The agent picked up his phone? “Yes?” he said.
“It’s me,” said the editor. “Did you get it?”
“Oh, yes,” he sighed, pulling up the email on his laptop. “Right on time.”
“You could really set your watch to it,” said the editor. She realized how close to anachronistic the phrase was—who set watches anymore?— but, besieged with post-it-notes and a looming manuscript deadline, it was the best she could manage. “The post-publication author freakout.”
“We should just put it on the schedule,” the agent agreed. “Do you want me to handle it? I’m closing on a house today…”
“No, no, I’ll do it,” she said, picking up her mug of coffee.
“Thanks. I’ll follow up,” the agent offered.
“It’ll be fine,” the editor said. She hung up, took a sip, then hit “reply” to the email on her screen. “I really should just create a boilerplate,” she murmured.
In the theater, there is an Opening Night. Lots of reviewers come, there’s a big party, and then, in the week following, the reviews come out. Those reviews, coupled with word of mouth and advance ticket sales, kind of chart the destiny of the production. Close in eight weeks? Extend ’til Christmas? Limp along until Sunday? There’s definitely a kind of timeline devised after the first week.
And what about for books? After a glorious week of being fêted and feasted, after a flurry of interviews and chocolate accordions and wonderful photos of friends holding my book, here it was the first week and… what?
I had no idea.
I felt like Cinderella, having already been to the ball and left a shoe, now waiting in the cellar to see if the Prince was going to arrive… My little rat brain began gnawing. Was it doing well? Would it sell? Could we tell? (apparently, I was a Sondheim Cinderella) I wrote a plaintive and admittedly needy email to the higher powers. My editor calmed me down. My agent gave a larger perspective: “It’s still a huge word of mouth industry, so people need time to discover it, read it, recommend it, etc.” Of course. I don’t know what I was thinking; I forgot that, unlike theater, which is viewed en masse in a discrete amount of time, books have their own pace. There really couldn’t be any buzz until people had actually read the thing. And that might not happen in the first week.
So, basically, chill the hell out.
With a lighter heart I packed up my things and we drove to the scene of the crime— the Venetian Hotel in Vegas.
I did a reading at a Barnes & Noble outside of Las Vegas for a small but very appreciative crowd. One young gentleman there had actually read the book and had come to see me! That was very cool. He was a Hapa, tall and skinny, and could totally pass for Walter.
I like readings. The performative side of me gets to come out and play.
Now, I’m back home, ready to tackle a revision of my adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time and a staged reading of a chapter of the book for my visit to Lifeline Theater in October. Onward.
Note: I want to thank all of you who not only bought and read the book, but took the time to put in a review on Amazon and Goodreads. It really does help a great deal. I also wanted to share a photo of a dear Chicago friend of mine who was discovered reading the book at a bar during a spelling bee intermission: