The fun part's over. Now the work begins.
On my desk, there's a review copy of my new book. It's a standard review copy--black and white cover listing nuts and bolts info like the ISBN number, category, and wholesaler. My publisher is a small press, but he does things very professionally. He doesn't know I've read that review copy at least six times in the last ten days. I've read it enough to know I have no idea how this book will be received.
The book tour starts April 22. Barnes and Noble has gone to a lot of trouble to host the launch here in Jacksonville. I got lucky. The alternative newspaper, the one everyone in Northeast Florida reads, did a nice writeup and even included the author photo that a genius photographer named Michael Glinski shot. Nobody ever made me look that good, even my mother when I was born. The daily paper blurbed the booksigning in today's column, so that's a good thing. Lots of people have told me, "I'm definitely coming to your launch party."
But every author, regardless of who publishes the book, gets that tour angst thing going, I am certain. Even authors whose houses can assure book orders from major library systems and book clubs. A small press author is doubly challenged. There are no slick publicists, no chummy relationships with major reviewers, no abundance of book store owners running to their display windows to slap up 4-color posters that announce the latest book, say from that well-known celebrity whose last book, Eat Everything in Sight, Including 45 Chocolate Chip Cookies Every Single Day, and Stay Thin as a Reed, sold half a million copies.
It's tough here in small press world. When the poetry book came out in 2004, I really didn't know what to expect. When it sold enough copies to be called a "poetry best-seller" by a representative of a major chain, I couldn't help but laugh. "Poetry" and "best-seller" go together like ammonia and bleach. But I took that little book from Jefferson, Texas, all the way to Hawaii. I can't think of a single negative event. People enjoyed the book. I think because of the section with the sonnets. They get the rhyme and meter thing going in your ear. I had fun with poetry. Nobody expected it to blow itself to the cash register and out the door. There wasn't a lot of stress.
This book is different. For one thing, it's a personal story, and it's about my daughter. It's also about a mystery illness that causes a lot of debate among doctors. The publisher is printing a big run. It's nonfiction, and every section, fact, and clue has been checked, double-checked and triple-checked by three pairs of eyes. So I'm sitting here wondering how it will be received. What will people say? Will the launch be a success? Will the book fulfill its purpose of helping other children who may experience the illness my own daughter had?
Who knows? Friday will tell the tale, and I guarantee you, this will be a long week.