Episode 301: Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone to Promote Your Book with Dan PeresMar 04, 2020
Dan Peres was editor in chief of Details for fifteen years, starting in 2000, when the title relaunched under his leadership. During his tenure, the magazine won many awards, including two National Magazine Awards. Before taking the editorship of Details, Dan spent nine years at W magazine, overseeing bureaus in Paris, London, and Milan. While in college, he worked as a copy boy at the New York Times and later as a research assistant at Esquire. He is the author of Details Men’s Style Manual. He lives in New York and has three sons.
He's also someone I've known since he first started at Details. As a freelance writer for the magazine (who also happened to worship every word published in it). I grew accustomed to allowing my month's rent to be determined by Dan's final decisions (if a magazine decided to kill your story because the editor decided the topic was no longer appealing, that meant suddenly getting paid 10% of what you'd signed up for). It's therefore fascinating to witness him joining the other side—learning what it's like to be at the mercy of an editor's whims and having to hustle to get people to care about your book.
In this conversation, we cover the whole transition...and also get into maybe WHY some of the Details decision-making was so impossible to predict.
DAN'S TOP 3 TIPS FOR A SUCCESSFUL LAUNCH:
1) Reach out to friends and strangers alike, no matter how uncomfortable it feels
2) Help your publisher (see Lori Gottlieb's tip so underline this one)
3) Figure out what makes your story newsworthy (see Courtney Friel's tip (same as above)
Anna: 00:00 But so what Dan, thank you for doing this.
Dan Peres: 00:05 Happy to be here.
Anna: 00:06 Yes. I have to say one of the most chilling moments in your chilling book was the moment as the reporter when you realize you have nothing on your tape?
Dan Peres: 00:15 It's the most awful experience that any, any reporter can face and in my case, recording an interview and then going to listen to it and having it really not be there or not be really audible in any way. It's just crushing.
Anna: 00:32 What's so surreal to me is that I'm pretty sure that's happened to me on a detailed story and so my feeling like not as if like, Oh Dan would kill me if he knew this happened, but like the fact that I know that happened to me on a detailed story and that that could happened to you.
Dan Peres: 00:47 It happened and I will tell you something else. The way that I originally wrote it in my book I wrote that it happened, but I didn't explain, at least not originally how I was able to get something off of that recording. And my editor who read the book called me and said, listen, any one that's ever recorded an interview is going to want to know what you did to salvage this.
Anna: 01:15 We want to know how you got sober, but we really want to know how you salvaged that recording.
Dan Peres: 01:20 And I was able to salvage it.
Anna: 01:22 That was a miracle back then too. It's not like it was today.
Dan Peres: 01:25 I know.
Anna: 01:26 Yeah. It happened to me. Oh my God. The first golden Globes I covered. So, we're not talking about one interview we're talking about, I talked to every important like famous person in the world and I came out like, huh, huh.
Dan Peres: 01:40 I now, I've even done interviews with people where I double record, you know, just to just a cover your ass because you're screwed because no one really takes notes anymore. And then I'll like try to be old school and keep like a notebook in front of me and maybe scribble down some things. But you're not.
Anna: 02:00 But I do, I will say like, yeah, I do feel like really, like once I was interviewed by like the New Yorker and like that guy took notes, no recorder, just notes. I'm like, Oh, is that, is that how it's done? G.
Dan Peres: 02:09 You can get away with that at the New Yorker.
Anna: 02:10 Yeah, exactly. Okay. So anyway, so psyched you're here. This is, it is, it is a surreal experience. I told you. So, we are talking about your new book, which is, will be out by the time people here this. What is the release date?
Dan Peres: 02:23 February 11th.
Anna: 02:24 This will be out by the time people hear this. So, and you know, I, you know, I'm a little self-obsessed, so I'd like to, you know, I, I, it's like, I just, the way this plays into my perception of you and you being in my orbit because you've held such, such a place. So, I swear to God, I'm going to let you talk in a second. But the part, and I can't remember if I've ever told you this, but basically for whatever reason I just was like making it into details is making it, I never, I published a Modern Love. I never thought that making it. Yeah, I thought writing a book was made, but I had just put details. Yes, it deserved it. But it was almost insane my obsession with the magazine. It really.
Dan Peres: 03:08 Sounds it, which is great.
Anna: 03:10 But it was not normal. So, my experience as a freelance writer is that I would, every single time I published a story, I would color copy of my clips cause this was when you mail things, and mail them to Details. And I mean it probably happened like six or seven times and I never heard back. And it was like my, you know, my like white whale where I didn't actually even care. I kind of almost didn't expect to. And then one day out of nowhere, having nothing to do with the clips, I said, Andrew Essex emails me. He's like, Oh, I just read a story you wrote. Would you ever want to write for Details? And I was like, I made it so, you were always just like, you were always so kind. I was never scared of you, but you just operated, you know, this place, the real estate of my brain. So, to understand what was happening, and I told you, it's very unprofessional. I have not finished the book, but I know where I am in it and I know that I'm sitting with you today sober. So, I'm guessing you know what's happened in the meantime. So anyway, I'm just going to let you talk a little bit.
