The world's first recorded book launch

So with my own debut rapidly approaching, this would be a good moment to mention the world's first recorded book launch.

It happened at the Olympics, and the author was none other than Herodotus, who in addition to founding both history and anthropology, seems also to have invented book marketing.

This from the later writer Lucian, who said of Herodotus:
There is one thing--the use he made of his writings, and the speed with which he attained the respect of all Greece; from that you, or I, or any one else, might take a hint....The great Olympic Games were at hand...Herodotus appeared in the hall of the Temple of Zeus, bent not on sight-seeing, but on bidding for an Olympic victory of his own; he recited his Histories, and bewitched his hearers.

He was straightway known to all, better far than the Olympic winners. There was no man who had not heard his name; they had listened to him at Olympia, or they were told of him by those who had been there; he had only to appear, and fingers were pointing at him: 'There is the great Herodotus, who wrote the Persian War in Ionic, and celebrated our victories.'
After that one event, to read your book at the Temple of Zeus during the Olympics became the ancient world's equivalent of being on Oprah.


19 comments:

Philangelus said...

I think you should do that. Reschedule the SF bookstore and book the Temple of Zeus. ;-)

Gary Corby said...

A fine idea, but sadly, the place isn't in quite the condition it used to be.

C. N. Nevets said...

I think the equivalent today is to sponsor a car in a race the weekend of your launch...

Gary Corby said...

Great idea. It would have to be Formula 1 though...could I borrow $10 million dollars please? I promise I'll pay you back as soon as I've got the money.

Amalia T. said...

Ha!!
For some reason, it totally does not surprise me that Herodotus would pull something like this off. It just seems to fit so well with his character as we are introduced to it through his Histories.

Meghan said...

Hrm...Not sure I believe this story (the source is awfully late) but it's a good idea in any case!

Meghan said...

btw I be you're super excited that the date for release is getting closer, huh? Congrats! :D

Loretta Ross said...

Any chance of you getting to Greece in the near future? If so, I do think it would be a good idea for you to do a reading at the Temple of Zeus, dilapidated though it is. Have your wife film it and put it on Youtube.

And you could also do a video tour of places in the book. You know? "This is roughly where Nico was standing when the body fell at his feet. Of course, the frozen yogurt stand you see behind me wasn't there yet and there were fewer motorcycles in the vicinity . . ."

Gary Corby said...

Hi Meghan,

The story appears to have been current, and Lucian was merely putting his own satirical spin on what seems to have been a traditional tale. It could be false, but if so Lucian didn't make it up.

What I find much harder to swallow is the tradition that when Herodotus spoke, present in the temple was a young lad by the name of Thucydides, who'd been brought to the Olympics by his dad.

This happened in 440BC so the timing would be right, but seriously, that's the sort of coincidence that only happens in books. Come to think of it though, an even more remarkable coincidence did happen with the decipherment of Linear A, so who knows?

Gary Corby said...

Loretta, that's a brilliant idea.

If some nice publisher would like to buy the Greek foreign rights, I'd be totally up for a book tour and combine it with some readings in interesting places.

Gary Corby said...

Amalia, you're right. Herodotus appears to have been a very cool guy in his own right: smart, opinionated, opportunistic and extremely well traveled. A perfect character for a book, in fact.

Herodotus is scheduled to appear later in the series. I've already written the scene in which he turns up.

Amalia T. said...

I am looking forward to seeing him as a character, then! That sounds excellent, Gary!

RWMG said...

Linear A has been deciphered? When did that happen? Nobody tweeted it or put it on FB.

Gary Corby said...

Thanks Amalia. I do (rarely) write scenes many books in advance when a good idea comes to me. Then I tuck it away in a special file and lose it. Or I shift them between books. I've just finished revising a scene in book 3 which I originally wrote for book 1 and then shifted to book 2. It didn't fit there either, but I think it's found a home in #3.

Gary Corby said...

Woops. I'm afraid, Robert, that I am severely alphabet-challenged. Not a good thing in a writer.

When I wrote that Linear A was decoded I meant, of course, Linear B. Thankfully there is no Linear C for me to get it even wronger.

RWMG said...

I did wonder, but then I couldn't think of any famous coincidence related to Linear B. What's the story?

Vicky Alvear Shecter said...

No fair getting me psyched to read the bit with Herodotus in it when I haven't been able to get my hands on your first one!

Gary Corby said...

Hi Vicky, yes, I'm a cruel author.

Gary Corby said...

Robert, stay tuned for a post on Linear B.