Tuesday, May 10, 2005


I decided today that the book world is not for the faint of heart. For authors like me, whose names aren’t exactly a household word, and whose books are published by small presses, the climb can, at times, make you want to jump off the nearest peak you have been able to scale. Not to fret. My peaks aren’t tall enough to do any damage if I jump.

So much in this business is controlled by the big publishing houses and their front runner authors. They own the racks in the entry area of bookstores. They own the end-cap positions at the end of the book racks. They own the review pages in major magazines. A cursory scan of the book page (emphasis on the singular; we get 1 page about books once a week in our daily paper) reflected reviews on 2 Putnam titles. Mysteries. What is it with cops and robbers in America today? How many mysteries can American readers devour? Don’t we get enough of that on the evening news?

I couldn’t help thinking this past weekend as I signed books how well a book will do if it has exposure. Once the signing’s over, your book gets shelved. Then it becomes a real challenge for both publisher and author. You beg and plead for reviews. You hope for media coverage, and you hope people will like the book. You go from enjoying the process of writing the book to agonizing over the process of moving the book.

My schedule is driving me crazy. We ended up scheduling three signings here before the book is actually released because we had to book signings out-of-area during the summer months when I can travel more freely because of my younger daughter’s school schedule. The month of July will be insane, with the fall months hectic and demanding. Then it’ll be holiday time and that is major book time. Then it’s winter festival and convention time.

The book I decided to write about Taylor is engaging me to the point of distraction. I finally found an expert I really needed, though, so that gave me the two sources I wanted in order to put things into perspective. And of course, that book is growing beyond the simple idea I began with, as all books will do.

Scattered on various horizontal surfaces are articles, essays, and a pile of papers for two organizations I agreed to lead. A few poems are languishing by my file trays. And scattered around the office are various parts of my brain, speaking figuratively, of course.

There. I feel better now.

P.S. I know I said I’d keep these posts short. Obviously, I blew it.

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