Photo by Keith Edleman.
Author Aaron Goldfarb isn’t doing too badly. His last book, How To Fail: A Self-Hurt Guide, has sold more than 100,000 copies. He contributes regularly to Esquire and chronicles his adventures as a beer aficionado on his website, The Vice Blog. The 34-year-old Oklahoma City native currently resides in the Big Apple, awaiting the release of his next project, SEAL Leadership: How To Run Your Organizations the Navy SEAL Way, co-written with ex-SEAL Mark McGinnis.
“I get random emails everyday from people who loved How To Fail. I get invited to all sorts of weird events and places, including West Point, to talk. It’s been taught at colleges. And now pretty much anybody will answer my emails or phone calls. It’s touched some lives and it’s opened a few doors for me. I’m happy. Also, breweries send me lots of free beer and booze in the mail, which is probably the best perk.”
The Putnam City North graduate came to New York City by way of Syracuse University, where he majored in filmmaking. Pursuing his dream of being a screenwriter, he optioned his first script the year after he graduated. It was never produced. Neither were the 16 that followed, though they were optioned, as well. He knew he was doing something right, and the bills were getting paid, but the Hollywood scene became a grind. Slaving over spec scripts that never saw the big screen. Endless meetings. Relentless schmoozing.
Enough was enough, Goldfarb decided, and he turned his attention to writing books. He chose well.
“Screenplays aren’t really writing to me. They’re a more technical art form where you first master format and then paint by numbers within that format. Obviously, books can be anything you can possibly imagine. They’re easier to get made – and get made the way you want them to. It takes dozens – if not hundreds – of people to get a movie made. It takes only zero to a few people to get a book published. It’s one of the great things about the current state of the book market. If you’ve got something to say, there’s no excuse – not lack of money, not lack of support, not anything – for not getting your art into the world.”
Goldfarb’s passions – writing and beer – collided in 2012 with his “30 Bars in 30 Days Tour.” It was then, and remains now, an unconventional approach to book promotion. He felt strongly that he wouldn’t find his audience at bookstore signings, and being a new author, he didn’t want to be that guy behind a card table with a stack of books and no line for signatures. So he packed up his stack and toured bars around the country to spread the word. He hit the mark and, in the process, found a lot more good beers than are available at the typical Barnes & Noble.
The final stop on his tour was, of course, Oklahoma City. The adventures of How To Fail’s hero, Stu, are nihilistic and flat out racy. Goldfarb was unsure of how Stu’s shenanigans and tomfoolery would be received in his hometown, a fairly conservative place. There was no need to worry. The stop at Oklahoma City’s Belle Island Brewery brought out a lot of people and sold a big chunk of his stack of books.