July 14 is coming. No avoiding it. What’s the big deal about that day? Oh, nothing, much, just the launch of my new freaking book that I’ve been working on since 200-and-freakin-8.
Woah. Lemme take a break before John Cusack starts shaking me about and screaming “you must chill!”
Yes, ALIVE is done. It’s at the presses and soon will be shipping to Amazon warehouses and bookstores all over the US and UK. So why stress? Because printing the book is only half the battle (and, no, “knowing” is not the other half, Snake Eyes). To paraphrase Jerry Seinfeld, “anyone can just print a book — the trick is you have to sell the book.”
With the exception of a few gifted/lucky authors who have the right story at the right time and it takes off like a rocket, selling books, my friends, takes work. If you leave it all up to the publisher, then you’ll only sell what the publisher can sell. That’s not enough. As with most things here at Empty Set, that’s never enough.
Back to the stress. I have an audience, right? Peeps who will buy my books, yes? Absolutely. And yet for the fairly significant size of my active podcast audience, the percentage of active Junkies buying isn’t enough to make either the publisher or me happy. We know how many pre-orders we have (and we’ll be honest, Junkies, pre-orders for ALIVE are below what they’ve been for previous books, so if you haven’t pre-ordered a hardcover we’d love your support). We have to hit certain numbers to keep this machine rolling, and if the people who listen for free every week don’t get us to that threshold, we have to do outreach to find new readers.
Blood, sweat and tears don’t stop when you type that final “The End” and send it off. The publisher will do what the publisher can do, but that doesn’t mean I’m not responsible for doing everything in my power to sell more books. This is a business, y’all, and right now my job is very, very specific: drive hardcover pre-orders. Yes, the same thing I count on the exiting podcasting audience for.
I’m stressed because when it comes to that specific job — drive hardcover pre-orders — there is always that feeling of I will never be able to do enough. It’s always nagging at you, even when you hit a home run and get some great coverage, or see fans on Facebook telling their peeps about the book, it never feels like it’s enough. Never. Will that home run help sell more books? Will we move enough books to make the publisher happy? SHOULD IT HAVE BEEN A BIGGER HOME RUN? SHOULD I HAVE DONE STEROIDS LIKE BARRY BONDS, SIR AND/OR MA’AM?!?!
While that feeling, that I will never be able to do enough feeling permeates every atom in my brain, at the very same time there is this ongoing knowledge that I couldn’t possibly do more. I can only push so many ways. I can only work so many hours. We only have so much money to work our side of promotions. It’s a constant push/pull feeling, the James T. Kirk second-guessing everything that I’ve done and wishing I’d done more and done it better, while the Mr. Spock is simultaneously deadpanning “To think you could do more is not logical.”
Part of our effort was funding a kick-ass book trailer. We worked real, real hard on it, as did the trailer producer, Mallory O’Meara, the director, Jack Bennett, and the rest of the crew that made a tasty one-minute visual treat to tease the novel. That’s started to pay off already, as the book trailer just launched at EW.com (that’s Entertainment Weekly for those of you who don’t worship the world of entertainment).
We also launched the audio podcast. That’s nothing new, and we’re old hands at that. Familiarity doesn’t erase the hours of preparation, though, and our engineer Steve “Iceberg” Riekeberg scrambled to have it ready on time. What is new is the “audio/video podcast” we’ve launched on our YouTube channel and on Facebook.
The audio/video is a new endeavor, and — like all new endeavors — we didn’t know how much work it would take going in. The biggest time-sink there was the bitchin’ motion graphic intro and outro. It took some doing, but now it’s done and we’re off to the races. What this does for us is let people listen to the podcast straight from Facebook, Tumblr, YouTube, Pinterest and more without having to click out of those sites and come to ours. It also works like a charm on mobile devices, something we haven’t been able to offer before.
But wait, there’s more!
We’ve spent time getting to know some very talented people in the Book Tube movement, a sub-culture of YouTube that features energetic young hosts talking about — you guessed it — books. There will be some cool developments from this in the next couple of weeks. As part of this, we got to make a cool prop with the amazing Frank Ippolito of FACE OFF fame. ARealGirl and I were hands on, driving up to LA to help put finishing touches on that project. We can’t tell you about it yet, because we want the Book Tubers to do their thing, but it’s pretty fun.
We also spent time at Phoenix ComiCon getting to know our teammates over at Del Rey, doing everything we can to support their marketing efforts. That trailer that premiered on EW? We paid for that, not the publisher. But! That was with the understanding that if we provide the trailer, the Del Rey team will promote the crap out of it. Del Rey landed it at EW, for example. Our Del Rey team rocks. Rocks so hard, truth be told, the sonsabitches are adding to the stress — because we don’t want to let them down with poor sales numbers.
So, three weeks to go. I’m so stressed I get winded playing chess. I’ve got 99 problems and 98 of them are about this book. When the asshats at Jurassic Park patched up the gaps in the dinosaur chromosomes, they used my stress instead of frog DNA. John Tweedy thinks I’m super-mega-stressed. His brother john thinks I’m super-mega-awesome-exo-stressed. If the Pope was as stressed as me he’d kick a Cardinal in the privates then come off the ropes and drop him with a DDT.
Hopefully I make it through this business without a super-mega-quadruple-awesome-bypass that would have me puking in a golden bucket. We’ll keep putting the pedal to the metal, Junkies, because there’s no sleep till Brooklyn. Oh, wait, we happen to actually be in Brooklyn as part of the ALIVE Book Tour!
Oh, wait … I forgot to mention the goddamn eight-city book tour? Oh, my heart … someone call a doctor …