In its first two weeks as an e-book, “Vagrant Kings: David Stern, Kevin Johnson and the NBA’s Orphan Team,” has become one of America’s most controversial and best selling new sports books.
I didn’t plan it that way.
Two weeks ago, I didn’t know what to expect in terms of sales. And while I believed the book was unprecedented in access and perspective, I didn’t anticipate the storm of controversy – mostly from people who haven’t bothered to read “Vagrant Kings.”
Having worked 40 years in the media, I know something about controversy. But when a TV reporter, Cambi Brown of CBS 13 in Sacramento, asked me for the most controversial stuff in the book, I didn’t know how to respond.
“Well, David Stern swears a lot,” I said.
Cambi was not impressed. She said the NBA commissioner’s swearing wouldn’t entice readers to buy the book. I mentioned Kevin Johnson’s decades-long grudge against the Kings. She liked that better.
The grudge became a lightning rod for controversy and book sales – much to my surprise.
I found Kevin’s rocky relationship with the Kings interesting but not especially controversial. Of course he disliked the team.
Twice they burned him, once in 1987 when Kings coach Bill Russell ignored Kevin and drafted Kenny Smith, and again in 2012, when the Maloof family blew up the arena agreement made with Johnson and Stern.
But, as the book points out, none of that prevented Kevin from becoming an enthusiastic leader in the fight to keep the team in Sacramento and build a new arena. As Kevin himself always said, it’s bigger than the Kings.
As for the book’s early success, I had no idea how to launch or promote an e-book. I had no distribution network, public relations machine, or publisher.
I posted the book, sent press releases to Sacramento media and various reporters who cover the NBA nationally, and hoped for the best.
The best has happened. “Vagrant Kings” was immediately noticed by the media and the public. Now word of mouth is carrying sales.
And the best is yet to come. The physical book is almost ready for publication. That should launch “Vagrant Kings” into a whole new stratosphere.
In the meantime, thank you all for the support.