When I signed my contract for my first novel, the publishing date seemed so far away. That was in May of 2007. The release was set for October 2008. Why do these things take so long? But now August is spinning away and soon it will be September. October 28th looms on my calendar. And now there is so much to do.
When you are a first-timer like me, you get the standard treatment. That is, the in-house publicist sends ARCs or Advanced Reader Copies to the usual suspects to get reviewed. He will book you in a few bookstores. I would not get a "tour." Since I am a card-carrying member of the Sisters in Crime and we all talk a lot online, I was forewarned so I was forearmed. What I didn't know but soon learned, is that the more you know the more you can ask for. No, they weren't going to print me bookmarks or postcards, but the library marketing person would mail out my postcard to 3000 library contacts. If I wanted more bookstore signings, my publicist would book them if I asked. But not too many for a newbie. No one will come out for a newbie. And hence the reason for this post.
Now I usually don't get personal in these posts and talk too much about publishing because, quite honestly, I find those kinds of blogs tiresome. But this is my blog, dammit, and today I'm going to rant.
I think creative people live in a constant state of flux. No wonder many of them are mad or dirven mad by the process. One day you are spectacular. Your writing is the best there is and you are going to be sooo successful. But the next day can easily see you in a pit of despair. No one will ever read this. No one will ever buy this. Your first book will be your last. And on and on.
Right now I'm sort of inbetween. Granted, it's a bit overwhelming right now. There is a lot of publicity to plan and when you are essentially doing it on your own and balancing a day job and trying to write the next one, it can be a little daunting.
Will they love me or hate me? Only time will tell. But I'm a half-empty sort of person. If I come into something not expecting much, then any little thing becomes a bonus. For instance, in my few bookstore signings, I'll be lucky to have anyone besides the employees show up. So if three people show--even if they're just there to come in out of the rain--I'll consider it a success.
My goal, of course, is to sell through my advance, that is, sell enough books to cover the advance the publisher paid me (and the advance is an advance on royalties, like a loan. The publisher doesn't actually buy your book. It's more like leasing. They print it and take care of getting a distributor. And in the beginning, they advance you money betting that they will earn it back.) Not only would that mean that I would start to receive royalties but it would be a clear sign to St. Martin's that this book is worthy, that this author deserves a little more. That there will indeed be a next book. I've been told there will be 4500 copies printed as a first run. Yes, it's small but I'm not complaining. Less to sell, right? (Half-empty). But 4500 is still a lot of books. I don't know 4500 people, so I can't fall back on "if all of my friends buy a copy..."
So the circus begins. It's time to get the tiny car with all the clowns gassed up and ready to go. I will be jumping through hoops. Flaming ones. I will be in the (small) center ring. With a whip (heh, heh). So let's all look forward to October 28th with a big smile now.