Bob Eckstein

Bob Eckstein
Location
New York City, New York,
Birthday
February 27
Title
Publisher of Today's Snowman.com
Bio
Snowman expert, author of The History of the Snowman and cartoonist for the New Yorker, Reader's Digest, Wall Street Journal and others. Twitter; snowmanexpert

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DECEMBER 17, 2008 9:09AM

The Sad State of Publishing; My Disastrous Holiday Book Tour

Rate: 66 Flag
snowman tour
 
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!)

 
Mishap Index
 
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.)
 
 
 
storm4
 
 
 
 
Judging a Book by its Cover
 
The following is a sampling of rejected book covers created for the book; blog-covers
 
Snowman Book Truck4
 
 
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.

Cartoon book dummy3     sea cover PROMO
 
To buy a copy of The History of the Snowman please click on title or book...and again, thanks everyone.
Promise not to grovel for a book again for a long time.
 

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I just read a review on Amazon that said it came with a snowman bookmark?? Is that true???
If it's any consolation, I just bought the book for my family for Christmas. My father and I both want to read it.

And hey, Michael Palin!! That IS priceless.
This is the best OS post I've seen in weeks. I'd give it a carrot nose if I could. But a mittened thumb is all I can offer.
I love Bob, and I love this post -- but I really love the book, which is even better than Palin says. I hope fans/friends of his will follow the links and buy one or three for the holidays. It's very excellent.
Ok, I'm going to buy this, just from this article. (Well, and Michael Palin's rec doesn't HURT... ;) )

I absolutely sympathize with you from the musician's side of the house. Keep at it, at least you're PUBLISHED, right? There's always a bright side...not too bright, though, don't want to melt the snow...

Rated.
Bob, your fortitude through this is amazing. And a lesson. See you on the flipside and happy holidays....
Bob, Let the healing begin...........It has with this incredible post
I like all the covers. What a difficult job to select. I know things will pick up. We are in difficult economic times. No one is buying much, except for Apple products and booze.....

I intend to buy a couple.......It will build for you..slowly perhaps.....
Glad you're OK.
Randy, I'll buy the book from you.
Wonderful, funny (why is sad funny?) post. But if the OS community is worth its salt, you should be zooming to the top of the Amazon charts today. (Second prize: Top of the OS charts :).)
WOW! Thanks for these comments. I am beet red.

...Randy, all good. I'll delete your first link as instructed. More later, I have to run to the mechanic. I hit a deer. Everyone is fine. The deer got up and is fine. The car not so much.
Wow!
And I thought publishing was a glamorous world! At least you seemed to enjoy parts of the big ice storm. i will take Kerry's suggestion to heart and order a book from Randy. Best wishes for the holidays.
Have you gotten a movie deal? Rated for hilarity!
I'm buying the book from Randy too...let's help retire Bob's debt/investment/expenses.
Snowman Expert, you are aware there is an eager array of independent booksellers who are handselling your book on a daily basis, right. With Bob's permission, I'll offer this link to order the book: History of the Snowman. I'll remit $4 for each copy ordered at my site between now and Dec. 31, 2008, to Mr. Eckstein (or the charity of his choice - although the Eckstein Family Fender Fund sounds rather appropriate right now).

If you're going to buy the book anyway (and it is in amazingly short supply), why not route your money toward the author and to independent business. Before you take this route, ask your local independent bookseller for the book.

You might not get the book in time for Christmas, but last time I checked, Winter hasn't even started officially. Of course, many of us have experienced it already, unofficially, Not least Bob.
Rick Moody once told me I had a good 'voice' (he was talking about my writing, not my talking). I cherish that. But getting a Python to say something you wrote is funny - yes, that is priceless.

Thanks for the hair raising education. I hope the book is a long term wonder .
Love your post. Rated for pathos and laughs. Here's a link to a segment of Prairie Home Companion, where GK sings, Book Tour Blues. Just ot know you're not alone.
http://tinyurl.com/phc-oct4-seg3
(drag the tab about halfway through, or you'll have to listen to the letters section. )
Ok, I just went back and reread this post, and clicked on all the links.

