Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Buy This Book

Gordon Atkinson -- the Real Live Preacher -- is self-publishing his next book.

I've already pre-ordered two copies, one to keep and one to give away. I don't know if I admire Gordon more as a writer or as a person. He's an amazing example of both. His essays are nearly always heartbreakingly honest. They're usually gentle, but occasionally angry. He admits to the kind of self-doubt that most of us are afraid to share even with those who are closest to us. He cares so deeply about the people he writes about that you can't help but care about them too. Just reading his blog makes me less self-absorbed, makes me a better person, I think. And I find myself liking him so much that it's very strange to remind myself, every now and then, that I've never actually met the guy. (Though he does answer e-mails personally, even if the purpose of the e-mail was just a book order...)

Now, normally self-publishing is a good way to lose money. And if someone else makes a lot money off of you in the process, then it's "vanity publishing," and it's a scam.

But in this case, it's different. He's a blog that's maintained a high readership for the better part of a decade. And then consider this account of his previous publishing experience...

FACT: My first book was published by Eerdmans. They sold 3500 copies, for which I was paid $3500. After the 3500 copies were sold, they lost interest in the book. There were 1300 copies left. Even if Eerdmans had sold them, I wouldn’t have made anything on those 1300.

FACT: I bought the remaining copies and sold 900 of them on my blog, making about $9000.

He knows he's got an audience. But he's still too smart to sink a huge investment into a work that might not sell. So he's trying something that I've always wanted to see work: taking pre-orders, and not publishing the book until he gets enough to cover the cost. I think this model could eventually catch on with the recording industry, and who knows, the movie industry even. Decide on a minimum you need to make, and don't publish until you know you're going to make it. Publish a lot of stuff for free first to build a following, like Gordon does on his blog.

Okay, so I'm kind of interested in the publishing model. But I'm a lot more interested in the book, and I want him to reach the target number of orders, which is only 416, quickly, so he can get it into production.

For this reason, and for your own good, I say -- buy this book! Place your orders here.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

What I Did on my Christmas Vacation

I got Presents from Ken and gave him some

And then we flew to Colorado to visit my parents and my sister (who gave us more presents), and then my parents took us on a train

Through the mountains

It was ten degrees when we got off at Glenwood Springs, but we swam in the hot springs anyway.

When Ken and I got back to Minnesota, I tried out the bread machine he got me for Christmas on a deep dish pizza dough recipe.

Not as good as Giordano's, but better than most of what you can get in Minneapolis...

We also ate Colorado Style Pizza in Glenwood Springs at Beau Jo's. Delicious!

It sure was a great Christmas Vacation. Thanks Mom and Dad!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Get me excited about Minne-SNOW-ta

I bet that title's not new to native Minnesotans, but it was new to me when I heard someone on some '80s game show (might've been "Press Your Luck") use it on game show network the other day.

Anyway, I'm hanging out a lot more often in the Twin Cities area these day, and of course looking for jobs there and preparing to move. And unfortunately, that means leaving Chicago. I love Chicago.

I'm reading a few Minnesota blogs to try to get into the spirit: Minneapolis Metblogs, and News Cut, and Clara's Minneapolis / St. Paul Blog, and taken together they're almost but not quite comparable to Chicagoist.

They have informed me about the St. Paul Winter Carnival, and about the never-ending senate race (I know, I know, an Illinoian is in no position to make fun of Minnesotans for only having one senator...) but while those are good general interest topics, I'm looking for some special interest type stuff as well.

I'm a science fiction fan -- where can I meet and hang out with other fans in the Twin Cities? How about writers groups?

What are the fun parts of downtown, for when you just want a day of pizza, beer, window-shopping and people watching, amateur photography, maybe a free concert or festival in the summer? Ken and I used to take the train to downtown Chicago or Lincoln Park for days like that, but I wasn't so impressed with Nicolet Mall. There must be a park people gather in, no?

For that matter, where is the good pizza? So far as Chicagoans we've been very disappointed.

I'm looking for things to be excited about, in other words. So far we're most excited about the five drive-in theaters in a reasonable radius, but they obviously aren't open this time of year. What else is there?

And if anyone mentions ice-fishing, by the way, they will get a withering glare. I don't ice-fish. (I was pretty sure, until I started going to Minnesota, that nobody did. I interpreted the first couple of suggestions as sarcasm.)

(Summer camping recommendations are welcome, though.)