Rob Kroese is an author. He wrote a book called Mercury Falls and decided to self publish it. Somehow he sold enough of these self published books to get the attention of a FOR REALSIES publishing company who then took him under their wing and republished his book. Hell they even got it into actual book stores. I’ve wanted to be a published author for quite some time and watching his success story told me that it was possible to accomplish this goal. But how did he do it? He used the internet. More specifically he used some sort of internet magic – which he must have learned when he worked at The Google. In order to determine the source of his internet magic I headed down to his book signing to get my answers!
When I first arrived at the Barnes and Noble in Sacramento, Rob was wandering amongst his assembled audience, autographing books and answering questions. He seemed affable and nice as he plied his fans with his internet trickery and his silver tongued word-smithery. There was no way that I would be able to A.) get him to admit to using his computer wizardry or B.) get him to divulge his secrets. I sat quietly in the back of the crowd and waited for the right time to strike. Fortunately for me about the time I had run out of cookies and paint thinner to dip them in, Rob was leaving. I quickly sidled up next to him, asked another fan to take our picture and while everyone was distracted shot him full of tranquilizers.
the famed author – seconds after the drugs kicked in*
Rob woke up, hours later, in my private interview room: a girl’s bedroom in an abandoned model home. Normally I would conduct my interviews in a place with more gravitas but basements ripped directly from a Saw movie are hard to come by. Model homes in California, however, are more prevalent than shame at a renaissance faire. The girl’s bedroom…well…I was hoping that the awkwardness would cause him to want to divulge his secrets quicker. Also ponies are awesome.
ROB: Where? Where the hell am I?
TRAVIS: Somewhere safe, for now.
ROB: Who the hell are you?
TRAVIS: I’m Travis. I’m from the internet. Surely you’ve heard of me.
ROB: No. Not in the slightest.
My wife says things like this a lot. She doesn’t admit to knowing me in public. She pretends that we’re not married when we go to her parents house. Needless to say I’m used to people ignoring the obvious gravity of my fame.
TRAVIS: I’m here to talk to you about your book.
He struggled against the chair that I had duct taped him to.
ROB: Oh god, this isn’t…this isn’t like some weird fan thing like in Stephen King’s “Misery” is it?
TRAVIS: What?No. Also why is “Misery” in quotes?
ROB: What? A book’s title appears in quotes in printed text but we’re talking…I don’t…I don’t understand.
Cookies and paint thinner may have been a mistake.
TRAVIS: I need to find out what kind of internet magic you used to get your book published. If I can harness your mystical powers I can be more powerful than Criss Angel and a more widely read author than Tom Clancy.
this picture is, of course, a lie – Criss Angel can’t read
ROB: Magic? There’s no magic. I worked really hard to get people to read my book.
TRAVIS: Of course you did. All you did was write a book and then work really hard to get people to read it and then that hard work paid off.
ROB: Yes that’s it exactly.
His lies were flying out of his lying lie hole faster than poop out of – uh – pooping poop hole. It’s really hard to make metaphors when your vision is going all blurry because you spent a majority of your evening ingesting household chemicals. When this is all said and done I’ve really got to buy actual booze instead of raiding my cleaning closet.
TRAVIS: I find that entirely too hard to believe. What’s the source of your power?
ROB: There’s no power source. I spent four years writing a book while working full time and raising my two kids. I sent copies out to a bunch of publishers but didn’t get any bites. I decided that I’d risk it and publish it on my own.
TRAVIS: Sure, that’s completely believable. You conjured up the power of an entire publishing company and printed your own book. Yeah I’ll believe that when man visits outer space.
ROB: We’ve been to outer space. Like, a bunch of times. There’s a space station in orbit over the earth where people live a year at a time. It’s so common place that people find it boring.
ROB: No really. And it’s actually pretty easy to self publish a book. There’s programs to help you format your manuscript and websites that will print your book when it’s ordered so you don’t have a glut of inventory sitting around.
ROB: Websites. On the internet. You… I mean moments ago you said you were from the internet.
TRAVIS: I’ll level with you; I use a lot of words that I don’t know what they mean. Sometimes I just make up words out of the blue. Like juxtaposition. See, I made that up right now. It means a male rhino’s left testicle.
