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February 01, 2006

Happy On-Sale Day, or Everything You Wanted to Know About A Book Launch But Didn't Care to Ask

Happy On-Sale Day, or Everything You Wanted to Know About a Book Launch But Didn't Care to Ask

by Susan, ecstatic that THE LONE STAR LONELY HEARTS CLUB is finally out!

Here's how the publishing fairy tale goes:

You're an aspiring author, dreaming of having your book in stores one day; people throwing confetti and sending up fireworks, lining up around the corner to have you sign their copies; being whisked by jets and limos to big cities everywhere so you can plug the title to the local media and greet your multitudes of readers with sunny smiles.

Wow, sounds really nice, huh?

So here's what really happens:

You work your ass off for years and years, writing novel after novel, not sure what exactly everyone means by "you're a very talented storyteller, you just need to find your voice."  Hello?--you think--I'm not an opera singer!  You spend half your income on postage and paper and returnable boxes, and your favorite sight is the mailman coming up the sidewalk.  You ignore social obligations because you must finish these last fifty pages and get the thing out to your amended list of agents! Ten years come and go, and your family starts to say, "What the hell is wrong with Susan?  Is she certifiable, or just our own special version of the crazy aunt in the attic?"  You read Writer's Digest and The Writer like they're treasure maps with the secret to publishing success buried somewhere in the instructive pieces...if only you could figure out the code.  You go through several B-list agents who never get you a deal, one of whom ends up sending you a bill for several hundred dollars, threatening to withhold all your precious rejection letters unless you pay up (how could this happen when you'd found her in Jeff Herman's annointed book?). 

Not exactly the stuff of dreams.

But, wait...the fat lady hasn't sung yet, she's only gargling.  Then, it happens!  You win a small press contest and your first book is published and sells out its first printing of 2,500 (costing you $6,000 for travel, conventions, and promo stuff you probably didn't need).  It goes into a second printing, and the small press puts out your second novel.  You meet lots of people on the mystery circuit, make some amazing friends, and feel like those brass rings are within easy reach. 

You sign with an agent who's done well for several other authors you know, and she gets you a three book deal with a major publishing house...and you're on your way!  You've got a pub date, you go through copyedits, cover art, galleys, seeing your book in your publisher's catalogue...all those fun steps that you'd only imagined.  So what if your book is a PBO (paperback original) aka MMP (mass market paperback) and most reviewers don't take notice?  Who cares if Oprah hasn't invited you on to discuss your aptitude for fictionalizing seemingly real-life events?  Or if you're still waiting for Katie Couric's invitation to Today, and Entertainment Weekly isn't doing that cover story as you'd hoped?  Phooey on all of them.

What matters is you're an author with a NY publisher that your friends and family have actually heard of.  Your book will be in stores across the U.S. and Canada--maybe even beyond--with a pretty cover, and you have a publicist who takes some of the trial of promotion out of your hands.

Fast forward a bit...your first big-house book does very well, and your second follows suit.  You've changed agents and have a new deal for the fourth and fifth books.  The third is about to hit the shelves.  You've made it, right?  Everything must be so very different.  The world is your oyster, and your door is surely being hammered by all those knocking, eh?

Well, there is increased knocking, more invitations to speak and sign, to lend your name to local charity events, to discuss your novels with book clubs.  Publishers Weekly actually knows you exist, and you've been around long enough to realize a less than stellar review anywhere isn't going to kill you (or your book).  You're bumped up in your publisher's catalogue, and your print run gets larger.  Sounds like pretty smooth sailing, huh?

Then you notice a glaring boo-boo on the ARCs that nobody caught.  The kind that will drive Finicky Reader to her computer, where she'll email to tell you, "Dear Author, there is a HUGE mistake on the front of your book.  What kind of nincompoop would miss an error like that?"  (The boo-boo happened to be the cover blurb for LONELY HEARTS--in this case, from fellow Tart Nancy Martin.  Instead of reading, "Susan McBride's Debutante Dropout Mysteries are as fun and fizzy as champagne," it said "fun and fuzzy."  So what? my mother remarked when I told her.  Fuzzy is good, like a teddy bear.  I assured her that, no, Mom, fuzzy writing is never good. My editor had time to fix the actual cover, thank goodness.)  You wipe the sweat off your brow, though you realize Finicky Reader will likely find something else wrong with your book.

So there you are, still eagerly anticipating your Happy On-Sale Day (especially since you turned that baby in on December 1, 2004, and it's now February of 2006), though you realize it's probably only a big deal to you.  No fireworks pending.  No announcement set to run across the huge ticker on Times Square.  No hoopla except in your own household, amongst your family and a few of your close friends who realize the importance of HOS Day.  You've sent out postcards and email announcements, hoping those who've enjoyed your previous books will want to read this one, too.  But that's all you can do:  hope.  You look forward to your travels promoting your latest, because getting out and talking to fellow book lovers is a godsend after being chained to your computer for months, mentally birthing yet another 80,000-word baby.

