Monday, March 7, 2011

I need your help to get on the NY Times Best Seller List

Okay, it's finally here! 

I was hoping for the same hysteria that greeted a new HARRY POTTER novel but now I'll be happy if you just buy it. WHERE THE HELL AM I?  TRIPS I HAVE SURVIVED, by your humble blogger is now available on Kindle and various other ebook formats (like Sony). 

UPDATE:  The Nook version is now available.  Just go here.

The paperback will be out shortly. 

So what is this?  You know all those amusing travelogues I post whenever I go out of town? The best of them have been compiled into what I believe is a book.

This is a grand experiment. It's the first time I've ever self-published. From what I've always heard, the key is marketing. You need a platform to launch your book, to get the word out. Those I've talked to in the industry said I'd have no trouble because I have a platform -- this blog.  Yeah, well... today I'll find out. Gulp.

My goal is not to make a fortune (since I know I won't) but to sell as many copies and attract as many readers as I can.  So my Kindle (and other ebook formats) price is just $2.99 -- way below what Dave Barry asks for the same kind of crap.   But I figured $2.99 was a reasonable price to support a blog that has brought you so many happy hours of avoiding work.   Don't be like my dear wife who just downloaded the free sample.  It's $2.99.  You can't buy Raisinettes for that money. 

Plus, I really do think it's a funny book.  Some of the travelogues you longtime readers may have read and there are others that have never been posted.  All kidding aside, I'm very proud of it.

So please click here or the book cover icon on the right to get yours while supplies last. 

Oh, and if you do buy it (for still way less than one lousy gallon of gasoline), please tell your friends and leave a review on Amazon.  Would love to know what you thought, good or bad.  And anything you could do to spread the word would be most appreciated.  I have a dedicated website, and very exciting -- a dedicated Facebook page (for your liking or friending or whatever pleasure).  But I have no PR person.  Who the hell is going to spend $2000 for a publicist on a book that sells for $2.99?

Many thanks.  And a special thanks to Lee Goldberg who led me through this process.  Buy his books too.

To give you a better idea of what this is about, here's the introduction.

It’s sort of the Facebook principle. You collect all these friends, many you haven’t actually contacted in months or years, but you connect with them all through your status updates. Before social networks came along I used to keep in touch with my friends via travelogues.

Whenever I went east of Simi Valley I wrote amusing accounts of my travels and emailed them to the few hundred friends in my address book. (God, that sounds so primitive!) And unlike status updates, since I wasn’t filing them seven times an hour, I would frequently get replies back, allowing me to stay connected with everyone on my list.

Thus a tradition was born. At first I worried that I wouldn’t find enough humorous situations and observations to warrant a full account every trip. I mean, how do you get three pages out of Albuquerque?

But I always found something. Usually more than I needed. Even in Albuquerque. D.H. Lawrence was cremated there and his ashes are mixed in with the cement used to build his burial guesthouse. Seriously, how can seeing that not be on your bucket list?

Absurdity and goofiness and Americana are everywhere (even in Europe). So as long as there are Duck Tours, the “Master Bait & Tackle Shop”, Pet Jacuzzis, hotels with voodoo floors, a Cannabis festival, the “Miss Swamp Buggy” beauty contest, 100,000 rubber ducks in the Ohio River, a Minnie Pearl statue, the “Shrub Guy”, free dwarf mice, and Hitler’s town car on display in a Las Vegas casino there is no shortage of mirth.

And today when you travel, humor is not just a luxury; it’s a requirement. Getting anywhere now is an ordeal. Between the TSA, airlines, ground transportation, hotels, and crowds, what once was a leisurely family vacation is now the wire hanger scene in Mommie Dearest. So you either laugh or have a psychotic breakdown at the Hertz Gold Club counter.

The travelogues continued. Between vacations, visiting the kids in college, work related sojourns, mounting a musical out of town, and covering major league baseball teams, I’ve logged thousands of miles from Honolulu to Athens with every Cincinnati and Ft. Lauderdale in between.

When I amassed enough of these reports I considered compiling them into a book. An editor reviewed the material and said he would publish it in a minute… if my name was Dave Barry. But, to use his words, “No one knows who the f*ck you are?” “Even with my credits?” I asked. “M*A*S*H? Cheers? Frasier?” “Your family is going to buy the book anyway” was his response.

That was six years ago. Today, with my blog, articles in major publications, and radio presence in Los Angeles and Seattle, I can say with complete modesty that I am now well known enough that I can self publish.

So here they are -- the highlights and lowlights – of 38 of the greatest cities in the U.S. and the world, and 12 average ones. Besides personal experiences there are also travel tips, recommendations, warnings, a little history, and hopefully a few laughs along the way.

Feel free to skip around. Seek out the cities you know and compare your impressions with mine. Or search for destinations you’re considering visiting. Or -- and I know this is crazy -- read the whole book. It’s laid out chronologically so there is continuity and variety. But if you just want to read five New York travelogues, be my guest.

When you finish, I invite you to think back to your own trips. Upon reflection, I’ll bet there were a lot of funny incidents and encounters that didn’t seem funny at the time. But had you viewed them differently, they might have been. And that’s another of my objectives, to get you to approach your future vacations with an eye open to the absurd. Trust me, you’ll have way more fun…except at O’Hare.

So happy travels. As you’ll soon see, mine were. Mostly. In general.

Ken Levine
February 2011

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