November 8, 2007

Monster Paw


Cover
Originally uploaded by Citizen Rob.
It's been something of a Fancy Pants Author Week, which is always a nice alternative to Tragedy Dad Week (which I haven't had many of in a long time, knock on maybe-fake Ikea wood), Sickly Diabetic Week (also not too frequent now, knock on my pancreas) or Poverty Schmuck Week (well, that's more of a chronic condition than a single week). I anticipate having a Rough Thirty-tenth Birthday Week soon, but I'm not ready to face that just yet so we will speak of it no more.

The latest on the book is this. The bad news, not entirely unexpected, is that aside from a possible Texas schedule, there is not a book tour in the works. I won't lie to you; I'm disappointed, although for entirely personal reasons. The fancy pants book tour is part of every writer's publication fantasy. It's right up there with imagining the girl who broke your heart in high school, now sitting in her trailer with her six kids, watching you share a tender moment with Oprah on her Rent-to-Own television. (I have never claimed not to have Issues.)

But the publishing world is changing, and effective marketing is happening in other places. Radio, television, and especially the Internet are far more effective media tools, and St. Martin's thinks (and I agree) that because of my years of online troublemaking and exposure, this book is uniquely placed to thrive in this shiny new media world. Book tours are expensive, and their effectiveness in promoting books or authors is questionable. Also, it's worth pointing out that since I began this whole journey over a year ago, this is actually the first time I've wanted something from St. Martin's that they've not given me. I've been treated like a pretty princess so far, and I'd be a jerk to turn all Veruca Salt on them now.

Mostly, though, I just thought it sounded like fun.

There are some other things coming down the pike, however, all of which I will share as they firm up. (One of them, a magazine feature, might just make you poop your panties. It did me, at least metaphorically.) And if you live in Texas, I might be coming to your town, by golly, since we're hoping to put together a swing through the Best of the Big Red State. The first reading/signing will take place right here in Plano. Discerning stalkers will want to come to this one, as my whole family will be there. (Trust me, it's much better than just showing up at my home with your kids so they can make friends with Schuyler. And I'm not even making that up.) I also hear that the PR person running the event at the store is extra swell.

It's funny, dealing with all the craziness that accompanies this book, because in a way, it feels like distraction, like taking the monster and dressing it up in a tuxedo. Perhaps it will sing "Puttin' on the Ritz" for us at the signing. I've always maintained that this book was something of a monkey paw, in that it represents a long-time dream for me, but on a subject matter that I would obviously have never picked in a thousand years. But as this process continues, I am making peace with it. Sometimes, I am learning, the book picks the author.

My publicist needed some current information on polymicrogyria, so I contacted the doctors who are in the know. As I look through the information they sent me, all the old feelings come rushing back, that dread of the monster that we felt the first time we were introduced. It's weird, looking at it in ugly medical terms, the same ones that scared us so badly four years ago. (Can it really have been that long?) Much of it is written in medicalese that makes little sense to me. But some of it still jumps off the page.

"Developmental language disorder can be associated with BPP (bilateral perisylvian polymicrogyria), and its severity depends on the extent of the cortical damage. Patients with marked dysarthria are often labelled as severely retarded, although they may have normal comprehension."

...

"Most patients develop multiple seizure types, and seizure control is poor in more than half the cases. Frequent seizures may aggravate speech dysfunction and result in progressive deterioration. In patients with severe and disabling seizures, especially drop attacks, callosotomy can be considered."

...

"Epilepsy was found in almost 90% of cases..."

I'm ecstatic to have this book coming out; we all are, especially Schuyler. (Ask her about it the next time you're stalking us and just watch her face.) But even in the very best of times (and these are surely the best so far), something lurks. It watches my daughter in all her triumphs and all her positivity and her tenacity, but it watches her with cold eyes.

I am reminded once again that Schuyler's monster isn't cute, and it isn't a literary device. It's a motherfucker, and a patient one.

