I exchanged e-mails a couple of weeks ago with someone who works at a publishing company, read a piece I'd written, and wanted to tell me she liked it. She apologized for e-mailing ? she said she hoped I didn't mind that she'd gotten my e-mail address from a mutual contact. I wrote back that of course I didn't mind ? why would anyone ever mind someone e-mailing to say they liked something you'd written? That doesn't make sense.
She wrote back and said that's what she figured, but you never know with some authors. I asked for more details ? told her I'd trade some agent stories for author stories, if she was game. She wrote back about an author a friend of hers has dealt with who apparently makes her publishing company book her a seat "on the sunny side of the plane" when she travels, or she won't go.
And I thought I was being demanding when I asked to see a copy of my contract, six months after signing a signature page and figuring the rest of it would be fine. (And I have a law degree. Shouldn't I know better?) Guess not.
I was on a panel a few months ago with some other authors ? the first and so far the only panel I've ever been on ? and a couple of them said they don't read reviews of their books. I don't believe them. That's like the kids in high school who said they didn't look at their grades. Sure. How can someone not look at reviews? I spend half my day searching the Internet for things that anyone ? anyone! ? is saying about my book on MySpace, Xanga, the Barney & Friends viewer message board, anywhere.
That's one of the great things about the Internet. I can spend all day looking for people writing about my book. Google, Technorati, Icerocket Blog Search, comments on my blog posts, new reviews on a whole bunch of evil bookselling sites that aren't nearly as awesome as this one, message boards, Lexis-Nexis, checking if anyone has started a Wikipedia entry about me, checking my e-mail, checking my e-mail again, checking my e-mail one more time, and then starting the whole cycle over again. But I'm very productive otherwise.
What I never thought about before my book was released was how many of the people lurking in bookstores are probably authors just looking for their own books. The first time I saw my book in a store, I spent fifteen minutes slowly wandering the perimeter, one eye on the book at all times, on the phone with my mom, describing everyone who walked past the book. "Someone just touched it. No, no, she walked away. Shoot. Oh, wait, someone else is looking at it. Nope, no, don't pick up the one next to it. No, it's not any good. No, you don't want that one. No! Oh, someone else. Look at it. Look at it. Look at it. No, not at me. At the book. No. No. I'm not stalking anyone, just the books."
Even now that it's been three weeks since the book came out, I still have trouble passing a bookstore without dropping in to check whether they have any and where it's displayed. I can't imagine I'm alone. Maybe I'm just the only one who never knew this, but I think everyone in every bookstore is in fact an author, watching his book, praying he happens to pick just the right moment when someone's deciding to buy it. That's why Barnes & Noble has chairs. For authors.
I'll know I'm in trouble when I start going to the library to spy on my book. Yikes.