By Tom Cheshire, Wired, 08 June 11
On 23 April, at an arts salon in Philadelphia, Adam Mansbach read some verses from Go The Fuck To Sleep, an illustrated children's book you don't actually want to read to your kids. Sample: "The eagles who soar through the sky are at rest / And the creatures who crawl, run and creep / I know you're not thirsty. That's bullshit. Stop lying. / Lie the fuck down, darling, and sleep."
Afterwards, Mansbach went home to bed. When he woke, Go The Fuck To Sleep had gone from being unranked on the Amazon sales list to number 125. It wasn't supposed to be published until October. The book went viral and soon hit number one, supposedly after pirated PDFs started doing the rounds online. Go The Fuck To Sleep is now being translated into 12 languages and will be made into a film by Fox 2000; shooting starts in January.
Mansbach tells Wired.co.uk about the secret behind the book's success (he doesn't know), how important the pirated PDF was (it wasn't) and his new graphic novel in which drugged-up humans face animals in one-on-one combat to prevent an alien invasion (awesome). Give it a fucking read.
Why did Go The Fuck To Sleep become popular overnight?
The Tuesday after the book reading, the book was up at number two. It was not really clear to me what was happening. The bootleg PDFs of the book hadn't started circulating yet -- that happened a couple of weeks later. Some people have said that that was what set it off, but it really wasn't. It wasn't clear to me, and I'm not expert on social media or the interwebs, so... It was just sort of crazy. The success brought with it its own wave of media. And that began to sustain it and further it. We were in this perfect storm situation, where every bit of coverage we did get could only point potential buyers in one direction, and that was to Amazon. Everything got funnelled to the same place. Any interest in the book led people to the Amazon pre-order page. And at that point all people had to go was a title, the cover and a sample verse, and a product description. That seemed to be enough.
Rest of Q&A at Wired.