Monday, March 07, 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


rubiconvict said...

I totally understand (and empathize with) your modesty, but modesty and self-effacement are not effective tools for self-promotion. Don't call your work "crap" (as in Dave Barry charges...for the same kind of crap). I was curious to see what this book was all about, but you're seemingly doing everything in your verbally powerful power to make me NOT want to read it. Then, sometimes in the same breath, trying to make it sound like a fun read. Stop hatin' and let in the know, that stuff that other people do and you think "oh, christ, what a dick!" be that dick. it sells books (i think)

Jon J said...

Doesn't seem to be available for my Nook-e Reader. Sorry.

YEKIMI said...

Well if you're trying to sell this product the smart thing to do would go back and remove all the "travelogue" stories off the blog. Why would I pay for something when I can just go back on here and read them for free? [unless you've added more to the stories]. I'll also wait for it to come out in paperback as I don't have a kindle or other electronic book reader; I prefer the feel and smell or a real life former tree that's been converted into paper. Besides, have you ever tried to fold the corner of a kindle over to try and "bookmark" a page when you stop reading for a while? Damn near impossible!

Brad said...

Can't wait to read it.

I'd be happy to help you build and curate a marketing blog for the book if you're interested. And I'd only charge $2.99.

brad [at]

David said...

Can't wait to read it, Ken.

You should check out -- a free way you can publish a hard copy on Amazon too! I'd like to gift this to my parents who are travel fans, but they won't read Kindle books.

Mike said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mike said...

But I figured $2.99 was a reasonable price to support a blog that has brought you so many happy hours of avoiding work.

No sooner had I had this thought ("I should buy this just because I've enjoyed his blog so much") than you stated it for me.

I don't have a Kindle but I messed around with the Kindle software when I got my new Android phone and found it more pleasing to read than I expected. So now you've joined The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, The Jungle, and The Man Who Knew Too Muchin my Kindle library. (Yours being the only one that wasn't free.)

Tom Parker said...

It is now in my Kindle. (Hey, I thought it would be a signed edition - what's up with that?)

Phillip B said...

This fine volume is now sitting on Kindle software on my MAC alongside the Autobiography of Mark Twain, although it seems a faster read!

Your modesty is exceeded only by your creativity. I've read your blog for more than a year, and not once have you promoted your first book -

It's Gone!... No, Wait a Minute . .: Talking My Way into the Big Leagues at 40

which I will now try to obtain. It would be great if Villiard would bring out a Kindle edition!

Corey said...

Sales talley:

Sebastian said...

Finally a book about you developing Bioshock! I was waiting so long!


To be honest I just waited to hear from you that the book included some stries that _weren't_ published on the blog compared to other Bloggers who just put in stuff from their blog and nothing additional (which is idiotic - the people you count the most on, avid readers of the blog, get a virtual kick in the nuts for being fans and making the platform what it is).

By the way, could you publish your other book in eBook format as well? I mean I recently ordered "Conversations with my agent" and it cost me only 1 Cent. Shipping was 25 Euro. That was "great".

Helen Smith said...

Good luck with it - Lee Goldberg mentioned your book yesterday, so the word-of-mouth promotion is already kicking in.

I read your blog and I also read screenwriter John August's book. I know that a lot of people who had enjoyed John's blog over the years bought his short story The Variant when he published it on the Kindle store in 2009, and propelled it into the bestseller lists. I hope that the same will happen with your book.

In John August's case, buying the book was a way of saying thanks for all the free advice, and in your case it would be a way of saying thanks for all the free entertainment - not many other people manage to sustain blogging every single day, as you have done, and make it so delightful to read.

Of course, no doubt it will also be snapped up for its literary merit. But in the scrum of promoting a book, that is not the primary consideration - you can worry about that if approached about whether or not you'd be prepared to accept the Nobel prize for literature.

All the best

Rich Norton said...

I didn't hesitate for a second to buy your new book for my Kindle. I love your blog, especially the tips and comments on writing for TV, even though I'll never do it myself. I hope you make a (small) fortune, and self-publish more books.