Dan Peres: 04:15 First of all, I think that I was, we made a great magazine. Okay. And you mentioned Andrew Essex and there were many other people that, that really helped that magazine become what it did.
Anna: 04:34 He's the best editor I've ever worked with.
Dan Peres: 04:36 He's terrific. He's terrific. He's a good friend. He's a wonderful editor and its thanks in large part to people like Andrew Essex, Alex Bhattacharjee, Jessica Lustig, others that, and many, many others, that we were able to do what we did. I was, I loved my job and but at the same time was, becoming a huge drug addict. And so, I was taking, you know, back in the early days of my addiction up to like 60 pills a day. And so, I was kind of hiding in plain sight, right. Like so many addicts today, by the way, you know.
Anna: 05:29 But not functioning at that level. That's what's just it all. It almost makes no sense to me.
Dan Peres: 05:34 You know, I hear you. I think, I think that the cracks were showing, right. So I think for people that were in that environment with me and were working at the magazine and saw me everyday or didn't see me every day, cause I was, you know, phoning it in, some of the times.
Anna: 05:55 Yeah but like, Editors get to do what they want.
Dan Peres: 05:56 Well that was the, that was, it was the most, it was the most amazing kind of cover, if you will, for my addiction because I had the flexibility to do what I wanted. I was the boss. I could, this was back when things were being faxed back and forth. So, they would fax things to my apartment and I would read things and of course I made it into the office, but not as often as I should have been and not for as long as I should have been. So if I was in the office for three or four hours a day, that was a good day. And, now this was, you know, in the throws of my addiction, I, you know, sort of at the height of it, but, um, but had it not been for this amazing team around me, you know, talented writers like yourself and many others wouldn't have aspired to write for Details because they, this team really helped me kind of hold it all together.
Anna: 06:54 And here's what I remember. And again, this makes me sad that I haven't gotten to this point in the book cause it's probably in there is I do remember you busting out in an Editor's letter because it was when Ben Affleck was on the cover, about struggling or about going to a meeting or about drinking too much. Do you not know what I mean?
Dan Peres: 07:14 Maybe, well listen to once, perhaps, I mean, I, I think, I don't know specifically what you're talking, what you mean, but no, but listen, things are in a little blurry. And so, that's just sort of my reality. But I think that I would meet people and I would, when I was, we shot the cast the male actors in Friends for the cover of an issue back in the early two thousands. So it was, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry, and David Schwimmer. And I did the interview with them because I had known Matt LeBlanc a little bit and he, his sort of team had helped set it up and.
Anna: 07:59 Nancy Kane.
Dan Peres: 08:01 The great Nancy Kane. Exactly.
Anna: 08:02 She introduced me to originally, I think. I was reflecting on that.
Dan Peres: 08:04 It's quite possible. She's an amazing connector and just a spectacular person and really great friend. And so it may have been because of Nancy, but I ended up doing that interview. Matthew Perry had publicly struggled with an opiate addiction. I was still in the throws of my addiction, but was trying to connect with people. Like I, I knew that it was bad. I knew that I was an addict and there was no stopping that train. I was trying to stop it on my own, which is obviously never good and very hard. But I remember having a conversation, not during the interview, but at the photo shoot with Matthew Perry and disclosing my addiction to him. Although I told him I was in recovery. Right. And, but I told him that I nights where I would be in bed and would have swallowed or already maybe 15 or 16 extra strength, Vicodin, and I'd be like, you know what? Fuck it. I'm just going to take like a couple more and okay, this could kill me. But like, whatever. And he looked at me and he said, I hope that I'm able to remind you one day that you just said that to me because that's how bad addiction is. And so I was, if I signaled in some way, whether in an Editor's letter like you're talking about or in conversation, it was because I was probably suddenly reaching out, but didn't have the courage to say, Hey, look, I'm an active drug addict and it's so bad and I really need help. I didn't, I didn't have the courage to do that.
Anna: 09:51 Yeah. Well, I remember because as you know, I was obsessed with details and I, you know, in my earlier recovery was obsessed with recovery and I, yes, I remember you talking to. Yes. And, it has to do with, we'll, we'll go back into the archives, but it had to do with Ben Affleck and you just being like, I'm going to stop drinking too. But it was about drinking. It was not about the drugs.
Dan Peres: 10:12 And that was very easy for me to do because while I identify as an alcoholic, I never really drank alcoholically. I mean, listen, I, I had my moments. Yeah. But, but it, it was not my vice, if you will. And so, I obviously don't drink and haven't in a very long time, but I was probably, I again, I was probably reaching.
