First thing’s first: If you wanted to get a signed copy of The Human Division and are not able to get to one of my tour dates, here’s what you do:
1. If you want it signed and personalized, order the book from one of the stores on my tour I have yet to visit and they’ll be happy to set aside a copy, which I will be happy to personalize to you (or whomever you wish to have it personalized to).
2. If you just want it signed, the better to sell it on eBay when I am smothered in a tragic kitten avalanche, then check with the stores I’ve already been to, they probably will still have signed books in stock. For example, Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore in San Diego has tons of signed Human Divisions, and after tonight, so will their Redondo Beach store, and so on. Alternately, my hometown bookstore, Jay & Mary’s Book Center in Troy, Ohio, has signed stock on hand and would be delighted to send one along to you.
Of course, if you can come to the signings, please do come to the signings. They’re fun. And I don’t want to be alone.
Second thing’s second: A couple of weeks ago I was contacted by a journalist who was doing a story about authors who have a book coming out on the same day as Dan Brown’s new book Inferno, presumably because it will be amusing to hear us wail and gnash our teeth about that particular juggernaut crushing our books. I wasn’t home when he called and he never got back to me about it, so I will not be in that article. But if I had been, what I would have said is this:
I am in fact entirely unconcerned. I have no doubt that Inferno will sell rather more copies than The Human Division, but I doubt seriously that it will take away any sales from my book; which is to say I doubt that someone is going to walk into a book store, see Brown’s book and mine, and have a great existential crisis about only being able to choose one or the other. There may be overlap between our audiences, but I suspect that the overlap we have would choose to get both.
This would be the place to say something snarky about Brown, but I have nothing snarky to say about the dude. I read one of his books; it was entertaining and I was entertained and if there was anything about the book that was supposed to be deeper than that it went right past me. Being cranky about a Dan Brown book not being high literature is like yelling at a cupcake for not being a salad; it’s really missing the point. You don’t want the cupcake? Don’t eat the cupcake. Apparently lots of people like cupcakes. They don’t care that you want them to eat salad. You eat salad, if it’s so important to you.
But beyond this, I suspect that the article this journalist fellow was writing might have been predicated on a zero-sum thinking, which is that the money spent on Dan Brown today takes money from other writers. It doesn’t actually work that way. There are a certain number of Dan Brown readers who read one book a year, and the book they read this year is his. Bluntly put, that’s not money taken from me or other writers because we were never in contention for that cash. There is the another category of Dan Brown reader, which are the sort of people who love to read books, and also read Dan Brown. Someone in that category is going to cruise through Inferno in a couple of days and be on to the next book — perhaps mine, perhaps someone else’s. The point is in this scenario Dan Brown doesn’t take money away from any other writer in any significant way, because people who love reading read a lot of books.
And then there’s a third scenario in which people who didn’t know they like to read, read a Dan Brown book, enjoy it and then say “what else is out there?” In which case Dan Brown just did me and every other author a favor, because now there’s a new reader to shop our wares to. This is one reason why you won’t hear me gripe about Dan Brown, or E.L. James, or Stephenie Meyer or [insert frequently maligned author here]. They don’t hurt my career, and have the potential to benefit it.
So good luck to Dan Brown on his sales today, not that I think he will need it. And good luck to me, too. I suspect when the day is over, both of us will be perfectly happy with how it’s turned out.