Bob, you are one seriously dedicated hard worker...you put this particular dilettante to shame, not that that's all that hard to do, I shame easy. I love your sense of humor, I love the youtube videos and I love your steampunk office recreations.

I have the book on order from Randy, best investment I've made in a long time. Thanks.
Did you really hit a deer? Or is that just a hook for a cartoon: "Snowman hits deer. Deer unhurt. Snowman melts in tears." :-).

Great piece. Multi-woofed and pawed.

WOOF
Randy, your second link goes to the OS home page. Please try again. Or, if I click on the first link, should I just browse for the book? Is that your site, or a bigger collective site?
Number of times my agent told me to get over myself : 2

Can we please talk about writing a screenplay based on this?

(Ushering in gesture) Step into my office...
I just have to plug this book. It is waaaaay more than a snowman book. You won't believe the amount of history and photos and illustrations and humor that Bob's included in this book (I am sure that his figure of $40,000, above, for buying rights is not an exaggeration.) It's gorgeous and informative and fun. Bob is such a humble guy and doesn't really promote the content much so I'm going to do it for him. I promise you, you'll be amazed at this book's quality once you see it in person. I bought one as a gift but I think I need another one for myself (thanks for a link, Randy!)

Bob, your cartoon and your mishap index are a riot! But Michael Palin - really?! I'd give up a kidney for his stamp of approval. Good luck with getting the deer damage fixed.
You had to deal with hecklers at a snowman presentation? Damn.

When I worked in publishing, I always dreamed of rising high enough in the ranks that I wouldn't have to personally wrap artwork for mailing. Never happened. I see the industry has lost none of its glamour.
Randy, JUST TYPE OUT THE URL OF THE DARN LINK. I think I just ordered 3 corsets and a ball and chain and whip outfit from some S & M site.

WOOF
Here's the link to Randy's store and the book directly. Please cut and paste.

https://destinationsbooksellers.theretailerplace.com/MLB/actions/searchHandler.do
You sold one more copy. Really.
Gosh. I'm stunned. I've been admiring snowmen for years, and yet I never once considered that they might have a real history. This sounds brilliant,and most entertaining. I wish you'd gotten your choice of cover, but I'm just glad you got it published. Ana's Story - bah. Loved the New England book tour video!!!
I don't know you are complaining about, Bob. By my calculations that's 5.8 books sold per state! A heckuva tour.
Bob, were you really born on the 27th or are you just being selfish?

Love this post! Holiday cheer all around!
I'd say you're over yourself.

Thanks for this.
i come from a competitive family, so I wish there was a way I could prove that I like this post the most. also, i'm a big fan of outrageous comments. i used to live in brattleboro so i'm very curious about the three hecklers you encountered...
One for me, one for my ubergeek-in-disguise voracious reader mechanic brother-in-law.

Snowballed.
Elliott Bay Books in Seattle has two copies...but one is on hold for me so there is only one left as of 12/17 at 9:40am.
I'm just saying.
The book has been in the well-known, this -is-where-Mom-hides-presents closet since it arrived just before Thanksgiving. It's killing me not to look through it. Come Christmas morning, in this book, you will find my nose.

In the meantime, I'll satisfy my all-things-snowy lust by driving the 7 or 8 hours to Durango tomorrow. I hope the snow will be just a wee bit damper so that snowman building is not an insurmountable task. It is snowing there now. A winter storm warning is in place and the showers are forecast to fall through Friday evening when we board the Polar Express to the North Pole. And we don't come home until Sunday!

As you can see, this is the perfect book for me (even though I am giving it to the entire family). And my two cents? Even though I like the cover, your engraving is my favorite, Towers of London or not.

Great job, Bob. I look forward to Christmas Day!
FWIW I love the final cover.

(Scroll down to "Gimme Shelter" to see one of the designs rejected for mine! http://www.wordsarepictures.co.uk/)

And I'm hip deep in admiration for your ability to stay sane and funny in the midst of all this.
Bob,

your office is the coolest place ever! Now I'm inspired to theme my office - it's really a nook that is under 5x8 feet - which is really just organized chaos.
I'm pretty sure you are a mad genius.

