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Where realism and idealism meet Tony Brasunas, author of Double Happiness

January 2014 is Read Double Happiness Month: Experience Reading Double Happiness in Community

Wonderful holiday wishes to you! I was in a cabin on the northern California coast this past weekend, enjoying a sweet technology break not unlike the one I experienced (involuntarily) in China.

Now on this last day of 2013 I’m pleased to announce:

January 2014, Read Double Happiness Month

Imagine meeting a new friend or having a great conversation with an old friend through reading Double Happiness. I have long envisioned building community through the book. I’m launching Read Double Happiness Month next Wednesday evening, January 8. I’ll do a webcast, reading from the second chapter, page 8, and leading a short discussion. The whole experience will be 15-20 minutes, starting at 6:30pm Pacific Time.

Please join us, whether or not you’ve read the first few pages, on page 8 on the 8th. If you do read the first few pages before the 8th, consider these questions as something to possibly share during the event:

  1. The book begins with a dragon and a blacksmith. Who is the blacksmith? What does the dragon eat?
  2. When did you first find yourself in a completely foreign place?
  3. What two roads diverged for you in your early twenties?

If you don’t have your copy of the book yet:
     >> Get Double Happiness >>

Future Readings

Over the next two months, we will move through the book like a backpacker on a beautiful mountain trail, and I will read chapters, answer questions, lead discussions, and do a photo slideshow.

  • Wed. Jan 8, 6:30p — Chapter 2 (pp 7-8)
  • Wed. Jan 22, 6:30p — Chapter 13 (pp 79-80)
  • Fri. Jan 31 — TBA (Chinese New Year!)
  • Further dates TBA

Or: Read Double Happiness Now &
Write a Review!

If you’ve already begun the book and will be reading on your own schedule, enjoy! When you’re done, or as soon as you feel you’ve read far enough to write something helpful for others, please post a review on Amazon. Reviews are helpful for reaching more people because amazon shows books with more reviews higher in search results.
     >> Review Double Happiness >>

For now, Happy Gregorian New Year!

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by Tony Brasunas on December 31, 2013

Double Happiness Hits #1…

Thank you for participating in the launch of Double Happiness!

How did it go? Well, you were amazing! Nearly every First Reader came though on their pledge, and many of you bought multiple copies. In short, we did it — we launched Double Happiness into the world!

Understanding amazon’s enigmatic numbers has been another matter. Having paid attention to what little data I had available to me, I believe the peak was around Sunday afternoon. The “Hot New Releases” list only includes 100 books, not 200, as for some reason I had thought, and I never saw the book break into the top 100. But I did see it climb into the Travel subsection, and it stood in the upper 20s for a while. In Travel / Asia it hit number 1!

Over in the “Best Sellers” section, Double Happiness stood at #3 in Travel / China for two days.

The truth is I don’t have any insight into any sales data that you don’t have. I also don’t know why amazon seemed to categorize Double Happiness with travel guides instead of with other travelogue books. I checked the public pages every hour or so and amazon ranked the books as it saw fit. Perhaps you saw the book hit a higher spot than I did?

I took a snapshot of it at #1:

What a Week

What I want you to know is that it’s been an amazing week.

You were a Kickstarter backer or you were a First Reader or you posted on Facebook and bought copies as gifts, or maybe you did all of those things, or maybe you just forwarded one of my emails to someone you though might be interested. Or maybe you just said a little “I hope that goes well for him,” and did no more. Whatever it was — it was what you could do — I thank you for your help!

For years I hoped this day would come just like this. In my darker moments of doubt, when I wondered if it would come at all, I never believed I could experience this combination of wonder, confusion, delight, hard work, and deep gratitude.

But here it is, and so it is.

The book is out. May the story go forth into the world; it is no longer mine alone. May it help, entertain, enlighten, and, for people seeking one, show an unexpected path to happiness.

With gratitude, relief, and delight,

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by Tony Brasunas on December 19, 2013

Where Does My New Book Rank on Amazon?

Yes, I just launched my first book, Double Happiness! It has been a thrilling week, something I’ve been working towards for over a decade.

Hoping to launch the book as high up the charts at amazon as possible, I concentrated all my outreach around a single day, December 12th.

I know that many of you responded to the call, became “First Readers,” and bought the book on the 12th. Many also purchased yesterday, the 13th. I can see that from the chart amazon provides to me. But beyond that, unfortunately, the chart is not very forthcoming. It’s quite secretive in fact. They don’t provide real-time reporting on who bought a book, when, or how many copies; the chart indicates that reporting will show up “within 2-3 days of the item’s manufacture.” So there’s the rub: After the sale, there is a ‘manufacture’ date and time, and that it is two or three days after that date and time that the sale will show up in my chart.

