Monday, October 26, 2015

My 3rd Annual Book Report

My latest book is my most non-niche and has the potential to become my best-selling. NaNoWriMo is imminent, and I figure now is a perfectly auspicious time for me to take stock of how I’m doing thus far with my publishing endeavors and to ask my friends which of my in-progress or in-my-head projects I should tackle exclusively for the month of November, which I do annually. The non-self-publishing industry has not yet taken notice of me, but it cannot do this forever, because I’m putting out at least a book a year until 2095. I don’t know what my numbers will be then, but these are my numbers to date, in order of copies sold, completion percentage, and development stage in my brain, respectively:

Published (5):

54 Runners, 54 Stories: The Tale of the 2012 200k JRunners Relay Race: 74 copies sold. I’m very proud of this one, my current bestseller. I targeted an entire very-niche market, and sold it to nearly all of them. A sequel will be written, but it likely requires a full relay to be deserving of that. It seems promising.

The Year of Bad Behavior: Bearing Witness to the Uncouthiest of Humanity: 67 copies sold. The things that people moan and groan about concerning their fellow man, especially on Facebook, are all covered here. Every time I revisit the manuscript, it feels so current. Proud of this one too.

Bush II, Book I: 61 copies sold. The world has found this book. It exists somewhere that’s getting attention. Kindle versions are constantly finding themselves into strangers’ hands.

A Conversation on The Way: 60 copies sold. Reviewed on 3 blogger sites, featured at the YU Seforim Sale, nicely received. I especially enjoy the artwork by Dena Szpilzinger, the first hired professional of my writing career. I’m hoping to able to afford other services, like editing, though I am grateful to my volunteers.

Extracts From Noah’s Diary: 26 copies sold. Mark Twain wrote Extracts from Adam’s Diary, then followed up later with Eve’s Diary, then did not follow up any further, save for some parodies of Methuselah’s entries. This is where I came in; a sequel 100 years overdue. So big, it’s biblical. I’m just getting warmed up with this one, and am currently working on getting newspapers and media outlets to review it. I worked hard on the jokes, and strenuously on the research. It’s actually a giant d’var torah, and I feel my newest baby deserves a lot of attention.

In progress (9):

Bush II, Book II: Manuscript 47% complete. I haven’t tackled this in a while, but it’s time to return. The attention the first book is getting warrants this.

The Year of Bad Behavior II: More Scalawags, Dirtbags, Bullyrags, and Lollygags: Manuscript 30% complete. I also must return to this as well. The format differs from its prequel – grievances are ordered by category, rather than written as diary entries – and I think I’ll have an interesting product when complete.

A Conversation on the Conversation: Manuscript 20% complete. The first book is begging for a sequel, but it’s going to take lots of work. The quasi-fictional idea is that the original becomes a best-seller, and I’m invited to a talk show to discuss. This is the hard part. I and my interviewer pore over the original manuscript point for point, and I also will include rebuttals to my arguments that I received (in real life) from readers. It’s daunting, big big, but I’ll get it done somehow.

Forty Runners Less one: Stories and Glories From the 2013 200k JRunners 200k Relay Race: Manuscript: 10% complete. I am still collecting the runner stories as we speak, also conducting interviews when needed. I’ll target the same niche group as the original, and hopefully attract more runners to the great race. I am also collecting stories for the 2014 version of the race, and actually have 25% of the pack’s write-ups in hand, but it looks like the runners are more eager to contribute, as mentioned above, when the relay is a full one. I think I have to pull that off before I pull a book sequel off, in which all past year’s entries that I have on file will be included.

The Man Who Read 1,001 Books Before He Died. 2% complete. You know those popular 1,001 xxx to xxx Before You Die books? Specifically, the Books to Reads one? I thought it would be a neat trick to actually read those 1,001 books and write about the experience. This was what I NaNoWriMoed last year, and I’ve been fully immersed since. Whether you measure my status by the number of books I’m up to (23) or the pace at which I’ll read them (I’m scheduled to finish in September 2055. I should live so long!), the number is 2%. I’ve got a long way to go, but the progress will be steady. There is no question it’ll be the largest work I’ll ever put out. Not even a year in, it stands at 65,000 words/230 pages.

