Saturday, January 24, 2009
This past December Mike Heppner, author of The Egg Code and Pike’s Folly, released his novella, Man, the second in a four-part series. But you can’t purchase Man in bookstores or read it online; it has to be found. In a stunt he describes as “guerrilla publicity,” Heppner sent copies to friends across the country to distribute and leave in coffee shops, museums, libraries, and other high-traffic locations. Man has surfaced at a gym and on an airplane, and the tactic seems to be working: it has gotten a lot of blogger buzz and was mentioned in The New Yorker.
Releasing his work this way is “a public way of calling attention to the problems [in publishing]” that Heppner says can happen to anyone in the business; you don’t get long-term support and you have to make your own way. With large presses, he explains, writers are dependent on other people doing work for them. Those people are overworked and haven’t read your piece, and they put a project to bed a week after it comes out.
In response to his blurb in The New Yorker, Heppner says the key was leaking out word about the novellas to enough blogs. The Man Talking Project has been mentioned in Maud Newton, HTMLGiant, Conversational Reading, AdFreak, Media Bistro, The 26th Story and The Millions.
In my next installment, I’ll discuss Heppner’s publishing history and how the Man Talking Project came to be.