A bit reluctantly, this past weekend I promoted the just-released Kindle version of “See John Play” using a two-day formula prescribed by the current Beast of the publishing industry. I had to promise the Beast that for 90 days, you’d have to visit the Beast and no one else to get the electronic copy (the paperback should be available pretty close to May 15, and several fine retailers will carry it).
This required that I violate my conscience. I’m the guy who favors Avis and Burger King because they’re not Hertz and McDonald’s! But the hard part was this: Like any other business, the publishing biz is a community. Once you go to some conferences, make some friends, and visit some local retailers, you start learning the players on a more personal level. I know – and like – and want to support – some of the people who view the Beast as a monstrous competitor.
SECRET DISCLAIMER!! I’m told by many “in the know” that I should hide my relationship with the Beast from people who compete against him (or her, I haven’t decided yet if the monster is male or female – not enough data yet). It’s said that going public about my new relationship with him/her will turn off independent bookstores and others who will not want to have anything to do with me if they know I’ve “consorted with the enemy.”
I choose to think the better of independent retailers and bookstores – take, for instance, the very good people at One More Page Books in Arlington, VA. They’ve opened their new local bookstore with wine and chocolate, an impressive lineup of in-store author events, and a pleasant, knowledgeable staff. In the year or so since they’ve opened, they’ve gained an importance the Beast will never have: A real-time, face-to-face gathering place where people who love books can enjoy each other in ways the Internet alone doesn’t allow. I prefer to think the best bookstores understand that independent authors whose writing has real merit need any help they can get, especially at the beginning of their literary careers.
I hope my relationship with the Beast will result in some buzz, and then? Ha! I’ll be able to use any distribution channel I want. And all because, when the traditional gatekeepers of the publishing game who are leery (for good reason) of taking on projects from everyone who’s ever written the Great American Novel said “no” to Dave DiGrazie, the amazonian Beast said “yes, and here’s how we can help you.”
In two days, more people downloaded See John Play than the total number of Von Lagerhaus (my first book) downloads plus paperback purchases in five months without the Beast’s exclusive involvement. These people live in at least six different countries, and they would not fit in my church’s sanctuary. My church’s sanctuary is pretty big.
The beast won’t allow me to tell you the exact number, but it also did not take a penny for its help.
The best result was an e-mail from a Michigan reader who downloaded the book on Sunday. “Read the whole thing. Stayed up too late, but I wanted to read. Good job. I’ll post a review soon.” For a guy like me who thinks of success in terms of dozens or possibly hundreds of readers but not (yet) thousands, who knows he needs to constantly improve, and is sometimes his own worst critic, that e-mail was priceless. Thanks, beast.