Popcorn from the Void: one-year anniversary

July 10, 2018 was the one-year anniversary of the publication of Popcorn from the Void– my friend Todd Park’s memoir that I edited from his blog. The proceeds from the sale of this book go to support various cancer charities. It’s been doing well for a self-published book about such a serious topic: the arduous journey of a bone marrow transplant and the untimely death of its author.

I am proud that it is still selling copies. Self-published books in general don’t do very well without the assistance that a publishing house provides. Publishers will help with editing, polishing, cover art, marketing, and placement. It is in their financial interest to help their authors sell books. If you self-publish, you have to do it all or pay someone to help you.

Self-published books have a bad reputation that is unfortunately too often earned. There are too many early drafts offered up in the market that still need a ton of work. It’s work that people are not willing to commit time to. There is a lot of excitement around completing a first draft of a book, so I get why people are impatient to share it with the world. But it is still just an early draft and it’s not ready…

Writing, editing, and publication are lengthy and difficult phases of book creation (it can take years) but once they are complete, the really hard part begins: marketing. How do you get noticed in a flooded marketplace with dwindling readership? The vast indifference is deafening.

A self-published author needs to not only be good at writing but also good at the business of writing. Todd was such a good writer that generating a book worthy of publication was possible, though not easy. Then, came the challenge of how to market a book about such a heavy topic. For my part, I ran several marketing campaigns- emailing interested parties; releasing copies for circulation in free libraries across the mid-west; sending a mailer to cancer support groups; conducting a Twitter campaign; and attending a book fair.

It has mostly been a positive experience for me, with the exception of trying to market to the general public at the book fair. The book fair itself was great, but I made a lot of people uncomfortable. I would give my 60-second pitch and watch the look of horror gradually wash over people’s faces. They would take my candy and quickly leave my table. A fellow vendor felt the need to tell me that a memoir about a man’s journey though Leukemia treatment and dying was “a terrible story”. I know that’s about her, not the book.

What can I say? The truth is rarely popular. It’s a niche’ market. It’s a book intended to help friends, family, and patients understand what leukemia treatment is really like. And it continues to sell. And it has helped people. It has even helped my mother. She was diagnosed with MDS (Myelodysplastic Syndromes), a blood cancer sometimes referred to as ‘pre-leukemia’, in May 2018. The serendipity of life is strange at times…

I have learned so much that is invaluable from the entire process- from the actual production of the book, to the effectiveness of various marketing avenues, to interacting with people around the topic. It was my apprenticeship, the gateway to producing my own books.

As a philanthropist, I am proud that the work I have done will continue to produce money that will be donated to help people like Todd, people like my mom, to have access to better treatments and prognosis and quality of life. That alone has made this journey so worthwhile.

Happy anniversary, Popcorn.

 

-Copyright C.M. Mounts, July 2018

Twin Cities Book Festival 2017

I am exhibiting at the Twin Cities Book Festival this year as an editor not an author. I am showcasing the posthumous memoir Popcorn from the Void by Todd Park. Unfortunately, Todd is not here to promote the book himself so I will serve as his stand-in. Find me at table 410!


Book Festival special: Buy a book for $10 & get a free 1oz bag of Smartfood popcorn

Location: Progress Center of the Minnesota State Fairgrounds, 1265 Snelling Ave, Saint Paul, MN.

Date/Time: October 14, 10am-5pm

Admission: Free!

Download the Twin Cities Book Festival program

To Edit a Book

I am an accidental editor.

My friend Todd Park was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) in February 2013. An avid writer, he wrote entries in his blog from his diagnosis until 24-hours before his death, caused by treatment related side effects, on December 16, 2013. The blog survives as a harrowing and honest chronicle of his journey through his cancer treatment.

Early in 2014, something began to gnaw at me- What will happen to Todd’s blog? It needs to be a book but who will edit it? Who indeed. I contacted Todd’s brother John and asked permission to convert his blog into a memoir. John agreed. Continue reading “To Edit a Book”

Popcorn from the Void: Observations, Manic Kvetching, and the Raw Truth of Leukemia

Popcorn from the Void:
Observations, Manic Kvetching, and the Raw Truth of Leukemia
By Todd Park

6×9, 288 pages, ISBN-13: 978-1521532324
eBook $2.99/ Paperback $9.99

Available at Amazon

At 50, Todd Park did not look like a man whose bone marrow teemed with 50% cancerous cells. He had no symptoms. Settled into a new job in his hometown of Salt Lake City, Utah after a naval career and other post-military employment gave him a lifetime of moving, a simple blood test taken for a discount on health insurance led to an unexpected diagnosis: acute myeloid leukemia. An avid writer, Todd blogged the raw physical, mental, and emotional experience of his treatment for this deadly disease. That blog became this posthumous memoir, Popcorn from the Void, fulfilling the commitment he made to write a book about his experience to help others struggling with leukemia.

Continue reading “Popcorn from the Void: Observations, Manic Kvetching, and the Raw Truth of Leukemia”