives ;) that I know–I KNOW–that this book has an audience. And the best way to find FUTUREPROOF’s audience is to focus on getting the word out.
I’ll be starting a contest sometime Thursday, offering signed copies of my book, as well as t-shirts and signed posters. Stay tuned. This is only the beginning.