28 comments:

Anonymous said...

I, too, thought the book tour would be fun (to meet you) but probably not an effective marketing tool. This is a different world, with all our electronic wizardry.

Also, I pooped my pants just reading about the possibility of a magazine feature. Surely, it will be something I recommend to my friends. Please keep us posted, pun intended.

Ariel said...

Please please trust me when I say: BOOK TOURS ARE NOT WHAT THEY'RE CRACKED UP TO BE.

At first it seems fun, but they're insanely ineffective and either depressing and/or overwhelming.

I had several appearances where 2 people came. My friend Heather had several appearances where lots of people came, including hecklers who wore her down.

Book tours are expensive, exhausting, a logistical nightmare, and you're lucky to sell 20 books for all your time.

Trust me: interweb book marketing is not only less depressing, it's also waaaaay more effective.

Rob said...

Yeah, Ariel, I remember reading your thoughts on your experience with book tours and thinking "Eh, maybe I don't want to deal with that after all..."

Lynn said...

"Schuyler's monster is not a literary device." That's a phrase that's likely to come in all too handy in your FPA life.

Karen said...

As a new Portlander (and long-time lurker here), I would suggest approaching Powell's books about something on their web site when the book comes out. You probably already know this, but they have a regular staff-blog that includes week-long guest-spots for authors. Something that like might be fun, low maintenance, and frutiful!
Karen

Bernard said...

Rob

Sorry that you won't be making the rounds because I had this (very faint) hope you'd end up in that center of civilization, Boston. And if you did, I'd be sure to find a friend and the two of us would be there. :-|

Oh well. Maybe you'll come here for other reasons and we'll get a chance to say hi then!

Ptolemy said...

And how many pre-orders have you already generated by just letting us know it was possible? A lot more than 20, I'm sure!

Anonymous said...

I did a ton of radio interviews around the publication of my book - if St. Martin's offers up any media training, pounce on it. I'm very comfortable speaking/presenting but it helped to hone my sound bite messages for 2 minutes of drive time to talk to people.

Amylia said...

beautiful post, Rob.

i like the analogy of the monster paw. it's certainly nothing you'd ever wish for in a million years, but a silver lining is there, and thank God for that.

Lara said...

"It's a motherfucker, a patient one." I really couldn't agree more.

Donna said...

I certainly hope to meet you if you come down to San Antonio. Keep us updated!

amusings_bnl said...

Rob, a full-blown book tour may not work but there are probably 1 or 2 independent bookstores in the north east that you should come to, outside of the deepinnahearta texas ones.

immediately springing to mind is the Book Revue Cafe in Huntington NY (about 20 miles east of manhattan).
http://www.bookrevue.com/

when i was in high school (20 years ago or more...) I used to go there every weekend to see some different, new author. the place was ALWAYS packed, no matter who it was. they do a tremendous, amazing job and sometimes I see them broadcasted on Cspan or whathaveyou when they have a specific author. it is probably the coolest thing long island has to offer, aside from a giant duck out east.

internet marketing... i'm sure my friend Amy has reached out to you about Bzzagent... it's all the rage.

best of luck as the fancy pants deadline approaches. and much love and support to you guys from up here.

Cynthia said...

Jumping up and down here, since I'm close enough to do some stalking! (just kidding)

I've deliberately not pre-ordered just so I can buy it at the store and have you sign it.

I'd never read the Monkey's Paw and had wondered where the term originated. I wonder no longer.

Shiny said...

Someone seriously showed up at your home unannounced, kid in tow? Wow.

Rob said...

It was slightly more complicated than that, but only because they didn't admit that they knew who we were from online, but just pretended that it was a chance meeting. (Remember, we have the duck pond right outside our place.) I had to put two and two together with some slightly creepy comments that had been left on my blog and on flickr before that to figure out who it was and track down a photo of them online.

I mean, come on. I can use Google, too.