As HOS Day approaches, you get emails from folks who've spotted your book, like it's some new species no one's seen before.  (I love those emails, by the way.)  Your uncle calls from Columbia saying he saw your book in the color Mystery Guild ad in TV Guide...and you're right above THE DA VINCI CODE, for Pete's sake.  How can that not feel great?

You also might get a few messages like yesterday's from the editor of a SinC newsletter out West, telling me THE LONE STAR LONELY HEARTS CLUB had been attributed to Jennifer Apodaca in February's issue.  Well, crap!  Now, I adore Ms. Jen, but I do like getting credit for my own books.  Still, that's not near as bad as last year when a major chain that had just changed its ordering system messed up all February releases, so pretty much none appeared in those stores for a month.  Gotta roll with the punches, because it'll always be something, right?

So instead of bemoaning the lack of attention or all the snafus that are inevitable, here's what you do:  you celebrate HOS Day like it's Christmas or New Year's or the annual sale at Manolo Blahnik (well, you do the latter if you're Michele Martinez).  You allow yourself to feel the joy of knowing all your hard work is paying off in a tangible way...you've got a book that's available to readers (almost) everywhere, whether they walk into a store or press a button on their keyboard. 

Life is full of disappointment...full of dreams never realized...full of hopes never fulfilled.  When good things happen--when you make them happen--no matter how small or how big (and that's for you to measure), throw yourself a damned party, even if it's just in your head. 

Just don't forget the margaritas and the chips.

Cheers,

Susan

P.S.  You're all invited to my party, although the fire code only allows 50 at a time inside my cranium.  We can always do shifts.

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Comments

Yippee! Mazeltov! Hurray!

I'll bring cake.

I'll also get your book from the Mystery Lovers, who now reports to the NYTimes. Not that you care about numbers, but ya know, it can't hurt.

And by the by - I enjoy the fuzzy feel I get from champagne - its one of the best parts...

Dear member of the Great Susans Cult: For all the troubles authors like you and the other Tarts find along the way remember this. We, average and not so average people in the world, need you in our lives.I was going through probably the worse week of my life (starting Jan.16th) and found help coping with the stress with a little book called Blue Blood. Recognize it? Yep, it was yours. I ended up reading the same sentences several times over and over again,LOL, but where smiles were hard to come by, at least they were there. Fizzy or fuzzy it doesnt matter. Its the ability to take people out of their lives for a little while is what matters. So with all the troubles authors go through please understand we (I) need you and the wonderful places you take us. Congrats on finishing your book !! I will always remember the prayers and words of hope sent to me from the wonderful Tarts.Now all of you, Go write More! :-) SusanCo

What SusanCo said. Twice.

Congratulations on the birthday! Kathy, what kind of cake are you bringing? I'll bring some fuzzy fizzy stuff and promise not to foment a revolution in Susan's brain.

Time to get that keyboard button finger fired up :)

Woo-Hoo, way to go Susan!! A number of your readers are also celebrating with you, as HOS Day is a big day for us too! Yep, got my copy yesterday.

So party on Susan, you deserve it for all the hard work you put into giving us another book to read. You Rock!!!

Happy On Sale Day, Susan! And all these little bumps in the road will soon be meaningless. (At least I hope so! I have lovely coverage in 2 running issues of PW, but the cover is wrong in the photos.--ACK!)

Let's help Susan create some velocity, everyone. This week is the time to buy THE LONE STAR LONELY HEARTS CLUB!

Definitely fuzzy this morning,
N

Congratulations, Susan! Let's break out the champagne (or Bacardi) and all get fuzzy.

As soon as Sam is off to school, I'm going to buy my copy right now.
Congratulations. And if everyone here buys just one copy of Lonely Hearts Club this week, that might be enough to get our Susan on some very big lists.
You'd be surprised at how little it takes to make some of these lists, which is why Evanovich - not that I'm obsessed or anything - used to email her readers and say that if they loved her, if they wanted to keep reading about Stephanie, then they should buy her latest book the day it goes on sale. Wise idea.
Of course when you have 8 million readers....

Hey, y'all! Thanks mucho...and so glad you could come to my party! Champagne is good...margaritas...and Bacardi, too! Now we need food! Just hoping my web site updates actually go up today, as planned, and that my email announcement goes out...oy, the worries never end. But I'm glad to have such great cheerleaders. The Cult of TLC rocks, baby!

YAY SUSAN!!!! Rabbit rabbit and HAPPY OS DAY!!!!

Happy On Sale Day, Susan! And I'm heading to the bookstore right after work!

