All orders of THE LIVING have now shipped. This book is now officially released and the Warm Bodies series is complete.
People have questioned the wisdom of sharing my struggles to get THE LIVING published. They say no one wants to hear about pain and failure, they want to hear about money and parties and bestseller lists. They want their artists to be STARS, and stars don’t bleed.
I can understand this. It does seem weird to begin all my announcements with tales of delays and mishaps and letdowns. But for some reason, it feels right for me. My whole creative life has been a struggle, always rowing against the current. People offer me tricks and formulas to make everything easier, and I just…can’t…follow them. With the success of WARM BODIES I enjoyed a brief moment in the tropical waters of the mainstream…then promptly dived back into the icy black torrent of the weirdstream. Doing things wrong is my whole brand, so it seems only right to share the tales of mayhem.
You all know the comedy of errors that pushed THE LIVING from a polished fall release into a haphazard scramble to ship before Christmas. Let me tell you how that scramble went.
I arrived in New York City ready for action. Our printer had promised the books would arrive by the 19th, which was the latest we could ship and still be sure to reach everyone by Christmas. Zola Books (my pseudo-publisher) had all the packages labeled and primed for launch. All systems go.
Then the printer’s binding machine broke. Prose so dense, themes so heavy, massive industrial equipment SHATTERS against them!
The books arrived at 5:00 pm the next day. I had about 30 seconds to enjoy holding my book in my hands and perusing its soft, smooth pages.
Then we sprang into action. It was a desperate race against the clock to get them signed, packaged, and shipped before the post office closed at 10. There were four of us. There were 1200 orders. It was mayhem.
We made it through half the stock and decided we had to go. We loaded half a ton of books into a U-Haul van and rushed them to the biggest post office in New York. Then we discovered that the back entrance was closed, so we had to carry them box by box up these stairs in the rain while illegally parked on 8th Avenue.
Take a moment to imagine us staggering up and down this Greek edifice over and over again with our burden of books. As Zola Joe pointed out, what a perfect visual metaphor for a Sisyphean task.
With the first run finished, we hurried back to the office and back into the fray. We signed and stuffed till 4:30 in the morning. Zola Joe and I crashed on the office couches and slept a hearty 2 hours, then began the final push as the sun came up to greet a torrential downpour.
Picture me if you will, driving a cargo van into the construction-clogged bowels of the Penn Station post office looking for the mythical back entrance ramp while construction crews and security guards screamed at me to get out and postal workers demanded I wait for an unseen supervisor to appear and take the packages. If Kafka were an indie author, he would’ve had plenty of inspiration.
Finally someone came and took the domestic orders from us, so we were almost free. Just the small matter of 200 international orders, which had to be mailed by hand, one at a time, at the main post office window, at a rate of about 5 minutes per book. I released the Zola crew to go home, and took this final stretch alone.
Picture me now in the vast hall of Penn Station, having commandeered half of their windows with my insane project, feeding books to them hour after hour as I sank into delirium on my 2 hours of sleep. Picture me sitting in this marble prison from 10 am to 8 pm. I can now add “laid out some cardboard and slept on the floor of a train station” to my author resume.
But you know what happened next? It ended. The postmaster told me, “Thank you for your business! Please never come back.” And I went home and slept 14 hours.
THE LIVING is now released. I know some of you have already read it digitally, but for me it’s not real until it’s real. And now it’s real. I have held it my hands, turned its pages, smelled the fresh glue on the spine. It’s a beautiful book. It’s in the mail right now on its way to your home. Very soon, it will be in your hands too, and we’ll be connected by an invisible thread.
I hope you don’t keep this to yourself. I hope you share your experience so that others can have it too. I hope you post pictures of your books and talk about the story. Can you believe this story is over? Four books. NINE YEARS. What an epic journey this has been. Thank you for taking it with me.
P.S For those of you who ordered a copy as a Christmas gift, if you’re in the US you will hopefully receive it on Christmas Eve. If you haven’t by end of day, let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send a personal IOU to the recipient that you can use as a placeholder.
P.S.S A few of the series bundles shipped out without the thank you cards. I will be mailing those to you separately when I get home in a few days.