Ranking Jonathan Tropper’s Novels

I first discovered Jonathan Tropper soon after the release of This is Where I Leave You. I was excited by the comparisons to Nick Hornby and was really hungry for more lad lit, and, as an American, an American lad-lit author was an exciting prospect. It didn’t take long for me to go through his entire catalogue. Reading Tropper’s work definitely influenced me in writing my own novel, so I thought it would be interesting to look at his novels and rank them to give you a better understanding of which novels of his I liked the most and why.

6. Plan B.

Tropper’s debut novel. If you read this after reading his more recent work (like I did) you’ll notice how it is the oddball of the group. Unlike his other novels that focus on family dynamics and dysfunction this novel centers around of a group of college friends who have turned thirty. It’s a strong first novel, with a Friends meets The Big Chill vibe… but if you’re used to his more recent novels you might have a harder time getting into this one, but it’s a well written novel for sure.

5. Everything Changes

For me, Tropper’s third novel is low on my list because I felt less interested in the characters and the story. The Tropper formula that would eventually make him into a bestselling author is here. A strong cast of family members and friends, an absent father figure… The writing style was not the issue with this novel… the story was lacking somehow. Almost too depressing at times. I’ve only read this novel once and that was enough.

4. One Last Thing Before I Go

The four year wait between Tropper’s breakout novel This is Where I Leave You, and this novel was a long torturous wait. By most measures, this is a classic Tropper story, but written in the third-person perspective, and giving us the story from the absent father’s point of view. I imagine that Tropper wanted to take a different approach with this novel, while still maintaining the core elements of what his readers have come to expect from him. I did not love this novel. I felt the third-person perspective kept the story and the characters at a distance, where his other first-person novels I felt far more engaged, but it’s a solid story, and I’ve been anxiously waiting for his novel after reading this.

3. The Book of Joe

I’ve read a lot of negative reviews of Tropper’s second novel that criticize the characters and the plot as cliché and full of tropes. Be that as it may, it’s in my top three because the story and characters are still done well. I’ve read this book more than once, and enjoy it every time. It’s a great mix of comedy and drama, and I love the concept of the author trashing his hometown in a novel that became a bestseller, and returning home for the first time since high school and all the tensions it causes, both with his family and the people he skewered in his novel. I found the concept enjoyable, even if the characters where often stereotypes.

2. How To Talk To A Widower

Tropper tackles love and loss spot on in this novel… throw in some family tension and dysfunction and it’s a well-balanced, enjoyable read. The quality of Tropper’s writing from his debut novel to this, his fourth novel, is clear, and he handles the relationships between the main character, Doug, and each of the other characters expertly.

1. This is Where I Leave You

The book that started it all for me. Tropper blends humor and loss effortlessly in this novel that I didn’t want to end. There’s a lot going on in this novel between the characters… tension and angst that is realistic and entertaining. You’ll know while you’re reading it why this was his breakout novel, and why it was eventually adapted into a film.

My novel, Not Famous, is currently available in paperback and on Kindle at Amazon.

NOT FAMOUS Launch Week Recap!

What an exciting week it has been! Not Famous was finally published!

As a first time author, I know very well that it is tremendously difficult to get traction in publishing. Lots of people, even those at one of the big house publishers, put out books that fail to get sales. It’s tougher for indies like myself, being entirely responsible for hiring a book cover designer, and editor, and all that other stuff… I chose to go indie because I felt that regardless of where I published, I’d be responsible for my own success… or lack of it.

So, how has this week gone?

So. much. better than I expected!


Now, don’t get too excited, I’m not a bestseller yet… my expectations were pretty low going in. The pre-order period was a tad underwhelming… but once the book officially launch, I sold as many copies of Not Famous in a day than I had during the 4-day pre-order period. I even have had a few paperback sales! As an indie, I expected to have almost entirely ebook sales… Actually, I didn’t expect to have any paperback sales at all… so that anyone has bought a paperback is, for me, phenomenal.

What about reviews? I’ve gotten some of those, too!

Between the US and UK Amazon stores, I have 4 five-star reviews! Pretty awesome, huh? Also, this morning, I discovered that Not Famous had cracked the top 10,000 book in the UK Kindle store!

How that happened I have no idea but I was so excited to see it! I hope the book maintains momentum. The past week has certainly been great for my confidence, and I’m very encouraged… so encouraged I can’t wait to start on the next novel!

UK Store ranking...UK Store ranking...

I’d like to thank everyone who has grabbed a copy of Not Famous! I look forward to your reviews! This has been a long journey and I appreciate everyone’s support!

