If you followed along last year with my updates on the publication of These Are My Friends on Politics, you’ll recall that the real stars of those updates were the pictures of my 16-year-old dog Nina.
Last month, she passed away. I haven’t brought it up much because (a) I didn’t feel like it and (b) I didn’t have anything valuable to say about losing a beloved pet beyond the fact that I do not recommend the experience. For those who didn’t know Nina firsthand, I’d rather leave you with something uplifting that characterized her life than simply share some sad news amid the endless bad news that keeps hitting us these days.
So I did the reasonable thing and wrote and illustrated and published a book about her instead. It’s nothing extraordinary — look, *you* try making a book in a month in your spare time during one of your busiest work periods of the year — but it conveys much of what made Nina such a big deal in this little corner of the world. And it has some pretty pictures in it. And it’s more funny than sad. And perhaps it’s a nice distraction and reminder that the world isn’t all bad even if we’re threatening to end it with simultaneous nuclear and civil wars.
Anyway, it’s available now if you’re interested in taking a look. Thanks for reading, and enjoy. If you have any dog-loving friends whom you think would enjoy this, please pass it on.
Amazon (paperback and Kindle): dog.billyok.com/amazon
Barnes & Noble: dog.billyok.com/bn
One last quick thank you
It was exactly one year ago today (at about this time) when I opened up These Are My Friends on Politics for funding. I immediately regretted that decision, and would momentarily regret it from time to time in the months to follow, but if you’re reading this, you’re responsible not only for taking that regret away, but also for scenes like these...
(Curious Iguana in Frederick, Md., sharing a table with the likes of The Underground Railroad)
(The Skokie, Ill., Barnes and Noble, which also happens to be the place I bought my first copies of The Writer’s Market and The Artist’s & Graphic Designer’s Market many many years ago)
...so thank you for that, and if I can return the favor in 2017, message me and let me know how, because I gladly will.
If you want to get a glimpse of what I’m up to next, read on. But if this is your stop, I just wanted to say thank you again.
One last quick favor
If you enjoyed the book and/or it helped spare you from a family blowout over the holidays, a review on Amazon is most appreciated (and a bigger deal than I would ever have assumed it was until I experienced the Amazon bookselling experience from the other side).
Here’s a link to take you straight there (and you need not have purchased the book from Amazon to leave a review there): http://amzn.to/2ivmSIC#customerReviews
One last quick update (until the next one) on what’s next
Books: I’m currently drafting this note in my de facto writing app (Ulysses, if you’re curious), and when I look at the notes library in the sidebar, I see large pieces of four new books staring back at me. Two represent a completely different direction, one is a similar approach to a new topic, and one is a book that will follow up on this one without being a retread no one needs. Publishing plans haven’t been finalized on any of them yet, but I don’t envision funding them similarly to how I funded this first one. Nevertheless, I’ll use this channel to announce them when ready. (If you aren’t interested in any of that, there’s an "unfollow" link at the bottom of this email, and I take no offense if this is your stop and you click it.)
Art: I’d started getting into selling art and showing in galleries before I decided to momentarily upend that by publishing a book, but those plans will resume at some point soon. If you attend a show or festival in the Chicago area this summer, maybe you’ll run into me. But if not, I’ll be maintaining on online gallery here and here. (If you see anything you love, you’re privy to a friend discount on the Etsy side using the altogether fitting coupon code THISISMYFRIEND.)
One last batch of Nina photos for no reason
Enjoy, happy 2017, and thank you again.
Greetings from Hell frozen over, home of the World Series-hosting Chicago Cubs...
First, the good news
Okay folks, this is it. By now, if you ordered a physical book, you should have received notice that it’s in the sky or on the highway and en route to your front door. (It may have even arrived already.) The books took a little longer than we’d hoped to get from the printer to the office, but I think the wait is worth it. Speaking honestly, they look even better than I’d hoped they would. I’m delighted with the finished product, and I hope you are too when it reaches your door. (Quick note: Despite what the email said, they are jacketed hardback copies and not paperback.)
(Quick note #2: If you haven’t received a shipping notice, check your spam folder, and if nothing’s there, let me know and I’ll pass the word on to Inkshares. They’re a small but terrific group of folks and they’ll get it sorted.)
Now some bad news, followed immediately by good news
Due to circumstances and scheduling issues, there was no time to reschedule my September flight to Inkshares HQ to sign the books. But because I want to make good on that, I commissioned a big sheet of personalized illustrated bookplates (fancy word for sticker) that I’ve signed and will send out to all who want them for their copies. Just send your address to me via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I’ll take care of the rest. It’s not quite the same as me writing my name in your book, but it’s close. (Alternatively, if you’re local, let’s just meet up and I’ll sign it right before your eyes.)
Now some more good news
In fact, if you’re in the Chicago area on the evening of Saturday, November 5th, you can get them signed in person by attending a launch party at one of Chicago’s best independent bookstores. I’ll be at Lincoln Square’s The Book Cellar, 4736 N. Lincoln Ave., starting at 6 p.m. It’s right down the street from the Western Brown Line stop and there’s plenty of street parking in the vicinity as well. Come on by, say hi, and celebrate the imminent passing of this horrid election season.