As usual, this is extra delightful and funny. The index of woes was hysterical, but telling. I know a bit about the book publishing business and how (non)lucrative it is, so I hope for you that a script for a funny-but-true History of the Snowman comes to fruition.

Really. Get on that. I want to see it!
Bob, first of all, I just placed my order with Amazon and it's on its way,well kind of. Sometimes between January 10-17th. I'm feeling in Colorado we're going to have a long winter with plenty of opportunities to make snowmen!

I've heard horror stories from authors about the dreaded book tours. Your experience is more common I think than not. That guy that wrote Tuesdays with Morrie had similar experiences and he was kind of famous! Not that you're not, but you know what I mean.

The ice storm pictures were beautiful and daunting. Thanks for this great report...enjoy a well deserved rest and I look forward to reading your book.
My humble apologies. Here is a non-hotlinked URL for buying the book, if you so choose and want $4 of your purchase to go to the author himself.

https://destinationsbooksellers.TheRetailerPlace.com/MLB/actions/searchHandler.do?key= 9781416940661&nextPage=bookDetails&parentNum=11581

Where 9781416940661 is the book's ISBN.

Again, sorry for the links that are bollixed or incomplete. I'm actually pretty good at that kind of stuff, but...
I'm sorry for all of the troubles and hair-pulling frustration, not only with writing and publishing but with trying to promote and sell it.

I bought a couple of copies (for gifts) after reading the previous blog post. I need to get one for myself now. It looks like it'll be a wonderful and fun read.
Ah, I wish you could have had better weather, Bob. If you'd been further north, you would have just had to deal with snow (we got 7 inches out of an expected 16 inches. Typical. :-D).

It's the hard-knock life, I know. But buddy, you are hella funny. Me, I know. :-D

Thumbed for your determination, illumination, and simple intestinal fortitude.
So your Canadian publisher is sending me a review copy. This is where the snowman sales are, believe me. We've got about ten sticky inches out there today.

Good cover. All that kitschy snowglobe stuff would have just confused people. You want the conceptual humour reader, not the Victorian knick knack buyer.
Is it possible to buy this book in Canada? I'd love to purchase it.
Great post; great pics. Have to open elsewhere to get the vidz, but I'll do that later. Went to Randy's site and ordered three copies, which is wonderful, but am eagerly anticipating anything nautical, even if it involved arctic exploration (kidding, kinda). I'm very fond of Philbrick. Keep us apprised!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Oh, and YD, did you make this up:
"Snowman hits deer. Deer unhurt. Snowman melts in tears." :-).
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Too Funny!
Bob -- I'm an author, and I think you'll really appreciate an article my agent and I wrote. It's called "Why Publishing is Making You Crazy-and What You Can Do About It: The Tao of Publishing." We talk about, among other things, the relationship between Amazon rank and sales (um, that would be "nada") and how bestseller lists are compiled. My agent represents a number of major NYT bestsellers and he's a pretty pragmatic guy, and me...well, I'm a bit more edified about publishing than I was a few years ago, let's just say. People are blogging all over the place about the piece, so thought I'd share it with you. http://julieannelong.typepad.com/julie_anne_long/. Good luck with it all, and enjoy the ride. :)...julie
the mishap index was hysterical. but painful to read.

i wonder how much longer book tours will exist.

i can't believe there were that many covers. it's actually a testament to interest on the project on both side.

the orphaning is the worst, though. that rarely ends well.

you seem to be recovering moderately well, though. a second year of hardback and a (second?) book tour is a big deal.

and you're rising on amazon, up around 3,000, which is really hot.
Hahahahaha... too funny Bob! Gotta love those hecklers and that -1 chill factor... Isn't that what the temperature was in Planes, Trains and Automobiles? How funny... and just one customer!!! Well, I think the book is going to be GREAT! And I have set myself to read it over this holiday. BTW, the above pictures are absolutely breathtaking. I have pictures like that from the blizzard of 78. It's been a long time since of scene a gorgeous winter wonderland.