Anna: 10:39 Yeah. Yeah. And so, what I don't know and this is why I feel bad. So Details, so basically Details just hung on and hung on and hung on way past anybody ever, you know, thought that the, you know, cause I think it's a miracle that any magazine is still around. Where were you in your addiction slash recovery by the time Details ended?
Dan Peres: 11:03 Okay. So I got sober in 2007, and Details ended in 2015, so I was pretty sober. And very as I am today, active with my recovery and in the recovery community. And so I, you know, it's funny when, when it was not funny because it was awful that they closed the magazine. But, when the CEO, the then CEO of Condi Nast told me that they had decided to shutter the magazine. I was like a little heartbroken, but like, okay, listen, I understand. I understand the climate we're in. You know, what does this mean for my team? Can we place them anywhere? The next day I had a meeting with another with Anna Wintour, who's another executive at the company. And she said, I heard you took this remarkably well. And I thought, you know what, I'm grateful for my sobriety because it allowed me at that really crucial point, not just in my career but in my life, this end, this closing, you know, turning the page, it allowed me to handle it in a really healthy way, you know? So I was, I approached it soberly, you know, but it was a bummer. But to your point, you know, to miracle that magazines are still here and I think it's wonderful that they are. But it was probably time for Details to go and as, as I watched the media climate and all of the changes that were swirling around us, it seemed like an inevitability.
Anna: 13:01 Right. So, your decision to write a book, tell me how this came about.
Dan Peres: 13:08 So, after I got sober, I dove into my recovery and sort of the only way to do it. Well that's bullshit. It's not the only way. I know there are lots of different ways. It was the only way for me and to sort of, I really kind of dove into it. And, once I had a year or two of sobriety, I started thinking back on some of the harder episodes of my life as an active addict, and experiences that like made my skin crawl a little bit, and things that I started to share about in AA meetings. So, I went to AA meetings. I've only ever been to AA meetings. I've never been to an NA meeting or anything like that. Once on a business trip to London, I accidentally sat down and participated in an Overeaters Anonymous meeting. And it wasn't clear to me until halfway through. And even that was wonderful and helpful is just about the ism. And so, after a few years and I started to sort of share some stories, I thought, you know, maybe I should just like for me write some of this stuff down. I had a friend who had recently published his own addiction memoir, a guy named Bill Clay, who wrote Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man and 90 Days. Both, addiction memoirs, both well received, both beautifully written. And I had lunch with Bill and he was a new friend, but I disclosed my sobriety to him at this lunch and I said, you know, I've been kicking around. Now listen, you know, you've written a number of books. I've just finished a book. I can't tell you how many people, once they learn that I've written a book. And I suspect the same is true for you. Say, Oh, I'd love to write a book someday, or Oh, I have a book.
Anna: 15:19 Why do you think I have a publishing company?
Dan Peres: 15:19 Right. And this is your bread and butter. Right. So, I sat across from not only an author who'd written and published a couple of books, a literary agent who was very well regarded, right? And he was like, I, you know, what like, you know, and this is the thing that, this is the thing that some people don't think about when they talk about writing a book. You can't just talk about writing a book. Cause that's what I was doing. And Bill said to me, you need to write. Great, start writing. You know? So people would have come up to me saying, I'd love to write a book about my such and such, you know, what's the best approach? I'm like, right, that's the best approach, you know.
Anna: 16:03 Or if you are not a writer, understand that you're not a writer and get someone else to write it for you.
Dan Peres: 16:10 Absolutely, yes, absolutely. But either way you need to get on paper or on a screen or dictate it into some device, however the hell you want to do it. So Bill said start writing and I think I started playing around with writing. It wasn't until I was away in Tel Aviv actually on vacation, and I was sitting up on my balcony, the hotel balcony at the Hilton in Tel Aviv at which overlooked the pool and the ocean. I looked down in the pool in the morning and I saw these old men swimming laps, and it triggered a really powerful childhood memory of old Jewish men swimming laps.
Anna: 16:54 Which is like your second chapter.
Dan Peres: 16:56 Which is exactly my second chapter. And I immediately just started scribbling down notes. Incidentally, that chapter has nothing to do with my addiction, or at least it helps contextualize my addiction maybe. But that's in, that's how I started really writing. The stuff that I had written before that moment was forced. I wasn't comfortable. I wasn't sure where I was going. I was trying too hard to be the type of writer that I know that I'm not. That's another thing, you know, you talk about, you know, either you either know you're a writer or if you don't know you're a writer, maybe bring in some help. I was trying to be a writer that I am just not. And, I think there are a lot of writers that try to be writers that they're not, and that's a huge mistake, right?
Anna: 17:51 I think whenever, I mean this may be too general, but whenever people, they're clearly having, they're not enjoying the writing process. Like something's wrong. I know that like Dorothy Parker said, you know, I hate writing. I like having written all of that stuff, but there should be a part of it that's quite enjoyable.
Dan Peres: 18:09 There should be a part.
Anna: 18:12 A part is the key is quite enjoyable.
Dan Peres: 18:14 100%. And my experience, I found it both, amazing and unbelievably gratifying and also awful and torturous and exhausting. And, but the gratification that I got from it, the way that I felt when I really felt good about something that I had just written, it could have been a sentence, a paragraph or a whole chapter. It didn't matter, was like a high, if I'm being honest, you know? And so, but it wasn't until I just was like exhaled and let my shoulders down. I was like, you know what? Fuck this. I'm going to be the writer. I am not the writer I'm not, and I'm not going to try to be flowery and I'm not going to try to emulate writers whom I've admired, and I'm not going to try to write for the media community. So they think I'm a good writer. Like this is like, look, I'm a human and an addict, so I am deeply, deeply insecure and I have a massive ego, right? That's sort of like beautiful gift that I've been given as a, as an addict that I am like, like epically insecure and think I'm like the fucking smartest person around, you know. And, I'm certainly not the smartest person around and I seldom think that actually. But there's an ego, right? But once I realized, all right, I'm not, I can't be, I'm not, not that I wanted to be David Foster Wallace or someone like that or Michael Shavonne or, you know, I was just like, you know, I'm not, this is not what this book is going to be. And in the end, I actually think you get truth because I'm not, forgetting ticketed way. Even from me. I think any writer, like you can tell when it's just, Hey, this is honest. They're not like overthinking this. They are just.
Anna: 20:20 They're not trying to impress. I mean, there's nothing worse than I, I don't know. Yeah. I happen to not be a fan of the more pretentious writers. I know that. I wish there was a less pejorative word I could use to describe that kind of writing. But you know what you're saying also reminds me of kind of the way that you came into being an editor in chief of a fashion magazine. And to me, you always seemed like the height of like style and all that stuff, but the way you're sort of like, you're like, yeah, fuck it, I'm going to wear like converse or whatever.
Dan Peres: 20:48 Yeah, I mean I think, I think that, I think you're right, I think they are similar. I was just sort of like, I tried, you know, now listen, I was a line in the book that's interesting like from a process standpoint because when I, when I first wrote, like this chapter that I talked about where it like really wasn't me, at the very bottom of the page I also typed, I can't remember a time when I wasn't pretending. And it was just sitting there on the bottom of the, of that page. And I gave it to a friend or he and the friend came back and was, and that's like the only thing that was circled on the page, or like this, this sort of like seems to make sense. I was always pretending. And so even when I took a job running a men's fashion magazine, I didn't know what you know, anything about that. I know like more than any human needs to know about fashion at this point. But at the time, no I was faking it until I was making it and.
Anna: 21:55 Fooled me. Totally worked.
Dan Peres: 21:58 Great. Well listen, it was like all in elaborate con, right? And it usually is, I think addicts, you know, and it, it's, you have a lot of balls in the air, but it was really one big con of mixing metaphor. I just went to juggler from con artists, but and so I was whoever, whoever I needed to be to make it work.
Anna: 22:23 So Bill says you should write, you write this chapter, these notes while you're in Tel Aviv. And then what happened?
Dan Peres: 22:30 I write these notes, I scribble them in a notepad, and then juices were flowing. I get back from that trip and I write that chapter that it, which is now the second chapter in the book, which it talks about my childhood growing up in a Jewish suburb in Baltimore, and sort of lays the foundation in many ways for the book. And sent it to Bill and he emailed me saying, go, go, go, go, go. And that was great.
Anna: 23:11 And so since people who, a lot of people who listen to this probably aren't going to be in that position where they know this top agent. So, but let's, let's give them the leg. You know, it's kind of a fun Cinderella story. Maybe it wasn't that, but so Bill then goes and sells it. So
Dan Peres: 23:24 So, no, Bill then says, give me more. You know, so I started writing from different parts points in my life. I wrote about the time that I lived and worked in Paris. I wrote about, like sort of bar mitzvah season. I wrote about losing my virginity, I wrote about I started to write about drug drugs and taking drugs and, going to Tijuana to buy a thousand pills illegally and then smuggle them back over the border, and go literally straight to do the Bill Marr Show. I wrote probably six chapters and then Bill said, okay, stop, let's get this organized and let's do like an outline or, and a proposal letter. And so we, and I needed help with the proposal letter because I'd never done one. So, Bill told me, he said, just write, just write the letters. If you're writing it to me. Okay, this is how I see the book. This is what's here. This is what needs to be filled in. This is what I intend to fill in. He said, if you have any other sort of already written, even if it's a paragraph or an idea or an exchange of dialogue, we can cut and paste it and put it into this letter just to show the thinking of where you see this book going. So, with his help, I probably had maybe a 10 or 12 page letter and maybe 40 or 50 pages of a book and, 60 at the most. And, he said, okay, I'm going to, I'm going to send them out, you know, and he sent them out and that's this like, then comes this like purgatory of like, of waiting.
Anna: 25:27 And how long did it take it?
Dan Peres: 25:30 Probably, now listen again as a, as an addict.
Anna: 25:35 A second feels like a year.
Dan Peres: 25:35 You want instant gratification. So it felt like a lifetime. It probably took a couple of weeks. And then we got, there was some activity, you know, and there were far more passes then my fragile ego wanted to hear about. But there were probably four or five, or three or four expressions of interest. And so then, Bills scheduled meetings all over the course of one day, I think, where we just kind of ran and had a coffee with this person and met with this person and met with this person. And some offers then came in and Harper Collins made the most sense. I was excited about the team. I was excited about how they saw the book. And that's, and that was that. And then everything changed by the way, with respect to how I felt writing it. Like all of a sudden it was a thing. And it was, it wasn't just me sitting down and like getting these stories out. It was like, Oh, I have a deadline. I have an advance, I have like a responsibility to deliver on this that made it harder to write and a little less fun. But I made it, I made it.
Anna: 27:16 And what's, okay, so we really are supposed to be focusing on the launch.
Dan Peres: 27:22 I'm in it, so.
Anna: 27:23 And I know, and you're in it. And so what's interesting to me, again, from where I sit.
Dan Peres: 27:28 I love that there's a Band-Aid. You have a Band-Aid on the cover of the Galley.
Anna: 27:28 Why? It's like, it's so perfect. It's almost like it should be part of the cover design. Now let's put it right there. Okay. Because, and you know, so I probably had six books come out during your tenure at Details when I would try really hard to bend one of your editors into like, ah, it's like a book about like this, but like, it could totally be a detailed story. Like, now you see the other side.
Dan Peres: 27:59 I do. And I like blanket apology to you and any writer that I said, yeah, nah, I don't think it makes sense.
Anna: 28:10 Yeah, now wouldn't you have just been like, sure, anytime you have a book. We'll make a story work.
Dan Peres: 28:16 Yeah A, and B, now that the digital platforms are, you know, there's so many of them, you know, and there's so much space, you're not fighting for quote unquote, column inches in a magazine. The reach tends to be greater anyway through, you know, digitally. And so I would have said we'll figure something out. It'll be at least a mention. And I have to say, I have been, I'm not a great self-promoter, you know, and I'm also an apologizer, you know, like I don't want to put anyone in a position to have to say no to me, not because I'm going to feel uncomfortable, but because I don't want them to have to feel uncomfortable saying no to me. And so, and that's like probably not that healthy and I need to work through that a little bit, but I have had to kind of push through this because so many people have told me the following. But first, here's my disclaimer, my caveat. My publisher has been amazing. Harper Collins. My editor has been incredible. The marketing and PR team have really been on it and helpful and supportive, exceeding expectations. That said, every person I know that has published a book. And I know lots of people that have published books, has said to me, this is on you to get the word out about this book. Okay. They, the publishers are going to, of course, do you know, stuff. But, if you're lucky, and in my case they are, but by and large, this is on your shoulders and you can do one or two things. You can dig in and hustle and call on anyone and everyone that you know, that can help you, me calling you and other people, or you can sit by and be really bitter and resentful and angry over the fact that you're not getting the attention that you want to get. These are your choices, you know, there can be no middle ground, you can't really phone it in. And so I chose to step up and step well outside of my comfort zone and just reach out to people and say, Hey, I've got this book. Could you take a look? Would be so grateful for the support and, and people are stepping up and it is unbelievable. I'm blown away by it. So first of all, people are taking the time to read it and that. So I have a friend who's a writer Billy Norwich. I don't know if you know Billy. He said to me over breakfast not long ago, he said, you're going to be surprised how even like people that you consider to be your closest friends aren't going to read your fucking book. And it's not because they don't like you, I love you and want to support you. They're just not going to read the book, you know? So the fact that people are reading my book is really, really wonderful. And, but I'm, you know, listen, I'm reaching out and I'm asking for help, which recovery has helped me do. Right? Like, just to circle back to the addiction, like you said before, like it's really difficult to do it alone. You know, maybe it's not impossible, but it's really difficult to do it alone and not recommend. Right. So in my case, I'm a sort of applying that thinking like, look, I need help. I'm asking for help. And so, I think anyone that's in this position is like an incredibly vulnerable position to be in, regardless of what you've written about. Like, I've written about an incredibly personal subject and I'm exposing not just my, like addiction to the world, but all sorts of other, you know, things that are unpleasant or potentially embarrassing. So, I'm vulnerable in that way. Just the vulnerability that that an author faces, trying to get published. Trying to get, bring attention to their work, is pretty extraordinary.
Anna: 32:53 It really is. It really is. Especially, sorry to keep harping on this, but when you come from 20 years of where you kind of got to sit, not being that guy being the gatekeeper.