ROB:No it doesn’t.
TRAVIS: Yes it does. I made the word I get to decide what it means.
ROB: No. Juxtaposition is real word. It means to compare and contrast.
TRAVIS: Sure it does book boy. Sure it does.
It’s times like these that I regret giving up the game of “Quit Hitting Me In The Head With A Hammer”. That game is usually a really great interrogation tool.
ROB: Look, can we just get this over with? I’ll tell you whatever you want to know. Hell I’ll even tell you things that you don’t want to know as long as I can get the hell out of here. I once told my second grade teacher that my pet alligator ate my homework.
TRAVIS: Completely plausible, same thing happened to me.
ROB: I wasn’t even…wait what?
TRAVIS: Seriously. It’s one of the best things you can feed an alligator.
ROB: No. No it’s not. Also I didn’t have a pet alligator. I grew up in Michigan. And I … look what does it take to get me untied and the hell away from you?
TRAVIS: Just tell me all of your internet secrets for getting a book published and I’ll let you go.
ROB: Seriously there was no magic. I worked really hard. I promoted my book on twitter and my website. I practically gave away the electronic version on Kindle. Hell I even donated all of the profits of my eBook sales to worthy causes for two months out of the first six months the book was on sale. I spent almost all of my free time practically begging people to read it and review it.
His words were almost making sense which meant one of two things: 1.) that he didn’t use any actual magic but actually used hard work, progressive marketing and innovative techniques to get his words in front of the eyes of actual word-reading readers 2.) it also meant that I was losing all of my personal magical power that was granted through my magical viscous elixir. Eschewing point 1 I moved right on to point 2 and begin mixing myself another “House-Painters Delight” – a combination of bathtub whiskey, paint thinner and an entire box of Crayola Crayons.
I downed super juice and steeled myself to meet this word magician head on. Maybe what he was saying was true. Maybe promoting the book was hard work that he carried out without any sort of trickery. But with four thousand books sold prior to being picked up by Amazon’s Encore publishing division maybe the secret didn’t lie in his “Tweets”, perhaps the magic lied in the words of the actual book.
Mercury Falls is a book about the apocalypse involving angels, demons and a lot of bureaucratic chicanery. Perhaps the magic was in the tome itself. I took another long swig of “House Painters Delight” and re-doubled my efforts.
ROB: For the love of all things holy, what are you drinking?
ROB:It smells like piss, paint thinner and sadness.
TRAVIS: Yes. POWER!!!!!
My legs were beginning to go numb and I couldn’t see out of my right eye – my plan was going exactly as planned.
TRAVIS: Maybe what you say is true, maybe you did promote your book without the assistance of super natural forces. But with 100+ five star reviews of “Mercury Falls” on Amazon I can only conclude that your magic lies in the words of your book.
ROB: Are you okay? I mean you’re starting to go cross eyed.
Power has its consequences.
TRAVIS: Everything is going exactly as planned. Now reveal your word magic to me before I slip comfortably into a coma.
ROB: Can you cut me free?
TRAVIS: As long as you promise not to steal my pony statues.
ROB: I wouldn’t even consider…sure, whatever you say. Your ponies are safe.
I cut him free from his captive chair. Someone was going to have to call 911 after all.
ROB: There’s no magic in the book. I just wrote a book that I would want to read. I packed it full of humor and subjects that would interest me. That’s the real trick. If you’re going to write a book and get it seen by thousands of people you have to be as enthused by the book as you want your readers to be and you have to promote it in a way that’s not overly obtrusive and pandering. It’s not something that you can do overnight. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication and if you put in that kind of hard work you’ll reap the rewards.
TRAVIS: Everything tastes like burnt sienna.
It was at this point that my drink of choice began having its desire effect and I began slipping in and out of consciousness.
ROB: Look, I’m gonna go. You appear to have pissed yourself and, quite frankly I’d like to get myself as far away from you as possible. Thanks for not killing me though. That would have been lame.
In those final moments prior to embracing the sweet, nougaty taste of nothingness, I held my copy of Mercury Falls aloft.
TRAVIS: Think you could sign this for me?