I LOVE your office! All those gizmos... fantastic! Best wishes for lots and lots and lots of success Bob! :)
oh, and by the way, I go to the site, it's just a homepage. I type in "snowman" in the Search box:

The Chocolate Snowman Murders
Beware, the Snowman
The Abominable Snowman Doesn't Roast Marshmallows
A Snowman Named Just Bob (!)
Snowman in a Box (ooh, ahh!)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Then I go hunting for snowman related murder... crime....

"Inside Frosty's mangled torso; Matt found a screwdriver and footprints on the nylon."

"Phallic Frosty the Snowman"

...a quote from a Jo Nesbø book:

"The Snowman murders only when the first snow falls, choosing unfaithful wives as his victims and literally turning them into snowmen."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Who knew snowmen were such a perverse lot?
I think you will sell more books if you call it "Sexual History of Snowpeople." With appropriate suggestive graphics.
Thanks...

Randy, thank you for help. (I thanked him in an email but wanted him to be thanked in public.)

I would like to write to many of these comments but publicly let me add...I loved the Garrison Keillor Book Tour Blues...I really hit a deer, a very large one and I'm now driving a hybrid rental...Caveat, your comments had me laughing out loud...I am anxious to check out the links sent! These comments have been really curious as to what other's experiences have been...Yes, Michael Palin is/was really nice. He asked if when he comes to New York I can make time to meet. I'll have to look at my busy schedule...The hecklers; An art historian with two of his supporters came to the Brattleboro show to dispute my claim of the 1389 illuminated manuscript illustration of the grotesque snowman I found in the Royal Library at the Hague. In the middle of the film I show and narrate over, he let out this huge outburst and interrupted the presentation claiming that no such illustrations existed. I took the low road and made fun of him. He and his entourage left without purchasing a book...Office; Marcel, I know people who have converted closets into the coolest offices. Your 5' x 8' if anything is too large...Yes, Canada has the book. Somewhere. If you or anyone would like to buy the book but can't just let me know. I did 12 radio interviews there and was supposed to be on their biggest morning show but we couldn't work it out this year schedule wise. I love Canada, especially Quebec City...Videos won't open; some browsers give people trouble and I suspect if you switched you'll find sites working better for you...Philbrick! His In the Heart of the Sea got this started. I was given the book by a man who was like 400 lbs. and sat not just next to me but under me. It was a long flight and we became very close. He gave me the book and after I fell in love with it I contacted the agent and editor and said I wanted to write a book for them. Sent them a cover letter. Mentioned I enjoyed them on NPR. Included a book proposal and tearsheets. The editor broke my heart and told me the manuscript for In the Heart of the Sea was a mess and that agents now have to be editors. Told me a good book was 90% cover art, 9% idea, 1% writing. I weighed the pros and cons of agents I was considering and actually went with David Black because they have a very good record. Tuesdays With Morrie were them, Warren B., etc, so, no brainer...How did I get any agent's attention? I believe the key is writing in a big city a weekly or regular column, developing a brand name. It's tricky without some little name recognition. I believe it is the way to go and could even be done here. I'd be happy to elaborate if anyone wishes to hear more...and I'd be welcome to learn from what you know to help me and fill in the blanks...Dave, your book tour is going to be great...does it include Vermont?
Doh! Schenectady! Thanks for the fun-filled peek into the glam side of publishing.

Here in L.A., we passed around copies of your book in various Secret Santa/White Elephant proceedings. And I have to say, during the swapping phase, they were fought over more than DVDs. An enjoyable, fun – and fact-filled – book. Thanks for that, too.
i meant to ask about the hecklers, too. i figured it had to be some whackos, but could never have dreamed that. too fucking funny.

(my friend wrote "The Island of Lost Maps" about traders in ancient maps, and boy did he take some flack from those people.

i have heard you have to be particularly careful about describing early trains. those people are apparently easy to unsettle. i'm not kidding.

good advice on the branding, etc. to get a book deal. there are lots of ways to go about it, but one way or another, it helps greatly to establish some sort of platform and also a track record.

