Friday, May 19, 2006

WSJ Review

If you ever wanted to start reading the Wall Street Journal, today might be a good day to begin. I especially recommend Page W6.

Laura Landro wrote a nice review of Mom's Cancer for one of the world's great newspapers. An excerpt: "...Mom's Cancer works on several levels: The stark black-and-white drawings, with the occasional burst of color, convey the drama of a family battling the fear and uncertainty of cancer treatment, and the illustrations help explain technical matters--such as how chemotherapy and radiation work against a tumor--that might make readers' eyes glaze over in traditional text-only format."

I continue to be amazed by the press attention my book is getting, both reviews and features. The Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Entertainment Weekly, Publishers Weekly, Daily Telegraph (U.K.), Associated Press, others on the way that I'd rather not say. Hundreds of thousands of books are published every year, and most go unnoticed by big media outlets; most remain unreviewed by anyone at all. I'm grateful.

From my vantage point behind the wizard's curtain, I see three things happening: Some media discover the book on their own or receive review copies from my publisher, Abrams, and simply find Mom's Cancer worth writing about on its merits. Other media notice that my book is the first of a little cluster of cancer-themed graphic novels coming out this year and want to cover what they see as an interesting trend (the "Pow! Bam! Comics Aren't Just For Kids!" stories). And some media notice my book because people at Abrams work very hard and exercise their professional and social connections, sometimes for months, to get their attention. I'd guess that the press Mom's Cancer has gotten to date has derived about equally from those three sources.

I won't know for months whether that exposure translates to sales. Bookselling turns out to be a murky, mysterious business of orders, returns, discounts, forecasts, and unholy voodoo that makes it hard to reckon where you stand. I recently wrote that it feels very strange to put a book out into the world and realize it has a life completely independent of me; it must be like sending kids off to college (which I'll be doing in a few months) and not knowing if they're studying hard, flunking out, or staggering about in drunken debauchery. Almost all I know is that the reviews are good and people I talk to at Abrams seem happy. So I'm happy.


Sarah said...

Congrats on the great review in the WSJ!! I loved your comparison to sending kids off to college and you're not even there yet. :-)

I know nothing about book marketing, but I would venture to say that part of the reason your book is getting such great press is because it truly is just that...absolutely great.

I'm sure these people at these various media outlets have tons and tons of books that come across their desks every day. I think in this day and age, so many of us have been impacted by cancer in one way or another that most of the people who end up reading it are able to relate to it, and the bottom line is that you make it so relatable (and approachable). I'm looking forward to seeing what kind of response we get once our newsletter comes out this month. People are always looking to find books they can read and relate to.

Anyway, keep up the great work. Onward!


p.s. Also, interesting what you wrote yesterday for the Livestrong day. The part about so many different people being involved is so true and it makes me kind of sad. As if people didn't already have enough to deal with. I wish a lot of health professionals read your blog, too...

p.p.s. Did my first tri of the season! Alcatraz is next!

clknipe said...

Brian, you nailed it. It being the journey my Mom took our family on when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2002, then recurring metastic in 2003. She fought like a titan. I just read the review in the WSJ. I never knew about your strip or the book until now. I relate so much to what I've read so far and will be getting your book to read more. In one way, I wonder why I'd want to reopen the chapter we closed in January 2005 when she died -- there is comfort in relating to the emotions that come through your work.

Thank you. That's not enough, but really, thank you.


Lynne said...

Oh Brian, I am so thrilled for you

This is getting the attention we (you know who we are) need, and Mom's story ..... I can barely compose my thoughts. She is one powerful energy.

The Wall Street Journal, for god's sake!!

Mom, you go!

patricia said...

Wonderful, amazing, fabulous news!

And no matter what the sales of the book add up to, we all know that it's true value is priceless.

Of course, I KNOW that 'Mom's Cancer' will do extremely well. So don't worry about the drunken debauchery

Anonymous said...

Congrats on the great exposure! You and your family must be proud!

All the best,

e Cancer Awareness

Brian Fies said...

Sarah, congratulations on the triathalon! Your blog gave me some idea of how hard you worked for it. I appreciate your continued support for my book. (I met Sarah in March in Berkeley; she's with the Brain Tumor Foundation. Check it out at

Catherine, Thanks. No opinions mean more to me than those of people who've been through it.

Lynne, thanks as always. Patricia, I never worry about drunken debauchery unless it's happening in a car coming toward me. Eric, I don't know if "proud" is the right word...maybe more like "satisfied." Mom would have been happy.