I know, I know. Don’t everyone get up at once.
I’ve had a very busy winter, people, what with getting my little business off the ground (why yes, I am thriving, thank you for asking!) and working on various other projects (hint: novel). I’m sad to say that my poor little website has been sorely neglected as a result.
Plus – I hate to say it – I’m sorta kinda…happy these days. Which is great for me, but sucky for you, because I tend to be much funnier and more prolific when I have something to bitch about. Face it. No one logs onto this site to watch me wax poetic about how fulfilled I am. I know you better than you think I do. You want the rage. You want the angst. You want the snark.
And I don’t blame you.
To make matters worse, in my bliss of contentment, an important milestone slipped by almost entirely unnoticed. As of January 7, 2008, Singular Existence has been on the market for one year.
A whole year!
Back when this whole book idea was little more than a crazy pipe dream, I always imagined what it would be like to be a published author. But my imaginings only went so far - taking me, maybe, a couple of weeks into publication – before I got bored and went off to fantasize about something else.
The reality is, being an “author” is a LOT of work.
I’m not talking about the fun stuff – the interviews, the book signings (which are usually fun, but not always; see below), the compulsive self-Googling to see who’s talking about me on the intertubes this week. I’m talking about the day to day stuff – keeping up to date with “singles” news; writing letters to the editor and comments on blogs and websites to get my name out there; keeping tabs on the competition; pitching essays and articles to capitalize on my "platform." That’s the really hard work of being an author.
But, on the whole, this has been a pretty amazing experience and probably the most exciting and meaningful thing I’ve done in my life. Trust me when I tell you, there is nothing – nothing – more gratifying than seeing your mom’s proud face in the audience at a crowded reading, getting a heartfelt email from a fan who’s been touched by something you’ve written, or walking into a coffee shop and seeing a total stranger sitting there reading your book! Your book! In Starbucks! I even got to speak to a Women’s Studies seminar at Boston University last year and almost burst into tears when the entire class lined up after my talk to get their copies signed.
Honestly. You can’t beat that.
So...I’m sure you’re dying to ask the question that’s on everyone’s mind.
Go ahead. Ask. I don't mind.
How’s the book doing?
Actually I DO mind. I mind a lot.
Don’t ever ask an author how the book is doing. Please. For a couple of reasons.
First of all, it’s kind of obnoxious. Do I ask you how much money you make? No. Same principle. Book sales translate into royalties, which translate into income, which translates into "None of your freaking business, Mr. Nosy McCurious."
Second of all, it’s a very sensitive subject. If the book is doing well, I don’t want to brag. If the book isn’t doing well, I don’t want to admit it. At best, all you'll get from me is a polite smile and a vague, "Fine, thank you," before I turn tail and flee. So why bother?
And, third of all, there’s no really good way to answer the question.
How “well” a book is doing depends on a lot of things, and the number of copies sold is only one factor. Say a book has sold 5,000 copies. In a nation of 300 million people, that may not seem like a lot, but trust me when I tell you – Author A can sell 5,000 copies of a print run of 7,500, and Author B can sell 5,000 copies of a print run of 50,000, and guess who the publisher is going to be happier with? Well, they probably won’t be very happy with either – they’d rather have both authors sell 50,000 copies each, but that’s beside the point. In publishing, everything is very relative. Not to mention very fluid. Even the term "copies sold" is misleading. Barnes & Noble might order 50,000 copies of a book, but Barnes & Noble can ship them right back if they don't move off the shelf quickly enough. That's why real sales stats are so hard to pin down - it takes a long time to get an accurate number, and I really don’t appreciate all those disbelieving looks when I tell you I honestly don’t know how many copies have sold.
Sheesh! I hear you grumble. What the heck do you want from me, anyway?
I'm glad you asked!
If I have a signing or event in your neighborhood, go to it. I am not kidding. The only thing more humiliating than sitting alone in a bookstore in a strange city behind a big pile of un-bought books is sitting alone in a bookstore in a strange city when your friends live right around the corner and didn't bother to come! At my last appearance, I sold exactly one book - to a lady who didn't even come for my signing but saw me sitting there in tears and felt sorry for me. The only other person who talked to me that afternoon was a homeless guy who was just hanging out in the store. I was so grateful to have someone to talk to I gave him a free fridge magnet and realized only belatedly he probably didn't have a fridge to stick it on.
If you haven’t gone to Amazon.com to write a review of Singular Existence, what the hell are you waiting for? Some jerk gave me a one star review and said it was the worst book she had ever read! Someone go bury that bitch, will you?
Stop asking me for free books. Seriously. If I can’t depend on my friends and family to shell out a measly $12.95 for one copy of my book, how the hell can I expect total strangers to? Besides, it’s not like I have this flowering book tree growing in my back yard. I received from my publisher a very small number of copies, which I keep under lock and key in a filing cabinet in my office, to distribute for promotional purposes. You know what I use them for? PROMOTIONAL PURPOSES. You know who gets them? Reporters. Reviewers. Radio show hosts. Famous people with lots of influential friends. My hairdresser. In short - people who do stuff for me and/or make me look good. That’s it.
Don’t send me emails about other books that have been published and say, “This one is just like yours!” Why would I want to hear something like that? The other book might very well suck, in which case I will be insulted. Or, even worse, the other book might be better than mine, in which case I will plunge into deep, deep despair and stop writing entirely, and it will be all your fault. Of course there are going to be similar titles out there from time to time - there are only three original ideas in the entire world, and, trust me, they've all been done to death - but if, say, a washed-up reality show contestant publishes a book that bears a vague similarity to mine and happens to get a lot of publicity as a result of her famewhoredom, I don’t want to hear about it. Don't send me email alerts every time she pops up on the Today show or gets profiled in USA Today. I'm sure she gives a bang-up interview. I don't need a play-by-play.
And please, for the love of all that is good and holy, stop telling me to send my book to Oprah! I'm flattered, really, that you think it's Oprah-worthy. But 100,000 books are published in this country each year, and EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM gets sent to Oprah. She doesn't have time to read them all! Not even mine, even though I am sure she'd thoroughly enjoy it. Besides, I've already sent it, and I'm still waiting.
Oh, and one more thing:
For God's sake, whatever you do -
Don't ask me when the next one's coming out. I might have to kill you.
And that, my friends, would not be good for sales.