Monday, October 25, 2010

Every Day, Every Day, Every Day...
Every Day I Wrote The Book

Hello my dear friends -

Before anybody freaks out... if you're looking for my Lost series finale analysis, you can find it by clicking here. You didn't think I'd have the nerve to try and peddle my book without finishing The Mother of All Posts first, did you?

Even though it has absolutely nothing to do with Lost, I decided to share a little bit about my book, Zero-Sum Game, here on Long Live Locke because: 1) finishing its manuscript, and then going through several rounds of editing that manuscript, and then working on pre-publication marketing and PR efforts for the book were some of the main reasons why my final Lost post was so late, and I didn't want you guys to think I was making all that stuff up, and 2) I have gotten a ton of questions about the book's subject, but haven't been in the position to be able to share many details until now.

First things first, though. As always, I've got to keep it real and tell you up front that I'm pretty sure 80% of you would not have much interest in my book if you weren't already familiar with its author. (Can you see why I had no business working for The Man? I'm not very good at sales.) There is a chance, however, that you might like it... or that you may know somebody else who would dig it... so if you would like to help me continue my writing career/avoid returning to Corporate America, read on.

What is Zero-Sum Game about?

On September 1, 2006, I started working at the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT). I wasn't a trader or anything, I was the Managing Director of Marketing. CBOT is a futures exchange (like in the '80s Eddie Murphy/Dan Aykroyd movie Trading Places), and the contracts traded there affect all of our lives on a daily basis. The book explains why that is.

During my fifth week on the job, I was called into a secret meeting along with a small number of other senior managers. Our CEO told us that the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) -- CBOT's main rival for over 100 years -- had made an $8 billion offer to buy the company, and we needed to work on the merger announcement documents over the next 11 days before the news was made public. Five months later, a small energy exchange in Atlanta came out of nowhere and offered $1 billion more for CBOT, thereby upending our planned merger with CME... and kicking off an absolutely crazy bidding war. All of the above is what my book is about. And, as regular LLL reader "Garry UK" pointed out after reading the Chapter 1 preview on Amazon, I mention Ferris Bueller's Day Off on the second page. You can rest assured that my love of pop culture is sprinkled throughout the rest of the story as well. This is NOT a boring business book!

And yes, I am a "character" in it, for lack of a better term. It was written from my first-person perspective, and several of my co-workers, as well as executives in the futures industry and banking industry at large, make an appearance. Since it's a true story and real people are in the book, I had to keep things under wraps for a while. No one I worked with in 2006/2007 knew I was doing this until I called them on February 4, 2010. (That was the date of the Lost Season 6 premiere, by the way -- I couldn't stand to have the guilt hanging over my head any longer and wanted to have the weight of these calls off of my shoulders before my premiere party that evening.)

Who would want to read Zero-Sum Game?

Besides my immediate family members, anyone who has read and enjoyed any of the following books will most likely be interested in Zero-Sum Game: Liar's Poker, Barbarians at the Gate, When Genius Failed, Too Big to Fail... are you seeing a pattern? All of these books are "nonfiction narratives" (a term I learned during this process) that are set in the financial services industry. Now, I'm not trying to say that my book is as good as any of those -- they were all bestsellers written by brilliant journalists -- but after receiving positive feedback from a lot of hardcore investors, traders, and professors, I feel very confident in saying that the story I have to offer is comparably entertaining and informative. (I personally think it's also a lot funnier, if I may be so bold.)

What might convince a Long Live Locke reader to pick up a copy of Zero-Sum Game if they would otherwise never want to read anything even remotely associated with the financial services industry?

All right, here it goes: I'm going to try and be a saleswoman!

  • Although you may have never met me in real life, you do, in fact, know me. The longer you've been reading this site, the better you know me. As I mentioned earlier, the book is written from my point of view and it's about my year at the Chicago Board of Trade during a very tumultuous bidding war, so it might be interesting for you to read about who I worked with, conversations I had, things I experienced, etc.
  • To the above point, part of the book takes place during Season 3 of Lost, so you can also marvel at how in the hell I was able to still write my posts about the show while chaos was erupting all around me at work!
  • Like it does in Lost, Australia plays a big role in Zero-Sum Game. Dun-dun-dunnnnnn!
  • What's more, there is a powerful character who doesn't appear until the second-to-last chapter (Jacob, anyone?).
  • NEW POINT (added in a few hours after I originally published this post): Shout-out to LLL reader Heidi R, who observed that the CBOT logo (above right) totally looks like the Dharma logo! Another dun-dun-dunnnnn!
  • Although the story is told in my voice, my writing in the book is a little more formal than what you're used to in this blog. That being said, there are a few conventions I carried over from Long Live Locke, and -- as I mentioned above -- I did my best to infuse a bit of pop culture into the story whenever possible.
  • My mom was my "test reader" to see if all of the educational parts made sense to someone outside of the financial services industry. While she said that she did have to read some sections over a few times, she was surprised by how much she grew to like certain characters (and dislike others), as well as how much she got into the story of the bidding war, even though she already knew how it ended.
  • I would say that Chapters 1 - 3 are the "heaviest," because I had to front-load explanations about what futures exchanges do and how futures contract work. But those same chapters also include some of my favorite stories in the entire book, so there's a healthy mix of education and pure entertainment. Once Chapter 4 hits, almost all of the educational content has been covered and the true drama begins. 70% of the book is story, 30% is educational. But since when did Lost fans NOT like to learn new things?
  • You are all collectively thanked in the acknowledgments. There are some other names you might recognize in that section, too...

