Frosty Receptions, Lukewarm Sales;
The Worst Book Tour...Ever
(I want to thank and apologize to those who sent me emails and comments. While on the book tour I was without internet (or cell phone reception) and after the icestorm, I lost heat and electricity while staying in a Vermont hotel. To answer questions I received while away, about snowmen, my book and publishing in general, I put it in the form of the following index. What was the advance? How much do I get for my TV appearances? Was that the first cover? It’s all here. For designers, a section of the cover selection process. For fans of the book, I have footage from the tour. For those who send me nasty emails, an index chock-full of my woes to savor. There’s a little something here for everyone in this FUN-PAK!)
Total miles traveled for the book tour : 1,435
Total number of History of the Snowman books sold on tour : 41
Number of states visited : 7
Number of ways I could have been more productive : 1,000,000
Rank of reasons the Schenectady event was poorly attended; poster listed wrong location, poster listed wrong time, lack of interest : 1, 2, 3
Number of hecklers at the Brattleboro live snowman presentation : 3
In miles per hour, the average wind speed evening of Albany book event : 35
Number of degrees that evening with wind chill factor : -1
Number of customers who attended the live presentation : 1
Amount, in US dollars, lost because the NY Times could not reach me for a job : $1,200
Amount, in US dollars, I made that same evening at an Albany, NY book event : $10
Number of radio interviews I did during the book tour : 8
Number of showers taken during the same time period : 3
Number of hours spent for People magazine photo-shoot : 4
Number of photos of myself which appeared in last week’s feature of my book : O
Amount paid for appearing on Good Morning America : one hot chocolate
Amount I suggested on Martha Stewart to tip a snowman-maker : one hot chocolate
Number of Open Salon bloggers who asked for a free copy of my book to prepare
for an interview or review : 3
Number of them who got back to me or thanked me : 0
Time spent trying to find the first snowman : 6 yrs.
Time spent trying to find my missing glove during the trip : 6 days
Time it would take, at this pace, to break even on the book : approx. 6 yrs.
Number of copies slated for initial print-run : 50,000
Number, in weeks, after book was bought by publishing head that he stepped down : 5 Number of editors the “orphaned” book went through : 5
Actually size of the print-run for book after it changed hands : 20,000
Size of it's recent reprint : 15,000
Size of print-run for Jenna Bush’s Ana’s Story : 500,000
Amount, in US dollars, Ana’s Story received as a book advance : $300,000
Amount, in US dollars, my book received as a book advance : $35,000
Sales rank last week of Ana’s Story on Amazon : 68,000
Sales rank last week of The History of the Snowman on Amazon : 1,500
Number of publishers The History of the Snowman was shopped to : 12
Number who gave a bid at auction : 4
Number of covers created for The History of the Snowman book : 35
Number of times I suggested to my agent we walk because of
the cover the publisher picked : 2
Number of times my agent told me to get over myself : 2
Number of snowmen in my personal collection : 800
Amount, in US dollars, spent buying snowmen on ebay and flea markets : $ 6,500
Amount, in US dollars, spent on photo, quotation rights and cartoon reprints : $40,000
Amount, in US dollars, spent on research & expenses for the book : $15,000
Amount offered to walk away and let someone else
write it as a children’s book : $15,000
Amount, in US dollars, spent on advertising the book
on MySpace and Facebook : $1,100
Getting a letter from Python Michael Palin telling me my book was funny : priceless
A Picture Says, Give or Take,
a Thousand Words
Photos of the icestorm which crippled my tour. Nature at it’s most beautiful and most inconvenient. This road was the only way to get out of town in Wilmington, VT to book events east and I had no cell phone reception to let people know what dates I couldn't make.
(Don’t tell anyone, but I had a good time anyway–it was beautiful, I went cross-country skiing and there’s something empowering about being involved in a news story.)
Judging a Book by its Cover
The following is a sampling of rejected book covers created for the book;
It's Raining Snowmen, Hallelujah!
Dear fans of the snowman; You'll want to read "Snowmen Gone Wild" about snowmen with a drinking problem now on Smithsonian.com.
An old Open Salon blogger did a fun interview with me recently–some of you may remember him, John Savo a.k.a. The Authoring Auctioneer. While I didn’t always agree with his politics I was a fan of his work and very sorry he left OS. He is a very good writer–funny and full of energy. An excerpt from our interview;
Authoring Auctioneer: If you died tomorrow, what would be the five things you would miss the least?
Bob Eckstein: Menudo.
What's next for the snowman book? Click on the Play button to see the opening credits of a TV special being pitched by a brilliant production company called Fullmind Creative. Channels like Travel, History and HBO have expressed interest in seeing a script. I’ve been unhappy with anything I’ve come up with so far–either it’s too jokey (jeopardizing the book’s authenticity) or not funny enough (undermining my initial goal of injecting humor into real history)–but now with studios making graphics to woo me I feel like I better step up to the plate...soon. Realistically, short of making a snowman on Oprah’s yard, a Christmas special is the only chance of this book getting the exposure it needs to being an perennial seller. (What are my goals for the book? I’m not sure.)
Finally, to answer one last question...what is my next project? My next two books include a cartoon collection with a green theme (completed last summer) and a graphic novel of a diary from 1850. It’s a comedy about the perils of arctic exploration that predates the snowman book and a project I’ve been working on for ten years. I recreated the interior of a captain’s quarter as my office to write the book and refitted the computer and equipment into old ship instruments. To see my office, click here.
Promise not to grovel for a book again for a long time.