Meg's Blog

New Book Day

The countdowns:

Days until READY OR NOT is released on July 26 (TOMORROW): 1!!!!

Days until my online chat with Susan Juby about her excellent new book, ALICE MACLEOD, REALIST AT LAST, at the Meg Cabot Book Club: Also 1!!!!

Days until Meg Cabot Day on July 31 (or 30th, depending on where you live): 5 (or 6)

Number of bite-sized Milky Ways, purchased as part of Hurricane Dennis survival kit, left in the bag: 10

Number of sizes Meg has gone up since the bag of bite-sized Milky Ways was opened: 2

(unless you go to Wal*Mart or Costco where I believe it is already out)!!!!

People always want to know what it feels like to have a new book come out. So here goes:

When the very first book I ever got published came out, I was SOOOO excited. I woke up the morning it was supposed to hit bookstore shelves with a special giddy feeling, and turned to my husband and was like, “My book comes out today, la la la.”

I had already gotten one early review, from Romantic Times, a magazine I had never heard of. But it had given my book two stars. I was THRILLED!!! TWO STARS!!!! My editor had called to tell me personally and everything.

(Much later, I found out my editor had called to tell me about the two stars because two stars is practically the lowest number of stars Romantic Times gives out, and she was worried that when I saw my book had only gotten two stars, I was going to freak.

But I didn't know two stars was low. I was like, “TWO STARS???? THAT IS FANTASTIC!!!” and went around bragging to everyone.)

The morning my book finally hit store shelves, I went to work all floaty, like “La la la, my book is out, it got two stars, my book is out.” When I got to work, I told EVERYONE, from the security guard at the front desk to the cafeteria workers to the kids who showed up in my office because they'd been caught smoking a bhang in the elevator (I worked in a dorm), “MY BOOK IS OUT TODAY! IT GOT TWO STARS!!! LA LA LA!!”

I even gave the kids with the bhang a special pep talk: “You could write a book and get it published, too, if you laid off the canabis, you know.”

Instead of doing actual work at work, I called all my relatives and friends to tell them my book was out, and to go buy copies. I had been sent a box of free copies, but no way was I giving those away, not even to Grandma! I was going to hold onto them for when I was in a retirement home in like the year 2050 or whatever, where I'd give them to all the people in the retirement home who didn't believe me when I said I'd gotten a book published.

“AND IT GOT TWO STARS!!!!” I'd tell them.

At lunch, I made all my friends go with me to the local B Dalton on the corner of 8th and Sixth Ave to see my book on the shelves–my first book on REAL ACTUAL bookshelves in a STORE. I made my friend Jen bring her camera so she could take a picture of me with my books.

On the way to the store, my friend Beth said maybe people would see me there with my book and want my autograph. We all agreed this was highly likely.

So I went into the bookstore all self-conscious about my new celebrity, and feeling shy, and thinking maybe Jen shouldn't take my picture IN the store, maybe she should take a picture OUTSIDE the store, just so nobody would feel embarrassed, like that they HAD to buy my book, just because the author was there….Also, what if so many people wanted my book, the store had to call the police for crowd control? That would be so embarrassing!

And sweet.

But it turned out I didn't have to worry about the police being summoned for crowd control, or even about making anyone feel bad for not buying my book. Because the store didn't even have my book.

Because they didn't order it!

It turns out bookstores don't order EVERY book that comes out every month. And because my book was a historical romance novel and I was a new author and it was the Village in New York and they didn't have a huge romance section because most people who went to that store bought literary fiction or gay erotica, B Dalton hadn't even ordered a single copy. Not even ONE.

I WAS CRUSHED!!!! How could they not have my book???? DIDN'T THEY KNOW IT GOT TWO STARS????????????

We were all outraged, obviously. We had all worked really really hard on that book, me writing it, and Jen and Beth reading it. Beth was especially crushed because she hates romance novels (except Georgette Heyer) and had to slog through mine anyway (although since then she got a special dispensation not to have to read my romances; Jen has a special dispensation not to read my email books, which make her mad because everyone is emailing instead of doing work…Jen used to be my boss, which as you can probably guess was very trying for her).

Plus the first draft had been almost a hundred pages longer than the final draft, on account of my editor asking me to take out the scenes where the heroine was sold into white slavery and the hero had to save her before she was auctioned off as a virgin bride. It had been very very upsetting for me to take out those scenes (and for Beth to read them)…though I was hoping to use them in some other, later book (and I'm still hoping. Maybe Princess Diaries 12. Ha, ha, just kidding. Not.)

So my friends and I huddled up in the romance section of B Dalton, trying to figure out what to do.

Then Jen had an idea. She would go up to the sales desk and ask them if they could order my book. Then, a little while later, Beth would go up and ask them to order it. Our friend Dave said he would come over and do the same thing. Pretty soon, the B Dalton staff would be like, “What is this book everybody keeps asking for? It must be really good! We better order loads of copies!”

(I didn't go up to order copies myself because what if when the book came the clerk recognized me from the picture on the back and knew I'd made him order copies of my own book???? That would be so embarrassing!!!!)

So on the day that my very first book hit shelves, that is what I was doing: forcing my friends to go around to bookstores all over Manhattan, asking the clerks to order copies of my new book. When I got back to my office, I started calling everyone I could think of, asking them to do the same. He Who Shall Not be Named in This Blog told everyone in HIS office, and they all agreed to order copies from THEIR local bookstores. And my grandma said she'd do the same. Soon, everyone I knew was going to their local bookstores, begging them to order my book.

This tradition continued every time I had a new book coming out until well into my publishing career. In fact, it's really only in the past couple of years that my friends and I have been able to walk into bookstores and actually SEE my books there on the day they are supposed to be there, without us having had to beg them to order copies. I still get calls from Jen and Beth on the days my books are supposed to come out, going, “I saw it! It was on a display rack in Barnes and Noble! Right there! In the store! I didn't have to ask them order it! Come over! We'll take that picture!”

I still get a thrill every time I hear someone's actually seen one of my books in a store.

And I am totally looking forward to sneaking into my beloved Borders Express here in Key West on Tuesday to see copies of Ready or Not…

…which, by the way, Romantic Times gave FOUR stars.

LA LA LA!!!!

More later.

Much love,