(i think publishers feel, for one thing, that author is not an entry-level position--or rarely. i think OS is a good entry point for a lot of people.)

i've been thinking that some of us should set up some sort of QA forum for people getting into the field looking for info/advice on how to proceed. i know i felt kind of lost. it was a great benefit to have gone to undergrad with a lot of writers, and then spent several years away from doing it as a profession. that gave several peers time to get ahead of me in the process and pave the way. it didn't open doors, but they sure answered a million questions.
bob, i'm posting out of order, just read yours. thanks.

i'm afraid no vt. not even chicago, which shocked me, since i grew up there and have lots of ties, and it's the third largest city i the country. my publicist's reasoning made sense, though. those guys take a lot of trashing, but he's brilliant.

i think a lot of the publishing system is fucked up and especially out-dated, and could use an overhaul, but it's not for lack of talented people. i don't know about you, but certain quarrels and a whole lot of painful hurdles aside--and it took me three different publishers to get this one into print--i've dealt mainly with incredibly bright people.

plus, they are up against huge odds: try to find original voices writing great new stuff, artfully in ways that a visual-oriented public will buy, and then get the little paper stacks out to 300 million of them who are not paying attention. tough job.

on my tour, i got the tentative list from my publicist a couple days ago and haven't gotten to posting it yet, but here it is:

- launch in denver/boulder april 6
- east coast leg shortly after: a few days in NYC, then possibly DC and Miami
- then west coast leg of LA, SF, Seattle and possibly Portland.

that's it. a lot of "tours" are now spread out, where you actually do one city at a time, for one night, and then another 3-5 days later. in my case, it will be condensed, because there's only two weeks between pub date and columbine's tenth anniversary (april 6 and 20).

so everything will probably take place in the those two weeks.
Holy christ. I guess whiny self-pity is one way to sell a few more copies, but it certainly doesn't make you look any better as an author. Spending way more than your advance just makes your book look like a vanity piece, along with the fact that your book is not listed on your publisher's front page, on its new releases page, or anywhere noticeable without doing a search. If you were honest you would rerank the Schenectady event as 3, 1, 2. Instead of blaming 'mishaps,' the 'economy,' and the 'sad state of publishing' for your failure maybe come to terms with the fact that everyone thinks they're an author, the publishing industry in the best of times is brutal and oversupplied, and like 99% of books out there, your book didn't hack it.

And the comparison to Ana's Story? Guess what, she's a First Daughter, her ghost-writer probably writes better than you and has published more than you, and the story of a child met through UNICEF suffering from AIDS and abuse is a lot more compelling than a book about snowmen. Bush may be the worst president ever, but I'm more likely to buy Ana's Story now that you've pointed it out (likelihood: still "not at all") than your book.

Stick to writing columns and be glad you can make a living writing at all in today's economy, and continue milking the Palin blurb for all it's worth.

Seriously if you think your travails in pimping this book are the slightest bit extraordinary, you needed to spend some time sitting down with someone in the business who wasn't selling to you for a long chat--or just read a few of the equally whiny, self-absorbed "travails of a new author" articles published on Salon.

Maybe I'm just missing your joke.
Though to contradict myself, the book was obviously a bigger success than your tour if the first print sold out. Sounds like it's actually doing quite well, and should at least pay for itself and then some, which is quite an impressive showing, typically sad book tour notwithstanding.
Bob, some how I see you & The Snowman as the “Little Engine that Could”…… I know you can, I know you can… There is a new year on the horizon and you will be part of all the good things that it will bring.

“Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success.”
Dale Carnegie
This is so funny. When you're 90 years old living in a three story gold snowman you'll get the last laugh.
Number of authors still jealous you got a tour at all: plenty.

When my book came out my publisher told me they were banking on good reviews and word of mouth -- in retrospect I wished I'd put my advance toward hiring a publicist as is frequently advised these days... Maybe next time.
Good luck with the book - look forward to checking it out!
nKennedy said: the publishing industry in the best of times is brutal and oversupplied.

