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How My Reddit Post Became A New York Times Best-Seller

HINT: it's really all about my editor.

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It all started with a different Reddit post - an animated GIF I made featuring a little wooden mannequin.

Nathan W. Pyle / Via

I made this GIF with my small wooden mannequin and posted it to Reddit's NYC subreddit. The response was so big (about 100,000 views) that I thought "Hmmmm...maybe there's something more here."

Based on the success of the GIF, I then decided to draw a series of 12 NYC cartoons.

Nathan W. Pyle / Via

IMPORTANT: if you can come up with even 2 good images, you should go ahead and make a series of 7 or 8 at least. The internet loves a good series of images. (I'm sure you noticed.)

With this new series of 12 cartoons, I had a plan to make it "buyable."

Nathan W. Pyle / Via

Pretty simple strategy really -

• Make it animated (original GIF artwork was somewhat rare still)

• Target a built-in audience (people who love New York)

• Make it entirely original (no parody of other brands/characters)

• Combine humor and practical advice (a combination that does well)

• Draw it in black and white (cheaper to print)

• Plaster the name of the series on every single page so potential buyers can contact me (It has to be on every single image because they WILL get separated on the internet)

I posted to Reddit in March 2013 and my series of 12 GIFs hit the top spot on the front page. Over a million views.

Nathan W. Pyle / Via

View count *and* comment count are both key. Obviously you want people to discuss the work not just view it and move on. NOTE: To be fair, 990,000 views on Imgur/Reddit and countless more views came from other sites that pulled the GIFs and posted them.

A few weeks after I had posted the 12 GIFs to Reddit, HarperCollins called me. (I had no agent.)

Nathan W. Pyle / Via

NOTE: I've truncated the story of course - there were several emails that we exchanged in the days leading up to the phone call. This is my first chance to say: Cassie Jones is amazing.

Here are ten things my brilliant editor Cassie Jones taught me:

1. Being funny/creative *on demand* is not easy. You just have to get started.

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There are so many talented people out there. I could sit there and wish I was the incredible Allie Brosh or the amazing Matthew Inman or I could just get going.

2. Approach all readers with kindness.

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Cassie knew we could appeal to both tourists and native New Yorkers simultaneously if we approach the subject with tenderness and empathy rather than snark or elitism.

3. The funniest description of life is an accurate description.

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New York City needs no embellishment. It's beautiful and quirky and magnificent and difficult all at once.

4. Surprise the first time readers and reward re-readers.

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This is what Cassie taught me about hooking readers. We made a flow to the sequence of pages in the book that was intuitive enough to notice but loose enough that it allowed room for surprises.

5. *You* the first-time author should get out there and sell your own book.

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HarperCollins has an amazing team and they paired me with an incredible publicity and marketing duo - namely Dianna Garcia and Alaina Waagner. That said, when you're a first time author you should expect to hoof it around town and introduce yourself and talk up your book as much as you can. Because nobody knows who you are.

7. But remember the dynamic factors of sales are unpredictable.

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I had no idea what to expect once the book hit the shelves. Cassie assured me that, well, it's impossible for anyone to predict. Competition is fierce. As it turns out several other books were debuting around the time mine was. Imagine!

10. In time, you'll understand just how amazing this all was.

Nathan W. Pyle / Via

You need some time and distance before you get any perspective on your first book. When you're in the midst of it, it's going to be a whirlwind of emotions. Just wait. In time, you'll understand what a privilege it is to live in a world where another person actually reads your work.

Because you never know who you might meet or what might happen when you team up.

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