Awkward Press

Independent publishers of imaginative fiction and daily meditations on the ridiculousness of the universe.

Kyle in the News

January 18, 2010 By: Category: Press

Kyle Jarrow discusses important play business with some other gentleman who also has something to do with the play.

Awkward’s very own Kyle Jarrow was featured yesterday in a big article in the LA Times! He has created a new musical called Whisper House with Duncan Sheik that will be opening in San Diego soon. Duncan Sheik is the composer of the gazillion-Tony-award winning musical Spring Awakening. Also, according to Wikipedia, he broke a Billboard record when his song “Barely Breathing” stayed in the top 100 for 55 weeks. That makes sense, because if you could program a music-creating machine to perfectly distill America’s tastes into a 3 minute pop song, it would sound exactly like “Barely Breathing.”

Anyway, good job Duncan Sheik, but this isn’t really about you. According to Kyle, this is what the play is about:

I first started writing this in the heat of the Iraq war — that fear is something that guides a lot of life, that there is all this stuff telling us to be afraid,” said Jarrow, whose playwriting credits include “A Very Merry Unauthorized Children’s Scientology Pageant” and “Armless.” “How do you process fear and not let it control your life? That’s one of the biggest questions of modern living.”

That sounds awesome! I will go see that play. We should all go see that play. If you don’t live in Southern California, don’t worry, you’ll get your opportunity. Because it’s going to Broadway! Probably. We don’t know yet. But of course it will, because all signs point to it being the pinnacle of human theatrical achievement. Suck it, Aristophanes!

Congratulations, Kyle!

Read a Book – The Song

August 25, 2009 By: Category: Music, Videos

Here’s a sneak preview of the new song I’ll be premiering at the Awkward One release party … only for my Awkward headz!

This song + Honor Rovai + Clay McLeod Chapman + Kyle Jarrow + free Super Mirage sampler + cookies = THE BEST PARTY YOU WILL EVER ATTEND!

The Best Search Terms Ever

August 20, 2009 By: Category: Uncategorized

Watching the detectives.

Watching the detectives.

As part of the nonstop barrage of information I get about the Awkward website, I am able to check the Google search terms that people used to get to the site. The lengths that people will go to to find that perfect answer to their Google search request is both beautiful and sad. In no particular order, here are the best search terms that people used to find over the last month:

Search Term: giant boners. Analysis: Now, it is true that I was engaged in a little mock battle with Awkward Boners awhile back (a battle in which we were miserably defeated … we’ve moved to page 5 of the awkward Google search since the last posting. Sad smilies all around.) The deal is, I wanted Awkward Press to dominate the “awkward” google search. If you type “awkward” into Google right now, the third highest result is In my quest to blow out of the water (pause), I ended up incessantly dropping the phrase “awkward boners” for a few weeks. So I can understand why someone might land on us through that term. (And 10 people did .. take that,!) But how in the hell did 4 people find us through the search term “giant boners”? I had no clue, until I did a search myself and discovered that AWKWARD PRESS IS NUMBER TWO ON THE GOOGLE GIANT BONERS SEARCH!!! Don’t believe me? See for yourself.

My theory is that it’s because I entitled a post “Giant Boners” and then filled it with the word “Boners” in giant type. I won’t even link to it, because god forbid we move up to number one in the “giant boners” search. As a fun experiment in search engine optimization, I’m going to try it again with the word Awkward and see if that has any effect on our Awkward standings. Here we go:

Awkward Awkward Awkward Awkward

Awkward Awkward Awkward Awkward

Cross your fingers, kids!


The Inside Scoop on Publishing

August 14, 2009 By: Category: Publishing

The Face of Modern Poverty

The Face of Modern Poverty

Hey there, friends. Since we put Awkward One up for sale, we’ve received a few questions. We’ve actually only received one question, and it’s not really a question. The question is: You guys are jackasses. Paypal sucks. I will not buy your book through Paypal.

Okay. Fair enough. But I thought I should come clean about why we’re only selling our book through Paypal. Amazon takes a pretty signficant chunk of the profits on every book it sells(55%.). Most indie bookstores sell books on consignment at a 60/40 split, meaning 60% goes to the publisher. Through a bookstore, we would collect $5.40 on each sale. Through Amazon, we would only make $4.05 for each sale. Between design costs, shipping, and printing, we paid about $5 for each copy. As anyone with a Harvard MBA like me can easily understand, selling a book for $.95 less than it costs to make is not a very smart business model.

However, The more we print, the more our costs go down. If we can sell 1,000 copies, the per copy price goes down dramatically, and the idea of selling on Amazon starts to make sense. But first, we need to make back our cost. And that will happen when we sell 300 copies.

I have made a deal to my partners that once we hit that number, we will put our book for sale on Amazon. This will give us legitimacy and a place at the table of books, the book table, where people eat books and sit on books and light books on fire in the middle of the table like literary candelabras. (What?)

