TIH 464: Jason Pargin on TikTok, Pargin vs. Wong, and Curating Social Media Posts

TIH 464: Jason Pargin on TikTok, Pargin vs. Wong, and Curating Social Media Posts

In this podcast, Jason Pargin talks about TikTok, Pargin vs. Wong, curating social media posts, and much more. 

About Jason Pargin

Jason Pargin is the New York Times bestselling author of John Dies at the End and the Zoey Ashe series. He is the former editor of Cracked.com. He’s just released his new book If This Book Exists, You’re in the Wrong Universe.

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Michael David Wilson 0:07

Welcome to This is Horror, a podcast for readers, writers and creators. I'm Michael David Wilson, and every episode alongside my co host, Bob Pastorella. We chat with masters of horror, about writing, life lessons, creativity, and much more. Now, today's guest is Jason Pargin, and he returns to the podcast to coincide with the release of his new book. If this book exists, you're in the wrong universe. And this is a two parter. In this episode, we talk a lot about tick tock you'll find out why when the conversation starts up. And we also talk about Jason Pargin versus David Wong confusion. And if you prefer consuming these conversations in one chunk, then do consider becoming a Patreon a patreon.com. Forward slash This Is Horror. Because right now you could be listening to the entire conversation with Jason Pargin now before we jump into the episode, a little bit of an advert break,

Tim Lebbon 1:44

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Michael David Wilson 2:56

Okay with that said here it is it is Jason Parkin on dessus hora. Jason Welcome back to This Is Horror.

Jason Pargin 3:10

I have to address something right away. I am pretty sure that the last time I was on the I made a pledge with some sincerity in front of the public and God and everyone that I would never join Tik Tok. Anyone who follows me on other social media channels knows that I have now joined and in fact, I posted a tick tock that has gone viral and as I'm looking at it has 950,000 plays on it. So I am apparently a tick tock influencer now. Here I will tell you the story of why I'd finally gave in because this is this what people kept up bothering me for years. It's like if you are an author, you need to be on tick tock. And I was like, I'm pretty sure tick tock is just like 16 year old girls dancing in their bedrooms to some viral song. And that's all of Tiktok that's all I knew. Tiktok was. So in my mind, a man in his mid 40s Being on there at all. Should be against the law somehow. Like I shouldn't be on there looking at that. The I was assured recently. It's like no, no, no, no, no, the platform has grown up. Yes, it is questionable. Like the company that owns it and what data they turn over to I guess the Chinese government that's a big thing among some people. That's why I guess Donald Trump wanted to shut down tick tock, I don't remember what that was about. But people told me no, it has matured as a platform. There's all sorts of people there of all ages. And also, there's a thriving book community on there. All the reviewers, the passionate readers, book clubs, authors, the smart authors, they're all on Tiktok. So I succumbed to peer pressure as I always have in my entire life. And have now on there it has been eye opening. It is a tremendous use. Suck of time and mental energy to be on tick tock that I am I'm on there now and I, and I apologize for those of you I've disappointed. I know that it seems like I just immediately fold the moment I declare that I'm going to do something and they that I only give that impression because it happens to be true. It's the same way with diets. Anything else, the moment I declare, this is what I'm going to do. Within hours, I've usually succumbed or either of you guys on Tik Tok, do you use it? Do you browse it recreationally?

Michael David Wilson 5:25

I'm not on tiktok, I have browsed your TikTok a little bit and I browse like occasionally people's tik toks, like in the writing community to see what staring on it is something you know, I'm wondering about particularly, because at the moment, I'll be having a new book coming out next year, and I'm looking to get a literary agent as well. So trying to get as many marketing and social media platforms as possible. So I am wondering about it. So I suppose as someone who is now newly on Tik Tok? Is this something that you would recommend, what would you say have been the benefits, I mean, clearly, the disadvantage has been all the time taken to do this,

Jason Pargin 6:14

it appears that that's simply where all the traffic and all of the interaction is. It's that million view tick tock I just posted that's more traffic to any work I've created. In the last six years, I had a viral column that cracked in 2016, around the election that exploded from multiple millions of views. And this is the biggest piece of content I've created since then. And it's after being on Tik Tok for like three weeks, the amount of interaction just the total number of people. It is like Twitter feels dead. In comparison, Facebook feels like a crypt and comparison. There's so many people and so much content and so much the potential to reach people, it happens at like lightning speed. But I wasn't on here for a reason. And I don't post YouTube videos very often, for a reason I never wanted my face and my voice and my personality to be what sells me as an author. Because it's like, well, if it comes down to that, I'm just screwed. Because the written word isn't my thing. You know, I got started in the blogging era in the late 90s, when the internet was brand new. And it was just text, like you couldn't do photos. When I first got on, it could barely handle photos, these dial up connections, it was all text. That's why I loved about it. Because it's like, looks don't count, you know how much money you have doesn't count where you're from your race, your ethnicity, nothing about that nothing matters. You can just type you can be anybody. You're doing it behind a fake name, and just your work. Whatever you're writing, it just lives separate from you. And I love to that and then a little later on, it's like, well, people are starting to attach their real names and faces to stuff you know, that was in the social media era, Facebook, you know, demanded a real name. And then a little bit late, it's like, well, you really need to be on YouTube. And it's like, well, you know, Instagram really wants wants video if Facebook really wants video now. It's like so do I have to in you know, this middle aged man? Do I have to train myself to be a an on camera? Personality? Because I don't have any. I don't have much background in that. I did some of that stuff in college. That was a long time ago. And I I hate it because I don't hate it in general. What I hate about it is if you're on there and you go look at the post the Tech Talk posts from other like women authors I follow, or women Book Critics and reviewers. And you see how many comments are about their appearance. You were it seems like it's you know, people are listening or watching because oh, she's a pretty girl. And it's like it should not be about that you're not you're not on the channel of you know an influencer posting their vacation photos in a bikini you're on there listening to someone who is a scholar or a reviewer or a critic. That stuff should matter. But on tic tac, you can't help but it's a visual medium. It's only video. And so I feel almost like I'm back in high school where it's like it's a popularity contest is the cool kids. It's the good looking kids in charge again. And no writer wants that. I wouldn't be a writer if I was if I was handsome. I wouldn't need to write it. Would I be doing something else?

Michael David Wilson 9:35

Right? Yeah, I totally get that. And I suppose that's like another reservation firm. You're joining tick tock. It's like look, a bold bearded guy who writes and has a podcast, not even a video cast. You know? I'm not sure in terms of at least the aesthetic component. A lot to offer tick tock so you know as Suppose I've got to offer even more, I've got to work twice as hard with whatever value I'm giving with my content.

Jason Pargin 10:08

And people scrutinize the videos. Yeah, like what's in the room with you? What's behind you? What are you wearing? Is that same shirt you're wearing yesterday? Like they notice they notice things they're gonna notice if you put on a few pounds like that's yeah, because it's not what the

Bob Pastorella 10:23

fuck does that have to do with writing

Michael David Wilson 10:25

really does happen.

