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May 4, 2004: The Biz

May 1, 2004

Yawn. It's been six weeks since my last journal entry, and not a whole lot has happened in terms of The Damsel in This Dress. The reason, of course is, everything's done now and it's just a matter of figuring the print run, printing the book, and distributing it (and then - according to my husband - raking in the millions [poor deluded fellow]).

Re: print runs. How many books are printed for distribution? I'm 90 days away from my release date, and I still don't know. A couple of weeks ago, I asked my editor what she thought the print run would be and she said to ask her again in a couple of months, so it appears the book isn't actually printed until a few weeks immediately prior to distribution. I don't know that for sure, but it looks that way. I have absolutely no idea what a "good" print run would be, so when she tells me what it is, I'm going to have to say, "Is that good?" As a first-timer, my expectations are conservative. The bottom line is, no matter the print run, it will, at long last, be A Real Book.

I did a little experiment. I took one of the cover flats I received from Avon, folded it carefully, and set it around a paperback book on my shelf that was just the right size. Then I put the book back on the shelf. There. A Real Book. Okay, A Real Pretend Book. Now I know exactly what it will look like on bookstore shelves. Silly of me, I know, but there you have it.

Did I say nothing happened in the last six weeks? Well, that wasn't entirely true. Something very incredible did happen which surprised and delighted me to my toes. Both the Rhapsody and Doubleday Book Clubs are using The Damsel in This Dress as a featured alternate this summer. My agent and editor were both thrilled because this is apparently a "rare" thing for a new contemporary author, and makes the book available as a hardcover. To me, this is both unexpected and awesome - my first book, in hardcover. Wowee-zowie. I immediately went right out and joined those book clubs so I could see the brochure when it comes out - and put it in my keepsake file. Silly of me, I know, but there you have it.

Another thing that happened this month, which is not so exciting, is I went to the eye doc to get a new prescription for my reading glasses (I never needed glasses at all until I turned 40). My prescription seemed okay, but things were getting a little fuzzy. My eye doc confirmed the prescription hadn't changed much, but the reason for the fuzziness is that I've got cataracts. Now, when he said to me, "You have cataracts," I came this close to saying, "No, I have Rincoln Continental," but refrained (go ahead, read it again, you'll get it).

I'm not happy about the cataracts, but I know surgery these days is no big deal. At first, however, I couldn't help but remember back to when my grandmother developed cataracts, the surgery she had, and the horrible glasses she had to wear - and I immediately felt rather old. And decrepit. And falling apart. One foot in the grave, as it were.

So, I'm thinking, I've already got degenerative arthritis, and now I've got cataracts. Well, hell. You know, it's not so much the cataracts themselves, but what they represent. Time passes. It keeps passing. There simply is no "moment in time" where you can drive in a golden spike and say, There. I'm keeping this. Staking my claim to time. I like it here and I'm staying. But no. Time passes and we are pulled along in its wake. Usually, we do this without thinking, but every now and then, something happens to snap us into awareness that nothing is permanent. I don't mind growing older, I just didn't want to do it quite so young.

Damsel hits the shelves on July 27th - that's less than 90 days away. The irony is, on July 27th, I'll be in the air, flying down to Dallas for the RWA National Conference. The literacy book signing is on the 28th, so I will have been a published author for exactly one day. If you go to National, please look for me and say hello (I'll be the really old one with the arthritis and the cataracts, gumming my food in the corner).

Since it's only 90 days until The Big Day, I've been checking out online bookstores to see who's carrying my book and if any reviews have popped up yet (it's too soon for that, but I have to have something to carry me through the next 90 days without going nuts). Silly of me, I know, but there you have it.

I was pleased to discover that, along with the Rhapsody and Doubleday book clubs and several small, independent onlines that will offer the book, it's listed at the following:

  • Amazon
  • Amazon Canada
  • Amazon U.K.
  • Barnes and Noble
  • Blackwell (in London)
  • Books A Million
  • Borders
  • Wal-Mart
  • Waldenbooks
  • Powells...
and the University of Washington Bookstore (which is cool, because they never used to carry romance novels). It's even on e-Bay already, and hasn't even hit the shelves yet! That is bizarre. I also found the book at several European sites, and even though the book is in English, the sites were not, which was really interesting to see.

I guess the best advice I can give unpubbed writers at this point is something I'm learning myself - have patience. I keep running into people who say, "Hey, is that book out yet?" and I say, "Nope, July 27th," and they say, "Wow, it sure takes a long time for a book to get published," and I say, "Yep, sure does," and we nod and smile because it takes a long time for a book to get published and there's nothing anybody can do about it.

It's May so, as the saying goes, take time to stop and smell the flowers. And when you do, think of the people you love who love you. Time passes. Grab a moment for yourself and savor it.

-- Marianne


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