In seventeen days, my first novel, Every Last Secret, is coming out. I’m a nervous wreck. I’ve spent twelve months wishing time would move faster to get to this point, but for the last month, I’ve grown more panicked.
I’ve guest-blogged, provided book give-aways, and answered email interviews for other blogs, as well as recording radio interviews and podcasts. My days have been filled with all these promotional activities, tweeting, posting on Facebook, and responding to comments on guest blogs or interviews. Then there’s my own blog and this group blog that must also be fed. The commotion level has risen dramatically as the days have ticked off on the calendar and my book launch has drawn ever closer. I’m starting to feel like a runner on a treadmill that’s going faster and faster, a runner who’s close to losing her footing.
This promotion craziness feels like too much for me to handle while at the same time feeling like too little to make a dent in the overwhelming indifference that any poor little first novel faces. I’ve learned that all it takes is 15,000 pre-orders and first-week bookstore sales to put a hardcover book on the coveted New York Times bestseller list. My book is unlikely to sell anywhere near 15,000 copies. In fact, I would be very surprised if it has a print run over 5-6,000. It is, after all, only a first book by an unknown author. Still, selling 15,000 books might be possible—a few books down the road. Except that those sales all have to be at the particular bookstores from which the NYT list is drawn—and no one’s quite sure which ones they are.
Add to that uneasiness, the flipside fact that those pre-orders and first-week bookstore sales will determine my publisher’s view of my book’s success, and I begin to hyperventilate. Oh, the sales that come after that first week will count—just not as much. Every time someone tells me she or he has pre-ordered the book, I want to kiss that lovely person, even if we’ve never met. When my younger sister emails me to set up a meeting so I can sign the ten books she’s pre-ordered to give as gifts, I’m suddenly sure I’ve never been as good a sister to her as I should have been.
I wake in the night, thinking of something I’ve forgotten to do. Sometimes I make a note of it. Sometimes I have to get up and turn on the computer and do it right then. It all depends on my panic level. Days go by in which I never set foot outside and hardly look out the window. Then suddenly I’m traveling on business, disrupting my flurry of book promotion and making me crazier with the fear that I AM NOT DOING ENOUGH!!
Back home with an overflowing email inbox, I feel like crying until my dog starts barking and roaring at an intruder. It’s the mail, I know, because even an armed rapist wouldn’t provoke the fury in my dog that the postman does. The only person he hates worse than the postman is the UPS driver. Two people essential to my sanity. The postman leaves a padded envelope. I rip it open to find two pristine copies of my book to be signed and sent for give-aways on big book-blog sites. I won’t get my own copies of these for weeks yet.
They are the most beautiful books I have ever seen. Hands down. I run my hand over the dust jacket and read the blurbs with which I am all-too-familiar. They read as if brand-new. I open my book and read the opening chapter as it was always meant to be read, beautifully typeset and printed on paper with excellent body and hand in the perfect typeface.
My breathing has slowed. I set the books down—where I can easily see their beautiful covers—and return to my squirrel cage of activities to prepare for my book’s launch. Somehow, though, the desperation isn’t there the way it was.
In seventeen days, Every Last Secret hits the bookshelves and my big launch event takes place at the main library branch in downtown Kansas City, Missouri. Two days later, it hits a national crowd at the Malice Domestic conference. No matter how I work, I won’t truly be ready. There will always be more I could have, should have done to promote my baby. But the idea I had three and a half years ago will be a reality in gorgeous hardcover, and that will be enough.
Every Last Secret can be pre-ordered in hardcover or ebook of various kinds here.