You are getting nerdy…

The Friendly Bookseller Recommends: John Dies at the End – Redux

It is possible that my last post was slightly misinformed.  It is possible that David Wong, the author’s name according to the cover of John Dies at the End, and also the name of the narrator within the book, is a pseudonym for Jason Pargin.  It is possible that Jason Pargin, who does use David Wong as his penname for all things, is a contributor to the popular humour magazine National Lampoon, and that he is the editor in chief of Cracked.com, a popular humour website.  It is possible that all of this information was available in a short blurb on the back flap of the book.  It is even possible that I read this blurb, determined that the pseudonym was not an important detail, and completely failed to notice the remaining information.

In my defense, I was completely out of it today.

Obviously, Wong’s existing writing credentials, particularly his position with Cracked.com may have had an influence on the publication of his book, and on the format in which it was published.  I cannot say with confidence that the high quality hardcover release of John Dies at the End was such a direct result of its online popularity, and not of Wong’s position.  Admittedly, editor in chief of a humour website isn’t a position closely connected with the publication industry, but the website in question is a pretty solid operation.  It could have an effect.

This does not invalidate the ultimate point of my post.  I remember when John Dies at the End made its small press debut.  I had seen it in banner ads on the Something Awful Forums for months at that point, but hadn’t gotten around to checking it out.  It was, at the time, quite popular on the forums, and in other places.  When the paperback was first advertised, it inspired me to check out the website.  I didn’t stay long, as I mentioned in the previous post, but I liked what I saw.  So did many other people.

Davind Wong was added to the Cracked staff in 2007, the same year as the small press publication of the book in question, and several years after John Dies at the End first gained popularity.  His work on his own site, Pointless Waste of Time (absorbed by Cracked in 2007), was not so high profile, and unlikely to have as significant an impact.  So, even if his current position with Cracked influenced the manner in which St. Martin’s Press chose to deal with Wong, it is clearly not responsible for the 70,000 people who read John Dies at the End long before the publication deal was inked.

Despite my apparent lack of reading comprehension when faced with single-sentence blurbs, John Dies at the End is still a great example of what the internet can do for an author.  If, in the weeks and months to come, the book demonstrates strong sales, it will be because Wong did an excellent job of reaching his audience, and did so through the unorthodox method of letting them read his book years before he asked them to buy it.  Since we’re talking about the future now, the results are not so definite, but the example remains important.

And it’s still a really good book.


October 1, 2009 - Posted by | Books, Fiction | , , ,

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