And finally, a quick but hugely important favor
I’ll spare you the details and make this quick, but I cannot emphasize enough how crucial reviews are to an author’s ability to attract new readers on Amazon, Goodreads and Barnes & Noble. The benefits of receiving at least 100 ratings/reviews on each are tangible, and given how much weight those three sites carry, those benefits can be of make-or-break importance. So if you have accounts on any or all of these sites and can spare a few more minutes, I’m asking for your help in hitting that magic number. Even just a click on the star rating thing helps (though if you have some kind words to throw in, those are of course appreciated).
Here are links to take you straight to all three, all of which are accepting reviews now. Thank you so much (yet again) for whatever you can do.
— Amazon: [https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1942645236#customerReviews]
— Goodreads: [https://www.goodreads.com/review/edit/30007120]
— Barnes & Noble: [http://www.barnesandnoble.com/reviews/these-are-my-friends-on-politics-billy-okeefe/1123852462?ean=9781942645238]
That’s all for now. Be nice to each other. November 9 is almost here.
Hey everyone. Friendly helpful PSA time.
I ordered a physical book but was just told my ebook is ready to download. What happened?
Don’t worry. If you backed These Are My Friends on Politics, you’ll either have received or soon will receive an email informing you your ebook download is ready. That’s not a goof — every physical book comes with a complimentary ebook version you can load onto your preferred e-reader of choice. So you’re getting that right now while the physical books are being prepared for shipment. If you ordered a physical book (or three, or ten), that package will be heading your way before long. This is just a pre-order bonus.
Sounds good. So what’s a .mobi file?
If your experience with getting ebooks comes from buying them straight from Amazon’s or Apple’s store, you might be a little thrown by seeing two different formats presented for your consumption. The download page has all the instructions you’ll need, but here’s a bonus quick cheat sheet.
ePub version: This is the .mp3 of ebooks, and it works on anything not called a Kindle. So if you’re using iBooks for iOS/Mac, Google Books for Android, or a Sony Reader/Nook/Kobo/basically any e-reader ever made that isn’t a Kindle, this is the format for you.
Kindle (.mobi) version: This one is for anyone using a tablet made by Amazon -- be it a Kindle Fire, the regular monochrome Kindles (Paperwhite, whatever weird name that new one is called) or anything else that has the word "Kindle" stamped on it. It also will display nicely on the Kindle desktop app for PC and Mac. The one place it won’t load: the Kindle app for iOS, which uses a different file format that’s laden with DRM and requires purchase through Amazon’s own store to display books properly. Fortunately, if you’re an iOS person, the ePub version plays perfectly with iBooks.
So should I read this ebook now or wait for the physical book if I ordered one of those?
Honestly? If I’m being candid, I’d wait, because I think the physical book is the best experience. I love ebooks, but I don’t think heavily-illustrated books are best served by that format. I also hope this is the kind of book people open up and enjoy together, which is something the physical book better allows to happen. It’s up to you, of course, but if you’re waiting on a physical book and choose to ignore the email about the ebook as result, you’ll get no argument from me.
I bought a book. Now what?
This is the first update I’ve dispatched since These Are My Friends on Politics reached its full funding goal and became a real published book that a real publishing house is putting into real bookstores instead of the unprofitable ones I see in daydreams. So a thank you — to everyone who bought in, followed along, shared it with others and otherwise showed support for this little ray of light in this insatiable nightmare of an election year — is overdue.
But it’s overdue for a reason, because rather than thank and leave you with a vague "you’ll get it someday!," I wanted to show my gratitude by letting you know exactly what’s happening with your support. (And I wanted to know what I was talking about before I started talking.)
So here’s what’s happened. I sent in the manuscript and the initial cover design. Inkshares’ production partners at Girl Friday sent both back with some notes and some ideas about modestly bumping up the page count to hit the magic 64-page printing number (long story having to do with printers and multiples of four) and very possibly give the book the hardcover treatment (at no extra cost to you, of course) instead of the softcover treatment. (No promises yet on that, because I don’t know if it will happen, but it could happen.) I made a batch of new pages, lightly touched up a few existing pages, and handed in version 2. They sent back a few more notes, I did a last round of small touchups, and then I cropped and sized the pages so that they’re printer-perfect before handing in version 3.
And here’s what happens next. While the production wizards take those pages and assemble them into a sharp-looking book with all the interior and exterior necessities it needs, the marketing wizards at Inkshares are ramping up an extensive (word not used lightly — it’s extensive) plan to put the book inside national and independent bookstores and in front of media large and small that cover not just books, but politics and current events too. All of these wizards and plans are joining forces to coordinate a far-and-wide-reaching release in October, and if you’re a backer, you’ll have your signed and numbered copies of the book most likely a month before that October release date. (Again, that’s not ironclad, but based on what I’m told and on my own experiences as a backer of other authors’ books, backers getting their copies a month early seems to be the norm.)
So that’s the roadmap. It’s lengthy (even though it’s hyperloop-fast by book publishing standards — these things almost never happen inside of a year, never mind six months), but it’s that way because a lot of talented people are using really impressive resources to give this book the best possible chance it could ask for. When I said back in the campaigning stage that fully funding this thing is a (to borrow a phrase from the great Eddie Olczyk) tremendously tremendous deal, this is what I had in mind. So thank you for helping make that a reality.
5+2+1+1+6 = 15
As is customary with these updates, I’ll close it out with the best thank you gift of all: some new pictures of Nina, who turned 15 on May 21 but whose face and table mannerisms remain indistinguishable from those of a puppy. Enjoy, and thank you again.