Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Hysterical Publishing: Because we're all a little hysterical on the inside.

When I decided to self-publish Here Comes Your Man, I naturally understood that the book’s success would depend on the selection of a sufficiently awesome name for my fake1 publishing company.

So I started a list, and for the next two weeks, everything I encountered gave me an idea that I liked for roughly four minutes. One night, my daughter was instructing me on the correct pronunciation of “opossum” and I thought: Nocturnal Books! The next day, I drove past the Riverside MBTA station and thought: D-Train Publishing! We ordered pizza for dinner, and I thought: Mushroom & Olive Press!

This little branding exercise reminded me of every attempt my high school friends and I made to start a rock band. Since we were usually short a drummer and/or bassist, we spent far more time thinking up cool band names than we did playing music. And since we weren’t even vaguely cool ourselves2, we never had much luck with the names either.

In fact, the only band name I can even remember now was one jokingly suggested by my friend Matt’s father: "Joe Banana & the Bunch—The band with appeal." I briefly considered employing some version of that moniker for my publishing company, at least until I discovered that the Joe Banana name and slogan are both already in use by a real band. (On the bright side, the band sells t-shirts, which I plan to buy for my entire staff.)

So I continued brainstorming, a process I now realize isn't nearly as much fun without a group of teenage bandmates to snicker at my inappropriate suggestions. Eventually, I circled back to my very first idea: Hysterical Publishing.

I’ve always liked the word hysterical—its sound and architecture as much as its divergent connotations. For a while, Here Comes Your Man was actually called Hysterical & Useless (a fragment from the Radiohead song “Let Down”). And I've also noticed that sticking "hysterical" in front of just about any "-ing" word improves it tremendously: hysterical accelerating, hysterical accentuating, hysterical accessorizing, hysterical acclimatizing etc. (Note: there are several thousand more -ing words here in case you're already bored with this post. My personal favorite: absquatulating.)

But anyway...with the name decided, I just needed a snazzy logo to back it up. And since Hysterical Publishing's Chief Illustrator once again blew all her screen time for the week playing Wii Sports Resort, I was forced to sit down at the computer and work something up myself. I think you'll agree that the results were pretty awesome, even employing a rather Joe Banana-esque color scheme:
Now, a few naysayers within the Hysterical Publishing team have suggested that this logo is perhaps 10-15% too awesome (i.e. manic and distracting) for use anywhere on our otherwise minimalist cover design. But even if that does prove true, it will not mean that this effort was a complete waste of time. On the contrary, the new logo will be emblazoned throughout the Hysterical Publishing campus, as well as being the centerpiece of the outdoor advertising campaign we're rolling out this spring.

Oh, and in case you can’t quite make it out, the pattern of 1s and 0s washed faintly across the logo spells "Hysterical Publishing" in binary code. (See—I told you I wasn’t cool.)

1Correction: Hysterical Publishing received its first piece of junk mail this week and thus is no longer fake or imaginary.

2Shocking, I know. Though I should clarify that, in the years since high-school, my friend Matt has acquired a certain full-bearded, acoustic coolness that continues to elude me (despite anything my kindhearted cousin Jennifer might tell you).

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Here Comes Your Man

It gives me great pleasure—and just a hint of queasiness—to announce that my novel Here Comes Your Man will be released on April 1, 2010 by Hysterical Publishing.


Now, as exciting as that sounds, there are a couple of caveats I should share:

About the publisher:
Hysterical Publishing is an extremely small, independent press that has (to my knowledge) just one employee: me. So while I do plan to talk about myself in the third-person as much as possible, you should know that this is really a self-publishing effort. I’m handling everything from cover art, to page layout, to satisfying the diva author’s incessant demands for more PBJ sandwiches and Diet Coke. (And if this self-publishing venture follows the script of most others, I will also be buying the bulk of the books myself as well.)

About the release date:
Since Hysterical Publishing is such a tiny operation, they can't actually guarantee that Here Comes Your Man will be released on April 1st. They say they're going to try really really hard, and they've promised that, if the book isn't released on April 1st, it will definitely be released at some time before or after that. (And that's way more than any other publisher has promised me, so I'm going with it.)

About distribution:
Once Here Comes Your Man is released, whenever that might be, you’ll be able to get it in both paperback and e-book format from Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, and a variety of other outlets. (And if my daughter has her way, one of those other outlets will be a little stand in front of our house, where you’ll get a handmade "friendship bracelet" with every book.)

Anyway, I think that’s enough fine print for now. What’s the book about?

Whenever people ask me this question in person, I usually look down at my shoes and say something like, “Uhhhhhhhh…”

Lucky for you, this is not a real, in-person conversation, so you can just read the book's back-cover blurb instead. Here goes...

Here Comes Your Man

Meet Garrett: 30-year-old computer geek, master of irrational optimism, and serial-kisser of women who (it turns out) don’t like him that way. After three blurry years of business travel and inadvertent celibacy, Garrett is so ready for a serious relationship that he’s a little bit dangerous.

Inspired by a romantic near-miss on a flight home to Seattle, Garrett hurls himself into the deep end of the dating pool, determined to find happiness no matter how miserable it makes him. Too bad the women he falls for don't share his sense of urgency: Froot Loop sculptress April worries she’s warping his personality, cynical attorney Corinne suspects he likes her too much, and upstairs neighbor Meryl just wants to be friends.

Garrett refuses to give up though… well, at least until he does. But sometimes, after you’ve finally abandoned hope, you find that someone else hasn’t given up on you.

So that's my big announcement for today! I'll be blogging more in the coming days and weeks about books, carrot cake, Andre Agassi, and the whole self-publishing process, so...stay tuned! Or at the very least, drop by on April 1st to see if the Hysterical Publishing team and I can hit our deadline: We guarantee you a book, or a really solid excuse!