Denver author Ryan Moehring's Fried Twinkie Manifesto makes the Amazon top ten

Categories: Books

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Ryan Moehring, cracking himself up.
The Fried Twinkie Manifesto was never expected to hit the big-time. Its author, Denver local Ryan Moehring, wrote it in his spare time (concurrently holding down a day-job as a government employee), found an editor on Craigslist, got a friend to design the cover and put up the cash to publish it himself. It was just something he wanted to do. And while it's safe to say that Moehring's book has yet to find success beyond his wildest dreams or anything, it's definitely exceeding his most modest expectations; last week, The Fried Twinkie Manifesto cracked Amazon.com's Top Ten Humor Essays. And it's among some prestigious company.

Moehring can click off the names: "Yeah, Matthew Inman from The Oatmeal, Jeff Dunham, I think Tina Fey is in there somewhere. If we ever looked at the best-seller list, they would of course be much higher than me, but it's pretty cool."

Published in July of last year, the book, a collection of essays and memoirs about Moehring's weird, weed-addled Nebraska youth (it takes its title from Moehring's experiences as a carnie at the state fair), has been quietly gaining momentum via the miracle of digital publishing; it's helped, Moehring says, that people can shell out $5 to buy it on Kindle instead of $15 for a hard-copy.

But he also attributes the success at least in part to the struggling state of conventional publishing. "I would venture to say that, five years ago, I would have had no chance of getting on any list," he says, noting that Amazon's rating algorithm accounts not just for sales figures, but also for the number of user-reviews and how favorable they are (Fried Twinkie's reviews have been very favorable). "So I think it's interesting if you look at that list that it's a mix of really famous people and just, like, nobodies. I think a lot of people would look and say, like, 'Oh, The Oatmeal, that's cool,' or 'Tina Fey, that's cool.' But nobody's going to say, 'Oh, Ryan Moehring, awesome.' So it's interesting to see how things are changing. The publishing industry is just really shaken up, I think, and it's giving indie authors a chance to get their name out there."

He is, however, modest: "It's probably not as big a deal as I'm making it."

In the meantime, while sales of Fried Twinkie remain brisk, Moehring plans to concentrate on promoting the book as much as possible -- at least until it's been out there a year. This summer, he says, he'll probably get started on a new book. "I'm batting around a couple of ideas. I work in wildlife conservation, so I'm constantly subjected to these images and stories of how we're killing species left and right. So I'm thinking about something to do with that. I have a lot to say about it, because I have a strong conservation ethic that never shuts up in my brain, but at the same time I don't want to doom and gloom people to death." At least it would be an entertaining way to go.

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