These ain't the best of times. If you think newspapers are in dire straits, read my e-mails from the publishing industry. And the worst part is that they are making decisions that will of necessity cause sales to drop even further.

It is more brutal than you can imagine, and you really can't equate quality with sales. This released in 2007, late in the year. I've told Bob that the same book, same price, but released as a paperback, would have skyrocketed. But you can't believe the resistance to a hardcover that looks like it's a $25-30 book.

And it's good. And Ana's Story? 'Tweren't. There are real books and then there are celebrity books. Only occasionally do they cross paths.

In any case, you are too harsh, and I can think of no worse time in my life to be trying to relaunch a seasonal book. No worse time. Kudos to Bob for toughing out the tour and the vicissitudes of an industry that's literally running scared right now.
A message to nkennedy: I think you seem to be mistaking Mr. Eckstein's good-natured, self-deprecating humor for "whiny self-pity."

Although you self-corrected slightly with your follow-up post, I think your first rant is exactly the type of thing that makes some aspects of the Internet so utterly foul-- people feel far too comfortable being rude to people they've never met. Now, I won't presume to know how you treat people when you meet them in person-- perhaps you are blunt and in-your-face, always "telling it like it is." But your message strikes me as another example of useless online snark that serves no purpose except to be hurtful.

(Unless your purpose was to say some nasty things in a bid for attention, in which case I have played right into your hands. Regardless, your initial post came across as mean-spirited.)

I recently purchased Mr. Eckstein's book. As it turns out, it is delightful. Highly recommended.

Happy Holidays.
Mortimer, thank you for saying what I would have.

Bob, as the survivor of a 25 city book tour a couple of years ago, I was nodding my head, laughing and growing and wincing all the way through.

Love the cover. Have ordered two copies from my local independant bookseller.
Sigh. Growling, not growing.
Bob, if you're going to get a letter from a Palin, you want it to be Michael!

Thanks for the story. Glad you were able to find humor in what had to be a pretty discouraging experience. One of my best friends is a recovering book publicist and the whole experience seems to be pretty thankless all around.

You might enjoy this account of an author sharing a table with ex-wrestler Bret "The Hitman" Hart at a book fair: http://www.usnews.com/blogs/robert-schlesinger/2008/11/19/bret-hitman-hart-and-me-wrestling-with-book-sales.html
austin, i had the same thought, but you expressed it much funnier. gave me a good chuckle.

and thanks to mortimer for expressing all my reactions to that strange mean-spirited post.

here's someone who has both a critical hit and modest commercial success--great success for a first time author--and is still happy to laugh about himself and his troubles, and that's who you choose to rip a new one?

i've seen a lot of whining on the web, and this ain't it. i found it very funny, but that's a matter of taste. i don't see the whining charge holds up, or why you would want to attack someone for being an artist, following their dream and doing well at it.
I know that this is written in a tongue in cheek fashion and you're having a little bit of fun with it all but dude, you hit 1,500 on Amazon.com. I got really excited when my book (http://beerbloodandcornmeal.com) hit 18,000. In fact, any time my book comes in a sales ranking below 100K is a gift. Also, $35,000 for an advance? You'd cry if you saw my advance check. Let's just say it's lower than your book's social networking website ad budget.

Just a small reality check from the world of indie publishing. I enjoyed the post and actually thank you for its informational value.
During the time that Bob was writing his book, I had the privelege and pleasure of proof-reading various versions for Bob and have spent countless hours in-person and on the phone with him discussing the various highs and lows before and after publishing. I can attest that he is not into "whiny, self pity". But he is also not "a mad genius"...just a really talented and good guy, and I echo the many wonderful comments.
And, of course, I don't have the priv-I-lege of editing my own work...by the way, Bob, Nick and Mike made a little snowman last night, just for you.
Ha! The dark underbelly of one's dreams coming true. Your travail reminds me of an interview I heard some 20 years ago. Author James Lee Burke was on tour.

