At the end of the year, it’s natural to think about the past year. You know, all the “Year in Review” things that come out this time of year. It gets you thinking.
2013 was a break-out year for the 299 Days book series and all it represents. Books One through Four came out in 2012, but the series really took off in 2013 with the release of Books Five through Seven. Book Six, released in June, was particularly big. With its amazing cover art and cliff-hanger last chapter, Book Six was the one that got many people into the series.
Did the books do this on their own? Nope. You guys did it. You told friends about the book. You wrote a review of each book on Amazon. You got on Facebook, Twitter, and your forums and told people about this unusual prepper novel series – unusual because it’s real. It’s about real people, it’s about real events, and it’s written by a real person. An imperfect person who shares his imperfections with you. That’s so rare in today’s plastic culture. This isn’t a story about a “cool guy” action hero. Because that’s not real.
Real resonates. People understand real. They can relate to Grant Matson, Lisa Matson, and a six-foot Korean gunfighter who sells insurance – even though they’ve never met one (and perhaps only one exists on the planet). People wanted to hear more about these real people.
I appeared on almost 60 podcasts and Youtube interviews in 2013. Some were funny, many were informative and thought-provoking, and all of them were real conversations with an interviewer that you got to listen in on.
Another big event in 2013, but one that’s behind the scenes and you probably didn’t know about, is that I was lucky enough to have Autumn “PR Girl” Torres come on board as my publicist. She is tremendous and many of the cool things that magically happen with getting the word out about the book are because of her efforts and spectacular contacts in the Patriot community.
In 2013, we came out with an extensive line of stickers, patches, hats, and shirts. “I Miss America” gear flew off the shelves. That phrase says everything. People want to tell people they miss America and the “I Miss America” items do that. They start conversations with total strangers who, like you, thought they were all alone. There is nothing better than wearing an “I Miss America” shirt and getting a thumbs-up from a stranger. Many of you know this feeling first hand.
2013 also saw the birth of the Cool Friends Project. This is a collection of … well, cool friends. They’re people I’ve met this year while doing the books. They are gear makers, podcasters, and others who are people I was a fan of before the books and now they’re fans of mine.
One of the most satisfying things for me in 2013 was how many of you sent me emails and Facebook messages about your own struggles and triumphs. I answered every single one – because I’m thrilled you contacted me and trust my opinion. Talking to you guys never gets old. Never.
2013 was also the year that the 299 community came together on Facebook. You guys sent in dozens of Patriot of the Week pictures. Your pictures of little kids reading the books melt my heart. You should take a few minutes and just look through all the photos from this year on the Facebook page. It’s an amazing collection of memories of an unbelievable year. The numbers show that you guys love the Facebook page. We went from about 300 “likes” to 3,000. Ten-fold. In one year.
2014 will be big. Ten more fold? It’s entirely possible. I can’t tell you everything that we’re planning, but rest assured that I’m not slowing down with 299 Days. Books Eight and Nine will come out in the Spring and Summer, and Book Ten – the 43 Colonels book – will be out by Thanksgiving. You will love all the remaining books. If you think the adventures at Pierce Point have been interesting so far, wait until the big battle happens and see what happens to the various characters.
I’m trying to decide if I can tell you some of the things in store for 2014. I better not, in case they don’t happen and people get disappointed. I’ll just say this: the printed word is just one of many mediums through which the 299 Days story can – and hopefully will – be presented. I’ll leave it at that. But you guys are pretty smart and probably know what I’m getting at.
Finally, let me thank each and every one of you. You have no idea what an honor it is telling the 299 Days story to tens of thousands of people. I never thought anyone would read these books. I mean it. Thank you, thank you, thank you for listening to me tell the deepest thoughts in my heart. What an honor. I think I’ll have many more humbling honors and amazing moments in 2014.
Happy New Year. I mean it.