Notes and details on my forthcoming book, THINGS BECOME OTHER THINGS
Roden Readers —
Big news: This is Roden, I’m Craig Mod, and I sold my next book to Random House. (!)
Here is the industry-hallowed Publisher’s Marketplace announcement screenshot:
It’s an honor and great privilege to be working with editor Molly Turpin on this book. (And to have Random House’s Andy Ward (Publisher) and Ben Greenberg (Editor-in-Chief) fully behind it as well; a potent publishing trio if there ever was one.) And I’m grateful to David McCormick for helping me make sense of the world of NYC publishing (a world within which I am but a bumbling fool).
The deal has some unique qualities to it.
Namely: I’m retaining “fine art” rights (“forthcoming photography project”). Here is the publishing schedule:
SPECIAL PROJECTS fine art edition, November 2023 (!!)
Random House trade hardcover, spring 2025 (!!!)
If you’d like to be notified on release, you can submit your email in this super short (3 questions, 30 seconds) survey:
But first, many of you may be wondering: What the heck is this next book of mine?
It’s called Things Become Other Things (or lovingly, the fun to say: TBOT) and I’ve been working on it for the last 30 months, writing a SPECIAL PROJECTS members-only diary (170 issues so far! archives available to all members) and here is how I’ve been explaining it:
TBOT is a followup to KISSA BY KISSA, starting right where it left off in central Japan, chronicling my ten+ year relationship with the Kii Peninsula through the lens of a thirty+-day walk (routes include: Ise Kaido, Ise-ji, Nakahechi, Kohechi, Ōhechi (all bits collectively known as the “Kumano Kodō” (it really is quite confusing, what, precisely defines the Kumano Kodō) and more).
TBOT has a strong “memoir” component (it was technically sold to Random House as a memoir) — in that the walk frames reflections on my childhood in a post-industrial American town, my emigration to Japan as a student some 23 years ago (!!), and the life of one lost friend. If you’ve ever wanted to know a bit more about who in dang tarnation I am, this book might “de-cipher” me a little.
All the while we’ll be chatting with farmers, kissa owners, inn proprietors, drunken fishermen, okonomiyaki ladies, foul-mouthed little kids, and whispering priests. We’ll be contemplating the complex spiritual history of the peninsula, its loss of industry (lumber, fishing), eating a bunch of toast and lobsters (?!), guzzling gallons of bad coffee, gazing longingly out at the sea, communing with the fauna, and climbing a bunch of leechy wet mountains.
So, you know, as one buddy puts it: classic “Craig Mod Cinematic Universe” stuff.
SPECIAL PROJECTS / FINE ART EDITION
Because the Random House deal came together when I was already deep into the process of publishing the SPECIAL PROJECTS edition of the book, I’ve retained so-called “fine art edition” rights. Meaning, in November 2023 (yes, in three months …) I’ll be publishing this “fine art” version of TBOT:
1,000 signed copies (plus additional unsigned copies TBD)
printed and bound in Japan
60 full-color photographs
Very much in the production and literary spirit of Kissa by Kissa! (Same width and height (but different thickness because of page count) — so the two books will sit like a series on the shelf.) But longer, and more personal. It should be about the same price (~$95 + shipping — still slightly TBD), but Yearly SPECIAL PROJECTS members will get a big discount as always.
I’ve been working extensively on this edition with London-based editor and translator and old friend (we met at Waseda University in 2000) Oli Chance. This book would not exist without his professionalism, support, and friendship. He’s been reading TBOT drafts since January 2022, and since January of this year, we’ve gone into editorial overdrive. It was his sharp eye that helped get the manuscript to a place where Random House wanted to acquire it, and this SP edition is a reflection of his patient and brilliant guidance. We are both VERY EXCITED to get this book to you.
The Random House hardcover is tentatively scheduled for a spring 2025 release. Which feels like a million years away, but considering next year is a US election year, it’s technically a hundred-billion-trillion years away. No no — spring 2025 is VERY SOON. I’ll be working with editor Molly Turpin at the start of next year to expand the SP edition by about 30%. Molly is incredible. From our very first call I thought: Yes, this is someone I would love to work with. (A feeling I have only in about 1:1000 calls.) She is kind and brilliant and sensitive to what’s on the page and what TBOT is trying to do and has stewarded books like Tiya Miles’ All That She Carried (lyrical, historical non-fiction, winner of everything) into the world. It’s an honor to have her eyes and attention on this manuscript.
If the SP edition is a conversation between images and text, between a childhood friendship across the ocean and a rusting peninsula in Japan, the Random House edition will be text against text amplified. Will it have images? Maybe, but most likely just black and white photographs in the spirit of Lynne Tillman’s Men and Apparitions or Sebald’s The Rings of Saturn. There is much that you can do within the low-fidelity world of a standard hardcover in terms of illustrations and black and white photography. I look forward to exploring what’s possible with Molly in the coming months.
Mainly, the point I’m trying to make (and am obviously still trying to figure out how to make clearly — thank you for putting up with all this bumbling) is that while the SP TBOT and the RH TBOT will be based on the same “foundational text,” the resulting books should be pretty different. Or … maybe not?! I don’t know! That’s part of the fun of this deal. THERE ARE SO MANY UNKNOWNS.
Here is my gut feeling: Both editions will sing. They are not competitors. They are complimentary. They will symbiotically elevate one another. I want to prove that this sort of deal is beneficial to everyone involved. I want it to be a template for future deals. I want us all to win. But most excitingly, I want the book itself to win (and by proxy of that: the readers). TBOT gets to exist twice in the world, in service to two potentially, vastly different audiences. And we get to dissect the themes of the book at different valances and different scales and different levels of intimacy. UHHH, YES PLEASE.
So there it is, my one-book two-edition deal. I can’t wait to get both versions to all of you.
If you have 30 seconds, please fill out this 3-question 30-second survey:
It will help me better understand how to think about the November SP edition (first edition run size, extras, etc). If you put your email address into that survey, I will use it to send precisely three emails:
On the day the SP edition goes on sales (November 15, 2023 is what we’re aiming for)
On the day you can pre-order the Random House edition (late 2024?)
On the day the RH edition goes on sale (spring 2025)
(Of course I’m also going to be banging the drum about this book on these newsletters going forward.)
Anywhooo — BIG thanks to longtime readers and members for following along and your support over the years. It’s very “weird” to “finally” have a NYC pub deal (something I’ve been loosely chasing, and failing to nab, for 12 years). Mainly, I’ve (slowly, reluctantly, haphazardly) come to learn that life and work thrives on great partnerships/relationships with talented, trustworthy, kind people. Sounds obvious, but that wasn’t an intuitive notion to the dude typing this newsletter.
So more than anything else about this deal, I’m delighted to have Oli (and David and Carina and Fujiwara-san and the rest of the SP crew) and Molly (and Ben and Andy and their many vast teams at Random House) by my side.
Let’s goooooo — let’s make some great books.
Speaking of which — back to the book. I got maps to make and photo-edits to refine and typographic commitments to commit to, and tenses to double check, and … and … and … and … a billion billion other things you have to do to prep a book for publication.