Rich N

Mac said...

Very exciting to be able to just do it and sell it yourself, instead of going through a publisher, or getting rejected by a publisher. Hope you make a good stash o' cash.

Golden Girl Olive said...

Great idea can't wait til it comes out in paperback!

Great Big Radio Guy said...

And don't don't need a Kindle to read it. You can download Kindle apps that work on your smartphones, tabs and computers for free.

Just don't dog-ear the pages or your screen will crack.

Pat Reeder said...

I write two radio prep services that together reach over 500 stations worldwide. I've also written a self-published book, so I know how hard it is to get publicity. If you'd like to do radio interviews to promote the book, send me contact info that I can pass along to radio show producers and I'll give you a plug. Email is

RCP said...

Not sure why my comment was deleted, but sorry for whatever the goof-up was. In any case, I'm looking forward to reading your book.

david515 said...

Three bucks? Why not? It's on my Kindle.

Cap'n Bob said...

Already downloaded to my Kindle and I'm a third of the way through it. I don't often laugh aloud while reading but I did it at least once during every entry in this great, witty book.

Yekimi, I think you're joking. Bookmarking your place on a Kindle is child's play. I know, because I have a child do it for me whenever I need a bookmark.

And while you're downloading a book to your Kindle, try mine: LOVE, DEATH AND THE TOYMAN, by Robert S. Napier.

Pamela Jaye said...

I just skimmed this post. self publishing is great, ebooks are great. will the book also be publish on demand on dead trees? I love not to have to curl up with my laptop.
Baylink suggested

Pamela Jaye said...

like i said, didn't read all of it. sorry.
how long till the paperback? my friend's book is taking forever as she had to wait for some blurbs. it's been a month...

looking forward to it. off to check the website.
Love your travelogs and can't beat the price!

jackscribe said...

At our Palm Spring Writers Guild meeting this past Saturday, the guest speaker's topic concerned digital publishing. In pricing, he suggested the range somewhere between $2.99 and $9.99. Sounds like you're doing all the right things to market the book. The speaker mentioned that some authors have had luck with a YouTube video promoting the book. It this case, 'going viral' is good. BTW, he said that paperbacks are quickly becoming history.

gwangung said...


Bless you!

analee said...

Hi! Its been a week , Pardon me for all those days that I did not able to follow your blog. I hope you still remember my name..I only change my website..
I pray for You a success because you've done a great job always. You deserve for a fortune because your not only an intelligent person,you're a man with a good heart as well.

Andrew said...

Bought it. Now, how I get it signed?

Pamela Jaye said...

I did share the blog post on my facebook account with a note from me:


let us know when the dead tree version will be out?

Paul said...

How about a contest for the best idea for continuing "Two and a Half Men" without Charlie Sheen? Here is my entry:
Charlie dies (off camera of course) and his will leaves the house to Alan's ex-wife and new husband with the proviso that Alan keeps his room. Jon Cryer and Ryan Stiles are both way funnier than Sheen.

Anonymous said...

Enjoying the book! Found a typo: Hoalie should be Haolie.

Carlos M Hernandez said...

For $3? Come on, that's a bottle of water in NYC. I'll drink tap during lunch instead.

Purchasing it tonight.

Eric Wheeler said...

Ken, Any plan on publishing through Border's site?

Cap'n Bob said...

Plugged it on my blog and finished it last night. I'll be rereading it again some day, too.

Bob said...

OK I'm showing my age here, but why can't this be formatted for reading in something that most people have like Word or PDF? Why force people to buy a special "book reader" when it would seem more sellable to allow people to purchase it in other standard formats?

Pamela Jaye said...

Hi there Bob :-)
When you say Force to buy - do you mean hardware?
Cause if it's Kindle, they have software to PC and all sorts of other devices. Go to Amazon...
The last time I looked at a kindle book on amazon, the Reader was listed on the right side of the page.
It's free.