I knew all this book tour planning was getting of control the day we ran out of soap. There was barely a sliver left and the only way to get the family off to school and work on time was to find another bar quick, before my husband came home from early yoga class to take his morning shower. Frantic rummaging through medicine cabinets and travel kits produced a chunky Klondike Bar-shaped brick someone had given us for laughs: Alaska Manly Man Soap.
The brown paper wrapper featured a polar bear on its hind legs. Get ferociously clean! was its the vaguely threatening slogan. Beggars can’t be choosers, so John went off to work ferociously sanitized.
How could I, a compulsive list maker, have forgotten to stock bath soap?
The quick answer is, I’ve been making a lot of other lists. Guest lists for the evite to go out in each city; status updates for the timelines of each event; contact person lists and book reviewer lists and in between that, lists of of the passages from the novel to read. Consequently, more mundane lists for cat food, floss and bath soap have fallen between the cracks.
Planning The Mango Bride’s launch party it turns out, is nearly as hard as planning a wedding. The main difference is, at the end of the nuptials a bride can at least head off on a honeymoon; after my book hits the shelves on April, I can only hope for kind reviews.
Fortunately I don’t have to plan everything solo. College pals and generous new friends have taken on the formidable task of organizing book parties in San Francisco, Seattle, Portland and D.C. They’ve done everything from soliciting Filipino American groups to sponsor a book party; to letting me crash on their couch, to persuading a Philippine consul to include The Mango Bride reading in the embassy’s Independence Day celebrations. In this most serendipitous twist, a novel about the Filipino diaspora is actually being helped by the Filipino diaspora.
But then there is the question of social media. While discussing revisions to the manuscript, my kind editor at Penguin suggested I come up with an author’s website, blog, and separate author Facebook page, then open a Twitter account and join Goodreads. Once again, generous friends who know how to do such things helped set up these websites, and I reluctantly signed on to Twitter. Now I have a garden of social media to maintain but my potted plants are withering. Meanwhile ever more tasks need to be completed: composing back of the book conversation guides; updating an author’s bio for press releases; submitting special tax forms for anticipated royalties from The Mango Bride’s Spanish edition.
Why so much advance planning? Because all pre-orders of the book are added to figures for the first day of sales. It’s similar to the way the success of a new film is based on first weekend’s box office figures. One cannot expect to be Spielberg, but it would be so nice not to flop.
Just when I think everything is under control, mini crises erupt. Random misspelled Tagalog words have been spotted even after galleys were approved. While paging through a reviewer’s copy recently, I realized a word was missing from the title page of one section . How could I not have noticed the incomplete phrase?! Has the book gone to press yet? The late-night email to my editor began “OMG, tell me I’m not nuts…” Fortunately, the problem was resolved, but not before yet another sleepless night.
The heebie-jeebies have by now invaded my subconscious, for I recently suffered my first performance anxiety dream since grad school: there I was, standing in line for a recital (at least not naked). Moments before I ascended the stage, someone handed me a violin. I do not play the violin in real life, but this seemed not to matter to the expectant audience. I woke up in a cold sweat.
What does one do to counter such anxiety? Take a chill pill. Literally. Long ago, a wise therapist recommended a homeopathic stress reliever called Rescue Remedy. Whenever things seem overwhelming, I pop a lozenge, take a few yoga breaths and suck away. It works so well that my friends use a version of it to calm their dog before visiting the vet.
I always knew I could be a bitch. Never thought I’d be medicated like one.