Thursday, October 23, 2008

Drum roll, please...

So now I have the book, my book, in my hands. All that's left is to get the book, my book, into everybody else's hands. My publishing company was going to help with step one: distributing it to all the Barnes & Noble booksellers across the country.

This, in my eyes, was HUGE. I am a big B & N fan. I love going into one of their stores, even if I don't need a book. I love the look of the store, the smell of coffee from the adjacent Starbucks, the fact they put out cushy chairs and let you read stuff for free. I've been known to just wander aimlessly through the aisles, picking up random books, perusing the insides a bit, then putting them carefully back on the shelves. The thought that someone else might be doing the same with Stud Muffins was almost overwhelming.

They told me that the books would be shipped out and on store shelves by March 28h. Hoping that the book industry was prompt and even possibly overachievers, I was at my local store on the 27th, camera in hand. I breathlessly ran to the baking aisle and feverishly searched for my book. No sight. Then I had a crazy thought: What if they put it on the end of the shelves, the ones that face out? The ones reserved for Martha and Rachael? With pounding heart, I rushed to the end, but only Martha and Rachael's smiling faces met me. No hunk in an apron.

My frenetic behavior caught the attention of a store worker. (I guess they don't have that many hyperventilating customers in the baking aisle. Maybe the adult section, but not the baking.) When she asked if she could help me, I excitedly told her why I was there. Kindly, she joined in my excitement (or just played along to appease the crazed woman in front of her) and checked the computer. That's when I learned that book distribution was not an exact science. Yes, my book was on the docket, but it hadn't arrived yet.

Crestfallen, I started to leave. The store clerk suggested I call back the next day, to save myself a trip. I thanked her, but secretly wondered if I could hide out in the bathrooms overnight and then be there the second they received the book and placed it on the shelf.

March 28th arrived, and again I was at the store. And again, the book was not on the shelf. And again, a store clerk asked to help me. I quickly repeated my story from the day before, and like a well-trained drone (and I mean that in the most complimentary way) he looked it up on his computer. An update! There was a large delivery the night before, and all the boxes were in the back room, yet to be unpacked. He told me it was probably in that shipment. It was an oh-so-close-yet-so-far moment, and I was equally excited and disappointed. He also suggested I call back tomorrow to save me a trip down. He didn't know me, did he.

I awoke March 29th with a feeling of excitement. This HAD to be the day! So I drove, I searched, I asked, I received the same answer as the day before: it wasn't unpacked yet. What the fudge?! I offered to be a Volunteer Employee of the Day and help unpack books. They politely turned me down.

March 30th: See paragraph above.

March 31st: Ditto.

April 1st arrived, and as I drove to the B & N, I reflected on the significance of the day. Maybe this was all a big joke. Maybe there were really no books in unpacked boxes in the back room. Maybe this was all a big set-up, masterminded by the cruelest of pranksters, and when I got there, all the store clerks would jump out at me from the history section and the self-help section and yell, "April Fools!" Oh, how would I recover from such horror...

Tammy, our photographer joined me that day. I met her at the entrance and saw the look of excitement in her eyes. Poor, innocent child, I thought. She hasn't been in the trenches yet. We entered the store and walked directly to the baking aisle. Tammy started looking at one end, and I started at the other.

Now to be honest, I truly don't remember which of us found them first, but THERE THEY WERE--two copies of the most beautiful, shiny, and brand-new books with our name on the cover!!!!! And THEY WERE NEXT TO A MARTHA STEWART BOOK. I looked at Tammy, and she looked at me, and then I did what probably, in hindsight, is not the most professional thing: I screamed.

For future reference, should if you scream in the middle of a quiet Barnes & Noble at nine in the morning, you will get some attention. A different store clerk rushed to us and asked if everything was all right. Tammy and I both excitedly explained why we were there and why I screamed and why I was clutching a book to my chest and why I was now crying. To her credit, she didn't call security, but congratulated us and let us take her picture while holding the book. I wanted proof that it was official, and that I didn't just sneak the book into the store and shove it on the shelf.

I kept that copy with me to purchase (again as proof, as I can't forge a B & N register receipt) and thanked the clerk profusely. Tammy and I started to head to the registers, but then I pulled her back to the now-deserted (or should I say, desserted?--sorry) baking aisle. Looking around, as if watching for enemy fire, I pulled the remaining copy of Stud Muffins that was shelved with the spine facing out, and placed it cover out. This meant I had to switch places with Martha's book. It looked so pretty there, ready for the world to see. That moment in time is now burned deeply into my memory, and I think I could have stood there all day, just staring. But then they probably would have called security.

P.S. Martha, if you're reading this, I apologize for switching book positions. Please don't take it personally. I was compelled by the moment. And I'd like to think that maybe you did the same thing with your first book and the copy of Julia Childs' book next to it.


Wendy said...

In a way, Judi, I go through a smaller version of this kind of hysteria/excitement every day to see if my article made it in the Daily Bulletin! Writers -- we're such egotists.

Rene said...

You have every right to be excited. And there is nothing wrong with rearranging the shelves. I do it all the time if I see one of my friends' books in the bookstore. Or at Wal-Mart or Target.

I owe you an email. I've been so busy lately I'm lucky to get a blog post done.