Uncool. Very, very uncool.

Kate said...

Wow. Creepiness.

So, what's the chance you'd make a trip if a store in a non-Texas area of the country asked you to come in for an appearance/reading?

Just curious...

Rob said...

Oh, I'd love to do as many appearances as possible. (There's a chance that I may be doing signings etc while I'm in cities attending some AAC conferences, for example.) It just depends on my travel budget at that point in time. Travel to and bookstore appearances that I plan have to be at my expense.

Laural Dawn said...

I read your blog a lot, but I don't think I've ever commented!
I'm sorry about the book tour, but from what I've heard there are only really fun for the first few stops and then they suck.
I work downtown Toronto, so there are lots of book tours here, and I feel bad for the authors. They look tired and don't have tons of people stop (but I always do, and always ask lots of questions).
Anyway, I will go and buy this book because I love your blog.
COngratulations.

Krista said...

I, too, was hoping for an appearance here in metro-ATL! Bummer! However, the upside is that I also go to AAC conferences. Please let me know if you are going to any in the near future. BTW, the AAC Institute is having their "Literacy and AAC" symposium in Pittsburgh next June. I am definitely going to that one...any chance you could do a book signing there?!? ;-)
Also, there is talk about a PMG/Liss conference again this year in Indiana (?)...that would be another cool place to have a fancy pants writer such as yourself sign some books for people who can completely relate. Who knows, you could even sign a book for Dobyns!

If there is anyway you can forward me the latest info (or give me a link) on PMG, especially BPP, I would love to have it. I like to keep my files updated for Ryan's teachers, etc.

Congrats again on the book! I can't wait to get a copy for myself and one for the therapists, etc. in our life.

Krista

emily said...

Have you looked into the "demand me" thing? That seems to be a happy medium for some.

I know from some fancy-pants author friends that a full out book tour does suck....but you do get to say "the book tour." As in, "next month? I'm sorry I can't make it. I'll be on the BOOK TOUR." It's sort of like how excited I was as a designer to learn that there's a category for album design at the grammys. My new (and now realistic! goal) is to be a grammy winner!

Sorry for the rambling....but if you try "demand me" it might enable the publisher to justify some targeted appearances without spending for an all out tour.

kellie said...

"It's a motherfucker, a patient one."

As long as I have been reading you - her monster has always been the velociraptor to me - I can't remember that chilling line from the movie about the velocirpator being "silent, chilling and smart and waiting..." etc... Your line matches that and much better

emjaybee said...

SQUEEE. Consider yourself stalked come 2/22.

Honestly, I am really psyched for you. And author tours, I'm told, are a real kick in the ass, much of the time, and seldom include Oprah. Though there's always hope....

Suzy Smith said...

The set up accidental meeting is just downright creepy.

Congratulations on the magazine feature, Rob, I am sorry that you don't get a book tour as I was going to drag my husband out to see you.

Linda Ball said...

A few things:
(1) I haven't reserved the book online because I fully intend to buy it at a reading.
(2) I am flying to NYC on the date of your Plano debut, dang nap it.
(3) If you come to Book People, I'm there.
(4) If you can't get a reading otherwise in Austin, we will have one at my house before I sell it next year.
(5) This is a wonderful post.

Anonymous said...

What about eventful.com? I know a couple of independent musicians who rely on eventful.com to figure out when and where they should go...it's much less risky than a book tour.

Ann said...

An estimated 20 percent of all high-blood-pressure patients, or 12 million Americans, have LVH and are at increased risk of developing diabetes.

Ms Porcelain said...

I cannot wait to read your book. I pass by here from time to time and never leave a comment. I guess I'll have to dust off the old credit card so I can buy it online...

Or will it be available at 'all good South African bookstores'??

Anonymous said...

Sometimes easy to forget the scary lurking parts of conditions/diseases, but they will knock you on your ass everytime you really breathe them in again (and again).