Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Books Have Arrived!

Exciting news this week: copies of Dr. Sketchy's Official Rainy Day Colouring Book have arrived in the warehouse (the Sepulculture warehouse being some extra space next to my refrigerator) and will soon be ready to ship out to all of the people who pre-ordered a copy! Molly will be signing the first 66 copies, which go to the first 66 people who ordered. I asked her to sign the first 666 copies, but she just gave me that "you're a slave-driving publisher" look, so I dropped it.

The Sepulculture Warehouse & Refrigerator

There have been some interesting developments on the publicity front as well. Molly met one of the Nerve Blog-a-Loggers, Sara (aka SJ1000), and showed her a copy of the book. Sara wrote about it glowingly on her blog:

The BOOK turns out to be this adorable fucking magical world of fun called "Dr. Sketchy's Official Rainy Day Colouring Book." She runs this "cabaret life-drawing class" called Dr. Sketchy's Anti Art School, and there are like 13 schools around the world and each has a "mistress" and anyway, the book has dirty jokes and pornographic paper dolls! And games! Or at least one game. I was mesmerized and I was like, "Dude, give me your info, I need to write about this." ... It is SO WEIRD and hard to explain, but really well-made.... And I don't even have a copy of it yet, so I can't get further into it...but I thought it was really unique and strange and exciting.... It cheered me up to know that something like this existed in the world. Yaaaaaay!

I could not have written a more enthusiastic piece myself, and the best part is that it actually help sell some copies of the book. This is the one thing that's happened so far for the book that I can honestly say resulted directly in sales.

Now I've worked in book publishing for over seven years. I started out in publicity. I've worked in marketing, advertising, and promotion, both online and in the "real" world, and there are very few instances in which I've ever been able to put my finger on one review or one advertisement or one promotion and could honestly say "that sold books." Save endorsements from Oprah, there are few things that you can say had a direct impact (at least in the way that major publishers are able to measure these things).

I have however seen all kinds of media coverage have NO impact on sales, even major television and print coverage. I think there is a belief in our business that any coverage is good coverage (even negative press can be good, as the saying goes), that we should seek out as much attention as we can and be reviewed, profiled, featured, and interviewed in every channel and medium available so long as the gatekeepers of those forums are interested. Perhaps we shouldn't. Maybe we're wasting a lot of time and money getting our "product" in front of audiences that don't care. Maybe we should skip the ones that don't care and really focus on the ones that do.

This thing with the Nerve Blog-a-Log I think illustrates another point about media: it is by it's very nature supposed to be objective. This, more often than not, translates into bland. Reviewers cannot gush about how much they love a book, or tell everyone to go buy it, or talk about how it reminds them of a particularly personal thing that happened to them a long time ago. They can't do this because they think of themselves as journalists and as professionals, and they want to maintain some semblance of objectivity and decorum. Well, decorum doesn't get too many people excited about anything. I mean, we all love an objective, intellectual analysis on topics of importance, but not everything fits that category.

I have been fortunate to get into this business when I did. When I started, blogs technically existed, but no one besides a very, VERY small community of computer enthusiasts really knew what they were, what they meant, or what they could do. So I have been fortunate to watch the world change right in front of me. And the world has changed. Media is not powerful in the same way it was seven years ago. Now individuals have the power to change opinion and influence others in a way that only major media could before. Blogs and social networking software have made the personal recommendation champion over the objective, journalistic review. When I did that interview with Darren Levy on WNYU, he asked me what Sepulculture meant. This cultural shift in how we communicate and spread information is what it means. The logo, the name - they are both signifiers of a part of which has passed. And now we can move on.


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