Happy Pub Day for NOT FAMOUS!!!

My entire journey of writing my novel, Not Famous, has led to this moment. Today is Publication Day, (Pub Day for short)… My novel is officially released out there into the world. It’s exciting and scary.

It’s still early, but so far it’s a modestly promising start… There were a handful of Kindle edition preorders, and some sales today already. In the UK Kindle Store Not Famous ranked at least as high as 24,601 overall. Perhaps that’s nothing to brag about. Or, maybe it is? All I know is that this is my first novel, and a handful of people have already bought copies… so, that’s exciting! I know it’s going to take a lot of hard work to get Not Famous in the hands of more readers, but I’m gonna try my best to make it happen!

Well, it’s time to do what I can to reach potential readers!

Click here to get Not Famous, available exclusively on Amazon in paperback and Kindle!

Author Copies of NOT FAMOUS

Boy… how to explain what it felt like when I opened up the box that was delivered to my house find my author copies of Not Famous.

I know I must sound like a broken record… but after more than seven years of working on this novel, it’s something else to see the end product… to hold it in my hands… to flip through and see all the thousands of words… the story I created as a tangible object.

I do hope that people (lots of them) read this novel, but in many ways, the feeling of accomplishment from holding my novel in my hands will be hard to beat!

Click here to get Not Famous on Amazon!

One Week Left

That’s right… one week left before the launch of Not Famous. It’s hard to believe that after all this time my novel will be published.

Wow. That’s weird.

There’s always been a part of me that wondered if I’d ever even finish my novel, let alone publish it. I don’t doubt that a lot of people aspire to write a novel but never do. Others start and never finish…. Other churn out multiple novels a year… boy, those people annoy me!

But, seriously, whether I sell one book, a hundred, or a thousand, the biggest accomplishment for me was taking this story that was in my head, writing it down, finessing it and crafting it into its final form. I believed I had a story worth telling, and hopefully others find it worth reading.

I’d like to thank everyone who helped me along the way in making Not Famous a reality. My sisters for letting me pick their brains… my beta readers for taking the time to read early drafts and provide me with valuable insight… Jon Rance, for all his advice and encouragement…. it’s been a long journey!

Not Famous will be available for pre-order this weekend, and available on January 15, 2019.

Some Thoughts on my Forthcoming Novel ‘Not Famous’

It’s gonna be a busy few weeks, getting ready for the launch, and an even busier time trying to get people to read Not Famous. But, I’ve been thinking about a bunch of things, and thought I’d share them.

I took me seven years to finish the first draft of my novel. Most of that time was honestly not spent working on it, but that long period of time from start to completion gave me plenty of opportunities to consider my characters, their back stories, and their strengths and weaknesses. The main character, who is actually named Nick (in honor of Hornby) starts off at a pretty low point in his life. The novel opens the morning after a one-night-stand he regrets immediately. Months earlier, a marriage proposal to his long-time girlfriend blew up in his face, and he hasn’t taken very well to the single-life. He’s a relationship guy, and decides it’s time to get out of his rut. He’s got a lot of room to grow and I think women might actually find him an interesting compassionate person to read. The one benefit to the one-night-stand is that gives him the confidence to pursue a relationship with a local singer-songwriter, who is intent on becoming self-sufficient on her music. She is easily the most complex character of the book, because, as I mentioned in a previous blog post, her personal and professional journey is what drives the story, and developing her quirks and backstory is what I spent the most time on. And now, there is now less than a month to go before my novel is “out there.” It’s scary and exciting at the same time. I hope those who read it find their story entertaining. Though, I’ve recently been thinking about the following quote:

“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” ― Toni Morrison

This quote is so spot on because that is exactly what Not Famous is.

As anyone who knows me is aware, I like the novels of Nick Hornby, Jonathan Tropper, and others often lumped together in a genre called “lad-lit.” Between these two authors I would consider my favorites, they’ve not been churning out novels as quickly as I’d like… Nick Hornby’s most recent novel, Funny Girl, wasn’t my favorite. His prior novel, Juliet Naked, came out in 2009. Jonathan Tropper’s last novel One Last Thing Before I Go was also not my favorite of his work, but his previous novel, This is Where I Leave You, which I loved, is also nearly a decade old.