Jason Pargin 10:28

So it is it is reluctantly that I will join something like this or do something like this. But but in the world of writing, if you are promoting your work, the only way people will ever buy your book is if they know the book exists, that is the first and tallest mountain. Whether or not they liked the book, whether or not they will enjoy it, how much they enjoyed it, whether or not it's in their genre. All of those are trivial hurdles behind the giant snowy Mount Everest, which is just getting them to hear about it. So whatever means you have you have to go to where the people are, and you can shake your fist at the sky like well, why are all the kids today? Why are all the young readers on Tik Tok? Why is that where I have to go to reach them? And the world says oh, there's plenty of other things they can read and do if you don't want to be on here. You know, and I'm not big enough. Like I don't I get the Stephen King doesn't need to be on tick tock George RR Martin does not need to be on tick tock, I am not one of those guys. I'm not a big too big to fail author. I'm like most authors, I do very well. But I'm also exactly one bomb away from not having a writing career. It's you know it because there's always somebody else who can who can write books. So you kind of have to go to where the audience is. But the thing this is kind of interesting, hopefully. But the thing that convinced me to finally pull the trigger on it was, I have this thing that I do whenever I have a book come out. Because very rarely will reviews from my books run in something like the New York Times, that's only happened once or in the Washington Post. For the most part, the reviews for my books will appear on YouTube blogs, for the most part, YouTube podcasts, things like that. It's just regular people who've got an audience. And that's where people find out about my books, because reviewers are everything, of course, Good Reads. Well, what I do is when somebody gives me a decent review, or even a mediocre review, I don't care as long as you're talking about it, I bookmark it, for the obvious reason that a year two years later, when I have a new book come out, I can go back to them and say, Hey, you'd like the last one? Do you want us to send you an advanced copy of our IRC, okay, so I have this list, a de facto list of people who have said nice things about about my books is this is like a rudimentary, you know promotional thing, just keeping track of who has read them before and then seeing if they want to read the next one. And so I have a list going back, like 12 years, because I've been writing on time and my bookmarks, because I'm an old person, I have the same computer that I just I've been using forever. And this long list of these bookmarks, you know, a lot of them are just WordPress blogs, or whatever. And so this time, new book coming out getting be a couple months away, you know, it was it was in that mid August, I sat down, it's like, okay, whoever doesn't have a preview copy, yet, they need it by now, like we're getting to where there's just barely enough time for them to read it, review it. So I go down my list of bookmarks and all of those people. 95% of them were out of the game that either their site was a dead link, or the site was still there. But their last update was in 2018. Or they had gone just it had they had just let it rot that their YouTube channel had been deleted their WordPress account they had deleted, their social media was gone. And it was all of these people who when you looked at the ones who had kind of like just abandon the site, and in a lot of cases, there was like a final goodbye message where they just had to get a new job or couldn't couldn't stick with the updates. And you would see that like the design on their website was usually like out of 2012 There were no social media buttons on there. And you can see that what happened is that as the blog era passed into the social media era, when people started to get their opinions from, like stuff posted directly to Facebook directly to Twitter, Reddit instead of getting it from blogs as the way they did in the early 2000s. And you can just see this graveyard of craters, people who aspire to be critics, writers, whatever. And they just, it seems like they just didn't keep up with the way the world changed. Because it's a giant pain in the ass to keep up. Like to constantly have to adapt the way you operate. And so somebody He comes and says, hey, yeah, you've you've built up a nice audience on this WordPress blog, you've used to get tons of comments yet you know you the way you used to do business back then where you had like

a reader, the thing that would appear on the reader app, all those all the technology that was state of the art in 2006. It's like, No, you need to be on Twitter. Now, you need to think in terms of 280 characters at a time, you need to YouTube, you need to be putting your face out there. And the ones who didn't, they just faded away. Because they watched their audience disappear. Because people, it doesn't matter. It's like I did it. And I've been on the other end of that and thought, Well, gosh, but I've worked so hard, I've been consistently good, I put good stuff out there. It's like it doesn't matter in the internet age, people drift off to the next platform. And if you're not on that platform, they'll just forget you exist. So from that scene, this graveyard of these great writers, people who I was friendly with and who loved my books and fans and that they had just disappeared from the internet, I thought I should probably get on tick tock. And by the time I get good at tick tock and have a decent following, somebody will haven't been at something else, but the new thing they invent will not be text only, it will be something that requires you to put even more of your life out there like even more of your own appearance and your own home and your own lifestyle and everything for for people to for people to judge. That's if somebody is kind of introverted. That's, that's a rough transition.

Michael David Wilson 16:35

Yeah, yeah. And I think one of the hardest parts about keeping up with social media is knowing which network to go on to and when, because the cost is for all for all the success stories, there's a load of things that kind of turn up and then they looks like they're going to be popular and then they just disappear. I mean, if you didn't give, I mean snap cat, I think that was Tik Tok at one point, and then that got that kind of got morphed into it. There's been club house as well in vine, vine. Yeah, of course. So all of Googles this time, there's something called

Jason Pargin 17:17

Periscope. I think telegram. Yeah. Or am I just throwing out random words? I can't tell the difference between a state of the art app or just a word that I heard somewhere. I mean, I

Michael David Wilson 17:26

furnish you I think Periscope is one and telegram. Sounds like it should be one. That's the problem. It's got a name that absolutely.

Jason Pargin 17:38

At least one of these we mentioned is going to be one of the like, the racist ones. The truth. What's the truth? Yeah, truth. Social. Yeah, it's like truth out there, where if we don't, if we don't properly put it in context, people think we're just listing it as another platform, you shouldn't be on that. So like right now as as a as an author 2022. I have let me count. I have a personal Facebook page. And then a Facebook page for the John dies, Thea novel series and a Facebook page for the ZOE ash novel series, my two, my only two novels here. So three Facebook pages, I have the Twitter, I have the Tiktok. Of course, I have a Goodreads account, I have the substack blog slash newsletter. I have a MailChimp mailing list, that's eight I know, there's more. I'm forgetting some of it. Oh, I have an Instagram, that's nine. Cache, I thought I had like 11, I may have literally forgotten two of the platforms I'm on. But that's how many and I manage all of those myself, I do not have a social media person because it economically wouldn't work out to make some poor person, some poor guy have to manage 1010 accounts or however many I have.

Michael David Wilson 18:50

What made you get a sub stack when you had Mail Chimp? And, you know, do you still have both of them? I mean, I guess like what's the function of both of them existing data? And you know, do you duplicate duplicate content or is it all original for both

Jason Pargin 19:11

the issuers is that when you when you transition, you can't from one thing to the next you can't bring everyone with you. So MailChimp I had had for a while as my only you know if you want to be emailed when I've done something interesting here sign up for MailChimp. So I have like a couple of 1000 people have done it that way. The sub stack is a blogging platform, it's just you blog there and then it also emails the post to people, they can either get it down their inbox or they can just read it on the internet. Now that's the one where people can charge for it. And so like a lot of big name minds free it's just it. I make money by selling books on my post on the if I'm doing a full on column like I can do it on substack with images and everything and make it look really nice and it's both available at Jason parchment substack.com. Or if you again if you sign up you can If you can, if you prefer to read stuff in your inbox, you can the MailChimp is purely to email people. And yeah, I just tried to be like, whenever there's a sale like a discount on the books or anything like that, I'll try to send out a post through MailChimp to those those guys so they know. But the MailChimp people I assume are those who don't use Twitter, which is smart. They're not on Facebook, like they want to keep up but they don't want to poison their brain with with a social media platform. And so I just assumed those are the people who like I'm not on social media, but I do want to know when you've got another book coming. So that's the thing is that if I thought I could pick up and port all of my audience over to the next thing that I would just move entirely to the next thing, but it doesn't work like that. The Twitter people do not go on tick tock and they kind of disdainful of it. It's a completely separate audience. I mean, there's certainly people that use both but in terms of like my audience, I have almost 50,000 followers on Twitter if I when I went on there said hey, I'm now on Tik Tok, I think like 36 of them. Yeah, we join Tik Tok. After that prompt, it's like, no, that's all dancing teenage girls, You're a pervert for being over there. We know Twitter is where it's at. And it Twitter's like a certain personality type, probably people who probably don't like to be on video just like that. And then same thing with Instagram. People think of Instagram as being like photos of food. But there's an entire books to gram ecosystem of reviewers and stuff that only operate on Instagram. So again, I kind of feel like I have to be there. I don't have a ton of followers on Instagram. I have like 5000 I think the last time I checked, but that's, I'm you know, if you've seen the stats on how many like copies, the average book sale sells, having 5000 people you can sell to is not a small thing. Like even if 10% of them buy the book, that's, that's worth it. It's worth maintaining that if it's 500 bucks every time.