Another Approach

The other approach I tried was looking from the outside at various public amazon pages. I had specifically stated that my goal was the “Best Seller” and “New Releases” pages. As for whether we made it there, it would appear, well, not yet. I still haven’t seen the book show up on New Releases or Best Sellers. There is a number on the book page — the book’s “ranking” among “all books” — and that number stayed in the 200,000s all day yesterday, but then hit 150,000 last night. It seems hard to believe that there were 200,000 titles that sold more copies on 12/12 than Double Happiness, but who knows, it is the holidays. Or maybe those copies are still being “manufactured,” and the numbers don’t register until “two or three days after manufacture.”

It was a different story when I clicked into categories more specific than “Best Sellers” or “New Releases.” If I searched for any book about Guangzhou, Double Happiness came up at #25. That was something. I searched for “Travel” in New Releases, and there it was, at #46. And in New Releases, Travel books about “China,” Double Happiness is at #2!

What’s Happening Here

I think what is happening is that the numbers for Double Happiness are trickling into Amazon’s algorithms slowly, and at different rates for different search terms. In other words, it’s still early in the game.

I still believe it was the right strategy to target a single day for the most sales, but sales coming in today and tomorrow are still very helpful, as they will aggregate together as the numbers trickle in. I suppose this all makes sense from a particular perspective; it would be an obvious goal for a book sales ranking system to weigh a day’s sales with a week’s and a month’s. I just amazon provided more real-time information to authors and publishers.

Look Inside

I also noticed that just this morning they gave Double Happiness the “Look Inside” treatment, which is really nice and might imply they think it’s worth more attention.

Feel free to take a peak. You can peak into the book at the Table of Contents and the first chapter and use the “surprise me” feature to read other parts of the book. And if you didn’t buy the book on Launch Day and might enjoy a “journey across China and through the soul of a young American,” buying it today will clearly still help bump up its “peak” ranking!

>> Double Happiness >>

Thank you for your attention and interest. What are your thoughts or questions about amazon’s rankings and Best Sellers pages?

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by Tony Brasunas on December 14, 2013


Close your eyes. Open them. And that’s it — it’s published, it’s launched, it’s here. A decade in the making, and now it’s Double Happiness Day. It’s the perfect time to get your

>> Double Happiness >>

Getting your copy today will enable you to read it soonest, and it will enhance the impact you’ll have on the book’s spot in the amazon charts.

>> Double Happiness >>

Last night, the Launch Celebration at Cerruti Cellars winery was marvelous. So many of you came! We drank great wine and ate extraordinary food, I thanked you in English, I thanked China in Chinese, I sang a love song in Mandarin, and we all shared a deep and sweet ritual of realizing our Long-Held Dreams. Thank you!

Today, it’s here. This long-hold dream is realized. The book is born:

>> Double Happiness >>

If there’s still someone on your gift list, Double Happiness is a gift made for Armchair travelers, English teachers, China buffs, adventure backpackers, young people in their twenties and thirties seeking a place in this swiftly changing world, and readers interested in a young man’s coming of age in a foreign land.

My best wishes and gratitude to you today.

>> Double Happiness >>

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by Tony Brasunas on December 12, 2013

11 Hours To Go!

It’s the 11th, there are 11 hours to go, and the book now has 132 fabulous First Readers! We’re getting close to the Best Sellers list. Thank you!

If you haven’t yet signed up, can you become a First Reader?

If you did sign up, forward this to friends. If you’re doing holiday shopping, consider Double Happiness as an insightful gift.

I don’t know with certainty that it will take 200 sales tomorrow on 12/12 to land on the Best Sellers; that’s an educated estimate. What I do know is that if you are planning to get Double Happiness, by signing up as a First Reader today and buying the book tomorrow, your purchase will combine with those of others and launch the book higher.

Tonight at the Launch Celebration, we’ll get a bump. To get to 150, we’ll need 18 more; to get to 188, we’ll need 56 more; and for the 200 goal, we’ll need 78 more. Can you help us do it?

In any event, I’m unbelievably excited to see many of you tonight for the Launch Celebration and to launch Double Happiness into the world tonight at midnight!

You’re wonderful. You inspire me. Without you I wouldn’t be here. Thank you.

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by Tony Brasunas on December 11, 2013

Be a hero, be a First Reader

Lo and behold, this Thursday, December 12, is the big one, launch day, my life’s biggest undertaking come to fruition. It will be my best opportunity to launch the book up the Amazon charts! Can you help?

If buying Double Happiness is a possibility — as a gift* or for yourself — consider buying it on 12/12. I would be deeply grateful. In fact, sign up to be a First Reader, and I’ll send you an email reminder on launch day and a holiday gift! My goal is to sign up 200 First Readers and peak on the Best Sellers list.

Let’s launch Double Happiness up the charts!

Be a hero, be a Double Happiness First Reader >

*Double Happiness would make a particularly nice gift for: armchair travelers, English teachers, China buffs, adventure backpackers, young people in their twenties and thirties seeking a place in this swiftly changing world, and readers interested in a young man’s coming of age in a foreign land.

Gratitude from the bottom of my heart,
Towards double happiness,

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by Tony Brasunas on December 7, 2013