Of course, I’ve discovered other authors in the genre (Matthew Norman, Jon Rance, Mike Gayle, Matt Dunn, etc.) and that’s been awesome… to know that there’s others out there writing the kinds of books I want to read… and that’s all been an important part of my journey to writing (and finishing) the book I wanted to write… a novel I wanted to read that hadn’t been written yet

Jonathan Franzen’s 10 Rules for Novelists

I noticed a lot of buzz on Twitter about Jonathan Franzen’s list “10 Rules
for Novelists” over at LitHub.
I read it a couple times and decided I should blog about it. That’s where I kind of ran into trouble. I’m not even sure how to respond to all of them… and believe me, I took issue with quite a few things… So, I’m just going to talk about one:

4. Write in third person unless a really distinctive first-person voice offers itself irresistibly.

Why are people so in love with the third person when it comes to novels? Does an omnipotent narrator really enhance the reading experience? My novel is in the first person present tense. I made the decision to write it that way because, for starters, most lad-lit I’ve read seems to be written that way. Why, because the genre begs for an introspective male point of view. What better way to do that than by writing in the first person. For me, reading other books written that way, it’s like being inside the main character’s head. Your put in their world from their perspective. Third person keeps you as a spectator. It may allow you to get insight into the thoughts and motivations of other characters, but that’s not how we experience life, now, is it?

I have nothing against third person perspective, but I think if you really want to get absorbed in the story, first person is the way to go. I don’t get why Franzen thinks first person is the exception, not the rule… sure, he’s sold a few books, and must know a few things about writing novels… but I can’t be the only person who thinks first person is better.

New Website

With the release of my novel Not Famous a mere two and a half months away, I decided it was time to upgrade my website. The website I had, though it worked, just wasn’t cutting it for me anymore.

I wasn’t sure where to go that was in my budget, but I looked at both Wix and Squarespace as two DIY options that result in professional looking websites. After testing both interfaces, I settled on Squarespace and come up with this site in basically a couple of days. Some new content is here, including expanded details on Not Famous, including a cast of characters page and a book FAQ—both of which I encourage you to check out.

Overall, I’m very happy with this new site and hope to add even more content leading up to my book launch.


The Book Cover Evolution of ‘Not Famous’

Almost as long as I was writing Not Famous I was thinking about its cover. I tried coming up with my own and that really didn’t work out so well. In fact, those cover concepts were so embarrassing I recently deleted them.

Because of that experience I decided that a photographic cover was probably the way to go. I knew this was a departure from the types of covers you usually expect from lad lit novels, but at the time I was convinced that an illustrated cover just wasn’t going to work.

So, I searched for a good photo. I scoured stock image sites up and down, left and right, trying to find the best photo. One thing I always knew was that the cover would feature Alli Conwell. Not Famous is her story, and in my mind, she was the one to be featured on the cover.

Eventually, I found the perfect photo. I then hired someone to do a simple cover with the photo, and after a lot of back and forth on fonts, this is the cover that I picked:




I loved this cover. It was simply stated, and I felt the tone matched the book fairly well. It was a gorgeous cover and it inspired me to keep at the writing. Yes, the book cover was done before the first draft. I was thinking ahead. I didn’t want to worry about the cover after the book was done, after all.

Anyway… three years later I was still set on this cover. That was, until, I finished the first draft of Not Famous and started thinking about marketing. Not Famous is a lad lit novel, and lad lit, according to Wikipedia “is a fictional genre of male-authored novels about young men and their emotional and personal lives, often characterized by a confessional and humorous writing style.” During the writing and editing process I struggled with the humor aspect, because I hadn’t written the book with the intention of making people laugh out loud. But, to meet the expectations of the genre I realized I had to “funny-up” some dialogue and situations for the readers’ benefit. Truth be told, I think those humorous bits helped the story.

But then I had another problem. Suddenly, the cover I loved… well… it just seemed like the wrong look for the book.

I convinced myself to give the cover more thought. I reviewed the covers of other lad lit authors and found that for the most part they were illustrated… and if a book’s cover is important to actually selling the book (spoiler alert: they are) then I needed a cover that was more genre appropriate… if I wanted to sell books—which I do.

So, I told my designer to rethink the cover. The new cover would have to feature both Nick and Alli Conwell on it, and make sure it’s clear that Alli is a musician, and scream “lad lit.”

After a couple of days, this is what I got:




This couldn’t have been more different from the previous cover, but I loved it too. It was genre appropriate. It was bold, and colorful. And I loved how the spotlights come from the word “famous.”

I still loved the photographic cover though. I considered using both… having the photographic cover for the US version of the book, and having the illustrated cover for the UK, Australia, and other areas where lad lit has a wider audience. I was advised against that idea by the indispensable Jon Rance, and ultimately decided I had to pick one. If you’re reading this, you know which one I chose.

Click here to be the first to know when Not Famous is available for pre-order.