Drolz vs Halpern
A Lesson on Publishing Circa 2010
This is what Justin Halpern, author of Sh*t My Dad Says, has to say about himself:
"If I weren't me, I'd hate me,"
he says. "I'd be on the Internet logging nasty comments about me."
I'm not him and I hate him. But I love his book and highly recommend reading it. And I'm going to log some nasty comments about him anyway.
Halpern took the whole process of getting a book published and condensed it into a blink. This is why I hate him. In fact, here's a play-by-play account on how to get published Drolz style and how to get published Halpern style:
Get to work on a manuscript in 1994.
Throw excerpts into Internet chat groups for feedback.
Get mixed feedback.
Finish manuscript in 1996.
Brownnose as many agents and book publishers as possible.
Get rejected by all of them. (Number one reason: "Deafness isn't marketable.")
Tell agents and book publishers to go to hell.
Set up own publishing company. Navigate through tons of red tape, sales tax licenses, et cetera, and create Handwave Publications.
Find a shoddy book manufacturer and print first edition of Deaf Again. Officially release book in 1997.
Store all 2000 copies in the corner of a dank apartment.
Fulfill mail orders from said dank apartment.
Wait for Oprah to call.
Oprah doesn't call.
Books sell slowly. Reviews are good, but books move like molasses.
Finally sell out whole inventory of books in 1999. Hire a friend to spiff up the cover and interior layout for second edition.
Find a different book manufacturing company. Realize that the first one was a con artist.
Friend's new design makes a difference. Book starts moving faster. Gets picked up by Harris Communications and Forest Bookshop catalogs.
Sell translation rights to Signum Press in Germany, who publish German edition titled Endlich Gehorlos.
Funnel moolah into third edition of Deaf Again. Hire a pro for cover design and interior layout.
Book becomes required reading for several ASL and Deaf Studies classes.
Now that it finally has a niche, sales are more predictable. Able to get to work on a second book, Anything but Silent.
Publish Anything but Silent in 2004.
Switch to a more cost-effective book manufacturer. Publish a fourth edition and more printings of Deaf Again.
Funnel earnings into a book titled On the Fence: The Hidden World of the Hard of Hearing.
Watch in awe as my wife Melanie becomes President, CEO, Accountant, Public Relations Director, and Booking Agent for Handwave Publications. (Self publishing is fun, but there's a lot of red tape. Melanie is a whiz at handling it.)
Prepare and give presentations related to all three books at various events.
Enjoy the ride. Even if Oprah never calls.
Get dumped by girlfriend.
Move in with smart-mouthed seventy-three-year-old dad.
Notice dad says a lot of outrageous stuff.
Post dad's outrageous quotes on Twitter.
Accumulate over a million followers.
Get a book offer from HarperCollins.
Book turned into a TV series starring William Shatner.
See? I hate him. But damn, it's an awesome book. If your family is like anyone else's, there's always that one person -- it might be Uncle Louie, or perhaps Cousin Marty -- who always, without fail, says something crazy at any given moment. Halpern has succeeded in bottling this craziness from a very brilliant man who doesn't mince words.
I've always believed that the older we get, the less we care what other people think. A guy in his seventies no longer has to worry about impressing a girlfriend, toeing the company line for his boss, or offending other people. He just calls it like it is. It might be crude, but it's pure. Pure wisdom.
Get yourself a copy of Sh*t My Dad Says and prepare to be enlightened.
Justin Halpern, I hate you.