Exactly 366 days ago, I was just another schlub. The next day my first novel "How to Fail: The Self-Hurt Guide" was released and my life completely changed. I've learned so much these past 365 days, like:
1. It's always better to tell people you're an "author" as opposed to a "writer." Everyone is a "writer" in this day and age, but few people are "authors."
2. The book industry is fucked.
3. It's still much better than the film industry though.
4. And, most of the people I've met in the book industry are really awesome.
7. And for the few people that do read them, it's like pulling teeth trying to talk them into leaving an Amazon review for your book.
8. By my math, and who knows if I'm right, 20% of book purchasers actually read the book, and less than 1% of that leave a review on Amazon.
10. Amazon also really fucking hates curse words, unless they're in the title of a bestseller.
12. Don't wear a hooded sweatshirt to an author event either--you'll look like a real asshole. Or Mark Zuckerberg. Or both I guess.
15. There's no shame in selling your ebook for a mere $.99 even.
16. Shame is having a book no one wants to read, even if it was free.
17. Formatting your book for Kindle and epub is a piece of cake, even if you aren't a computer whiz. And what an incredibly powerful skill for a writer to have. If you're an author and you're not learning how to get your books online, you're making a critical mistake. (I taught myself using Joshua Tallent's great book.)
18. It's actually really easy to get a pretty good ranking on Amazon. At least for awhile.
19. Especially within genre top 100 lists.
20. Especially if the genre is really niche, like "women's lit" which is where Canadian Amazon files "How to Fail" for some reason.
20B. Who knew there was a Canadian Amazon?! (Whatever the case, my women's lit book is sold out there.)
21. It's almost shameful how few books you actually have to sell to get a good Amazon ranking--but, authors, don't let the public know this on the day you sell a mere 50 total copies and crack the overall top 1000.
24. Bookstores are dead. Bars will never be.
25. There is no glamour in being on a book tour. It's a lot of constant travel, lugging heavy shit, being shit on by strangers, staying in roach motels, and eating at Waffle Houses and reststop Roy Rogers at 4 in the morning.
27. Being in love while on the road and away from my girlfriend for 30 days was like the toughest thing in the world.
28. Especially when I was spending most nights sleeping in cramped h/motel beds with my manager (below).
29. But it also kept me focused.
33. Authors get tons of free shit.
35. Your dedication page is a great way to truly touch people in your life with just a few keystrokes of thought and effort. (But NEVER tell your dedicatees that.)
38. The best self-promotion is producing good content.
39. But never be afraid to tell people what you want them to do, buy, retweet, and attend.
40. Just don't do it too much or people will quit listening.
41. There's no better calling card than a book.
42. A book also becomes your resume, and perhaps you should bring it to job interviews.
43. You better look more handsome than you've ever looked before for your official author's photo because you're gonna have to stare at that stupid thing for a long, long time.
45. Yet, twice in the past week, random people have told me I look like Dexter in my author's photo.
48. It's weird having people ask for your autograph. Though fun to sign your name like you actually are someone important.
49. You aren't though. Or, actually, you are, you're just no more important than you were before you'd had your book published and were a "nobody."
50. You're still a nobody to the world at large. 99.9% of authors are.
51. And if you sell just 1000 copies of your book, your book has sold better than 99% of books ever released.
52. That fact is sad, but you'll still tout that percentile in interviews.
53. It's much easier to get important people to take your call, answer your email, and meet with you when you have a book.
54. You now have the same profession as Stephen King, JK Rowling, and Jonathan Franzen. How cool is that?!
55. You absolutely have to become a renaissance man, or an "author-preneur." You must be a designer, a marketer, a publicist, a "personality," a speaker, a salesman, and about a zillion other professions that have nothing to do with writing.
56. Don't be too excited by the good reviews, nor too upset by the bad reviews.
57. Those average reviews will leave you wondering though. Average reviews will make you feel like you didn't push the envelope enough.
59. There will always be shittier books than yours that sell much better.
60. Sales have nothing to do with the quality of your writing.
61. They most significantly have to do with a mix of marketing, luck, spending money, and paid placement. (Although there's really no silver bullet.)
62. Publishers pay lots of money for "placement" at the front of bookstores and in airports, it has nothing to do with quality.
63. And we wonder why the NYT Bestseller list is littered with such shit.
66. People from your hometown you deserted long ago will now think you a celebrity, and treat you accordingly on your rare prodigal son returns.
67. Friends will assume you're now much richer than you truly are.
68. Your parents will finally be proud of you.
69. Women will want to sleep with you, even if they haven't read your book.
70. Even if they've never heard of it. Or you.
71. Kissinger was right--being a "published author" is a great aphrodisiac.
74. Being mentioned on Olivia Munn's Wikipedia page has led to nothing.
76. Having a Wikipedia page impresses people--even though any one can have one.
77. You can't use your Wikipedia page (mobile) as a "form of picture ID" to get into a bar.
78. Once you're a published author, talking someone into interviewing you is very easy.
80. Having a lawyer on retainer is so much more expensive than you'd ever imagine.
81. There's no excuse for how slow the publishing industry is with everything.
82. Getting a book into the marketplace is much cheaper than you'd expect.
83. Drinking every night is now considered part of my job. Or, at least my quasi-celebrity lifestyle.
84. Goddamn, I'm a good drinker.
85. Most people that buy your book won't read it.
86. That includes your friends.
87. You'll be shocked to learn that even after a year of release, some of your best friends haven't even read your book. Better not to ask so as to not embarrass yourself.
88. I really like public speaking now. Especially if I'm speaking about myself.
89. "The Art of Fielding" is the best novel I've read in the last year, maybe even several years.
94. Teaching at your alma mater is an amazing feeling. And makes you feel old.
95. Even though they're adults, technically, once you're the teacher, they're just college "kids."
96. Quit worrying about optimizing your online presence and just fucking create your art. "Ship" as Seth Godin says.
98. No Shabels. Not a one.
99. For better or for worse, "How to Fail" will be a part of me for the rest of my life. I think.
101. I think it's about time for me to come out with my second novel. Look for it in 2012.