Authors Mac Barnett and Jory John are taking book touring to a whole new level in 2015, attempting to sell their middle-grade novel to every single household in America. Personally.
While a door-to-door bookselling business is an ambitious project for the two authors--longtime friends who met more than a decade ago--Abrams, publisher of their new book, The Terrible Two, is confident that it will all work out.
"There are 318 million people in the United States," said Susan Van Metre, publisher of Abrams Books for Young Readers. "That's a very big number."
"The tour started with more modest ambitions: 22 school visits in a week, in Houston, Tex., but it quickly grew from there," said Abrams executive director of publicity and marketing Jason Wells. "Twenty-two school visits in five days initially sounded great, but we still felt like we weren't working these guys hard enough. We wanted them to personally meet with every potential book buyer in America."
From Texas, the authors traveled northward by train into Oklahoma, then through the entirety of Kansas and Nebraska, before heading east into Iowa, where they remain, knocking on doors to this day. While that covers only five out of 50 states, the authors are still relatively young, and, according to the publisher's resident physician, Dr. Carl Rorkman, they should be able to complete the task in two to four years. "We completed full physicals on both men," said Dr. Rorkman. "They both seem pretty healthy."
While Barnett and John have worked with children for most of their lives, this particular tour, which they've quietly deemed "The Terrible Tour," feels different to them. One big difference: most children--admittedly the target demographic for their novel--are in school during the day. Still, that doesn't stop the authors from launching into their rehearsed banter for wary adults who open the door.
Barnett said that the authors try to make each presentation seem spontaneous. "Admittedly, that's difficult after our 2,000th 45-minute presentation," he said. "But sometimes, we add new jokes into the mix." "We're getting an opportunity to really road-test our material," added John.
|Mac and Jory on a typical door-to door-solicitation--another satisfied customer!
Norman Climo, a retired social worker from Alden, Iowa, said that, while he was initially annoyed by the mid-afternoon interruption, the authors' incessant patter eventually grew on him. "They interrupted Ellen, who I dearly love, but these boys were pretty funny, too," said Climo. "I didn't buy their book, and I did miss a Johnny Depp interview, but I needed the company."
Barnett said that when most people open the door, they assume the authors are selling religion or Amway products. "People are oftentimes saddened to see that it's a middle-grade novel," he said.
John added that he didn't pack his suitcase very well, as the scope of the tour wasn't fully explained to him in advance. "Honestly, I didn't bring a coat, and my only pair of shoes is developing holes," said John, with an involuntary shudder.
Barnett added that, while he desperately misses his family, he understands why this is important. "These books aren't going to sell themselves," he said.
In her spacious Manhattan office, lounging in what she calls her comfy chair, publisher Van Metre said that Abrams is boldly reinventing author tours in the 21st century. "We've found authors with never-ending energy and a willingness to explore America," she said.
"I'm pretty exhausted," admitted Barnett, back in Iowa, staring at a roadside diner's map of the United States. John did not respond, and appeared to be sleeping sitting up.
test comment 5
Test comment 7
Test comment 8
test comment 9
test comment 10
test comment 11
test comment 18
test comment 19
test comment 22
test comment 23
test comment 24
test comment 25
test comment 26
test comment 27
test comment 28
test comment 29
test comment 30
test comment 31
test comment 32
test comment 33
test comment 34
test comment 35 fffff f f
test comment 1
test comment 2
This really was one the funniest April Fools Day articles. Jenn testing 6/25/15
test comment by paulo