In the run-up to AWP, we got an email from a very nice person in the ad department at Boston Review.
BR describes itself as “A magazine of ideas, independent and nonprofit. We cover lots of ground—politics, poetry, film, fiction, book reviews, and criticism.” The very nice person, whose name was Jeanne, wondered if we might want to place an ad in the upcoming issue, which would be handed out liberally at AWP.
The question was intriguing, and placed a finger square in the middle of one of the great tensions of our work: whether to spend time and resources making stuff or selling stuff. Almost always, we err on the side of making. The sheer volume of our output necessitates it. Plus we really like making stuff and don’t really enjoy selling, marketing, networking, etc.
But we realize that, at some point, we might be shooting ourselves in the foot by making so much stuff that falls into obscurity because we never did the work required to give it a chance to find an audience.
All this is a long-winded way of saying that we decided to go for it. The price was right, and we had an idea for the ad.
The first day of AWP, Jeanne came by to hand us a copy of the issue that contained our ad.
And here is a closer look.
The above graphic (Marilyn/George/Emily) is a panel from one of my very favorite of our books, Avoid Disappointment and Future Regret. It was, incidentally, the only title of which we completely sold out at AWP.
I like the ad. It’s fun to see our name in something we did not have to print ourselves.
Though perhaps it is a sorry statement that the only way we can draw attention to ourselves is by poking fun at poor, defenseless Emily Dickinson.
We shall see if the masses come rolling in. In the mean time, we intend to keep on making.
As we do most every morning, yesterday morning we got up and sat down at our respective desks. A few minutes into the email-checking exercise, Robbi let out a little squeal and then stood up and did a little dance. “Check your email,” she said excitedly.
Robbi is the keeper of our Google Alert notifications, so it happens occasionally that she will learn of something good that has happened in the onlineosphere first and then stand there dancing until the email makes the glacial crawl across the studio from her screen to mine.
On this occasion, the news was that Bobbledy had gotten a really nice write-up on WIRED.com’s Geek Mom blog.
We met the blogger in question, Amy Kraft, at the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Arts festival in NYC last spring, when she stopped by the Idiots’Books table and talked for a while. That meeting resulted in a nice piece on our baby book trilogy.
As was the case for that post, in yesterday’s write-up of Bobbledy, Amy took the time to carefully describe each of the books. And to call us “wickedly funny.” And to urge her readers to “sign your kids up immediately.”
Amy even included a photo of a spread from her own daughter’s version of Gorillas in the Kitchen.
Thanks, Geek Mom, for considering our little venture worthy of a shout out. And thanks for making it such a good shout.
About six months ago, we got a call from a writer for Chesapeake Taste magazine, asking if she might pay us a visit to learn about what we do. Just yesterday, we got an envelope in the mail, containing the fruits of her labors. We think it’s one of the nicest articles that has been written about our Idiots’ industry (and we’re flattered to be thought of as risk takers).
If you find yourself admiring the photos, most of them were taken by our good friend Jiho Sohn. Check out his site, if you haven’t already. And thanks to Emilie Eastman and Chesapeake Taste for the nice write-up.
Yesterday, our local paper, the Chestertown Spy, ran a nice piece on the advent of Bobbledy, revealing, among other tidbits, the origins of the idea and my initial fear of writing books for children.
The author, Dave Wheelan, also suggests (in a roundabout way) that we ought to be offering decoder rings to club members. I’m intrigued by the idea. Are there any enterprising engineers or toy designers in our midst?
As our Idiots march continues, we make our way by deceiving people. Our most recent victims are the editors of BOMB magazine, whose job it is to scour the world for artists, actors, directors, writers, and other purveyors of beauty and truth, interview them, and record their wise words on the beautiful, well-designed pages of their lovely, slightly oversized quarterly magazine. Every inch of the magazine exudes hipness, as shown in the cover of the current issue.
In spite of all they stand for and believe in, the good people of BOMB asked us to provide content for BOMB’s back-page feature, The Wick.
That’s right, us. As unhip as it gets.
Fortunately, the transaction was handled by email, and so our true colors remained mercifully obscured.
As for our feature, it’s a flowchart called:
A helpful piece of social commentary, the piece allows the reader to follow a series of prompts to determine what their job/role/fate in life is going to be.
Having our work appear in BOMB is almost too cool to believe, and yet, when we look down at the bottom of the page, there we are.
Our feature will find its way to the BOMB website at some point, and when it does, we’ll let you know, but for now, to preview other parts of the issue or buy a copy, head here. Or head to your local newsstand, but only if it’s a really hip newsstand.
We are honored and delighted to have been written up on GeekMom, a blog devoted to the interests of smart and forward-thinking moms everywhere.
GeekMom blogger Amy Kraft describes The Baby is Disappointing as “a tiny work of art in your hand” and says of Babies Ruin Everything, “it occurs to me that it would make a fine mother’s day gift for any GeekMom with a wicked sense of humor about her children.”
Funny, we were thinking the same thing.
Thanks to all of you who have already decided to honor your mom (or someone else’s mom) by snapping up our Mother’s Day Bundle of Joy. (In case you missed it, we’re offering all three baby books with a hand-written, archival baby print card for only $20.)
If you’re still looking for a gift (and if the mom you have in mind has the aforementioned wicked sense of humor), there’s still plenty of time to order and get the books to her by next weekend.
And lest you worry that liking (or writing) these books makes you a less devoted child (or parent), Amy Kraft asserts (rightly or not) that Robbi and I are “clearly loving parents to three children.” But then she also likens our work to that of David Sedaris and John Hodgman. I don’t know which claim is the greater exaggeration.