So that, my friends, is the number that we are aiming for: 300. And if you’re thinking, “what the fuck? Why would I buy a book now when it’s going to be on Amazon soon?” I say this: it really doesn’t make a difference. The price for you will be the same either way. You do have to sign up for a Paypal account, which is, indeed, a slight annoyance. However, the good you will be doing in helping our fledgling publishing company get off the ground basically guarantees that God will find a place for you in Heaven. So, there’s that.

What I’m saying is: please buy our incredible book!

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart

July 28, 2009 By: Category: Publishing

Only Moz knows my pain.

You're the only one who knows my pain, Moz.

This is hard.

You might not know who I am. You may have come to this site because I found you on Twitter through other independent publishers that you have chosen to follow. (Yes, I’ve been doing that, and I’m not proud.) Or you may have known me for 25 years, as have most of the (two) people who seem to be posting comments.

My name is Jeffrey Dinsmore. I helped start a publishing company called Contemporary Press. You have probably never heard of that, either. Shortly after 9/11 (I think … I’m a little foggy on the details) my friend Jay came up with the idea of starting a modern pulp fiction publishing company. I jumped on board, as did five of our other friends. We threw a couple hundred bucks into a pot and started writing books. My stipulation before joining CP was that I be allowed to write a book called Johnny Astronaut. I didn’t know what Johnny Astronaut would be about, but I knew I had to write it. I wrote it under a pseudonym, which makes perfect sense if you read the book. The author becomes a character. It’s very meta. My own family didn’t get it and most of them never bought a copy. They knew I wrote it, but they didn’t want to read it unless my name was on it. That’s very meta, too. Today, Johnny Astronaut is out of print.

I wrote another book called I, An Actress: the Autobiography of Karen Jamey. I personally am more attached to this book than the other one, but a lot of people I know didn’t really care for it. There are 1,000 copies of I, An Actress available. You should buy all 1,000 and blow our distributor’s mind.

CP was fun. We went to publishing conferences. We were blurbed about in GQ. We got a kick-ass review in The Believer. We lost our shirts. We never had an office. We did all our business on Wednesday nights at a bar. We threw parties in New York featuring musical performances by soon-to-be semi-famous bands like We Are Scientists, Bishop Allen, and the Oxford Collapse. I put my heart and soul into CP, and it broke into a million pieces. Both my heart, and CP. We still owe our distributor money. We were really good at drinking, but we were not so good at business. We were also not so good at proofreading, as a visit to our now dark website will prove.


What Are You Doing September 1st?

July 28, 2009 By: Category: Events

Answer: This is what you’re doing.


Free Purple Rain Tribute Album!

July 19, 2009 By: Category: Music

Spin Magazine Awkward Press pays tribute to Prince!In case you were wondering about what is the best, the answer is: the Internet. The Internet is the best. Before the Internet, how would an independent publishing house like Awkward Press be able to offer all of our readers a free Purple Rain tribute album, featuring covers of every song on Purple Rain by such luminous rock artists as Of Montreal, Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings, and The Twilight Singers? The answer is: we would not have been able to do that before the Internet. Hooray, Internet!

The second answer is that we would not have been able to do that even with the Internet, because we are not really doing that. We are just linking to Spin Magazine, who is doing that. But still, aren’t we generous? Links aren’t free, you know! (Full disclosure: links are pretty much exactly free.)

So click on that link. Here it is again, in case you are one of those people who thinks that if you don’t click on a link the minute you see it then you’ve missed your window of opportunity. When you get to the page, you have to answer a question that takes about two seconds of Internet research to answer. Then you have to give them your email address and agree to receive emails from Spin. But, whatever, just add ‘em to your spam filter if you don’t want the emails. It’s a free country with a free Internet, only not really in both cases.

It’s Working! It’s Working!

July 16, 2009 By: Category: Experiments, Site Notices

We’re doing it, you guys! I mean, I’m doing it! (Although, if you’re helping me, credit where credit is due … please let me know what you’re doing to help me out in the Great Awkward Boners Battle and I will see that you are given the proper amount of respect. Which is, frankly, very little.) But anyway, how shocked was I when I did an awkward Google search today and discovered this:



We’ve moved up to page 2! Only 5 days after we first moved to page 3! That’s gotta be some kind of record. Please call the Google people and confirm. (The comment was directed at my secretary. Get on it, Rose.)

Um, except then there’s this:

The competish

The competish

Just when a guy starts to get cocky about his Google position, he sees that hanging out 3 spaces above him. What is that? I don’t even want to click on it.

There is still work to be done, my friends. And by my friends, I mean me.

That’s Right, Dave Eggers

July 16, 2009 By: Category: Greatest Hits, Publishing

Away We Go, but Not Publishing, Because That's Not Going Away

Away We Go, but Not Publishing, Because That's Not Going Away

Dave Eggers, like This American Life, is someone I would like to backlash-hate but cannot because he’s just too damn good. I mean, I don’t have a huge opinion on his writing. I thought A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius was an interesting story that was well told, but not necessarily the work of genius it purported to be. I hear What Is the What is supposed to be good. And the McSweeney’s stuff is beautiful, but I’m not particularly excited by the words lurking inside their beautiful packages.

