First, let’s look closely at this statue of two men cock wrestling:
Second, I apologize for the fact that I’m continually harassing you to pre-order my “you already know it’s going to be retarded” horror novel This Book is Full of Spiders more than four months before it’s going to be published. Why is it so important to authors like me that you order now rather than wait for it to come out? Well, it’s because it’s probably the book’s only chance at avoiding life-crushing failure.
Let me explain.
Sadly, the success of the books/albums/movies/games/TV shows you will buy were almost entirely determined before you ever even heard about them. It doesn’t matter how awesome the work of art is, the audience can’t spend money on it if they don’t know about it. And whether or not they ever know about it is determined by a series of very large companies. Retailers have to decide whether or not they’ll stock the book or album or game or whatever, and if they do, they have to decide whether or not it’ll be out in a prominent place where everybody will see it, or if it will be crammed at the bottom of a shelf somewhere to gather dust.
Publishers/distributors/etc then decide how much money they’ll spend on promoting the thing, how many ads you’ll see and how much press their PR people will drum up. So as a new, small-time writer (or band or filmmaker or indie game developer), your first “audience” isn’t the readers/players/movie goers, it’s these companies who will decide whether or not your work will even be available to the real audience at all. So how does somebody like me go about convincing them to put it out there?
Impressive amounts of pre-orders. That’s the only card somebody like me has to play.
See, right now, at this very moment, the publisher is trying to decide how many copies of This Book is Full of Spiders to print up. Barnes and Noble and Books-A-Million and all the rest are deciding how many copies to stock, and whether they’ll be up front in the face-out “BUY THIS NEW EXCITING BOOK” section or if they will be piled in a milk crate back by the bathrooms.
Yes, the publisher is continually on the phone with these chains saying, “Oh, yeah, this is totally a real book and not just a cloud of fart jokes and plot holes” but they say that about every book. So how do the stores tell the difference between empty hype and a book that actually has fans excited and ready to buy it?
It’s the only way for small-timers like me to get a spot on the stage alongside the big shots. If you say, “But what about the internet? Isn’t it all about drumming up grassroots internet support, and bypassing the suits?” Keep in mind that drumming up grass roots support from internet fans means nothing to “the suits” if those fans don’t demonstrate that they’re willing to spend money on the thing. Otherwise you just have a Snakes on a Plane situation.
This means, unfortunately, that I have to transition from a job that I dearly love (writing ridiculous shit) to the one job I would rather die than do full time (salesman). I’m not good at sales, I’m not built for it, and I detest getting in the mindset of looking out at a crowd of great, supportive fans and having to think, “Now how can I get these people to give me money from their wallets?”
But this is the game. It’s me versus several giant corporations in a cock-wrestling match. I’m the one on the right — notice how I shy away from the disturbingly erect penis in my face, recoiling from the task before me. But notice that my opponent has no such qualms.
Pre-order. If you liked John Dies at the End or the other stuff I’ve written enough to have confidence you’ll like Spiders, don’t wait. Put your order in now. I don’t care where. You can do it at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books-A-Million or an indie book store near you. You can reserve an electronic copy for Kindle, Nook or iTunes.
But don’t do it for me, or because you want to “support” your favorite authors or anything like that. Only do it if you want the book, and are so totally confident that you’ll enjoy it that you’re willing to pull the trigger now, even without first checking to see that I didn’t just let the rabbit stomp 140,000 words on the keyboard.
I mean obviously if the book doesn’t sell there’s no way we’ll have the money to feed him any more, and he’d probably have to be sold into one of those rabbit fighting circuits you’ve heard about.
But you shouldn’t make your decision based on that. If I as a writer haven’t earned your faith and disposable income, then I shouldn’t make any money doing this, and little Rico there should be forced out onto the cruel streets. That’s the cold reality of natural selection and the free market. It is as it should be.
Pre-order. If you want to.