Michael David Wilson 22:00

Yeah, yeah, no, I wondered with substack and MailChimp, specifically, because I went from MailChimp to ConvertKit. So kind of a similar deal. So then I could, like, export people over there. And I know that substack does have the email built in. But as you say, I guess the blogging feature, that's what distinguishes it. So it is different content, it wouldn't be as simple as just porting people over, because I'm wondering about it because like even having a newsletter with 5000 subscribers, I mean, particularly with ConvertKit, it's fairly high price for a month and substack you can get a free account, but

Jason Pargin 22:47

right in with MailChimp, I'm getting to the upper cusp of where it's not going to be free anymore. And at that point, I have to make a decision because like, you know, I again, I don't have I don't have infinite money, I have more money to use to promote than most authors do. But it's it is finite. You know, and like, I don't have my own publicist like I in theory, I could hire a publicist to handle like all the my podcast interviews and stuff, but when but no, it's I do it myself. I devote, I say this in every show. And I say it for a reason. I devote about 80 80% of my time to publicity about 20% to writing. Yeah. And I am not not prescribing that to any other authors out there. If you think that's obscene, I totally get it. I'm not saying the sound has to be done. I'm saying that. When I have observed effort versus sales, like like, being visible on platforms versus the effects it has, that's how much I have to do in order to be able to write full time as an author, it's it's about 8020. If you don't have to do that, then bless you, that's you have you have a good life. I'm happy for you. But because the issue is if it's not clear, being on Twitter is not if you say way out was it take like 30 seconds to tweet. That's not how it works. You have to build a following. In order to build a following. You have to use it because you have to you have to figure out what people want. You have to figure out what the algorithm wants. And you have to jump on trends. You have to be a part of conversations, you learn what it takes to build up a following. So the time spent on Twitter and the reason I have 50,000 followers it's not because I'm going on there twice a day and posting some random thought is because I have learned what to post and how to post it and what format at once and observe what posts do well and what doesn't do well. What does well for other people, what trends what doesn't, and the only way to find that stuff out is to spend a lot of time on there. I've got a lot of hours and Tiktok like I do do a crash course and learning how it works. That's just that's just the way it is I've tinkered with getting the right audio. It's it's, you know, in order to have a twin The second post takes more than 20 seconds because in order to have a 22nd post that does really, really well, you have to educate yourself on what does well on tick tock. And it is very taxing. It's what you know, it's what authors of the past presumably did not have to do. But I'm sure they had the equivalent, I'm sure there was a lot more because like, I don't travel, I don't do book tours I don't do in person. I've no one has ever convinced me that that actually sells a lot of books. I feel like authors do it because they enjoy getting out in meeting meeting fans. Whereas I just I figured I would get murdered by a stalker or something. But I but you know, I'm sure they would all have the same complaints that it's a lot more promotion than then creative stuff, but it is what it is. You can get mad about it, but nobody cares. Yeah, nobody's gonna feel sorry for me, it's like well get go get a real job.

Michael David Wilson 25:57

Right. And, I mean, I it'd be interesting as well to know but also impossible, what kind of percentage of that nearly million views you've got on that tick tock, which, which I will link to if people are intrigued as to what it is. I've seen it. But yeah, I'd be interested to know how many convert to actually reading your books? How many are even aware that you write books from that? It'd be interesting to know.

Jason Pargin 26:28

Yes. And guess what, not even God knows that. You will, we will all go to our graves. Never knowing ever, ever, ever knowing how many of those million people actually clicked on my profile. Maybe they joined maybe they don't but they watch some of the other videos saw that the pin video was basically an ad for my book. It's me reading the opening lines for my book, I clicked on it, we're intrigued. opened up a browser on their phone went to Amazon search for the title of the book and bought it. We'll never know there's there's a famous line from a small business owner quoted to me Ray said I know for a fact that half of my advertising budget has been wasted. But there's no way to find out which half Yeah, yeah, right. It's the same thing. So one thing that I have found it for other young authors out there, if you get the sales link to amazon link, the Barnes and Noble link, whatever your you've got your thing on, if you get it in front of people, no matter how you do it, a certain percentage will click through. And a certain percentage of those usually about 20% of those who click through will buy the book, it kind of doesn't matter in my experience, it kind of doesn't matter how you get the link in front of them, the same percentage will click on it the same percentage will buy. This is why there's an entire ecosystem of authors who sell entirely by outrage that you know, you think about like the right wing or influence or types who will go on and tell some intentionally offensive joke like Ann Coulter will go on Twitter and tell some clearly racist joke or something and, and that will go viral from all of the people on the left, like yelling at her and dunking on her. And she knows that that post, like the sheer amount of interaction that gets will funnel a certain number of people back to her profile. And then at the top of her profile, she surely has pinned a link to her latest book. And a certain number of people from there will click on the link a certain number of people there will buy the book. It does not matter if that post went viral because of an angry rage mob or if it went viral because it was a thoughtful, interesting observation. It kind of doesn't. If you get the link in front of people, a certain number will click and then a certain number of those will buy. Yeah, but I don't get to be clear anybody who's new to me, I do not do the outrage thing I do not sit down you can look at my tic tac. I just sit down and calculate rage bait for people. I don't want to live that life because I I don't like the idea of people just bombarding me with death threats every day. That's if you find me five years from now. And you see that that's now my business models and venting terrible opinions just so people will yell at me and give me engagement. That means my life has gone into a dark place. It means I've probably built up a bunch of gambling debts and I'm trying to pay them off with with book sales or something. Because right now, I would rather just go get a real job and that way it's I can't that seems like that would be bad for the soul.

Michael David Wilson 29:28

Yeah, yeah. And in terms of your Tik Tok content, it seems to be composed of mostly job writing advice and things to do with your book. So, I mean, how do you decide what to post and what kind of percentage to curate from each thing? I mean, I don't know how much you're you're thinking about this. Obviously, you're thinking to a point from what you said about the research that you're putting in

Jason Pargin 30:01

Okay, here's where it kind of ruins the illusion a little bit if it sounds like I know what I'm doing, and to be quiet, I'm not. I'm not an expert, I don't I don't sell books in the millions, it's i So, but you're selling them on the idea of this is somebody who seems smart, and funny. And so if they wrote a book, it probably is also smart and funny. So I tried to have a blend of this is fun. This is insightful. And also he writes books. And so that's in any social media platform, Twitter was the same thing. You're trying to if you're forced to sell yourself, like, it's not going to do me any good to go to the gym and get like really ripped and then just sell shirtless photos of myself, that's not going to convert to book sales. Because why would what that unless the book is just a series of photos of my my muscular torso? Why would they why would that chain of logically than to buy the book. So when you're on social media as yourself, putting yourself out there, the only thing I know how to do is to try to portray myself as someone who is enjoyable to listen to, because it's like a funny point. And then but also it's not. It's not funny in a dumb person way. It's not slapstick or cruel or pranking people, it's hopefully noticing something in about the world, some kind of a mildly smart point. And then somewhere it's like advice or things like that. The trying to convey this is why you're going to get in the books, they are very silly, but they are also silliness wrapped around I hopefully smart idea. And then this is you know, that this is the type of person you associate me with the book. And if you say, Well, yeah, I would like to read, you know, 150,000 words, this person wrote, 99% of the people, of course, will say, I'm not going to read that many words, even if Jesus Christ returned to Earth and wrote a book, I would not read that many, I would ask him to just tell me to sum it up. That's fine. Not everybody is the reader. But you will reach a certain percentage of people who are readers and a certain percentage of those who have 27 bucks to spend on on a hardcover book or whatever. So that's all I know, to do. i If you had some other much bigger selling author on here, they may have better advice. This is as far as I've gotten in my in my thinking, as you're just trying to, as much as I'm not trying to sell a false version of myself, but I am trying to sell the version of myself that the most seems like this guy has thoughts that are interesting and entertaining.

Michael David Wilson 32:47

Yeah. Yeah. And when you talked about, you know, people will scrutinize the visual component as well. I mean, I think you see some people who, because of that, it's like, right, where they wear the same uniform, you have kind of like Steve Jobs with Apple, but they all wear the same clothes for every single Tiktok video. So people know what to expect. And I mean, is that something you kind of think about in terms of like having a uniform for your tick talking? I don't know if tick tocking is properly standing very out of touch saying that. And then kind of linked to that you said that you consider things of the audio setup. So I wonder what is your audio set up looking? Like? I realized that's two completely different questions.

