Selling the Tortoise

Apologies to the five or so of you who have been following this journal--we’ve been busy for the last month. We’re always busy, come to think of it, but we’ve been super extra busy getting ready for Chicago’s 2012 Printers Row Lit Fest, where we launched Resistance.

There were a kajillion little things to get done beforehand, and many of those things were dependent on other things; to launch the book, we had to print the book; to print the book, we had to get historical photos from ČTK in Prague; to get the historical photos, we had to raise funds on Kickstarter.

It seemed like a dicey proposition for a while; the fundraising started off slow, so we had to do a little more groveling than expected, and we also had to activate our emergency funding plan, which consisted of liquidating some non-liquid assets. (Think Dan Aykroyd selling his watch to the seedy pawnbroker in Trading Places. OK, it was a notch above that. But only a notch.) BUT we also had some larger-than-expected donations from both friends and random strangers--generous gifts which help push us comfortably over our fundraising goals with a whole day to spare.

After that, of course, we still had plenty to worry about; we found ourselves checking the bank account quasi-religiously for the next few days, waiting for Amazon to actually release our funds, of which they and Kickstarter had taken roughly a 10% cut. And of course, getting the money wasn’t the end of our worries--we had to wire the money to Prague to pay for the pictures. And getting the pictures wasn’t the end of our problems--we had to get them into the manuscript and convert it into a .pdf in a way that it would look like we were professionals who had just paid $1600 for the reprint rights, not rank amateurs in the field of graphic design, building our book cover in Microsoft Paint. And getting it printed wasn’t the end of our worries, nor was buying the advertising, nor was sorting out various seemingly insurmountable Kindle formatting issues, nor was coming home last Monday to find that FedEx had finally delivered our book. (We gotta admit, this part did dial the worry-ometer back quite a bit.)

ANYWAY, the book fair weekend arrived, and the sun was blazing hot, but we kept slathering on the sunblock and somehow escaped burn-free. And we caught a couple printing issues in our final editions (loose pages on three softcovers, and a section inverted on one hardcover) but by and large, the books looked great, and we found more than a few customers, including several who were complete strangers who’d happened across our advertising. We actually sold all of our serviceable softcovers, and put a huge dent in our hardcovers.

Of course, there's still stuff to worry about--the book's out there in the hands of the reading public. Unlike other artists, writers and publishers don’t get to directly observe their audience’s reaction to their work. Musicians can gauge whether a crowd is excited or bored; directors can sit in on advance screenings of a movie and judge the audience’s response; artists can go to their gallery openings and observe the chatter. But if you try watching someone while they read your book, you look pretty damn creepy. So we might as well not worry; we should just trust that it's out there and we'll get the attention we'll deserve.

Then again, maybe we should just hire a publicist.