If someone wasn't interested in buying a copy of the book but still wanted to help, what could they do?

As I made clear at the beginning of this post, I realize that Zero-Sum Game might not be every Long Live Locke reader's cup of tea. The good news is that there are several things you could do -- that cost nothing -- to support the book and in turn help me avoid returning to The Man. When you are not a cast member of a reality TV show, a politician, or an already famous journalist, it's quite an uphill battle to promote your book. So I would truly, truly appreciate if you could do any of the following:
  • Think of friends, acquaintances or family members who would be into this sort of story. They'd be people who either work in the financial services industry, watch CNBC all the time, read the Wall Street Journal/Financial Times/BusinessWeek/Fortune/Forbes/etc., enjoy books like Liar's Poker or the others I mentioned above, or are really into investing/trading/the markets. Then pass them the Amazon link and/or the book's title (it is already in bookstores across the US and Canada), along with a note about how cool the author is. Hee hee.
  • Become a fan of Zero-Sum Game on Facebook
  • Share the Fan Page link -- -- on your Facebook wall.
  • Follow Zero-Sum Game on Twitter: @ZSGame
  • Follow me on Twitter: @erikaolson
  • Visit the book's web site: for updates
  • Retweet / repost any messages I send out about the book.
  • Leave me a message through the blog/Facebook/Twitter/email if you have a connection to someone in the media who might be interested in covering the book. I do have a PR firm helping me out for the next few months and we have most of our bases covered, but personal referrals are still critical in helping Zero-Sum Game get press attention.

Will there be autographed copies for sale?

Unfortunately I don't have the logistical set-up needed to be able to sell books on my own, sign them, and then ship them out. I will, however, personalize and mail out bookplates to anyone who bought the book -- details on how to get one are here.

Will you be going on a book tour?

If there's anything I learned during this process, it's that book tours don't really sell books and usually cost more money than they bring in. (I actually learned MUCH more than that, but you get my point.) Further, most publishers don't pay for that sort of thing if you're not already a bestselling author or member of the Jersey Shore cast. So as of right now I'm assuming I will only have signings in Chicago and New York, as I already know I'll be in both of those cities.

The Facebook fan page, the @ZSGame twitter feed, and the book's web site -- -- will be the best places to check for updates on media appearances and signings over the next few months.

Will there be an electronic version of Zero-Sum Game available (for Kindle, iPad, etc)?

Yes! It's now available in eBook version on all major online book-selling sites.

Will the book be sold outside of the US and Canada?

Yes. It's available on most country-specific Amazon sites outside of the US and Canada.

How do I buy the book in the United States or Canada?

Zero-Sum Game is available in bookstores, and online it is available on all major book-selling sites.

Here are a few:

Amazon (Amazon has the most up-to-date information about the book, including descriptions, jacket quotes, etc.)


Barnes and Noble

And here is a link for my Canadian friends:

Amazon Canada

How did you get this book published? Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

The process I went through will be detailed across three blog posts on my personal site, "According to e":

Part 1: From idea to agent
Part 2: From agent to contract (still in the works)
Part 3: From contract to publication (still in the works)

I think my fellow writers will find a ton of valuable information in those posts -- so stay tuned, I'll be working on them soon now that my Lost finale post is complete.


I think that covers everything!

Thanks again for your patience and support during what has been quite a wild ride.

I have one last favor to ask of you: WISH ME LUCK!

- e


Unknown said...

I look forward to reading your book AND promoting it to everyone I know. I've been reading your blogs for a few years, and it does feel like I know you. You are so entertaining, funny, and intelligent! Does it sound creepy if I say I'm so proud of you? Well, I am, so there! Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on your book! I am definitely going to buy it when it becomes available here (I live in Finland) even though I'm not really interested in the subject. But you are such a good writer that I'm sure it'll be interesting.
I read the first few pages on Amazon and I liked it. I've been reading your blog for years and as I was reading the first pages of your book, I was so happy for you that I was in tears. Congratulations again and thank you for your amazing blog! I'll now go read your final Lost post.

Kelly, UK said...

Hey e,
I just checked on and it says the book will be released on 17th November. You've convinced me to buy a book that normally I wouldn't look twice at. I am sure I will learn a lot while also being entertained. Looking forward to it :)

Impheatus said...

Congrats e!
I wish you good luck but it isn't needed as you are a great writer, a great woman and dare I say a great friend (Don't you think my friends are only online friends and that I'm an internet nerd but I really feel connected to you after reading all your posts since 2 years ago).
So good luck, I wish you a lot of success and prosperity!

David said...