Dan Peres: 33:05 Oh, 100%. So Harp away, I hear you. And, I think, well I think a couple of things. One, right, being on the other side of it now, it's a bit like being unemployed and remembering that, you know, when you were employed and someone would send you an email saying like, Hey, I'm doing a job Surge, would love to connect just to pick your brain. And you didn't really make time for that person or didn't even respond to that person. And then all of the sudden you are that person, and you're sending these emails out and you're like, what the fuck is wrong with people that they're not responding to me? All you have to say is, Hey, I'm cheering for you. I don't have any time right now. Let's circle back in six months. Anything. But to get, you know, for crickets to, like to get nothing back is a Dick move. I was that Dick and I'm aware of that and I tried to be, certainly once I got sober, tried to be far more engaged and responsive and empathetic and compassionate, than I once was. But there was certainly a time where, when I was running the magazine and people would be like, Hey, I have a book. I'd be like, you know what? It doesn't really make sense for us. And sorry, you know that.
Anna: 34:31 You know, my second book by the way, exists because of a resentment I have towards Details.
Dan Peres: 34:37 That's amazing. You're welcome.
Anna: 34:38 No, I actually care. I'm just, it doesn't even matter. So Andrew was there. He was such a God, he was so great. He left in the middle of this story and I got this editor who's been on like many of my for-steps, who basically took this amazing story I had and made it into the most boring piece of shit to the point that there was a letter that ran the, you guys ran the following month that said, I don't know how Anna David managed to take a topic so interesting and make it so boring. Yeah. Oh yeah.
Dan Peres: 35:04 I'm so sorry.
Anna: 35:05 I had the best stuff. And Andrew was all excited about it. This guy who hopefully is unemployed. I'm so sorry. I don't deal with my resentments that well. Anyway, I ended up fictionalizing it and making it into a book and I hated the book, the whole thing. Never write a book because of resentment. Like I hated the experience. I hated the book. I tried to take it back from Harper and like, but I had already spent the advance. Anyway. So yeah, it goes deep.
Dan Peres: 35:30 It does. It does go deep. I hope that this opportunity to discuss this with me, right now, has in some way helped and I will.
Anna: 35:40 It will only be okay if after I stop the mic and I tell you that guy's name, you're like, yeah, he sucks. But you won't do, because he was your employee.
Dan Peres: 35:47 But you never know, some of them sucked. But I, I'm sorry that that happened and um, but yeah, resentments are a bitch.
Anna: 35:56 They're a bitch. But back to, okay, so back to this like, so okay. If we're going to talk about what you've had to learn cause it's been a learning curve about launch, what would be your top tips for what to do? It sounds like one is for sure. Get out of your comfort zone and just start asking for help. Make yourself vulnerable.
Dan Peres: 36:15 Ask as many people as you can, even people that you barely know or don't even know. Ask friends to connect you with people that might be able to help you. I can't say what the sort of percentage of the success rate would be, but I'll put it to you this way. My, I sat down with my agent right as we were beginning this process and I said, God, this is so not me. I'm not a self promoter. I'm frankly an introvert by nature I think. And he said, look, if you're going to be okay six months after publication answering the following question, then you'll be fine. And that question is, did I do enough to promote this book? If you can ask yourself that six months out and be like, yeah, I'm good, then great. If you feel like six months out, you're going to say, Oh man, I should have reached out to this person. I should have tried to get on this podcast. I should have asked for help more than I did then don't let that happen. And I'm doing everything I can to not let that happen. So yes, first and foremost, like leave your comfort zone entirely. Don't just take a tiny little step out of it, but like leave it in another zip code and go for it. Because the worst thing that you're going to hear is either nothing or, Hey, listen, I'm sorry. I can't help. I wish I'm wishing you all the best. And guess what, that's fine. You know, because you're also going to hear how can I help? And, and I've heard that and I think, listen, I don't, I'm not, it's not lost on me that I have years worth of media relationships and contacts to call on these people. Right. And I understand that not everybody does. Right. And I want to be super clear about that. That said, still reach out to as many people as you can. Everybody knows somebody or two or three degrees of separation from somebody who actually might be able to make a meaningful offer or help them in some way. Find your way to those people. Don't be bashful. DM people on social media, just reach out. You will likely not hear back. But in the event that you do that, it can be incredibly helpful.
Anna: 38:57 Yeah. Do you have recommendations on how obviously reach out with humility?
Dan Peres: 39:01 Yeah, of course.
Anna: 39:02 You know, I, I always am saying this to people because it's like, I think a lot of us, a lot of people are like, Hey, can you help me? And it's like try to be of service to that person first. However that is, you know, like favorite. They're like, even if it's like re-tweeting them, whatever it is. So don't just come with an ask. Right. Come with how can you help them.
