In an ideal world, with a book about to come out, you think you’d do all sorts of healthy things in preparation: get lots of sleeps, go to the gym to lose those five pounds, maybe get a manicure for those ragged nails you’ve been chewing as you wait for the reviews to roll in.
Or you could make sure your immune system is completely shot, your sleep schedule non-existence. You could pack up your home in Monterey, CA, and send most of your worldly belongings to Amman, Jordan, live out of suitcase for a month and a half, stay with your in-laws with your toddler who despises her air mattress and wakes you up all night, your two cats singing meow-duets at 4 a.m, preferably when standing on your pillow.
Intersperse that with a manic trip to Disney World with same toddler waking up at 3 a.m and opening all the hotel room curtains, claiming the street lights are the sun and it is now time to visit Snow White. Then maybe drive from South Carolina to New York, including a stop in Raleigh just when Mother Nature makes an appearance, throwing her most delightful ice storm your way. Oh, and make sure your most troublesome cat decides to crawl through a hole in the hotel room, slipping into the fiber-glassed beyond of water pipes and dry wall, getting so lost that the hotel maintenance supervisor, after removing all of the sink paneling, tells you that the cat could be just about anywhere in the five-floor hotel. Then send your husband and daughter on to DC while you sit in that same now naked-walled Raleigh room with a can of cat food, your face in a hole flaking with insulation, and call your cat for about eight hours, until he comes out well rested enough that he will meow straight through until the next morning.
Wait a minute, aren’t you supposed to be talking about books at some point?
Right. Exactly. You are supposed to be talking about books. Reading and rereading your book and the meticulous Questions & Answers that you filled out for your publisher in preparation for the questions you might get from kindly NPR interviewers or people sipping lattes at book stores.
But instead you show up at your childhood home in Highland Falls, New York, strung out on sleeplessness and caffeine and toddler/cat drama. And maybe your whole family is also at your mom’s house because they love you and want to catch up with you and don’t realize you have an interview or two a day until the book release, not to mention random writing deadlines. You hope that the interviewers can’t hear all the toddler-rattle from the three cousins chasing each other each day with cardboard swords while you hide out in your mom’s bedroom and talk, very nervously, to The Fort Hood Sentinel, The Killeen Daily Herald, Rick Kleffel of The Agony Column, USA Today, PBS NEED TO KNOW, Irish America Magazine. By the time you go into New York City to do NPR’s Fresh Air, your eyes are so blood shot and your nails so chronically mutilated that an undertaker couldn’t get you looking fresh.
But if you are really really REALLY lucky, and your editor and publicity team are made up of the finest fairy godmothers Walt could ever dream up (Marilyn Ducksworth, Mih-Ho Cha, Stephanie Sorensen, I adore you!!!), they will put you up in an incredible hotel the night before the book release, and you and your husband will suddenly have absolute quiet, no meows, no Angelina Ballerina swordfights. You might get up at 5 a.m. for an interview with NPR’s THE TAKEAWAY, but your husband gets to go on the air with you so that one is a breeze.
Then you get to go the Penguin/Putnam offices and sign books! You think your daughter is pretty adorable but those books, stacks and stacks of a dream, Pinocchio becoming a REAL BOY, is one of the prettiest sights you will have ever seen…
Maybe you do another short radio gig with NPR’s Leonard Lopate with the lovely writer Lily Burana and you try not to be jealous that she looks so gorgeous, well-rested, and put together.
Then the book opening at Barnes and Noble. Whatever you do, DO NOT FORGET TO THANK THE PEOPLE WHO CAME OUT!!! Especially those incredible Penguin/Putnam folk who made your book a reality, who are sitting in the front row, smiling with such support, who have seen your book as a loose page manuscript and managed to take that mess and make a BOOK! A real BOOK! Well, don’t be an idiot, you absolutely must thank them or you will be kicking yourself for the rest of your life. (Yes, I forgot to thank the amazing people at Penguin/Putnam. Unbelievable. Please don’t let it happen to you).
Book Party. You should definitely have one. Especially if you have an amazing agent who will help you out in every way and then pick up more than half the tab. Best of all your parents will finally realize that this little hobby of yours that they have probably been bemoaning ever since you switched from pre-med to English Lit in college, is actually kind of cool and maybe even potentially lucrative (I said maybe, but let your parents think you are making a bundle, they will sleep better at night). You have finally given your folks something to talk about with their friends other than that cute granddaughter. Make sure you have alcohol, preferably an open bar, and invite as many people as you can. Ask your fabulous literary agent, Lorin Rees, and gorgeous editor, Amy Einhorn, to get up and say a few words about how magnificently talented you are. You will feel like a superstar and it will be one of the best nights of your life.
While you are feeling like a superstar and remembering to thank everyone you forgot to thank at your first reading, don’t forget to thank your husband. If you don’t, someone at the party will shout out that you forgot to thank your husband and you will feel like a total jerk and have something new to kick yourself about for the rest of your life.
If you are lucky, you can go to your father’s Irish pub and continue to party as if you were young. Unfortunately your child will not care that Mommy was out until 2 a.m pretending to be a super star, and she will be up at 6 a.m, eager for breakfast. And since you forgot to thank your husband at the book party, your penance is that you now have to get up with the toddler.
Kick yourself some more.
And the official book tour hasn’t even started yet…