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Cool Book Launch Idea from Webcomic Pros

I thought this was an interesting way to do a book launch: The creators of some popular webcomics have a new book coming out next week called Machine of Death (a collection of short stories from a whole mess of folks), and they’re asking all their fans to buy the book on the same day in an attempt to push it to #1 in Amazon’s sales rankings.

Now, they may or may not find any lasting sales impact from their day in the sun (anyone who’s had a review or promotion push their amazon sales rank up will tell you just how quickly it can fall back down again), but I think it’s a fantastic way to energize fans. I myself was aware of the upcoming collection, and it was a book I thought I’d probably pick up at some point, but now not only an I committed to making the purchase (on a specific day!), but I’m all evangelized and helping them spread the word as well (Support the revolution! Help an Indie be a bestseller for a day!).

I’ve often thought about doing something similar with the release of my next book, but I don’t have a fraction of the fan base these folks do, so I’m not likely to get anywhere near the top of the heap. But now I realize that it’s not about that. It’s about energizing the fans you do have, and transforming a lot of hmm-neats into hell-yeahs.

For more info, check out editor David Malki’s post about the book:

We learned a little something about the anthology market. Stephen King isn’t in this book. Neither is Dave Eggers or Neil Gaiman or Nick Hornby. Nobody would buy this little book full of stories from nobody famous, we were told. We talked with six different agents who fell in love with this book; one even fell deeply in love and tried her hardest to sell it to anybody who would listen. One editor at a publishing house told us “Let me be blunt: I love this premise; I love this project; I want to read this book [...] the sample stories included in the proposal are really very strong, and if they’re all that good, then this is a genre anthology of high literary quality.”

But it was 2008, 2009. “The economy,” we were told. “And it’s an anthology.”

During that time between when we opened submissions in 2007 and now, a funny thing happened. We learned a lot about how publishing works, but the most important thing we learned was that big trade publishing is like a train. Big trade publishing runs on tracks. Big trade publishing can’t turn on a dime; big trade publishing desperately needs all the coal it can find to run — meaning licensing rights. Audio rights. Electronic rights. Foreign rights and movie rights. They sell all those rights separately and hopefully make enough money from it all to pay the rent on the New York office and the salary of all the staffers in that office.

We didn’t want to sell ebook rights; we wanted to release the ebook for free as a PDF. We didn’t want to sell audio rights; we wanted to record the audiobook ourselves, and release it for free as a podcast. Movie rights remain with the authors — if you love one of the stories in this book and want to make a blockbuster film from it, contact the author and give them the money. We’re not in the middle.

And we live on the internet enough that we knew we could sell this book.

This isn’t some vanity-press sour-grapes effort. The simple truth is that we probably can’t compete on the shelves at Barnes & Noble alongside every other book in the world. The agents and the publishers are right; it might not work for a mass market. That’s okay. We don’t need to sell it to everyone. We don’t need to sell 100,000 copies; we don’t have the rent on a New York office to pay for.

We only need to sell it to you.

Or join the facebook event page! And, you know, support the revolution and help an Indie be a bestseller a bestseller for a day (they had me at hello).

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3 comments

  1. Profile wp-user-avatar wp-user-avatar-45 alignnone photo of Matt Youngmark

    UPDATE:

    Today’s the day of the big push, and as of 9:30 am PST, Machine of Death is the #2 best selling book at Amazon.com (just below the new Keith Richards biography, and above Glen Beck).

    It’s also discounted at 45%, so if you’ve got an extra $10 laying around, help “The Little Indy That Could” reach #1!

  2. Profile wp-user-avatar wp-user-avatar-45 alignnone photo of Matt Youngmark

    UPDATE 2:

    Victory! Machine of Death is published by Bearstache Books, a company wholly owned by one of the editors/contributors (he primarily publishes collections of his webcomic, Wondermark). So it’s self-published in a very real sense.

    Savor it — a self-published book is #1 at Amazon right now.

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