03 April 2013

Bookiversary: A Year In The Life Of An Author, By The Numbers

We interrupt Enrichment Voyage programming for a brief message: Today is Europe on Five Wrong Turns a Day's bookiversary! That's totally a word. I know because I just made it up. 

A year ago today, nearly 200 people crammed into a subterranean bar in Nordeast Minneapolis to help me launch the book. The twelve months that ensued were equally as frenetic, nerve-wracking, wonderful, weird, and cocktail-fueled (make mine an Old Fashioned, please).

Some selected highlights, lowlights, and weird-lights, by the numbers:
  • Honors I still kinda can’t believe actually happened, and make me grin like you wouldn’t believe: National Geographic Traveler Book of the Month and being a guest speakeron a cruise ship, along with, um, Sandra Day O’Connor and other Genuinely Accomplished People.
  • Overall talks/readings/signings: 17 (I think?)
  • Number at (or presented by) indie bookstores: 8
  • Number at cooking stores: 1 (the excellent Hill's Kitchen in Washington, DC)
  • Number at which I gave an old-school slide show (you know, with an old-school slide projector): 4
  • Number given with a cocktail in my hand: 1
  • Type of cocktail and person who first introduced me to it: Caipirinha; Lee, obviously (in Europe)
  • Number given on a cruise ship (as noted above): 5
  • Overlap between cocktail-in-hand and cruise ship presentations: 100%
  • Oddest encounter during a book tour event: the biker guy at the TV station in Seattle, who swore up and down that he had just videotaped "a mother sasquatch nursing a baby" and they needed to put it on the air right now.  
  • Place where I got the best audience questions: my old high school (true story)
  • Silliest question at a reading: “Can you recommend a guidebook for Paris?” (This after I had just spent half an hour talking about how I’d visited the Continent—for the first and only time—with a 1963 guide, making me really not the right person to ask this question.)
  • Question I frankly am sick of answering: “What’s your favorite city?”
  • Percentage of readings (and interviews) where someone asked this: 85%
  • What I do when this happens: Smile and reply with whatever city sounds good at the moment, but the truth is it really depends on my mood and a ton of other factors, as described here.
  • Postcards and Commentary Track Bookmarks given away: Probably around 200
  • Interviews for and/or stories in foreign media: 4
  • Coolest story about that: My mom was traveling in Europe shortly after Germany’s Die Zeit newspaper ran an interview with me. During casual conversation with the guy sitting next to her on the airplane, she mentioned my book and he said, “Oh, I just read about him when I was in Germany!”
  • Foreign media requests turned down, with regrets: 1, because, alas, if I tried to do a live radio interview in German, I would sound like a less coherent, less sophisticated Dumbass American version of the Swedish Chef.
  • Times I have checked my Amazon Sales Rank: Um. Like mumble-mumble-trillion.
  • Current Sales Rank: (Sigh.)
  • Amount of the Amazon book page URL that I have to type into my browser before it auto-completes the rest: A
  • Book clubs directly interrogated by: 2
  • Book clubs that live-tweeted at least a portion of their own discussion (and tagged me in their tweets): 2
  • Book clubs where someone brought chocolate croissants to the their discussion: 1
  • Site of the above book club: National Geographic HQ (!!)
  • Emails from readers who used Europe on Five Dollars a Day themselves, in the 1960s: 20 or so
  • Emails from readers who used Europe on Five Dollars a Day themselves, in the 2000s: 1
  • Emails from  1960s travelers who asked me to check my book for old-school hotel information she’d been wondering about for years: 1
  • Letters, postcards, or packages from readers: Oh, man. Dozens, maybe hundreds. Turns out there are a ton of other people who like old-school mail. (Ahem: PO Box 1922,  Minneapolis, MN 55458-1922)
  • Coolest package contents: a fresh packet of the Big Boy Bail Bonds pens that Lee planned to use to ward off Belgian thugs (please see page 105, where you will note that I erroneously called the company “Bad Boy Bail Bonds,” an egregious error for which I sincerely apologize).
  • Speed with which I have replied to various correspondents: Approximately the same as continental drift
  • Level of guilt I feel for the above: Immense
  • Assurance I will make: It’s coming. For real. I promise.
  • Most polarizing chapter: Venice
  • Profanity-laced caps-heavy emails from readers who cannot BELIEVE that I would say anything positive about that VILE Paris place or anything sarcastic about that TRANSCENDENTLY WONDERFUL Venice place: 1
  • A brief comment to this and the other (very few but vocal) persons who were taken aback my brooding in said chapter: It’s really about travel fatigue, not gratuitous dissing of a city that, I now understand, you daydream about on an hourly basis.
  • Answer to the inevitable question about The Next Book: Workin’ on it. I have an idea; my agent likes it; I need to get started on the proposal.
Parting words to everyone who has read the book, bought it, recommended it, etc.: Thank you all. So much. 


  1. Great post, Doug. Made me giggle. Sending you all my best from Osaka (where I really shudder to think what would happen if you tried to visit with a 1963 copy of "Japan on 5 bucks a day"!)

    1. Thanks! And just in case you want some old Japan guidebooks, I found some for you: http://www.abebooks.com/servlet/SearchResults?bi=0&bx=off&ds=30&kn=japan+guidebook&recentlyadded=all&sortby=17&sts=t&x=62&y=14&yrh=1979&yrl=1960

  2. And wasn't it all great fun . . .


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