Brand Building or, "Porno Bantering"

I know this is hard to believe, given that I only mention it every other day, but I have a book coming out.

I don't know much about promoting a book, so I contacted a writer that my publisher had put me in touch with.  His wife is his business manager, so she generally answers all his e-mails.

I got some great feedback from her as far as tips for promoting my book.  It was invaluable stuff, really, although I'd actually thought of some of it.

But that was just the first half of her e-mail.  It would not be an overstatement to say that she spent the second half of the e-mail scolding me.


Her first complaint was that she had to type the URL for my web site into her browser or she never would have found my site.  This, I thought, was a legitimate complaint, until I did a search on Google and found that all of the results on the first page for a search for "Kyle Garret" are about me, and almost all of those are for my site.  I even tried using AOL and got similar results.

Her second complaint was that I should have a web site dedicated to my book, not one dedicated to, well, me.  A totally valid point, but I actually DO have a web site dedicated to my book, it's just not done yet, so I haven't been adding it to my signature in my e-mails (which, by the way, is how she knew about my personal site).

So far, I was right there with her.  These seemed like legitimate issues, even if they both had explanations.

And then she started in on the content of KyleGarret.com.

I should point out that, estimating the age of her husband, she is probably around my parents' age.  If you look around this web site, you could probably see that she isn't remotely my target demographic; she's obviously not a nerdy white guy in his 30's.  So I can understand visiting this site, expecting one thing, and being put off by the reality.

She suggested that I set aside my book from the rest of the things on my site, which she referred to as "political viewpoints, comics, music and porno bantering."

Yes, "porno bantering."

Now, go ahead: look around this site.  Take your time.  You will not find a single instance of anything involving pornography.  You will, however, find a review of the latest album by the band called The New Pornographers.

She went on to imply that I wasn't honoring my grandparents (whom the book is about), and that I should wrap my head around it being about them and not me.

You can probably understand why I was a little annoyed by all this.

After my initial shock and awe, I began to wonder why it was that this woman's e-mail bothered me so much.  Aside from being accused of a number of things of which I'm not guilty (not taking my book seriously, not honoring my grandparents, and, of course "porno bantering"), I kind of wondered if maybe there wasn't another reason why I was so upset.

The answer was obvious: this is exactly the reaction I worry about getting.

"I Pray Hardest When I'm Being Shot At," aka "my book" is non-fiction.  It's covers 3 wars.  It's about my grandparents, who are much older than me.  There are no superheroes in it.  There's nothing supernatural about it.  There's no swearing and no sex.  Aside from some tricky narrative devices, it's pretty straight forward.

In other words, it's absolutely nothing like anything else I've ever written, or anything I'm writing now.

People who write a book like "Pray," write it because they have a story to tell; I have a LOT of stories to to tell.

I have always worried about my first major foray into publishing being a book that is an anomaly, because it is.

The other day I went to Meltdown, my local comic book store.  I ran into my old comic book writing class teacher, who was there with his current class.  He introduced me to his class and mentioned that I had a book coming out.

I was in a comic book store, surrounded by other nerds, talking to people who wanted to make comics about a book that probably didn't appeal to them on any level.

If I had another book coming out, I could have a signing at Meltdown, or use them to help promote it -- I could go on Meltcast, their weekly podcast, to talk about it.  But "Pray" has nothing to do with that world...a world I feel most comfortable in.

I know that I'll have to put on a specific face when I promote "Pray."  It's not a false face by any means, but it's not the one I feel most natural in.  I also know that, aside from family and friends, there's not going to be a lot of cross pollination between "Pray" and any of my other works.  I can only imagine what those who buy "Pray" and then buy my short story collection are going to think.

In some ways, it makes me feel like a fraud, even though I know that's not the case.  But promoting this book is going to be something of a mind twister.

Then again, "Pray" does have at least one thing in common with the rest of my work: heart.  And perhaps that will be enough.

Look for the "Pray" web site to be up by the end of this week.  Look for "Pray" to be in stores about a month after that.

My grandparents bought me my first comic book; I'm honoring them just fine.