It's my last day, and there's one thing I might as well let you in on before I go: I'm mildly infamous for being the Twitter Novel Guy
. That is, I originally released The French Revolution
on Twitter last Bastille Day in 140-character blasts as a way for readers to test drive my novel on a sentence level. I also interacted directly with readers (rare!) and build some semblance of enthusiasm for my work. (Though I'll be the first to admit that reading a whole book on Twitter is highly inconvenient.) The story got noticed, and I later landed a book deal.
I spent a few months huddling with my publisher to figure out how to build on my Twitter background in a way that enhances my novel without undermining it. The last thing I want is to get pigeonholed as the technology gimmick guy — I'd much rather go down as an author who was inventive both in his writing and in finding new ways to connect with readers.
In that spirit, I'm launching a free French Rev iPhone App — available now in Apple's App Store, thanks to Ricoh Innovations. Here's how it works: zap any page in the book with your iPhone camera to unlock bonus content, like videos of me explaining locales featured in the book, or recipes for the exquisite chocolate cakes I write about, or neck-tingling music that inspired a particular scene. You can even unlock a secret chapter by zapping page 62. Think of it as the equivalent of DVD bonus features, accessed through "clickable paper." And it's completely optional; the book works just fine without it.
As far as I can tell, nobody's ever put out an app that bridges paper books with digital content like this. I'm curious to see if you think this sounds intriguing, or distracting, or completely irrelevant — please, lay it on me. You can let me know through comments here, through my website, or Facebook page.
Thanks for sticking with my various diatribes, and thanks to Powell's for letting me rant. I'll conclude with a terrific quote from French revolutionary Georges Danton, which my dad recited at my book launch party this week. It's a rousing summary of the book I tried to write, and the moment in history it attempts to capture.
"We need audacity, still more audacity, and audacity forever!"
Viva la revolution!