Why He’s My Ex
by Jessica Barton on February 3, 2012
Let me start by saying THANK YOU (a million times) to Krishna Devine for being INFINITELY patient with this experiment. What experiment, you ask? Good question! Instead of the usual book review, as Why He’s My Ex is a (completely hilarious) picture book that doesn’t require much more than a: “GET IT! IT’S FUNNY!” from me, I decided to use poor Krishna Devine as a test subject for a little email interview. Like I said, her patience is infinite and she is lovely and this is what she has to say about Why He’s My Ex, which she co-wrote with her friend Jessica Hill, in Q and A format.
Q: So! Obvious question but: what was the motivator for this book?
A: A break up, of course! But to be more accurate, two break ups. My friend and co-author (Jessica Hill) and I had found ourselves back in the dating game at the same time. We shared past stories with each other about several of our exes. It dawned on us that ultimately—there were solid reasons why those relationships didn’t work out and in some cases there were warning signs we just didn’t see. As we shared stories we realized some were funnier than others. We found the whole conversation to be very therapeutic and wondered what stories other women would have. We began to collect stories from others and quickly discovered it wasn’t just us.
The next thing we knew everyone was telling us their dirt. Every one from co-workers to strangers and friends of friends seemed to have a break up story they had to share. After a year of collecting stories we narrowed them down using one or more of the following guidelines: humor, strange, visual, memorable, stories that were true. We refrained from telling stories that dealt with physical characteristics such as weight, height or penis size.
We figured out all the basics like: who our audience was, how to make the book timely yet still valid in 5+ years, what types of books did other authors have out and how could we make ours different?
We created a rough draft of the book and held two focus groups filled with both men and women. During the groups we got feedback on story, visual images, cover design and overall impact. We even collected a couple new tales.
A year after the focus groups, we finalized the stories, built our last sets, and finished the design. In all it took just over two years to complete the book and send it to the printer.
Q: What was the hardest part about making the book happen?
A: The hardest part is getting the book out there. I had to quickly learn as much as I could about marketing, pr and getting free publicity. I’ve barely scratched the surface. Everyday I learn of new resources, find new reviewers and new shops to carry Why He’s My Ex. Writing really is only about 10% of what you need to do as a writer. If you don’t promote the title one way or another, you won’t sell copies. Of course your friends and family support you at the beginning, but after that, you have to let others know your book even exists.
A: When we first heard this story, we knew we absolutely had to include it. We thought for sure it only happened one time and while horrific, was too amazing to pass up. After the book came out, several other people came up to us and told us variations of this same story. Yep, apparently it has happened more than once! The short version of the original story is this:A guy met a girl online. They talked on the phone a lot and really got along well. They decided it was time to meet in person. The guy flew to another country to meet the girl in person. He was invited in and sat down on the couch. Perhaps out of nervousness or perhaps he was simply not the most observant, he sat right on the cat’s neck/back and “crack” — no more cat. They didn’t date after that.
Q: I’ve heard from a lot of aspiring authors via Nerdist, and was wondering if you have any helpful tips or tricks to suggest to help them out?
A: If you are self-publishing, get an editor. There are a lot of great book editors out there and many are willing to work with modest budgets. It really doesn’t matter if you go through a publisher, start your own publishing company, have an e-book, get your own off-set or digital printing, etc.; marketing is the most time consuming part.
I had read several books and magazines about what to do once the book was done, and really it all boils down to, Let People Know It Exists. Go on a book tour, email magazines, find book reviewers, and place the book in locations like waiting rooms, etc., so people will see it! Just make sure you do something every day—no matter how small. Also, don’t forget to make the most of social media. Even if you don’t want your own personal FB page or Twitter account, your book will benefit from having these set up. Make it easy for people to find your title. Professionals and your future fans will expect your title to have these, and, when possible, a website. The cool thing about Facebook and Twitter is Why He’s My Ex has received fan art through these resources. It’s so fun to get the dolls and stories that other people come up with.