Hey, Cornelia, you'll be having your very first HOS Day soon, won't you? How exciting is that?! :-) Thanks, Karen! Hope you find a copy very prominantly placed in your store (as opposed to not finding one at all). Still waiting on my web updates and the email announcement...how fast can a person develop an ulcer? Like two hours? Just wondering. (Kidding, sort of.)

Congratuations Susan! Let the Happy Dance begin! I'll pick up a copy after finishing payroll and making a trip to the IRS. Will definately need a reward after that and your new book is the perfect for that.

Cookies for everyone!!!!

The irony is that Jen Apodaca got credit for your book, while I, on the other hand (or my publisher) ripped off Jen's title (give or take a few words) -- that is, Dating is Murder (mine) and Dating Can Be Murder (hers) . . . Good thing we're all friends, or I'd end up with a knife in my back.
YIPPEE! I'm now off to the bookstore!

Happy On Sale Day, Susan! There may not be fireworks today, but there's lots of people browsing in bookstores today saying, "Oh, look, Susan McBride's got a new book out! Just what I was looking for!"

Sara, that's so sweet! Well, it does have a pretty red foil-embossed heart on the cover, so it screams, "Valentine's Day!" Don't you think? I mean, don't love and murder go together beautifully?

Harley, I think there's a psychic connection going on there somewhere. Should I call Julia, the Tarot Card Reader, and see if she can figure it out?

Kia, cookies...yesssss! Enjoy the book. It is the perfect antedote to IRS meetings.

You've got it right - you definitely have to learn to celebrate the good stuff! Because, frankly, there aren't a lot of moments like that in publishing. I never understand why people don't have launch parties, or maintain they spent their launch day in their PJ's, ironing clothes and wiping their kids' noses. Not me!

So Happy Launch Day!

Congratulations, Susan!!! I make a pretty mean batch of fudge, which I'm happy to bring to the party.

Happy Launch Day!
Kristine

I've never read anything by this Evanovich character, although I have heard of the Great Janet Marketing Machine. Sarah's books were the first I read of this genre, since I Knew Her When. I have since read and purchased books by other Book Tarts. Would my reading Evanovich's stuff really add to my enjoyment, or would the cost-benefit be better if I just spent my money on people who post here?

Susan said,
"...You also might get a few messages like yesterday's from the editor of a SinC newsletter out West, telling me THE LONE STAR LONELY HEARTS CLUB had been attributed to Jennifer Apodaca in February's issue. Well, crap! Now, I adore Ms. Jen, but I do like getting credit for my own books."

Oh Sheesh, Susan! I'm so sorry! I couldn't figure out why SinC sent me that newsletter. I just scanned it because life has been super chaotic, and I thought they were attributing a quote from me about your books, not giving me credit for your books! So super-duper sorry! You should get credit for your wonderful books!

Kristine...yum, fudge! Please, bring plenty!

Josh, think about it: Janet E gets six million visitors to her web site every month. Do you just want to be one of the crowd? Or would you rather be cool? I think we need to have a sidebar that's strictly for wishing our author comrades (and ourselves) Happy On-Sale Day. What do you say, Tartly Ones?

Congratulations, Susan, enjoy! No matter what.

I will never forget my HOS Day when I discovered that my name was spelled wrong on the new book's dust jacket and on the spine it covered.

I partied like a maniac anyway--after my pissy phone call to NY.

You'd think in such circumstances, the book would be jinxed, but instead it has had a long and happy life in many editions and formats.

Enjoy--eat, drink, be merry, and think of all those bookstore cash registers chiming just for you! Not to mention the online sales!

Happy On-Sale Day!

Manolo Blahnik has an annual sale?!?

Oh, and congrats. I'll bring the jello shooters and creme brulee.

Congrats Susan, I'll get to the bookstore this week.

Daisy, yes, at least Michele says they do. It's at their store in NYC, and she got some great shoes at huge discounts (which means, like, for $800 instead of $8,000). We'll have to go with her one of these years! Oh, and Jell-o shooters...woohoo! Someone had better be the designated driver, that's all I can say.

Thanks, Josh.

Kadi, good to see you here! Buy at your leisure, girl.

Ah, the thrilling life of an author. For a minute tehre I thought you were talking about my struggles to get published, lol. Congrats and pass the booze. :)

Josh - don't bother with Evanovich. Stick with the Book Tarts and friends.

And I wholly support a special banner or something that celebrates launch day, or HOS Day, or whatever you want to call it.

Nancy is right - early sales can make a big difference. And that's according to bookstore pros, not just me. So we should get a reminder - or a countdown or something - so we all know when to go out and get those new books!

Mary Alice also has this advice - if you want to help an author, buy two and donate one to your local library - it'll get the book out there, and get the author on the library's future purchase list as well. You can deduct the cost of the donated book too!

