How to Go to a Book Reading

The crowd the last time
The crowd the last time
Ahead of my April 20 reading in Lafayette, Louisiana, I thought I’d offer some ground rules for attending one of these things. After all, not everyone’s been to one. And I’m hoping since Bacon and Egg Man is my second book, I’ll get all those people from the first one and then some.

Turns out, someone has already written such a guide. Me. A few years back. So, in an effort to protect the environment, allow me to recycle.

Please, note, Louisiana people: LAST TIME I HELD A READING AT THIS LOCATION, THE SAINTS BEAT THE VIKINGS IN THE NFC CHAMPIONSHIP THAT WEEKEND AND WENT ON TO WIN THE SUPER BOWL. I’m not saying, I’m good luck, but I AM saying one of you might win the Powerball on April 20.

Believe it or not, a reading and book signing can be as exciting as the Saints winning the Super Bowl (not really) and this may cause you to become confused. So I thought I’d make like Jersey Shore and tell you about the situation.

Basic ground rules.

BaconEggPublishedCover No shirt, no shoes, no service. (But other than that, no one cares what you wear. It’s Saturday, wear what you want.)

DON’T get together with 14 of your friends and paint the letters necessary to spell out Bacon and Egg Man on your chests.

But DO bring friends.

DO bring friends who haven’t heard of the book or haven’t bought the book. Barnes & Noble would like to sell books.

DO show up early and buy a copy from Barnes & Noble if you don’t already have one.

If you are a teacher at a local university, DO offer extra credit to your students to attend.

DON’T just take a copy off the Barnes & Noble table, have me sign it and then walk out the store. They will gang tackle you and haul you off to jail.

While I’m reading, DO pretend to be extremely fascinated. There won’t be cue cards telling you when to laugh or cry, so you’ll have to figure out the appropriate moments for such behavior.

DON’T boo or hiss.

Sometimes, there is a Q&A session after the reading. DON’T ask me about my personal life, who that one character was really based on, if I know the way to San Jose and what kind of moron came up with the crawfish etouffee recipe in the back of the last book.

DO feel free to ask questions about The First Annual Grand Prairie Rabbit Festival. (This is assuming that I remember to take questions this time. I was so overwhelmed by the crowd last time — and that, later that day, I was planning on telling my parents I was getting divorced — that I completely forgot!)

DON’T ask a three minute question that isn’t a question but really is just a way to show off how smart you are. I’m there to show off how smart I am, and I don’t need the competition!

While I’m signing, DO feel free to tell me the correct way to spell your name. Even if it’s Bob. You’d be surprised and how bad my spelling can be sometimes.

DON’T cut the line just because you think you know me. Chances are, most people there will know me. And my cousins from Ville Platte WILL beat you like a red-headed stepchild.

DO forward details about the event (or this email) to everyone you know.

Can’t wait to see yall.

Ken Wheaton reading and signing
Barnes & Noble, Lafayette, La.
Saturday April 20
Noon to 2 p.m.
There will be music after the signing. Feel free to stick around.

Exciting Book News Part 1: First Novel, New Look

Hey everyone, The First Annual Grand Prairie Rabbit Festival drops in paperback today! Woohoo!

Wait a minute, Ken. Wasn’t The First Annual Grand Prairie Rabbit Festival originally a paperback? Uh, yes. Yes indeed it was. But now it’s a different paperback. With a brand new cover. And a lower price point. It’s going to be $9.95. (And, uh, $7.73 for ebook version.)

UPDATE: Looks like both Amazon and B& are holding back on the goods until you all completely buy out original stock. Get cracking!

So what’s going on here? Kensington, the book’s publisher, is re-releasing (slightly) older books with new covers at lower price points to give them a second chance at life. A low-risk gamble, I guess, to see what you can make of your backlist. I can’t make sense out of royalty statements, but even if the book did as well as I think it did, that still means there are 299,985,000 Americans who haven’t read the book. So, lots of opportunity there.

I loved the original cover, by Tim O’Brien (the guy what did The Hunger Games covers and that wonderfully creepy Chuck Brown portrait). But I’m digging this one, too, because it almost looks like Grand Prairie in that it has a water tower, a dirt road and some empty fields. The hills, though, not so much.

