Riding Pop-Culture Whales
The Adventures of a Book Barnacle
By Robert Trexler
A reporter from the Wall Street Journal called about Unlocking Harry Potter: Five Keys for the Serious Reader (Zossima Press). When the article appeared on May 10, 2007 the title was “Last Hurrah for Harry Offshoots?” with the subtitle “As series draws to a close, market for related books may well spike, then fade.” He was fair and accurate, laying the background of the “off-shoot” books with a statistic from R.R. Bowker that over 190 Harry Potter related titles are in print. He captured the phenomenon of “offshoot” books in this picturesque sentence: “Much like George Lucas’s “Star Wars” films and Dan Brown’s “The Da Vinci Code,” the Harry Potter books are whales to which many barnacles have attached themselves.”
John Granger, a classicist asked Robert Trexler, editor of a bi-monthly literary publication CSL: The Bulletin of the New York C.S. Lewis to join the effort to produce and market his first book, The Hidden Key to Harry Potter, that eventually sold 5,000 copies in about one year. This led to a book deal with Tyndale Publishers with a book titled Looking for God in Harry Potter (2004). That book sold over 50,000 copies and is in its second updated edition. In April 2006 John was offered a book deal with Putnam-Penguin for another Harry Potter related book but John and Robert formed a business partnership and determined that they could do at least as well and wanted to retain creative control of the content and marketing .
It was Robert’s job to find the appropriate business/marketing plan and set the pieces in place to make everything happen. It was John’s job to write another book and edit a series of Harry Potter essays that became their first book, Who Killed Albus Dumbledore? (Nov. 2007). It was also John’s job to be the “personality” who could put his written ideas across to the media and to live audiences. Unlocking Harry Potter, took a while longer to be published (March 2007). But it was a fortunate delay, because just as we were going to press a Rowling quotation appeared from an interview with The Herald, a newspaper in
As the saying goes, “Advertising is what you pay for, and publicity is what you pray for.” Well, our prayers were answered. A week after the WSJ article they were contacted by a Warner Brothers movie studio producer developing a TV program to be aired the week before the fifth Harry Potter movie is released (July 15, 2007). On May 18th John was flown to
What distinguishes their attempt from the get-rich-quick approach to barnacle book writing is that they started with a conviction of the importance of our message – and knew that it offered a unique viewpoint. It took five years to get the “call from