September 25, 2006

Secrets of the Alchemist Dar

it's a treasure hunt -- go!
Tomorrow the book A Treasure's Trove: Secrets of the Alchemist Dar goes on sale, hopefully starting a worldwide treasure hunting frenzy.

I was the project editor for this book (and its collector's hardcover edition and companion activity books) on the Simon & Schuster side, working as the editorial liaison to the author Michael Stadther and his excellent crew at the Treasure Trove organization. Mike was kind enough to give me a rare editorial credit in the book.

96 activity pages
If you've never heard of A Treasure's Trove, the original treasure hunt book written by Michael Stadther in 2004, the history is interesting. Inspired by Kit Williams and his book Masquerade, Mike wrote A Treasure's Trove but couldn't get any publisher to pick it up. So he hid the treasure himself and set up a company to self-publish the book. It was a big hit, reached #2 on the New York Times bestsellers list, and sold about 400,000 copies. That never happens with self-published books. Never.

with fuzzy stickers
So we at Simon Scribbles are very excited about distributing this sequel. The stakes are bigger ($2,000,000 worth of treasure this time), and there are more books (five activity books for kids and a puzzle book companion).

digest with stickers
The story is fantastic, funny, and engaging, the art and design have improved greatly, and the mystery part of it is very mysterious. Honestly, I didn't try to delve too far into the secrets in the book -- I'm not that big a puzzler, and I wasn't eligible to win anything anyway, given that I read the story while it was still a manuscript.

digest with tattoos
On the creative end, my main contribution was to ask Mike hard questions about the story and to argue with him about narrative and sentence-structure minutia -- basic editorial stuff. Mostly I ignored the treasure hunt aspect and just dealt with the book as a straight picture storybook and I think it turned out very well on that front.

with markers
Shepherding Secrets of the Alchemist Dar and the activity books through the publishing labyrinth and into production was much more difficult, and there were many fires to stamp out along the way. We managed to get 840,000 books to their destinations all across the globe synchronized to sell on a strict opening day. A project of this magnitude really made me appreciate how efficient, effective, and far-reaching the efforts of whole staff of a big corporation working in concert can be.

more puzzles!
So go out tomorrow and grab your copy of the book. You never know -- you may be one of the readers clever enough to solve the puzzles and discover a fortune.

Good luck!

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