Jason Pargin 33:42

No, but it's a good example of the type of thing you wouldn't think you would have to worry about. As a writer, like knowing how to master the art of of getting good audio in a house in my house happens to have high ceilings, so you get a ton of echo. Yeah, so like my setup for this podcast is I have a microphone with a foam sock over it surrounded by a little metal shield thing that's an echo shield with like egg crate foam inside of it. And then I've got a pop filter in front of it. And even then, even then, you can pick up some distortion to some people if you have really good earphones where like I hustle a little bit on my SS Anna and I pop on some peas and stuff like that. This is all to mitigate that. Well, when you're recording a tech talk and you're just trying to use like, like you see people you've watched tic TOCs they're using just the earbuds they're just talking into it. When I do that, it sounds like I'm in a cave. It's very echoey and it's very distracting well is someone who's trying to convey some kind of an interesting point. I hate the idea of the sound quality distracting from what I'm saying. If all they can hear is like the distorted audio or the echo or the dog's bark in the background. It just drives me crazy because I want them to focus on what I'm saying that in terms of the visuals see that's the thing because I think any, any woman on Tik Tok here's where I have it 10 times easier than any woman doing the same thing. You can see how carefully they have to do their hair. How carefully they have to pick their outfits. Well, I work from home I don't have outfits. I have like 20 T shirts in like three different colors. Because I don't why would I have I'm not why would I have Office clothes? Why would I have a bunch of nice shirts? I'm married. I'm not going out to the club every weekend. It's I don't know what each of you are wearing to do the show are you guys both big into fashion? I don't I don't know.

Michael David Wilson 35:41

I wear a lot of black clothes that are normally quite well curated. i Come on. I I care about fashion, but it's it's mostly black or white. Very monochrome wardrobe.

Jason Pargin 35:58

Yeah, well, what are you wearing for the podcast? Well, it

Bob Pastorella 36:01

was just shot but it's black so so close on man, you know, I mean, I know where you're coming from on that. And it's like my closet. I'm gonna open it up. There's so much black that like the left side where all my like cool clothes are that's actually a void there now. It's like, if you don't you probably walk in you keep going. It's just like a long path. And I'm pretty sure that the apartments actually inside it's probably bigger than it is on the outside now. He came out in

Michael David Wilson 36:41


Bob Pastorella 36:44

There's a minotaur down here. That's for damn sure.

Jason Pargin 36:48

So anyway, the point I was making is that the every all the consideration that any woman in my position even at my age would have to put into thinking okay, what like find I find a corner of my bedroom that's got like the books behind me anything like that. I don't have that I don't have that in my house that you see mine I'm sitting in I have two chairs. I'm sitting in my office chair, or the other big leather chair next to me that sometimes the dog sleeps and that's it. And I have not even tried to like come up with a tick tock or a YouTube or a video, you know, a set for myself because again, everybody's told me on Instagram, Instagram has become a tick tock. They they're transitioning to entirely video. So that's if you want to stay on Instagram, you can be a video person too. So I have punted on that. I do not doubt that again, there are many tick tock creators out there that say, Well, I wish I could just wear a sweaty t shirt. Like one of my most popular videos, I just did it. I had gotten off the treadmill and like my hair was still wet. I'm like leaning over the phone like an ogre. Talking into it now has has like 140,000 views on it. It's like oh, okay, so that's 140,000 people's impression of me that running running on a treadmill for 20 minutes almost gives me a heart attack every day. And I guess in maybe somebody who knows more about social media would say well, that Mitt that makes you seem more authentic. See, you're seeing us polish, but man, the women I see on here. And again, I'm not talking about women models, I'm talking about women authors, that you can see how they've had to do their hair before they film their tech talk. And if they didn't, I think they would get comments calling them out on it. Whereas I could show up like shirtless with with spaghetti sauce stains on my chest. And I would just people just think it's funny. I get such a total double double standard and I know that's outside the scope of this episode but that's when it becomes more and more about the aesthetic of not just you but again your mannerisms and you start to notice what else weird how am I always touch my hair when I'm talking I that I probably will annoy people? Or you know if I I don't know if I use my hands too much or is this irritating? Things you never worried about out in the real world that suddenly if you close your eyes and imagine a million people are watching you. And it's like the human animal was never meant to worry about this that's not we did not evolve to figure out how to have a conversation with a million people at once.

Bob Pastorella 39:18

You know it's I find it fascinating and you're doing this on your own so but I'm also I'm like such a rebel that I'd hate for like a publisher to go where you really need to get a tick tock I don't want to but you need to I don't want to do you need to mic okay, you're gonna regret that because then I will find a black slingshot. And I will I don't know us and then be like, I hate your tick tock. Oh, but I like my tick tock. It gets me books.

Jason Pargin 39:51

Here's the thing I've never had. I've never I don't think the publishers are that explicit about it. But if you are selling a book But unlike my when you when you go to see an agent, I am told I am told that that's the first question they ask is what's your platform like? Like, where what do you have? What is the YouTube channel like what's where's your audience at because they know that's where the marketing is going to happen as you're doing it to your own fans on social. So I don't think they would tell you how to do it, or where to be or or even police how you do it. Although I know for a fact the publisher has subscribed to my Tiktok, because I told them about it. And they all follow it. And they clearly know when a new video goes up, because they tell me but in terms of like, obviously, I'm doing it at my own effort and expense. They don't, they wouldn't have editorial control over it. But the whole thing with, you know, like people getting canceled for making a terrible joke on Twitter is that that person's was thinking of their Twitter as oh, here's just where I just say stuff. You know, I just talk I just talked junk. And I just say things that popped into my head, whereas their employer, and the newspaper they work for or whatever is like, oh, no, this is an arm of our publicity in which you haven't have editorial control and market yourself as one of our columnists or whatever. And so you see people getting fired over what they posted on Twitter every single time it's like, well, they thought their Twitter was just a place to screw off and have fun. And their employer thought, No, this is really an extension of the company because you work for us. And you're the audience you have is due to this following you built up on social and so yes, you are responsible for whatever you post there. I don't know. It's, I'm not saying that's like stifling or whatever. But I think that that blurring of the line has blindsided a whole lot of people. Because when Twitter was new, like my Twitter user ID is John Dies at the End, without the D on the end of it. Because it turns out that the title of the book I was promoting in 2009, when Twitter started was one letter too long for their username field. Instead of like finding another name, or putting it under my own name or something. I just went with it. Because it's like, what this Twitter thing isn't gonna go anywhere. Like I was just signing up for every new thing that came along. It's like, this is stupid. It's 140 characters who even likes this who wants to talk talk one sentence at a time. It's like a text messaging system. But without, instead of to your friends to strangers. Like I'm not going to use this. So I episode now, all this time, like later on forever stuck with that, that total nonsense username? Because when Twitter started, it's like, oh, it's just you can just when people go back and find people's tweets from like, 2011, and they're all these terrible off color jokes. It's like, well, yeah, because there was nobody on there. You were just typing into the void and giggling to yourself saying like, Oh, haha, I type words here. And it appears there that's interesting. That appears on the screen. And people were just saying whatever nonsense popped into their head. Well, yeah, fast forward 10 years. And the President is on there. And is feuding with the leaders of other countries on Twitter. And suddenly, this is the official channel by which people release their most profound thoughts to the world, and you now are responsible for everything you've ever typed on there. It's like, no, it was just a stupid message board chat room thing, wasn't it? It's like not apparently not the President's on there. He's announcing new laws on Twitter for the first time. I don't know. It's, it's one more thing you have to deal with. That's, I guess, is what I'm saying.

