A year ago today my first book went live on Amazon. It was crazy to see What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? on the virtual shelves at Bezos’s Books n’ More! So I ordered one right away. It came the next day because Bezos makes things happen.
I had no idea what to expect over the next year. The people who pre-read the book told me it was really good. But I didn’t consider that an accurate predictor of public reception. After all, the pre-readers were either friends or part of my publishing team. And the friends were selected specifically because I thought they would say good things. Because sometimes you need support more than you need honesty. (Sometimes we really do notice that zit but there’s nothing you can do about it.)
But the real-world feedback has been amazing. The online feedback has been extremely positive too. (Except for guys on GoodReads named Zac, or Zach or Zak.) A year later I can confidently say that people (other than Zacs) genuinely enjoy the book.
Here are some book-related highlights from the past year.
Gifters: The number of people who have bought 5, 10, or 20 copies (or more) is a total surprise to me. Numerous people have bought many copies to give as gifts. I am honored and humbled every time this happens. And I’m thrilled I haven’t been asked about my return policy.
Speaking Opportunities: I have been giving regular book talks throughout the past year. I love being able to share the lessons from the book live. The follow-up interest in the book after the talks tells me that we are talking about important lessons and ideas. Another upside to the book talks is that I kinda want to have a hot mic faux pas that will circulate on YouTube and lead to my 15 minutes of fame. (The Hot Mic Faux Pas sounds like a bestselling book. Or maybe an album title.)
Meeting new people: People (and smiling) are my favorite. I have met countless new people this year thanks to my book. (I tried to count, but a woman in Cleveland kept moving, which threw off my tally.)
The Impact: We all have our own unique life experiences. By sharing 80 life lessons with the world, I knew that each lesson would speak to readers in different ways. Hearing the impact or value that specific lessons have had on readers has been insightful and rewarding. But the true impact of the book will not likely be known for years. Or even decades. So I’m eating right and exercising to be around to see it.
The Markups: I love seeing books that have been highlighted, underlined and filled with stickies. It shows me where people found value. And it makes me wonder why all valuable things in life are not made in highlighter colors so they are easier to find when we lose them.
The Oreo Style: There are several different ways to eat an Oreo Cookie. I twist the cookies apart, scrape the filling stuff off with my teeth, then eat the chocolate-ish cookies individually. (Usually just before walking into a dentist appointment so that I get my money’s worth.)
I’ve also found that there are several different ways people read What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? Some people read it all in one day. Some people read it steadily over a week or month. Some people read one chapter each day, like an advent calendar, and spend time focusing on one specific lesson. While other people simply pick up the book, open it randomly, and read whatever pops up, considering the lesson presented as a sign from the universe. Or at least a message from the world of physics and book-binding science.
The Morning Blend Over the past year I have been invited to appear on The Morning Blend talk show 4 times. The show is the primary morning show on NBC in Milwaukee. I love talking to hosts Molly Fay and Tiffany Ogle about positive lessons from the book. Plus, it’s a good test of what kind of humor I can throw out on the fly on live TV without getting zapped by the censor.
Podcasts: I have been invited on several podcasts to tell my story and share lessons from the book and about the writing process. I love being able to share the stories behind the stories. Plus, someone else has to do the editing, which to me feels like dining and ditching.
Travel: The fact that this book led to organizations paying me to travel to talk at their events amazes me. It combines a few of my favorite things. Kinda like brown paper packages tied up with string.
The pictures: Receiving pictures of people with my book from all over the world has been a great bonus that I didn’t imagine when writing. To know that my book and the lessons I have shared have migrated to all corners of the United States, and countries all over the globe means that my paper baby has seen things I haven’t. #bookenvy
The Giggle Reports: Readers regularly write me to tell me they keep giggling while reading. Which prompts those around them to ask ‘What’s so funny?’ That may be my favorite feedback of all.
Signings: Nearly everyone who buys a book from me asks me to sign it for them. At first, I thought this was weird. Because I thought only famous people signed things. But I have quickly warmed to the ritual. Now a year into this author thang, I have signed hundreds of books. Including 35 in the past week.
Just as it took me a while to dial in my personal writing style, it took me a couple of books to find my book signing style. Now I write in the book as if it were a high school yearbook.
- I write: To (name of book owner):
- I add the day’s date for context.
- Then I write a brief message, summarizing some of my most important lessons within the book.
- I finish that note with my initials (-AA).
- Then I sign my name right under my printed name on the title page of the book.
- Finally, I put my initials (AA) on the table of contents next to a few chapters I think will be valuable to the reader. Readers seem to enjoy this. Here’s an example of a response I received via Twitter about my AA-marked chapters in the table of contents:
I received this special delivery from my good friend and partner in doing hard things creatively, @annenormsen! Thanks so much Adam for the signed book, note and guided instructions—I am reading the AA asterisked lessons first—and they are exactly what I need! @adamvertising@telisayancy. (AKA Telisa Yancy, President of American Family Insurance)
I wrote What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? to have a positive impact on the lives of those who read it. But the person who it has impacted most is me. It has fundamentally changed my life. I have received more positivity and support than I ever imagined. It has inspired me to write, share and do more for others. If you are thinking about writing a book, do it. Start now. Develop a regular writing habit. And by this time next year, I may be reading your book.
- If you’d like a signed copy of the book (or the secret hardcover edition) please contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.