Brent Mann is the author of three published books: “99 Red Balloons… and 100 Other All-Time Great One-Hit Wonders” (2003), “Blinded by the Lyrics” (2005) and “Lessen the Loneliness” (2011). He recently agreed to an interview about his books and experience with self-publishing.
1. Tell me briefly about each of the books you’ve published.
“99 Red Balloons” and “Blinded by the Lyrics” were put out through a Manhattan publishing house called Kensington under their Citadel Press imprint. “Lessen the Loneliness,” my first e-book, was self-published. I worked with a literary agent to sell “99” and “Blinded” to Kensington, while no agent was involved with my e-book.
As the title indicates, “99 Red Balloons… and 100 Other All-Time Great One-Hit Wonders” is all about pop music one-hit wonders. Marc Cohn (“Walking in Memphis”), Dexys Midnight Runners (“Come on Eileen”) and Maurice Williams & the Zodiacs (“Stay”) are among the dozens of one-hit acts featured. When this book was released in 2003, VH-1 was, purely by coincidence, airing a highly-watched series hosted by William Shatner that was a countdown of one-hit wonders. That really helped the sales of my book.
And this is quite interesting: I received a number of e-mails from people who told me they were at their local bookstore, saw “99 Red Balloons” on display and bought a copy because they remembered hearing about it on those William Shatner one-hit wonder programs. Only thing is, my book was never mentioned on VH-1. Shows you the immense power of national television to create a buzz about a subject in general (like one-hit wonders) and put it out there in the pop culture atmosphere. And the funny thing is, I was living in New York City at the time. I had a meeting with marketing folks at VH-1’s offices in Midtown Manhattan about tying in “99 Red Balloons” with their one-hit wonder series as kind of a companion book, but nothing ever came of the meeting.