Michael David Wilson 43:49

Yeah. And you're absolutely right about the literary agents being interested in social media presence, because, I mean, I got some information back from an agent saying they wanted to see the full manuscript, but as well as that they want me to include a marketing plan. They want to know how am I going to sell the book? What is my platform? What connections do I have? So I think definitely, the getting a literary agent landscape has changed dramatically from, you know, even 10 years ago, they need to know about what you're going to do. And I think anyone who has this kind of misconception that, you know, You're the writer, so you just write, it's like, well, you've not been paying attention. There's very few writers who can just write now you do have to sell yourself and sell your books in combination with the publisher and the publicist. And you're always going to be your biggest champion anyway. You know, no one's gonna care more about selling my books than me. The same for you. No one's gonna care more about Selling adjacent bargain book then Jason bargain. So we do what we have to do.

Jason Pargin 45:06

And here's the thing. Like, in my case, you know, I got an advance to write the book, this is what everybody dreams of getting into advance. It's like a year salary to write the book and you get paid that first and then you know, you try to it pays out in installments, but you get it up front, and then you. So you would logically think, well, the publisher is now deep in debt, because they paid me in advance, surely, they will be incredibly motivated to sell the book. But what the publisher is doing for you, primarily, is dealing with the bookstores. They're dealing with Amazon, they're dealing with Barnes and Noble. That Well, that's it. That's all the bookstores that are all after, what are the other book chains that Borders has gone? Books a Million? Are there books and millions left? I think so. But they're like, they're working very hard to, like, get Barnes and Noble to buy, you know, 2000 copies of your book, or 5000 copies of your book, because the more copies they buy, the more prominently they display it, the more prominently they display it, the more sales Do you see, it's a it's a chicken or the egg thing. Like the ones they they buy a lot of sell a lot, because they bought a lot of them. So the first step is getting tricking them into buying a lot of them. And then they will do some stuff and setting up like media appearances. But that's it. There's some authors I know who literally have never had a single interview set up by their publisher like they've not had a single thing happen. And then they will if you're doing a book tour, I know they will work with you on that like helping you set up appearances things like that. But I even then I think you're usually picking up the travel cost yourself. It depends on the author depends on the publisher depends on what their their marketing budget is, but for the most part, the type of marketing they're doing is getting it out to reviewers getting out to like, you know, Publishers Weekly book list all of those that generally you hope any major new release, you want your your review there but in terms of consumers finding out about it, that's on you these days. And that's on you taking it social media that's on you making the right friends or finding you know, someone who will have you on their YouTube show or on their podcasts like I'm doing here. It's building those relationships. That's all on you that hustle was on you and I and so many young authors get blindsided by this, especially the young authors who thought, well, if I'm successful, I'll sell a million copies. And if it's a disaster, I'll sell, you know, 50,000. It's like no 50,000 puts you near the top of the bestseller list that first week. Like that's a lot of books, when they find out their book sold 173 copies total. They're like shell shocked. Because they're like, Well, how did I not sell more than that on accident? Like people accidentally clicking on Amazon, mistakenly clicking on my book and buying it and getting it delivered? Like how do you not sell more than that? Just by happenstance, it's like, man, I'm telling you. Most books, that's how many they sell, they sell a few 100 copies. There are books that have won like a National Book Awards. And you know, and these are award winning books that sold 3000 copies. I mean, like, if it seems like none of your friends have read this book or heard of it? Yeah, it's literally true. It was critics loved it. And you know, a lot of people looked at it on the shelf, and not many people bought it.

So when you do an appearance, and it only, you know, if you reach enough people to sell 50 copies, it's worth doing that appearance. And you stack all that stuff up and you you get you know, you build a following on whatever social media platform you're, you're, you know, suited for or happy to use. But being on a social media platform, even just one is the equivalent of having a part time job. This is why there are people social media managers that can do this for a living like you are doing something that other people do for a living on the side. The differences you just have one business to promote, which is your your own. And all of the stuff that we hate about the modern world where you feel like you have to have a brand. And that makes your skin crawl when they talk about what what are you doing to build your brand, your your your name as a brand. It's like, call it what you want. But on when you talk about a book and what makes people buy a book. Overwhelmingly, it's the name of the author. Like you can design that cover however you want. You can put a photo of yourself wearing a slingshot on there, you can do whatever whatever make make the most shocking interesting title whatever. Ultimately, what made people buy the last Stephen King book, there were two words on the cover that may didn't buy it. And they those words were bigger than any other texts on the cover. That's the way that's the way book sales work people get loyal to a an author because they it is a brand. It's James Patterson that the whole deal where he works with you know, other, he releases 37 books a year because he co writes with somebody else. That's his name and giant letters and this other guy's name. And then all James Patterson did as far as they know. So he just approves like, an outline for the story. But the reason that works is because people will buy based on that brand is James Patterson, it's good, that's good. It's gonna be a thrilling read, I'm going to enjoy it. You know? And so yeah, you have to, again, I, I get it. If anyone out there, you're an artist, you believe in writing, and you have all these aspirations? And the idea say, No, you need to be a tick tock brand. I get it that that sounds like the most dystopian thing you've ever heard. But I can use different words. But the truth is still the same as that you have to build that author name into something that people trust, and having the book actually be good. That's that would seem like 99% of the job. That actually is the baseline. That's the starting point, we're assuming the book is good. Now it's Can you break through the noise of all the stuff your readers could be doing otherwise? Because remember, you're not just competing against other books. You're competing against Netflix, and video games, and Twitch and YouTube and all the stuff they could be binge watching instead of reading at all podcasts that could be listening to, you know, so to cut through that noise. If you figured out how to do it reliably. Tell me how you did it. Because I want to know, everybody everybody does. This is why you see people doing such desperate things to get attention or to get engagement is because it's like they're just trying to cut through the noise. Yeah.

Bob Pastorella 52:04

I think to that, it makes sense that you because I've heard people talk about brands, I've talked to other riders, and they've, they've come up with, you know, this concept that brand is kind of like genre. And I'm like, No, your brand is whatever it is that sets you apart from the rest of the pack. It could be within the genre, but it could be you know, something, it's something that's, it's kind of personal, you know, because it's the only way it's going to set you apart and make you be remembered and how they're going to remember your name. You know? So it's it's not it's not well, my brand is right. Hora. No, that's genre. That's a marketing term. But it's not your brand. You know? Yeah. Because ultimately figured out what my brand is. No,

Jason Pargin 53:03

no story you tell is going to be wholly unique. Somebody has thought of some version. But what's unique about it is that you wrote it, right? Like you brought your own voice to it. You brought your own background, your own, you know, it's there's only one you write that if Yeah, if your brand is well I write vampire romance. It's like well, there's okay. There, you can read 8 million vampire romances for free somewhere on the internet right now. I'm not not paying anything. It's like it. What's unique about it is what is what you brought to it. That's why I get frustrated when people think the first step is to, you know, try to come up with a story that's never been done before. It's like, well, actually, that's not how it works. It's, it's, you know, Harry Potter, that story of a kid, you know, comes of age and finds out that he's magic. That's the oldest story in the book that's been told millions of times. But there was something that connected with people that was unique about it. And that ultimately was, you know, your your version of that. It will be something that only you could have written. Even if your story is just it's a it's a Western about a couple of families and yield West. feuding over some cattle grazing land or whatever. I don't write westerns, but, but it may sound like the most cliche thing in the world, but if it finds if it connects with people, it's going to be because of what you brought to it as an individual. Right?

Bob Pastorella 54:25

It's like thinking of Thomas A. Gotti. You know, he writes, he writes our fiction, but he is modern existential dread. So you know, that's, that's, that's legati. He's brand. He's not going to write he can write playful, but it's still going to have a nihilistic approach to it, you know, he's not going to suddenly write you know, a romance though. I read the fuck out of that. You know what I mean? To me, it's, it's, it's, it's like it's Barker. All these people, how do they how do they get where they're at what they do what they do, you know, and that's when you hit the main thing you have to figure out. It's like, that's where you get your brand from.