My First 25 Marathons: The Running Story of a Midpack Runner: Putting all my marathon running reports together. Hoping I can find them all. I wonder if I’ll be successful. If I can actually find them, collating should be a snap. Everything’s already been written! The 25 would include my two upcoming marathons, but would exclude the Makeshift Marathon I ran when Sandy canceled NYC in 2012, and also the four ultras I’ve run. Or maybe they shouldn’t be excluded at all. I’ll think about it.

Zaidy's War: My maternal grandfather's memoirs, which I recorded in notebooks and on VHSes. Must find time for this project. Zaidy passed away almost two years ago, and it’s important for his story to see the light of day.

Mordechai’s Pamphlet: My paternal grandfather’s memoirs. The man for whom I am named recorded his thoughts about losing his wife and three children in WWII, surfacing from the ashes with his faith intact, marrying my grandmother, rebuilding a home with six children, then suffering for years from lung cancer until his death at age 47. He called the collection Kuntres Mordechai, and it is entirely written in Hebrew. I want to translate it to English, but I first need to understand Hebrew a lot better. I’m working on that.

Children's Book #1 with Classified Title: I'm trying to write a parody of a famous children's book. First draft did not pass muster with my Editor-in-Chief. Will submit new drafts shortly.

In my head (8):

Children's Book #2 with Classified Title: I was inspired by a series of photographs that I took of my children. My Editor-in-Chief has some great ideas about spinning it into a bedtime story. I’m pondering the text, and will need an illustrator to convert the pictures we have into artwork for the book.

Parenting Book with Classified Title: There are many parenting books out there. Most of them are garbage. I have an idea for one with a healthy dose of humor and a large general twist. My everyday parenting keeps inspiring ideas for the project. I think I’m to begin putting pen-to-paper on this shortly.

The Inevitables: A Gladwellian idea I have about people who spend their entire lives in pursuit of a specific career, switch to something else on a dime, and become wildly successful despite a complete lack of practice or the 10,000 hours Gladwell himself talks about.

Universals: The Differences and Similarities Between Global Cultures: I’m fascinated by this. There are things that are the same 99% of everywhere (basic utensils, green is go, cash for service, elemental human needs), and things that are different 99% of everywhere (voting systems, traffic handling, cordiality, attire, interpretation of freedom, hand gestures, justice). I’d like to explore.

Speakers of the Torah: My first actual sefer-esque idea. While researching my Noah book, it struck me how little dialogue God has with his direct primordial creations. Noah never speaks to God. Adam speaks two utterances to his Creator. Eve speaks to Him more than her husband does. There is also limited dialogue between man and man. I read a discourse by the famous Nechama Leibowitz on the dialogues of the biblical Joseph. She made fascinating conclusions, and it left me intrigued. I think this idea is worth exploring in full, and I wonder where the research will take me. I’ll start writing notes on this, and see where it leads.

Things that Drive Me Crazy About the Talmud: My second actual even more sefer-esque idea. My shadchan self-published a sefer recently, borne out of notes he kept while learning through TaNaCH over a 15-year period. They were truly original thoughts that he compressed into a single, impressive volume. I realized while reading that our thought-lines were quite similar, especially in regards to the myriad unanswered questions – and potentially original ones – that I had about the gemorah, in which I’m currently immersed in my second cycle of learning. I have begun to keep notes, and here too, I will look back after a time and see if I have anything worthy of being recorded in a single large volume. Apologies, I don’t have a more polite title at this time.

Obama, Book I: Must Finish Bush II, Book II first.

Obama, Book II: I never thought there’d be a sequel. Honestly, but here we are, and the sequel’s almost done!

When you let me which project I should tackle for November, also please let me know what my grade is on my report.

Oh, and feel free to avail yourself to a book of mine or two (Just a few more sales and I will have sold 300 books; nice little milestone) at 50%-75% off. I'll have several more items on my bookshelf for you very soon, but for now, truly, the lineup is quite colorful, and pleasing to the eye – at least to mine:

And I gotta put out another issue of TheKnish…