Tuesday, November 18, 2008

CSFF Blog Tour: Shade Day Two

I think I should tell you about how I bought my copy of Shade.

I was at the ACFW National Conference this past September. The first thing I did upon arrival was head to the bookstore to see what was available. I had very specific criteria: it had to be weird and/or I had to know the author or at least have heard of them. Emphasis on the former. I found a few interesting books but Shade was not one of them.

Later on, I bumped into John Olson. I told him I was a bit disappointed I couldn't find a copy of his book in the store. He told me that they hadn't arrived yet, that they would be available the next day, but that there were only going to be six copies.


The next morning, as soon as the opening session was done, I bolted out of the ballroom and made a mad dash to the store. Sure enough, the clerks were setting out the stack of six books. I launched myself into the fray and was one of the lucky few to get a copy. And for the rest of the conference, I could smile smugly as I overheard people complain that they wanted a copy but the store had sold out.

Okay, so maybe I ratcheted up the dramatic tension there a little. I'm a storyteller at heart. But why was I so anxious to get my hands on it?

It all has to do with anticipation. Perhaps I should explain.

Two years earlier, at a different ACFW National Conference, I had the privilege of meeting John Olson for the first time. He taught the speculative fiction track and I shared a meal or two with him. In the midst of chatting, he told us all about a story he had written. A story about vampires. Apparently when one of his friends read the story and then had to sleep with the lights on. He told us about how an agent (he gives the name in his Acknowledgements; consider this another enticement to go and buy the book yourself) told him he wouldn't touch the story with a ten foot pole.

Needless to say, I was intrigued. A Christian vampire story? That strong of a reaction from two different people? I had to see this book for myself. When I saw John Olson mention that Shade was coming out on his Facebook profile, I sent him a message to ask him if it was that book. Sure enough, it was.

I bring this up because I think there's a valuable lesson for us author-types. Buzz can really build your book.

Look at what's happened with The Shack. Here's a book that, for good or ill, has built a lot of buzz around itself. People are sharing this thing with all sorts of different people. The buzz sustains sales, keeps it in the public eye, and garners more readers. Just this past weekend, someone asked me if I had read it yet. I haven't. But I'm planning to just so I can see what the buzz is about.

In a smaller way, that's what happened with Shade and me. I looked forward to getting my hands on the book, not necessarily because I enjoy vampire stories (I didn't enjoy the last one I read all that much) but because I had to see what it was all about. It worked on me.

So how do we generate that buzz for our own books? Darned if I know. This blog tour certainly helps. But beyond that, I can't really say for certain. All we can do is keep plugging away and hope that we strike upon it.

Oh, and one last note. One of the five other hands reaching in to snatch up a copy of Shade at the Conference as the aforementioned friend of John Olson's, the one who slept with his lights on. Needless to say, that brought a smile to my face.

Go and see what the other tourists have to say:

Brandon Barr
Jennifer Bogart
Justin Boyer
Keanan Brand
Kathy Brasby
Valerie Comer
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
Janey DeMeo
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Karina Fabian
Todd Michael Greene
Katie Hart
Joleen Howell
Jason Isbell
Jason Joyner
Rachel Marks
Melissa Meeks
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Eve Nielsen
Steve Rice
Mirtika or Mir's Here
Chawna Schroeder
James Somers
Robert Treskillard
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Jason Waguespac
Laura Williams
Timothy Wise



I read that comment on the cover about the lights being on, and so expected a much scarier, much more intense book. I slept just fine.

A couple of decades ago, before I knew a five-dollar term like "Christian speculative fiction", Peretti's work made me think and even scared me a bit--especially The Oath, though it came out in '95, and I was a grown up--but maybe I'm jaded now. (shrug)

Rebecca LuElla Miller said...

Keanan, I'm with you. I didn't find Shade to be at all the scary book Mr. Lights On author led us to believe. Actually I came very close to not ordering the book because I thought it would be the kind of book I don't like. Not the case.

Great story, John.