Jason Pargin 55:06

And that's the thing that in the process of trying to find an agent or a publisher, they're never going to talk about the most important thing. Like, they have a lot of business things they have in mind, like what's selling right now, you know, in that kind of thing. But what actually will work, it's something that you you may not even be aware of, but in a lot of times, a lot of cases it's even what you think of as your flaws that may be the only thing that makes you interesting to people. You know, you think your ideas are too weird or too scatterbrained or or in my case, okay, for example, I have a very short attention span. I don't have a patience for long slow reads, i My mind wanders. Well, my books, whether you love them or hate them, they take off like a rocket because as a writer, I have no patience for slowly, like a slow meditative, meditative, you know, thoughtful, that's not my, that's not the speed at which I moved. So they fly. They appeal to people with short attention spans, because guess what, that's the only way I can write. I'm not doing it because I think it's marketable. I'm doing it, because that's the speed at which I have to do it in order to keep myself entertained. Well, I found out when writing on the internet, you know, because this for those who missed the previous episode, my first novel was posted online in my blog, like one chapter at a time over several years. Well, I found out that when writing for people on the internet, having an extremely short attention span, well, that's right on the money. That's, that's what they want, you know, they don't have time to, to hang around. So where there's like an observation or a joke in every sentence, and it's relentless, and it just keeps going and going and you feel like this, you know, someone is spraying you in the face with a hose. And that's how that's what reading it feels like, you know who, at the time I'm writing that thinking like, well, this reads like, somebody who doesn't have the attention span, to write a real book. But it's like, no, they love that style. Because guess what, there's a whole world of people just like you. So the same thing. I think he probably, or any author, where they think we own the nihilism or whatever, like that's born from their own personality, their observations, their trauma, what they've been through in their lives, their childhood. And they take that in, that seeps into their writing. And there may be stuff that they're like, ashamed of that. It's like, you know, the way I describe these things, the way I linger on this is probably gross or weird, or whatever. It's like, no, that's what makes you interesting. That's, that's what, that's what makes it art instead of just product, you know, it's not a Marvel movie. It's not it's not a novel, where 200 people all worked on an assembly line to throw it together. It's not something generated by an AI, it was created by a human being, you know, flaws and all, that all those things that you grew up thinking were broken about your brain, when you create art, you realize, oh, this is beautiful to someone else.

Michael David Wilson 58:09

Yeah. And I mean, you said before that, of course, the thing that's gonna ultimately sell the book more than anything else is the name on the cover. And when I was looking at your Goodreads, someone had asked a question about your latest book. And they said, all three, John Dies at the End books are by David Wong. Why is this one by Jason Coggan. And of course last time, we spoke about your pseudonym. But I wonder has this caused a lot of confusion? And have you even got any readers angrily contacting you for taking over from David one?

Jason Pargin 58:54

That hasn't happened yet. But we've it was a lot of work to obviously transit to change an author name. But there's also a long, rich history of authors doing this where the first few books were written, I think, Gosh, I think it was a Jane Austen that wrote everything anonymously. I think it only came out that that was her name after she passed. And that's something that just happens where authors will use a pseudonym for a while, like in my case, I started using a pseudonym. As I probably discussed last time, I partly I just didn't want people at my day job to bug me about the book or about the stuff I was writing on the internet because at the time was just all online. So I was using a pseudonym because I just wanted to be separated from the work well as time went on. Like it's why I got the job at crank when it you know, when I got a real publishing deal with Macmillan, well, that's not you know, people know my real name. Now it's public. It's, you know, I had to be a crack under my own name. I had to do social media under my own name. So is like my real name is on the the flap of the book. But at some point, it's like, well, I'm not going to do this for the rest of my life. So it's was clearly time to just put it under my real name. But it's a fairly complicated process of because you have to go to each of the booksellers, each of the foreign publishers, you need new covers, which should new editions of all the previous books. So now all of the previous books are out there under my own name. I don't doubt they're somebody that thinks they fired David Wong and hired me to write instead. But anyone who has actually read the books, like in the about the author, it was always had my real name, there was an afterword written under in my own voice under my own name. Like, I think, if you're familiar with the work, you know, that was just a brand. And then right inside there, I had my real name, but I don't know if people feel like it changes the vibe of it or whatever. Because what the first book The joke was that it's autobiography. It's autobiographical, because that's also the name of the protagonist. And then, you know, it's like, when you read it, obviously, it's absurd to think that this is something that really happened to somebody or that they're claiming to it was just a meta joke that this is this is this guy writing his his memoir, and then you read it, and it's about a white guy using that pseudonym to avoid his enemies. And then his enemies are supernatural in nature, like everything about it is insane. So if you're familiar with work, I would think it'd be a fairly easy transition, but it's still a logistical challenge just in terms of like, what part of the bookstore is the book listed at and what letter is listed under but that's that's all fairly trivial stuff. It's nothing that a publisher hasn't had to do before if somebody because you know, when Stephen King wrote as Richard Bachman for a while once that got uncovered, they quickly we released everything with giant Stephen King on it and writing has Richard Bachman. And that required I'm sure the same amount of you know, having to go through and release new editions and all that but it Do you know why this is something that came up, somebody was talking about JK Rowling just released and she has this other somehow I didn't know this, which is shameful because I work in publishing. But she has this male author name that she writes under Robert, Robert Galbraith or something when she writes her crime novels. Yeah. Do we know why she? Did she want to prove that she could like do it without the JK Rowling brand on there? Because or because everybody knows the turtle like she doesn't? She's not pretending it's somebody else. But do you know why she's chosen to brand it as

Michael David Wilson 1:02:43

reliant? I know that I don't even know why I remember hearing this, but I know that she specifically chose Robert because of Robert F. Kennedy being a personal hero. So that has a little bit of information on that. But as to why she originally wanted to write as Robert Galbraith. For some reason, I thought it was initially a little bit of an open secret, and she didn't want to kind of just have people buy the books off of good JK Rowling name, but I might be talking absolute bollocks, saying I might be misremembering. But

Jason Pargin 1:03:27

the reason I ask is because I get this question constantly, as if writing under another name is like a weird thing to do. Because when I started out, I thought, well, everybody on the internet, everybody writes under a pseudonym, you know, because that is why, especially the early pre social media internet, everybody was writing under some kind of a, you know, Celtics fan 69, or something like it, you just it was all like message board style hacker names. And I picked David Wong because it was just a character in this thing I wrote in high school that, again, it was a pop culture reference that only I would get because it was something that didn't exist outside of something I wrote and showed to my friends. But so I thought, like, same thing with writing the book, it's like, well, you you use a pseudonym, because you just you want to separate yourself from the it's the exact opposite of what's happening right now. What Tiktok it's like, this isn't about me. I don't want people reading this and saying, Well, you know, it this is this is exactly the type of thing I would expect from a guy who works at an insurance company in Illinois. It's like no, separate. This is written as a fictional character. This is written as this guy who you don't even know his real name and the books he never find it out. You find out early on in the first opening pages, he's using a pseudonym. And it's like, that's how I wanted it to be it's, it's not about me. It's not I don't, you don't need to know where I went to school where I learned to write. The book lives on its own. I thought that's why everybody from I don't know, take your pick. Lemony Snicket everybody who has picked a fake persona to write behind. I mean, even JK Rowling, the reason she didn't do it under her actual name like Joanne is because the publisher thought that a woman author wouldn't sell books, and they want the boys to buy it. So they use the initials to hide the gender identity. Yeah. And it's like, you know, even then it's like, we're obscuring a little bit, you know, the person. And then unfortunately, now, like she, she's in a place where she makes headlines every time she tweets, but I don't know, I would love to know the reason and if it was initially because she wanted to separate herself from the Harry Potter person, like if people expect it to all be kids stories with magic or whatever. And these are more like gritty crime novels, or if there's some other reason. But I'm always interested here why other writers did it because I just to me, it just made sense. I it's like, it's, you have so much more freedom to pretend you're somebody else. Yeah. Whereas now in 2022, it's the exact opposite. It's like, no, you've got to be a personality out there, your face out there, your voice out there, your life, you know, they got to know what kind of dog you have. What kind of car you drive. And it's like, now that's what sells the book. And it's like, that's such a backward way of thinking for me, I guess that's a proof that I'm ancient by because I'm 47 That's 86 and Tiktok years. The fact that i The idea is like, Oh, I'm gonna go buy this work of fiction, because this guy seems cool. And he's got, I really like his hair cut and the sound of his voice and I like, I like his the way his appearance video like, That's nuts. It should be the opposite. It's I picture myself in my youth reading like a beautiful, the most beautifully written book. And then knowing that the author was some guy who was so drunk that he was dead by the time he was like 45 and had been to jail a couple times had been divorced six times and that died. It got stabbed to death in a bar. And Mexico. It's like, yeah, I just assumed that you but then you read the book, and you're in tears because of the beauty that came from it. And it's like, that's why I always saw it. I never like, Oh, this guy's a this guy's a filthy scumbag. I bet he wrote a funny book. Let's go see what it's like. No, it wasn't, wasn't about that. It was the personality. The author doesn't doesn't come into it. And I think that era is completely over.