Jan, I think lots of us have gone through the same stuff. Like there's a special "Twilight Zone" for aspiring authors!

Kathy, you are such a wise woman. Can we appoint you the official "Smart Tart?" Heck, it even rhymes! Daisy, of course, is "Shopping Tart," which sounds a lot like shopping cart, not surprisingly. Nancie could be "Gun Tart," and one of our rock chicks (Lisa Coutant?--where is she?) can be "Pop Tart." Any other suggestions?

Girl, you earned every bit of acclaim you have and will receive! Congratulations!

Oh, Pop Tart. I'm liking it. Can I be a strawberry Pop Tart? I think it'd go well with the red hair. :)

So, for real, are you gonna have a big ol' party? With like drinks and stuff? How about putting out a big ol' billboard with your pic on it? Or a pic of the book. Ohhhh, that'd work. Yeah baby.

Sorry I've been MIA lately. Life's been, well, ick.

OK, not ick, more like, "I need to do what by when? Are you inhaling year old eggs?"

Anyhoo, congrats chickie! Now we need to hook you up with Joe Elliott and all will be right with the world. :)

Susan, I am such a doofus! I hadn't realized that your new book is part of a series (Where have I been? Who am I? Why am I in this handbasket? What's the red, glowy place in the distance?) so now I have THREE shiny new books to read, fondle and with which to hide from the joys of tax season.

Kia

Lisa, you're alive, you're alive! I'm sorry things have been "ick," but at least your sense of humor is intact, right? Yes, hook me up with Joe Eliott anytime! Oh, wait, Ed might not like that. Hmmm.

Kia, you're not a doofus! I'm ever so happy when someone discovers my books, no matter when you stumble over me. So thanks for buying all three! You get extra fudge and cookies at the party. ;-)

Kia - what a delight to discover a new series and get to read them all together! No waiting for a year to see what happens next.

Susan - I'll take the "Smart Tart" handle in a (wait for it) heart beat. ugh. I get the smart part fairly frequently, but it's usually followed by a three-letter word for donkey...

Susan, may I be Tart of Darkness? I would really enjoy that... especially as I writhe in angst at the approach of my own coming OS day, which I really really really hope will deserve an H at the front.

Luckily, for a moment of diversion, Daisy has me thinking about food again. Like, couldn't we do a "you got peanut butter in my chocolate" kind of thing and make creme brulee shooters? I mean, c'mon, wouldn't THAT rock?

Of course you'd have to figure out how NOT to light the little dentist-rinse paper cup things on fire when you were caramelizing the sugar with your trusty salamander, BUT...

Also, PLEASE ask Victor Gischler what his deal is with lemurs, when you're doing your B'ham panel. I'm dying to know.

HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY DAY again to you, dear Susan!!!

Cornelia, should I ask him about lemurs before or after he's had a few beers at the bar? You can definitely be "Tart of Darkness," no problem. Can't wait for your HOS Day so I can read your danged book! Harley keeps bragging on it, and I'm dying to dig in already. And thanks! I've had a very nice HOS Day...topped off by a pizza just a few minutes ago. Now am too full to type...almost.

Kathy, I'm often called "smart" followed by a three-letter word for donkey, too. It's so puzzling. I think we should take it as a very high compliment of our biting wit. It frightens some people.

Susan,

Always with humor. Always. ;)

And a martini w/Grey Goose.

Yeah babee.

Congratulations Susan, I'm half-way through your new book and I'm enjoying it immensely. I made my husband stop at the bookstore after dinner last night just so I could pick it up.
Rachel

Lisa, you shall have Grey Goose at my party (or anytime you want). Does it help with the "ick"?

Rachel! My middle name is Elliott. We must be related somewhere along the line. You're not Joe Elliott's sister, are you, by chance? (Wishful thinking on my part.) Thanks so much for making your hubby stop at the store after dinner! And I'm awfully happy to hear you're enjoying it. :-)

I am so down with being the Shopping Tart (I always did want to be a titled lady). The question now is, who is the Queen of Tarts? Sweet Tart? Tarte Tartine? Dammit, now I've made myself hungry again.

(Margie is, obviously, the Tart of Tarts.)

Daisy, maybe we should take applications for those spots. I'm thinking someone who can cook great Italian should be "Tartolini"...ah, couldn't resist!

Do you think I could be the Martial Tart? That would totally rock my world . . .

You got it, Kerry! I think we need an "Art Tart" and maybe a "Posh Tart," though this is sounding an awful lot like the Spice Girls. Or is it just me?

Not Joe's sister unfortunately but perhaps a cousin way, way, way back...yeah that's it Cousin Joe:)
Rachel

Congratulations on the new release! I'll keep an eye out for it.

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