Clueless-local-celebrity-radio-host: "So...you've got a book signing tonight...hey, tell me...have you ever had a book signing and nobody came?"

Burke: [pause] "I have found that I don't have to go looking for humility because humility finds me of its own accord."

For the record, your favorite book cover is my favorite too.

Very enjoyable read. Thank you.
So you know how hard your Toronto publicist is working, my mailman just handed me the book.

Gotta love those Snowman laxative ads. Hard to believe that Lash's Bitters is not still around. Maybe they should have focus grouped that name?

I promise I will not be another one of the OS reviewers who doesn't make your index.
Great, great post. Very enjoyable. I like the final cover, and your pics of the ice storm are beautiful. I'm glad you got some good out of your disastrous tour!
Thanks....

No, I had/having alot fun and complaining for comic effect, of course...actually I have to share one day some of the more outrageous (yet true) entries I left off of the index...
Ex. Number of seconds it took for me to realize I was sitting in the wrong hotel room by accident with a woman in the shower : 22
I'm convinced -- now I'm going to go buy this book!
Thanks, Paris. I know that different venues are scrambling to have the book available and the status changes day to day as sales have increased–I'm getting emails from people and stores about needing more copies. I ask that if you should want to get a copy please let me know and I will personally help out. I learned as I'm writing this that Amazon is back in stock after running out for a awhile.

If you happen to get a chance, I'm on Good Morning America, Christmas day...
Well,bob, at least you made it home safe and sound.
You are a trooper! I find your journey in the publishing world fascinating tho' a bit depressing. You, however, have such a wonderful way of making lemonade out of lemons!
ALways a great read- keeps a smile on my face!
Good luck in 2009!!!!
Hugs, S
wow, GMA is a coup.

good luck and enjoy it.

i expect that will spike sales much more than the whole book tour. though the tour may have helped land it in some way. or not.
... actually I have to share one day some of the more outrageous (yet true) entries I left off of the index...
Ex. Number of seconds it took for me to realize I was sitting in the wrong hotel room by accident with a woman in the shower : 22


OMG, that happened to me once when I was escorted to a room in a fancy hotel by a bell-man. It was I who figured out that we were in the wrong room. Needless to say, no tip that day! I just hope the person in the shower never found out!

Bob - My copies of the book were extremely well received as presents at Christmas, and I am now going to have to buy more because there are friends clamoring! It is too fun a read to do without. And I think your post here should go out with each new book. You are one funny dude.
Gak! I'm choking on my words. Don't know where to start. What an epic! Was that a post or a weekend I just spent? Watched it all, and incidentally also a big fan of steam punk (linked on my OS blog). The book cover spectrum was fascinating; the idea of retro-fitting a writing space incredible. The book looks great (I'll buy it myself). Shocking that OS folks didn't send you thanks?? Something's not right there. The videos were hilarious... "Planes, Trains..." one of the best comedies ever. Gak. Don't know what to say other than that was great. Loved reading it all. Good luck.
Bob,
Wow. This is showpiece. Excellent chronicling of your adventures in book tour land. And damn! How proud of yourself you must be!
Your wit is astounding. There are so many things I loved about this post I'm actually going to have to go back through it a bit and remind myself....

"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 "

Nice, gotta love that.

The pictures were amazing. Absolutely breathtaking.

The menudo thing made me laugh my ass off. How are you so quick?

And I'm definitely sold on the book. You're right behind Chelsea Handler, man. ;)
The sad thing is, you really are. I love that bitch

Rated.
Just belatedly found this post from the cross-reference (post on The Blurb). Thanks for giving us laughs out of your tear-worthy experiences trying to sell your book. It's tales like yours that make hesitate to even keep trying to sell my own book - - I've heard too many like this from authors!
Oh, hilarious. I'm dying. Love the "dollars lost b/c NY Times could not reach me for a job" vs. "amount made from a reading: $10"

I can't believe all you got from "Good Morning America" was a hot chocolate. But did they have a stylist do your hair and make-up and all that sort of thing? Now I'm definitely over my envy of writers who get on "Good Morning America"