Michael David Wilson 1:07:35

Yeah. Yeah. And I did just have to look into Robert Galbraith to check that I wasn't. You reimagining the history? And yeah, I was right in that when the Cuckoo's Calling was first published. It wasn't known that JK Rowling was Robert Galbraith. Ah, Booker actually only initially sold 1500 copies. It was only when it was revealed that this is JK Rowling, that the sales skyrocketed.

Jason Pargin 1:08:09

Yeah. And to be clear, the sales skyrocketed because that next day, if you walked into Barnes and Noble, they had a pallet Yeah, of that book. And this is the way people make decisions like walk in the door, and you're greeted with 800 copies stacked in a pyramid of a book as like this must be a big deal. And of course, being able to put her name on it. But even if it's just Robert Galbraith, and it's like this giant pyramid of books, it's like the latest Robert Galbraith release, you will think, Oh, this must be something I'm gonna I'm gonna look at that. That's why there's such a winner takes all thing with publishing is because like, no matter what she writes, that is such a great example. Because if I had a friend you like anyone, or anyone on this podcast, like if you came back to me and said, Yeah, we released the book and the first week we sold 800 copies. That's not bad. If that's your first book. You could tell anyone in the industry now if you tell your family yeah, I you know, I my book came out, we sold 100 copies the first week, they they may laugh at you because they think that authors are either bestsellers or you die in a ditch. It's like no, that's, that's not that's not bad. 1500 copies is bad. Because most books you see in a bookstore written by people doing it part time, they're doing it on the side, you know, and they'll make a couple $1,000 You know, it's a professor a guy who teaches creative writing in college he's doing it for beer money, he's got the books you know, we're he just likes to do it. A lot of people are just doing it just because it's fun. Like we talked about this last time, like like playing in a band. You don't necessarily think that someday you're going to be able to do it full time you do it because you love it. So but that's that's a great example. Like all of her writing skill, everything that she brought with her knowing how to Create a worldwide bestseller. The exact same book when it had a different name on the cover. So 1500 It's like, oh, no, wait, this is the Harry Potter lady. Or if you're on Twitter, it's, you know, or for completely different reasons. But if for every for most of the world does Harry Potter lady, and it's like, now it's your it's the number one New York Times bestseller. And that's, that's the way it is. And I'm not complaining, I have it better than most I do this full time. I am a rare, rare, rare bird among authors to be able to do that. So, but I am not JK Rowling, where you could just say anything, it's not gonna matter, you're gonna sell 20 million copies, no matter what. But what an interesting experiment. So I wonder what the conversation with our publisher was like, she's like, Hey, I've got the new book. But I don't want to put it out there under my existing brand. I want you to put it out into this total, this totally new author, I admit it, and nobody's gonna buy it. And if they if there wasn't some pushback, it's like, Are you sure? Because that's the difference between us the publisher making like no money and us making like, you know, $10 million off this book. Are you sure you want to do this? Yeah. But I guess if you're that powerful, you know, they, they do what you do what you ask?

Michael David Wilson 1:11:23

Yeah, yeah. And I wonder, too, if there was like a time limit, it's like, okay, well, we're gonna release it under Robert Galbraith. But if it's not sold X amount, by this time, we are leaking. You are JK Rowling, because, you know, this is a business.

Bob Pastorella 1:11:43

I'm willing to bet that it didn't even go that way. It was like, Sure, we'll let you play your little game. But in a week, we're gonna go ahead and release it, it's that you wrote it. I don't think I don't think any author has that much power. I really don't not want now when you got to publishers got millions of dollars, they're gonna be like, No, we'll play your game. But in a week, we're going to release it.

Jason Pargin 1:12:03

It's hard to get a corporation to walk away from 10s of millions of dollars as a general rule, no matter who you are. It's, yeah, no matter. Even if you're Steven Spielberg, if you walk into a studio wanting a huge budget for something they know, it's not going to do well. They're just going to tell you, you know, it's like no money. It doesn't matter who you are, money is money. But anyway, but anyway, but so I was getting people I'd asked him about like, over and over again. It's like, well, why, why a pseudonym. It's like, I can't, I couldn't imagine why people write under the real name. It's like, do you want people bothering you about your book, like in the street? Do you want people to like to be at the grocery store? And they, it's like, oh, you you wrote that thing? It's like, it's like, don't you want it? And most people like, Well, yeah, I want to be famous. I want people, I want people to love me and stop me in the street and ask for autographs. Like, see, I don't want that. I don't want people I don't want people bothering me. I would rather have played this fictional character and let people but that's not the way it works. Because the more mysterious you try to be, the more intensely curious people are. And there was a time when you could be just an author out in a cabin in Montana writing your books and you don't, you know, you're just you just send them off to the publisher and that's that that's not the way it works anymore. If somebody wants to find out about some something about you, they can find out. And they like the thing with with that with with her pseudonym. I even if somehow they had wanted to try to keep it a secret, somebody would have connected the dots. It just takes one person at the publisher to leak it on social media. And that's it. It's around the world and half an hour. So I don't know I'm from a different time in my personality. I don't I don't know. I want the work to be famous. I don't I never wanted myself to be famous. I'm not comfortable, but I don't think I have a compelling enough personality to carry that like that. Like we're gonna buy this book because your your personality is so compelling. It's like okay, I've I've been alive long enough to know that people don't find me compelling. I've been to parties before I've been I went to high school in college. I've tried to make friends I know that I'm not. I'm not a charismatic person. But I don't know. It's interesting that that people want that human connection because it's like the fan mail. They don't want to talk about the book they want to talk about but you know, who are you married to? You know, what are you having for dinner they want to know they want to know all the stuff about your life like You're like it's like you're in a reality show I guess because that becomes part of the entertainment becomes part of the package is like you know it or if there's any hint for example, on social media, if there's any hint that you're like feuding with someone, or when people come flocking because see that's just part of the show. See, that you you got into a controversy or you've been accused of some thing or you said the wrong thing or whatever. And it's like no, see, this is just part of it. This is part of the fiction you, you unspool into the world. And it's like, no, not really. The books are a thing. I sat down and crafted this is just my, my life. But, you know, if we if we got into a terrible argument on this podcast, it would be the highest traffic podcast episode you'd ever done. Yeah, like if I got so mad. I walked out in the interview. Oh, my gosh, that would be good. That would go viral.

Michael David Wilson 1:15:30

I know. Yeah. Yeah. Because it's

Jason Pargin 1:15:33

a story see, and it's all it's all just a story. It's all the same. It's all in the same bucket. We're all just characters on we're all just characters that appear on their screens. And whether, whether it's us or whether it's a cartoon character doesn't matter. We're all just characters doing entertaining things on their screens.

Bob Pastorella 1:15:51

Saying I'm like you. I'm older. I'm 55 I can look it's like what car do you drive? It's a beat up CRV that actually needs to have a bright, bright stop fixed. You know, I mean, it's like who cares? Somebody out there cares. Apparently now they think that that you know millions of viewers on Tik Tok care. Well, then I'm gonna film a video of me fixing my car by my book. I mean, like, beyond you, I can like why

Jason Pargin 1:16:25

that's a thing. It seems like people photographing their beautiful like brunch they made. It's like, well, I ate I ate a Clif Bar and some tortilla chips I found

Bob Pastorella 1:16:38

a way croissant sausage. The to eat the cheese is melted onto the paper towel. That's my breakfast.

