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"I missed a lot of my 20s sitting behind my computer," says 28-year-old Kansas City novelist Brandon Tietz. "My friends got sick of me saying, 'I can't go out tonight, sorry. Gotta work on the book.'"
"The book" is Out of Touch, a dark novel whose main character is literally numb to bodily sensation. It took Tietz two years to write and would have taken two more to shop around to agents and publishing houses, but Tietz went another route. He paid to have the book published through a vanity press, otherwise known as the biggest no-no in the world of novel-pimping.
The crazy thing is, it worked.
It wasn't easy. Barnes & Noble sneered at Tietz when he asked to do an in-store reading, even though the big box bookseller was selling copies of his book on its website. Newspapers told him they don't review self-published authors' works.
"I don't really have a niche," Tietz says of his writing. "There are no
vampire-werewolf love triangles."
He had to get creative.
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On March 13, 2009, Tietz threw himself an "official release party" for Out of Touch
at the now-shuttered Blonde nightclub. He booked three tables with bottle service, invited the hottest chicks he knew, hired a photographer. "It was utterly vainglorious," he says. He left the club that night many copies lighter and trailing high-heeled strangers who were ready for the after-party in his Intercontinental
Later, Tietz entered an anthology contest that he saw advertised on Fight Club
author Chuck Palahniuk's
MySpace page, and joined Palahniuk's Writers Workshop. This was the turning point, he says. Three submissions made it to the winner's circle.
"It's hard as fuck to get a piece in front of him (Palahnuik) and I've done it three times in eight months," Tietz says. "Coming from the new guy, they didn't like that very much."
"They" are Tietz's haters, who post catty things in highfalutin prose on the forum at Chuckpalahniuk.net
and another lit-geek website, Thundadome.com
. The haters seethed even more after Tietz was promoted to "moderator" status in the writer's workshop. A new boutique label popped up on Tietz's radar, Otherworld Publications
. He wrote a pitch, and a few weeks later, he had a contract to sign. Out of Touch
will be re-released by Otherworld Publications on January 14, 2011. It's already been made the official book club selection
for February on Palahniuk's website. Tietz is planning a real
release and signing party in downtown Kansas City (anywhere but the Power & Light
, he says).
Later in 2011, he'll be releasing his second novel, Vanity
. "It's about a boy and his imaginary tiger, and they go and hunt Nazis together," Tietz jokes. "It's coming out in 3-D. When the cover turns blue, you know the literature is ready. The audio book will be in Auto-Tune
He's kidding. Vanity
is not Calvin and Hobbs meets Inglourious Basterds
, as he once told a host of an obscure internet radio station during a press junket. All he'll say is that it's a "keeping up with the Jones's" story about a husband whose ex-wife's credit-scorching shopping habits prompt him to hawk her designer handbags on street corners. It sounds like a Bret Easton Ellis
conceit, a comparison Tietz doesn't seem to mind.
KC's playboy novelist lives downtown with his Yorkie, Dr. Croutons. He still has a day job, punching algorithms into his calculator for an insurance company (kind of like the main character in Fight Club
, no?). But Tietz hopes one day to reach the magic number on a book deal advance that will let him make a living off writing alone.
And then, oh, how the haters will multiply.