Yesterday was an exciting day in the barn. The Build Your Own President interactive feature launched yesterday, and we had the pleasure of watching our bandwidth nudge upwards as people circulated it on Facebook and Twitter. Traffic was heavier than usual, which is what we had hoped for. But then, all hell broke loose. Suddenly, bandwidth shot to 100 times its normal levels. We did a quick Google search and found the culprit: BoingBoing.net had posted about the feature.
Not only was BoingBoing saying nice things about our work, but the author of the post was none other than Cory Doctorow, author/activist/sometimes superhero who is the author of Makers, the book we were hired to illustrate in what grew into the Makers Tile Game.
If you want to play the Makers Tile Game online, click here (this link won’t work on iPhones or iPads).
To give you a sense of the awesome power of BoingBoing, here is our blog traffic over the past 24 hours.
It does not take a statistician to note that something out of the ordinary happened yesterday morning.
And here is the traffic for the week.
This morning’s traffic is still booming compared to normal standards, though a far cry from the Himalayan heights of yesterday. We are enjoying the ongoing string of Twitter traffic, highlighted by tweets from Ben Stone (formerly of Politico, now of BuzzFeed) and Guy Kawasaki (Former chief evangelist of Apple who happens to have 469,560 followers).
Robbi and I accomplished almost nothing yesterday but nonetheless felt exhausted by all of the excitement.
Thank you, Cory Doctorow and BoingBoing for the kind words and good ink. Thanks to all of our friends who posted on your Facebook walls and Tweeted the feature. We so appreciate the support.
For now, we return to our desks. There are new books to work on. Up next: part three of our baby series.
So yesterday was our big day. We woke up early, fed our kids, and handed them off to Bob, who had agreed to look after them for the day on the condition that he could look after them using our car.
This left us with Bob’s 15-passenger van as our conveyance to Washington. Everyone knows that small-town, first-time television personalities drive oversized vans to television studios.
We stopped en route to buy Robbi a muffin.
Along the way, we tried to psych ourselves up. We couldn’t really prepare, since we would be at the mercy of whatever questions they were planning on asking us, so we spent the two hours walking down the memory lane of the past five years, agreeing that our lives have been a very surprising series of events.
We got to Arlington and pulled into a parking garage with incredibly low ceilings. As such, the van antenna kept whacking into pipes as we drove under them. The racket attracted the attention of a parking attendant, who asked with some irritation how we’d gotten into the garage. We informed him that we’d just driven in. To which he responded by saying that our car was too big. To which we responded by keeping our fingers crossed. Eventually, we found a spot and parked.
On the way out of the garage, we passed by the same attendant, who had this to say to Robbi: “Strong woman. Drive big car.” It took a great deal of persuasion to keep her from running off with him right then and there.
But somehow, I prevailed, and moments later we emerged on the bustling streets of Arlington. ARLINGTON! I was tempted to jump, but figured I’d better save my energy for the interview.
We were a few minutes early, and Robbi was still feeling peckish, so we stopped at a hip deli for a snack. Robbi found her favorite, Pocky.
Once Robbi was fed, we wandered inside.
We knew by the moody blue back-lit sign that News Channel 8 meant business.
A few minutes later, the producer appeared and ushered us (and the rest of the day’s guests) to the set. Along the way, we passed through the offices of Politico, which shares space with News Channel 8.
There were three sets clustered together. We were directed to sit on one while Let’s Talk Live! began on another.
After the first commercial break, we were directed to the third set to sit by ourselves. A production assistant told us that during the lead-up to the next commercial break, the hosts would be talking about our segment and that during this time, they wanted us to smile at the camera and wave. We felt awkward and sheepish and yet we did what we were told. At the appointed moment, we waved. And smiled. And waved some more.
After the waving, we sat a while longer. I fretted anxiously and massaged my nervous jaw.
Robbi practiced what not to do when our turn came.
Eventually, we were whisked to the stage and outfitted with tiny microphones. The camera started rolling. The interview was a blur. After what seemed like only a minute or two, it ended, we shook the host’s hands, and were whisked down a hallway and back to the lobby.
We stood there for a moment, stunned and bewildered, convinced that we had been incoherent, clumsy, and thick-headed.
This is how we felt as we walked out of the studio.
We spent the entire ride home cursing our failed (and surely short-lived) television careers, lamenting our lack of poise under fire, and taking comfort in knowing that we’d soon be returning to the solitary lives of barn-bound bookmakers.
But then we got home and watched the segment online. Somehow it wasn’t quite as awful as we had initially feared.
Here it is, provided you have 6 minutes, 9 seconds to kill.
If the video above still hasn’t loaded, you can just click here to go straight to the page.
All in all, it was a fun day, a new experience. I can’t say we’d decline if Conan came calling, but all things being equal, we think we’ll stick to the books for now.
We are off for Washington, D.C., en route to our 11:00am appearance on Let’s Talk Live!
To be clear, the above exclamation point belongs to the name of the show, not to me. But, to be clear, we are excited enough to warrant an exclamation point. So perhaps I should have written that we were on our way to our 11:00am appearance on Let’s Talk Live!!
But I didn’t want to lead with that, for fear that you’d think I’d gone all “seventh grade girl” on you by using two exclamation points in a row.
It’s such a trial, sometimes, communicating with the written word.
We will report on what happens. Someone who has seen this show described it as, “Kind of like Regis and Kathy Lee.” To which we say, bring it on!!!