Jason Pargin 1:16:50

I figured out how to make little frozen pizzas in my air fryer. And I felt fancy because my

Bob Pastorella 1:16:55


Jason Pargin 1:16:57

And I don't I can't imagine what it's like to be 1314 15 Because Tik Tok will feed you those those people to you know, the kids, the influencers, who influences among other young people. And it's like they are they took their vacation to I don't know, pick your pick your exotic location. And they stayed in this resort, and they photographed every meal and some beautiful arranged thing. And it's like this person is 14 years old. And they have to wake up every day thinking about how this looks, how their brunch looks, what you know, and what their parents looked like, or didn't or did they get this photo in front of the sunset? Isn't that's No, there's no way you grow up normal like that. There's no way because I've seen what child child actors often turnout. And that's it. The thing is, a lot of these people are doing it. And it's like, they have the notoriety of the child actors, but they don't have the giant pile of cash that the tangible rat could ask for. Or Macaulay Culkin, like they don't have the wealth, they're just doing it for, you know, for the follower counts. And because for every one that actually does get rich off sponsorships, there's a million more that are aspiring to that, but don't have it. But they still do have that same amount of mental pressure. It's like, I've got to take a picture by the pool, I've got to take a picture. I don't know what the dog and the dogs got it look just right in and I didn't grow up with.

Bob Pastorella 1:18:22

I didn't either. And knowing what I know about the way the world operates and everything like that, you have these people that they worry about having to take a picture, what am I going to eat for dinner, and I have to post a picture of it and all this kind of stuff. And I'm an influencer. And all it takes is five strategically placed enps to send us back into the fucking dark ages. And you can't change a flat tire.

Jason Pargin 1:18:48

Yeah, because that's gonna tell you

Bob Pastorella 1:18:51

exactly, it has no value. So I hope to God that we never have anything that happens like that. But at the same time, it's like how do you how do you you're only measuring worth your value in popularity contests.

Jason Pargin 1:19:10

And these people don't care about you. Well, I said these people don't care about you know, like, everybody that likes your photo of your branch like they just don't you know if you if you die like your picture suicide or something? Yeah, like they would they would be they would be touched by it because it's drama that played out on their screen along with all the other like, they can watch a TV show or they can read about your suicide, but it's still just entertainment. It's just engagement. And then they would forget about you within a couple of weeks like that would be that. It's it's a Yeah, I know. We're saying things that haven't that. No one has had has hasn't said before, it's just that I've seen the world both ways. It has to be weird to grow up in a world in which you've always had the internet in which you've always had social media, because if you're if you are a teenager now, that means you are probably three, four or five years old when you know when Facebook was invented or whatever. So it effectively has been, social media has been around your whole life like you've had, you've had Instagram for as long as you've had a phone, you probably have had a phone for as long as you've known how to read, you probably had one put into your hand when you were in first grade. So it's always been a part of your life. It's like, I don't even know what the equivalent be, like me trying to imagine life, I guess, without cars or something, it's like, I don't even know how it would work. Or without running water. It's just a reality of their life. And where I can sit here and reflect on what it means because I've done it both ways. They don't, there's no reflecting on it. Because it's like reflecting on gravity. It's just always there. They don't know what life is

Bob Pastorella 1:20:51

like. They don't have a construct to look at it a different way that's don't exist for him.

Jason Pargin 1:20:59

And and it's also something we don't know I you know, I'm sure every, we sound very, very old. Because I'm sure we when I was a kid, it's like TV is right in your brain, I'm sure my my parents or grandparents like comic books or reading your brain, I get it. There's always like a panic over the new thing is just that this change happened to very quickly. And there's no data on how it affects somebody long term, because it's never happened before. We don't know what happens to the human brain, when you've been on social media for 50 straight years, it's never happened before. Because you can't tell me it doesn't affect you. When you look at the rates of mental illness, you look at the rates of anxiety thing, just the pure mental load of having to worry about that all the time of how you're being perceived by an audience of strangers, that used to be just the realm of celebrities and politicians. And those people tended to be weirdos to be an average person without their advantages, you know, without their bodyguards without their money, but you still have to wake up every day worrying about how a crowd of strangers because I don't I don't know if people realize this, if you go to some random 13 year olds, Instagram, which you shouldn't. But like if I have family members, and I got a niece or something, and they show me like, there's something on their Instagram, you'll see. They don't have like 35 friends, they have like 2000 Because it's not just to DC. I mean, it's not just their circle of friends are showing stuff to they have an audience. They've all got friends in the four figures or followers on the four figures and their children. Because that's how people connect to it. So yeah, it's at the very least it's a stadium, but you know, it's like an auditorium full of people. And then if they've, you know, if they're good at it, they've got five figures, so people and again, they're not influencers, they're just regular people. But they've got you know, because they spend a lot of time on social media, they've had posts go viral. And so I don't know, it's, I don't feel like I deal with it very well. I don't for example, I don't argue with people on Twitter. I don't I don't check responses to my tweets. I don't get into it with people, I'd never search run my mentions. I can't handle it. I wouldn't. Emotionally I can't I can't handle what strangers are saying about me. I like I'll put stuff out there either get engagement or it won't get shared or it won't. But I can't go in there and argue with people as to as to draining. And I can't handle having people be mad at me. I don't that seems weird. That idea that like 300 people are mad at me about things like I don't need to know about that. That's their own business. They're mad about something I wrote. Their anger is none of that's not my concern. Until the day one of them shows up at my house and tries to shoot me. But But I get I know other people who they obsessively read every mention, like every mention of themselves. And it's just like, man, you're just poisoning your brain because, again, these people don't care about you. They wouldn't say that to your face. If they were in front of you. They would know better. It's they only said what they said because they're anonymous and because who knows what's going on in their life that made them say that so I don't know you become you put yourself out there to some degree you become a receptacle for people's rage on top of everything else and their frustration. And again, that used to be the realm of celebrities but they're equipped to handle it. That's why you know that's why they have cocaine to handle it. You're just a regular person you know, you're you're not you're not equipped to have 500 people all be mad at you at the same time. It's just none of us are built for that thing and if you are you're probably a bad person. Like if you thrive on having every 500 people angry at you you probably you're probably have a bad reputation around town already.

Michael David Wilson 1:25:02

Thank you so much for listening to the conversation with Jason Pugin. Join us again next time for the second and final part. But if you want to get that ahead of the crowd, if you want to get every episode ahead of the crowd, become our Patreon, a patreon.com. Forward slash, This Is Horror. Not only do you get early bird access to each and every episode, but you can submit questions to each and every interviewee. And you can listen to exclusive podcasts including story on bots, the horror podcast on the craft of writing, and a q&a session. So myself and Bob Pastorella Okay, before I wrap up, a little bit of an advert break,

Bob Pastorella 1:25:47

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Michael David Wilson 1:26:49

that Jason spoke a lot about tick tock. on in the episode, I said that I did not have a tick tock. It's taken all this time, the outro the end of the episode for me to come clean. Because after I spoke with Jason, I was inspired, kind of to get a tick tock. So if you're on tick tock, you can follow us. This Is Horror Podcast. And that's it. We have not gone viral. We are not being as experimental as Jason just put in little audio segments from the podcast. I don't know if that's really selling it to you because you've obviously listened to the entire episode. But maybe you want to go back into the archive, or one or two minutes at a time and get little sound bites from people like Chuck P And Toby Halford, the writer of the greasy strangler. If that's what you want, then you're in luck, because that is what is on tick tock at the moment. And there will be more audio clips coming. Maybe I'll get experimental. Maybe I'll start commenting on animals and whatever else Jason is doing. If you want a good example of someone doing tick tock well in this community, you do need to check out Jason's tic tock is Jason K pargin is very funny is recommended. By the way, I just checked his tic tock again. The video that we referenced has had 4 million views. What the fuck Jason? I I'll catch you in the next episode. But until then, take care yourselves. Be good to one another. Read horror. Keep on writing and have a great, great day.

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