So, what does this mean for you and me? I don’t know. If you’ve read the book, then thank you. I love you. You can still hit the LIKE button on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. If you haven’t reviewed it yet, feel free to review. If you have reviewed it for Amazon, copy and paste that review to B&N — and vice versa. (Of course, if you have read it and still want to buy a stack of them, far be it from me to stop you.)

If you haven’t read it or know people who haven’t read it, well here’s a fresh opportunity! Go for it. Read it. Buy it for a friend. It’s on sale! Suggest it for your book club. Share it on your vast Twitter and Facebook networks. Here are a bunch of nice things people said about it.

Oh, and walk into your local book store and bug them people to carry it! Etc. Etc.

Hell, rejoin the Facebook Group — since Facebook booted everyone from the original group during one of its 7,000 redesigns.

By the way, you’ll note the headline of this post says Part 1. I’ll holler at you when Part 2 drops. Should be soon. And it should be different.

Oldest African-American Woman in Country Dies in Louisiana

Mississippi Winn, whose parents were likely born slaves, died in Louisiana yesterday.

When she turned 113, Mississippi Winn could still stand up on her own and never thought her age was a detriment to her life.

The upbeat former domestic worker from Shreveport, known in the city as “Sweetie,” died Friday afternoon at Magnolia Manor Nursing Home, said Milton Carroll, an investigator with the Caddo Parish Coroner’s Office. He said he could not release her cause of death.

Winn was believed to be the oldest living African-American in the U.S. and the seventh-oldest living person in the world, said Robert Young of the Gerontology Research Group, which verifies information for Guinness World Records.

Anyone who’s read The First Annual Grand Prairie Rabbit Festival will obviously be put in mind of Miss Rita. But I had no idea Mississippi Winn was actually alive. Weird. In other such weirdness, there was apparently a priest with the last name of Sibille in the town of Ville Platte who left the church to get married.

Case Study: How Twitter Helped Me Sell 500,000 Books

A year before my first novel was set to come out, I knew I’d have to turn to social media. If I wanted to move copies of The First Annual Grand Prairie Rabbit Festival, I’d have to switch to a new paradigm, think outside the box and, at the end of the day, create synergies with strangers across the country. After all, gone were the days when a well-written book was enough to make your mark (if such days ever existed). Advertising and other methods of old-fashioned marketing, I knew, are dead and don’t work at all anymore. And I certainly didn’t know the right people in New York’s celebrity-making blog and book factories — you know, the ones who decide who the next big thing will be based on a new writer’s degree from Iowa, or a handful of 500-word blog posts, or the lovely pallor of his/her white white skin, or a killer blowjob administered at a party.

Luckily there was Twitter. If it could overthrow Ahmanedinejad and bring freedom to all Iran, certainly it could sell a few thousand books.

Did it work? And how?
Continue reading “Case Study: How Twitter Helped Me Sell 500,000 Books”

And Now a Word About Priests Molesting Children

Because I wrote a novel about a priest, people have been asking me about my thoughts on the most recent scandals revolving around child molestation and abuse.

My thoughts on the matter aren’t very complicated. If there is a hell, I don’t think there are enough rosary beads in the world to save the perpetrators who committed such acts or the church elders who not only covered such things up, but shuffled priests around, in essence allowing them access to a fresh crop of victims. Roast away. And, for the record, I’ll tell ye, there’ll be no butter in hell!
Continue reading “And Now a Word About Priests Molesting Children”

The First Reading . . . and Your First Taste of the Book

Holy crap, there's a poster involved.
Holy crap, there's a poster involved.
Last Friday, I flew down to the Southern Independent Booksellers Association trade show, held this year in Greenville, South Carolina. For the vast majority of you who don’t work in publishing, what goes down at SIBA is that the good folks who own and/or work for independent bookstores around the South show up, look at what’s out there, maybe meet some authors and publishing-house reps, and decide what they’re going to order for the upcoming year. (That’s a simplified version, but close enough.)

Of course, that means it’s a chance for publishing companies and authors to get out there and cajole, beg and plead for their books to be considered. And I think we all know it goes without saying that I’m not the type to shun publicity and a chance to sell himself or his work. I signed a couple of boxes worth of uncorrected advance reviewer copies of The First Annual Grand Prairie Rabbit Festival and even learned that Kensington had a poster printed up for the trade-show floor. A POSTER!
Continue reading “The First Reading . . . and Your First Taste of the Book”