All that being said, the thing I have a tremendous respect for his commitment to putting good things into the universe. Using his money to start tutoring centers for goods is without-question admirable. And then there’s this, from a Salon interview with Andrew O’ Hehir:

I notice that you’ve been inviting people to appeal to you for a pep talk on the future of the printed word, which we’re all very worried about. So if I were to write to you and say, “Dave, cheer me up about the future of writing,” what would you say?

Salon still exists, thank God. And I think that there’s a future where the Web and print coexist and they each do things uniquely and complement each other, and we have what could be the ultimate and I think best-yet array of journalistic venues. I think right now everyone’s assuming it’s a zero-sum situation, and I just don’t see it that way.

Our students at 826 Valencia still have a newspaper class, where we print an actual newspaper, and we do magazine classes and anthologies where they’re all printed on paper. That’s the main way we get them motivated, that they know it’s going to be in print. It’s much harder for us to motivate the students when they think it’s only going to be on the Web.

The vast majority of students we work with read newspapers and books, more so than I did at their age. And I don’t see that dropping off. If anything the lack of faith comes from people our age, where we just assume that it’s dead or dying. I think we’ve given up a little too soon. We [i.e., McSweeney's] have been working every day on a prototype for a new newspaper, and a lot of what we’re doing is resurrecting old things, like things from the last century that newspapers used to do, in terms of really using the full luxury of the broadsheet newspaper, with full color and all that space.

I think newspapers shouldn’t try to compete directly with the Web, and should do what they can do better, which may be long-form journalism and using photos and art, and making connections with large-form graphics and really enhancing the tactile experience of paper. You know, including a full-color comic section, for example, which of course was standard in newspapers years ago, when you’d have a full broadsheet Winsor McCay comic. So we’ll have a big, full-color comic section, and we’re also trying to emphasize what younger readers are looking for, what directly appeals to them. It’s hard to find papers these days that really do anything to appeal to anyone under 18, and the paper used to do that all the time. I think there will always be — if not the same audience and not as wide an audience — a dedicated audience that can keep print journalism alive.

Exactly! Exactly, Dave Eggers. You hit the exact nail on its exact head. Print will NEVER be replaced entirely by “screen.” I can see the benefit of the Kindle and I wish they would make it slightly more useful and lower the price. I do not disparage you reading my work in whatever format you choose. However, I agree with Eggers 100% that all this hoopla about the death of printed media is being generated by a bunch of old, nervous people worrying that they no longer understand how the world works.

Well, I am the John Locke at the center of the printed world future past, and I can tell you that books printed on pieces of tree will never be embarrassed out of existence. And that’s why my friends and I feel it is important to start a publishing house right now. Because now is the time when all the people who are concerned mainly about sales figures are beginning to conclude that print is not a lucrative enterprise, and they will be leaving the market to people like us who firmly believe that there is a power to reading a great story in a well-designed package. And if fewer people are buying books, it doesn’t tell me that people have lost their interest in reading … it tells me that no one is printing anything they would want to read.

So, good on ya’, Dave Eggers. Thanks for your charitable endeavors and your great work in the publishing world and for writing a movie that the totally underutilized Maya Rudolph can star in, even if it’s not supposed to be that great. (End on snark, my mentors always said.)

Awkward Boners Battle Update

July 14, 2009 By: Category: Site Notices

Play on, Playas

Play on, Playas

As everyone on the Internet knows, Awkward Press is currently engaged in a fierce battle with Awkward Boners for Google “awkward” search term supremacy. Of course, they are unaware that they are engaged in this battle. But as Patton said, “one-sided battles are the only ones worth winning,” and he was pretty smart about generaling.

When I launched this campaign against the awkward boners, it was really nothing but a pipe dream. I mean, let’s be honest … independent publisher Awkward Press really doesn’t stand much of a chance against a site as single-mindedly brilliant as Awkward Boners. But then a funny thing happened: the more we wrote, the higher up we moved. Right now, we are the 24th most popular result for the word “awkward” on Google. We’ve blown out the Be Your Own Pet album Get Awkward! on Amazon. (Which is a shame, ’cause I like those kids. Sorry BYOP!)’s list of Letterman’s Most Awkward Moments, the one that caused me migraines last week? Try 14 SPOTS BELOW US!

And the best part is this: not only are we the 24th most popular search result for “awkward” … we are the 19th most popular search results for “awkward boners.” It is a beautiful Democracy, this blogosphere.

And now, dear friends, the rallying cry. Do you want to see us take down Awkward Boners? I ask you, is it fair that a site dedicated to that most odious of experiences, the public erection, be ranked higher than a noble independent publishing agency that is just trying to spread a little common decency among the people and animals of America? In a world of children, do we really want Awkward Boners to thrive? I should say we do not! And thusly, if you have yourself a website, please help us out. Give us a link, wouldja guv’ner?

Related posts:
Page 3, Baby!
Awkward Press Rockets to Page 4
Awkward Boners