Dan Peres: 39:22 I would love to get this in front of you and talk to you about strategies for marketing and PR. And that is because it's not a direct ask, right? It's like, listen, I know that you know about these things. I would love to pick your brain. If you don't have time to read the book, I'm happy to tell you about it. I'm happy to send you the Galley letter that goes out with it, you know, cause you don't want to burden people with like, Hey read this and then let's talk about how you can help me. Cause that's no good. Right? And so I think you're right. I think it's like, Hey, I would love to just pick your brain about this and listen, I reached out to you.
Anna: 40:07 And you picked my brain and I actually think you took some of my advice.
Dan Peres: 40:09 I did take some of your advice.
Anna: 40:10 Because this is how I knew, because suddenly like sober bloggers I knew were posting about your book and then because of how my brain works, I was like, they got the book. I didn't even get the fucken book.
Dan Peres: 40:20 So I did. And not only that, but you sent me a link to an article in New York magazine about a podcast, about a pod.
Anna: 40:28 Did you go on it?
Dan Peres: 40:30 I did.
Anna: 40:30 Nice.
Dan Peres: 40:30 And so yes. So, people I think genuinely want to try to help. I think the one thing that I didn't do, and I stand by this, was I didn't reach out to people who I knew didn't like me. And so cause I, unless you didn't like me.
Anna: 40:56 No, you did too many double negatives. You did the right thing with me.
Dan Peres: 41:01 Like there are people and I, you know, not many I'm proud to say.
Anna: 41:06 But don't you think as alcoholics and addicts, like we think people don't like us when really they're not even thinking about us.
Dan Peres: 41:11 Well, sure, sure. But then I think there were a couple people that I just know don't like me, who are in like amazing positions to help me. And I, I sat there for minute, I was like, huh, do I like suck this up? And I was just like, you know what? I don't need to, cause that just creates even a bigger resentment. This is this both a podcast today about recovery and launching a book. And I just think that's going to be not healthy for me. And so I just chose not to do it. So, yeah, first and foremost reach out to people. What I would also say is, you know, express gratitude and communicate in like a really healthy way with your publisher, you know, manage your expectations. And again, just to be clear, you know, in the event that I want to get another book published by Harper Collins, they've been wonderful. No, but they truly have and they've been very responsive. But just engage them as much as you can. Don't think that they're in their office thinking about you and your book cause they're not. And doesn't mean that it's not on their radar, but they're just not, largely because they could have a dozen if not dozens of other books in front of them slated for release that they have to go send out copies and do this and, you know, whatever they have to do in the run up or immediate sort of aftermath ofma pub date, they're just not thinking about you. So this is not me saying harangue them. This is not me saying, you know, make as much noise as possible to stay on their radar. What it is, is me saying is though like engage them, share with them, Hey, I'm reaching out to so and so they are connected to this or they might be able to get me a post on this website or whatever it is. I'm excited just wanted to keep you in the loop. Like, let them know that you're doing some work and it'll just keep you top of mind and always, always, always treat them kindly. And, I think that that goes a long way.
Anna: 43:41 Yeah. I fucked that up myself.
Dan Peres: 43:43 You made a face when I said that, right?
Anna: 43:45 Yeah. Because I did this, so I didn't know that I am a publisher now that I'm somebody who people have expectations of, I now see how the people who come at me with that energy of you're not doing enough for me. All it makes me want to do is not do anything for them. And the people who come at me with so much gratitude, all I want to do is help them more.
Dan Peres: 44:04 Correct. So like, yes, and you have been on both sides now, right?
Anna: 44:08 Yeah. I didn't know that at the time. I just was mad that they weren't doing anything.
Dan Peres: 44:12 Right. Totally. And so, I think so. I think it's really important to just be incredibly smart, and communicate in really healthy ways with anyone that's in a position to help you. Even if you think, and if you think this, you have to recalibrate your thinking, but in my opinion, but even if you think, but it's their job to be helping me, even if that's your feeling about it and that's not the way it is. You should approach it differently. Just approach it differently. You know, and remember that like everyone has their shit. Right? Everyone's fighting with a spouse, dealing with their life, hates their boss.
Anna: 44:57 And in publishing massively underpaid.
Dan Peres: 44:59 And are massively underpaid and you hit the nail on the head. And so that would be the second thing is engage them as often as you can, without like annoying the shit out of them and be gracious and grateful for the work that they're doing on your behalf.
Anna: 45:17 Third tip?
