So, my publisher in Taiwan is a badass. Yes, a singular badass. Erik runs Nautilus Publishing all by himself. He designs the cover art, writes the blurbs, translates the books, answers the phone, handles email, and tugs handcarts loaded with books to his booth at the Taiwan International Book Fair Exposition.
And everything he touches turns to gold. I have no idea how any of this is possible. I’m in awe of the man. Gobsmacked and awed. The #1 bestselling work of science fiction in Taiwan was translated and published by him, and he’s only been doing this since 2010. WOOL looks poised to overtake that work. There are 50,000+ copies in print. Fifty thousand! And DUST, which he launched last week, debuted at #1 in all of Taiwan.
Seriously. How? Where’s the sales team? Where’s the marketing team? Where is the person who runs to Staples for office supplies? How does he do it?
I grilled him over dinner, eager to divine the man’s secrets. Two books a year? And they’re always bestsellers? Spill it, man.
“The blurb,” he says. “The synopsis. You have to grab the reader with the synopsis.”
C’mon. He’s pulling my leg. It’s not that easy.
“Oh, and a good cover.”
Whatever. He’s not telling me. My guess is a deal with the devil. I mean, the guy bats 1.000 in an industry where the whiffs are more common than contact. And he’s doing it alone.
Here’s what his madness has caused: Today, I found myself on a stage behind a broad desk arranged with placards and microphones. Beside me is the minister of culture. Next is a former COO of a major publishing house. And then the president of the book fair. A dozen cameras film from the back of the room. A hundred or so people snap away with their fancy cameras and scribble notes or hold tape recorders. It’s the press conference to open the fair. I’m the only person within five miles wearing a t-shirt. I have to stand and give a five-minute speech. Afterward, a cluster of reporters ask questions and scribble my responses.
Three more video interviews. Then we tour the largest and busiest bookstore I’ve ever seen in my entire life (Yeah, Powell’s, this place was massive). There are piles of WOOL and DUST everywhere. English editions as well. After dinner, I get back to the hotel where three of the staff are waiting with books for me to sign. Is this what being famous feels like? If so, I can stand a week of it. It helps knowing that a normal life awaits back home.
And c’mon Erik, this isn’t about some synopsis or book cover. What did you do, man? Did you really translate my book? Or is this some old Asimov work with my name plastered on the cover? I’ve gotta know.