Please help me "Close the Book" on my memoir project!

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My sixteen-year quest to publish my memoir The Accidental Terrorist is nearly over. I feel like I've been fighting my way down the field all that time, sometimes making progress, sometimes getting stopped cold, sometimes losing big ground. But now that it's fourth and inches, and I need your help to cross the goal line.

The Accidental Terrorist Close the Book Campaign
Okay, enough with the bad sports metaphors, and I'll try not to waste much of your time. What I'm asking is simple:

  • If you'd like to help, all you need to do is pre-order a copy of the book.

    Possibly you were planning to wait to buy The Accidental Terrorist at a book signing, or to order it this fall from your favorite independent bookstore. (Or possibly you don't give a rats' ass, in which case I'm not really addressing you right now.) I can't fault you for that, and I don't even want to try to dissuade you. But the fact is, you will help me more if you pre-order a copy of the hardcover today, directly from me.

    I will even sign it for you. A few months from now.

    But I'm getting ahead of myself. Last year when we first started talking about self-publishing this memoir, Laura and I decided not to finance it with a Kickstarter campaign. We didn't really know what the process would entail, and we didn't want to ask for your money when we didn't have a good handle on what we'd need to do use it for.

    That is one heavy book, both physically and metaphorically
    Instead we (perhaps foolishly) decided to finance the publication ourselves. So far, in the interest of putting out as professional a book as possible, that has included a first thorough round of editing from Juliet Ulman, registration of a DBA ("doing-business-as" name) in the state of New York, the acquisition of a block of ISBNs from Bowker for the various editions we're putting out, the licensing of photos and illustrations for jacket and marketing art, the purchase of desktop publishing software, and the printing of several test versions of the book to help us decide which POD service to go with. Oh, and there's also the digital postage scale from

    And that's only what we've spent so far. Juliet will soon be done with her second round of edits, at which point she'll be owed a second check, and then when I've finished my final revisions the proofs will go to my copy editor, while at the same time I'll be ordering a batch of advance reading copies to mail out to potential reviewers and blurbers. I've budgeted for some publicity also, but not a lot.

    I could have put out a half-assed book last fall and been done with it. I would saved myself a lot of money and headaches, but I wouldn't have felt very good about it. I've always believed in this book, and believed it needed my best efforts—but those efforts are expensive.

    To that end, I'm asking you to help "kick-end" this project with me—help "Close the Book," as it were. Your pre-order of a signed hardcover will help keep the wheels greased through to the end of this project. You'll get the book, mailed to you personally by yours truly, at least a month before it's available through retail channels. And because I'll be so grateful, I'll also send you a DRM-free copy of the ebook edition on the actual release date, for no extra cost.

    This is not just good for you. It's good for me because, if I can place one big order for books from my printer in August, I'll get a volume discount, which means more money I can put toward those last production and publicity costs. Win-win!

    So here's the deal. In the next thirty days, between now and July 15th, I want to make 500 pre-order sales. That's a lot, I know, but as of the moment I'm writing this, late Sunday night, I've already received 13 pre-orders. And that was without really trying!

    Now is when we start trying for real, and with your help I'm positive we can make it. I've spent the past several days on a nearly sleepless coding marathon, getting ready for the push. You can see the magic progress gauge here on this page, and it will magically update itself before your very eyes within a few minutes of each new pre-order so you and I can keep track of our progress together. (How is that possible, you ask? Because I'm a computer programmer, and computer programmers are magic.)

    Make Your Own Missionary Name Tag!
    I'm counting on you to help me get the word out, which is why I've also built this nifty custom missionary name tag generator so you can show all your friends and followers how cool you are for supporting The Accidental Terrorist. I'll post more about that in a day or so, but you can totally start playing around with it now!

    Thanks for sticking with me this far. And look, if you can't afford the hardcover, or just don't want to buy one for whatever reason, I understand. There will be plenty of less pricey options later, including a trade paperback and various flavors of inexpensive ebooks. (In fact, the ebook is available for pre-order now on a few different stores.) If you can't help right now with your dollars, please help with your shares and retweets.

    You know, I think I'm asking you to be my missionaries. If that's not fucked up, I don't know what is. But it's perfectly in the spirit of the book.

    And now, the official pitch...

    Be among the first to learn what really goes on with Mormon missionaries when they're not out knocking on your door.

    The Accidental Terrorist

    Confessions of a Reluctant Missionary

    by William Shunn

    'The Accidental Terrorist' by William Shunn

    Release date: 10 November 2015

    Finalist for the 2015 Association for Mormon Letters Award

    “This just may be my favorite true-life amazing-but-true tale—never has threatening an aircraft been funnier or more thought-provoking.”

    —Cory Doctorow, author of Little Brother and Homeland

    Nineteen-year-old Bill Shunn is a man on a mission—a Mormon mission, that is, trolling for converts door-to-door a thousand miles from home. This riveting memoir—by turns hilarious, provocative, and thrilling—traces his accidental journey from that humble beginning to hunted fugitive and international terrorist.

    A seventh-generation Mormon, steeped since birth in the gospel according to Joseph Smith, Shunn yearns to lose himself in the solace of sincere belief. But with his few close friendships, his dreams of writing, and his very life on hold, he can’t help resenting the imposition of missionary service and the monastic lifestyle it demands.

    When conflicts with his fellow “elders” spur him to an ill-fated flight for freedom, the stage is set for the ultimate showdown between obedience and agency. Like the charismatic prophet Smith—whose own incredible story casts eerie echoes through Shunn’s—the young missionary will brave arrest and incarceration in a desperate bid to prove his worthiness, not just to those around him but to himself.

    Now, with hard-won wisdom and compassion for his younger self, Shunn recounts the harrowing pilgrimage—rife with good intentions, noble ideals, and deep-seated insecurities—that pushed him to places stranger than any fiction. A gripping chronicle of slow-motion disaster that unfolds with the inevitability of Greek tragedy, The Accidental Terrorist is also a testament to individual triumph in the face of overwhelming authority.

    “The book grabs you on page one and never lets go. Fantastically written, beautifully paced, The Accidental Terrorist reads like a novel instead of a memoir. Only in novel form, no one would have ever believed these events could have happened. Believe it. William Shunn lived every word of this book. That he can share it so eloquently is a tribute not just to his writing skill, but his strengths as a human being.”

    —Kristine Kathryn Rusch, USA Today bestselling author

    Want to get your hands on The Accidental Terrorist before anyone else? We'll happily ship you an advance signed hardcover at least a month before our November release date. Just order now!

    What's more, as a reward for buying early, we'll also send you a DRM-free version of the ebook edition on the day of its release. All you need to do is tell us whether you prefer EPUB or MOBI format.

    Don't miss out! Reserve your copy soon to take advantage of this limited early release!

    The Accidental Terrorist
    How would you like your book signed?
    What name should be written inside?
    What ebook format would you prefer?
    List your name on thank you page?

    If you select the Recipient Name + Signature option, be sure to specify the recipient's name as you wish Mr. Shunn to write it in the book.

    Your book will ship in either September or October, depending on how our production schedule goes. Delivery will take longer for overseas addresses.

    A big thank you to all our generous supporters!

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    This page contains a single entry by William Shunn published on June 15, 2015 8:48 AM.

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