Dan Peres: 45:21 The third tip would, would be figure out what's sellable about your book. Figure out what's marketable about your book. I say this as both an author about to publish a book and also an editor and someone that has worked in journalism for a lifetime. Don't just think, Oh, it's such a, it's the great, it's the whole story. You know, now I wrote a memoir, but whatever it is, cause people should care, you know? No, you have to figure out what's, what's my right, we're in LA Hollywood right now. So let's Hollywood the shit out of this. What's your elevator pitch? What's your brand? You know, like get it down, you know, like what is your book about and figure out what's going to make it. I love that you're getting spammed during our interview, what's going to make it resonate? What's going to make it memorable? And I think that that's really important and play around with it, right? So I've written a book about my addiction to opiates. I did not write it because we are dealing with an opiate epidemic, a true national health crisis. And let's just be very clear about that. That's what is going on. I wrote it to try to help people. I wrote it to get these stories out. But I am in a position now where I can, depending on who I'm talking to say, Hey, listen, this is, you know, wiping out whole communities in Rustbelt towns. This is devastating urban America. And it is devastated. It's anyone and, you know, it's the great equalizer. It knows no bounds. It's merciless and I am just one story, but can in some way be an avatar for this, you know, crippling epidemic. So that is, that's one way to, to frame it. You know?
Anna: 47:36 And you use that how as like to go on a TV show?
Dan Peres: 47:41 Yeah. Yeah. I mean, and I want to be careful, right? I'm not sort of capitalizing on people's sort of struggling with this addiction, but it's how is it newsworthy and find a way, you know, to make it newsworthy. Also, you know, there's something called the Jewish book council, which I got from your podcast.
Anna: 48:00 Faithful listener to this podcast. How interesting was that.
Dan Peres: 48:03 That was so interesting.
Anna: 48:04 Episode with Jennifer Kay Armstrong, for anyone who wants to know what we're talking about.
Dan Peres: 48:08 The way that her talking about the Jewish book council helped me with the launch of my book.
Anna: 48:15 Did you reach out to them?
Dan Peres: 48:16 I did! I reached out to them, yes. I'm registered. You and I have.
Anna: 48:22 Did you go and do the thing?
Dan Peres: 48:22 No, the thing isn't until may. So I'm happy to report back on that on the show, but I, I got that from you. And so, in filling out the registration that is required for the Jewish book council, I talked about the Jewishness that I write about in the book.
Anna: 48:44 There is way more than I, I had no idea about how Jewish you are, whatever. I'm a nice Jewish girl. I didn't know it's perfect. Perfect for them.
Dan Peres: 48:50 Right. So the point is figure out who you're talking to and figure out how to sort of talk about the book. Magic plays a role in my book, you know.
Anna: 49:02 I saw your Instagram posts today.
Dan Peres: 49:04 Yes. Where I'm being levitated by David Copperfield who also plays a role in my book. And so it's, there's, we're currently out pitching to people about the relationship that I have with David Copperfield and David's, you know, David had always been there for me in my life long before I met him. And when I was a kid growing up in Baltimore, I escaped through him and relied on watching these video, VHS recordings, Google that if you don't know what that is, of his magic performances, this like annual televised thing and, and, and ultimately developed a friendship with him. And that turned out to be an incredibly important friendship as you'll see, you know, should you choose to finish my book, Anna?
Anna: 49:51 It's already very important in the gripping part that I had to leave it.
Dan Peres: 49:56 So David, so it's, there's that like, Oh wow, okay, here's a relationship. Now listen, it doesn't need to be a celebrity. It could be a father, son relationship, a boss, employee relationship, caring for someone that's sick, whatever the, you know, there are people, there are organizations, there are people like, reach out, do your research and listen to this podcast with pen in hand. Because I got some, I've gotten helpful tips.
Anna: 50:29 And wait, Annabel Gurwitch, she's the one that came out today. Woo. So many tips in that.
Dan Peres: 50:34 Haven't listened to it yet, but I will.
Anna: 50:36 So, okay Dan, this is great. We have, we've done it. We've done it and some.
Dan Peres: 50:42 Awesome.
Anna: 50:43 So thank you so much for doing this.
Dan Peres: 50:46 Anna, thank you. Seriously.
Anna: 50:47 Anybody, the book As Needed for Pain, a Memoir of Addiction is available, I'm sure wherever books are sold.
Dan Peres: 50:55 Wherever books are sold.
Anna: 50:56 As well as a site called Amazon?
Dan Peres: 50:59 As well as a site called Amazon.
Anna: 51:00 And then do you have a website that people can visit?
Dan Peres: 51:05 Interestingly, I don't because, and that may change. DanPeres.com is taken by another Dan Peres who interestingly, and this is where it all comes together in a moment of magic, lives in Tel Aviv where it all started for me. And so, I'm working on that.
Anna: 51:30 Okay. You realized that you could just do Dan Peres book. Right?
Dan Peres: 51:33 Yes, I do. And I own the Dan Peres writer URL and I own a couple other things and we're getting there.
Anna: 51:39 Okay. Okay. Okay. Yeah, I'm about to be angry. Well and yes, and by the way, if you guys like this podcast, and why wouldn't you, if you've listened this far, if you're hate listening, that's serious devotion. So please, please throw a review up there and say how much you like it so other people can find it and then their books can be massively successful too. Thank you so much, Dan.
Dan Peres: 52:02 Thank you.