I look forward to reading your book after following your LOST updates for so long! I work in Chicago/New York in Capital Markets so this should be a perfect read for me. I'll spread the word!

Valerie Naas said...

Congratulations on your book. I LOVE how the CBOT logo looks like a Dharma logo.... Hmmmm....

Dee said...

Thanks for all of your time and entertaining posts over the years, e, and I truly enjoyed them. I am NOT at all happy, and will never watch this show again, but have enjoyed you, none-the-less.

A few reasons out of my thousands, why I HATED IT really are no answers to anything. It was a disgrace what they did to locke's character..I WISH they had been dead all along, at least that would have been explainable. Anything would have been better than this. Its like they wrote a book they had no conclusion for, so they just wrapped EVERYTHING up with a "and they lived happily ever after""".....grrrrrrr...I am angry all over again. Most of all, they stole from me years of rewatching, because their is no point, nothing gets resolved, and I do not believe for a second that this is where they intended to go. Well, I will just wrap it up and say I am clearly in the HATED camp.

Unknown said...

Hello Erika,
I so plan on reading your book. I have many interests. And you have written about one of them. I came to Chicago for adventure and found so many diverse people here that it'll be hard for me to leave. You have an interesting story to tell and I can't wait to read it. So good luck in all your futures.

Sarah UK said...

I've loved your posts for years and just wanted to say thank you! This has probably been pointed out a fair few times before but the Chicago Board of Trade logo looks like a Dharma logo to me!

hatch-man said...

Hey e!

Your book sounds interesting, even though I know nothing about money (except for its aversion to being in my possession)

One quick question: If I hold my finger over the pictures, will I get cutesy messages?

Tarah said...

I started here as a LOST fan several years ago. I hopped over to according-to-E then and realized you lived downtown Chicago and seemed to be a very interesting person. I have family in downtown Chicago so I am interested in culture/goings on there. My uncle works at the Merc, and my aunt was CBOT before she retired. My sister now works for a futures exchange company downtown. SO, I can't wait to read your book and have already sent them all links promoting it. In fact, my sister has already bought a copy on Amazon. And, I told my local library to order it too. Can't wait to read it! And am hoping that it will enlighten me on futures trading since I generally have no idea how to explain what it is my sister does. :)

Wanders said...

This is exactly the kind of book the readers of my "Mary Worth and Me" blog demand! I've got the link up, and am waiting for my copy.

Imani said...

Watching Lost, I was exposed to lots of things I wouldn't have normally even thought about: Roman and Greek gods, Kierkegaard, etc. And while I did read Barbarians at the Gate years ago, I haven't read anything like that in years. This is a fitting continuation of my Lost obsession, and I am more than happy to buy and read e's book and learn about something outside of my world.

I left corporate America in 2003 for my family's business - I would do anything to help someone stay out of that rat race. Add my congratulations to the growing pile this board. One day I may comment on your epic finale post, it - like The End - will take some time to digest.

GARRY UK said...


Got everything metaphorically crossed for you.

I hope it will be a big success, so that then you can go on to write some fiction....maybe even some science fiction?

Don't know why you put yourself down as a saleswoman, you did a great job convincing me about the END of LOST and also from what you have written on here, a book that I wouldn't even think once about reading is going to be making it's way to my house by the end of November.



P.S. Thanks for the mention on the blogg, made me feel proud :-)

Carla Hays said...

Good luck, Erika! Shared it on FB! Will order it on Amazon. Can't wait to read it!


shels77 said...

Sharing on FB & I already ordered my copy from, it arrived the other day & I plan to start reading it in December when school ends. I flipped through it & I'm interested to learn something new. And, that symbol on the building does look an awful lot like the DHARMA symbol, pretty crazy!

Amber said...

I just caught up on my RSS feed for the past couple of months and came across this post. I am thrilled to hear about the content of your book for several reasons:
1. Yay, you!
2. I currently copyright for a forex trading company and knew nothing of the industry when I started, so the content will knock on a somewhat familiar door for me &
3. Yay, you!

Needless to say, I think your book will be right up my alley. Can't wait to pick it up!

Unknown said...

Your final LOST was well worth the wait, ESPECIALLY after reading your new book. I just finished it last night... wow, you are such a good writer. The story was excellent, thought provoking, extremely funny in places. Well done! I look forward to your next book as I suspect the publishing world is banging down your door.

GARRY UK said...


I just searched the book on Amazon UK and all had to put in the search criteria was "zero" and your book appeared as a suggestion.

And I wasn't on the book section, I was on the home page.

According to Amazon UK, it will be available on the 7th Dec 2010. Just in time for Christmas.

The other zero sum game is a book relating to Deep Space Nine (Star Trek), just out of interest.

I've pre-ordered it and when it arrives I will be taking a picture of it with me in my home village, to hopefully add it to other pictures of fans around the world.

Garry UK

Anonymous said...

That's really cool. I just finished Michael Lewis' "The Big Short". I've been reading your blog for a while but I had no idea your book was on a similar subject. I'll definitely pick it up.

Anonymous said...

First came your book, then Malcolm Gladwell came out with this: