Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Pardon My Panic Attack

Two weeks from today, Once Upon Stilettos will be officially released (though there may be places where it's available earlier). That means it's time for a good paranoid panic attack. I feel like I'm running behind, like there are things I should have done by now that aren't done. Part of that is because of the release date change. I had a timeline laid out, but moving the release date up a month compressed that, and then there's the fact that I'm busy writing a book, which means I have less time to deal with everything.

I'm also starting to worry that there's less buzz building up than with the last book, and that may be yet another factor from the release date change. I'm not sure how many people got that memo. I'm not seeing nearly the same number of advance reviews that I had at this time last year (with publication a month later), let alone with publication two weeks away. Some places that reviewed the last book, like Dark Realms magazine, don't seem to be reviewing this one. Meanwhile, there's still no info about the book up at Amazon or B&N, and even the Ballantine web site is conspicuously blank about this book, which is part of what set off the major panic attack yesterday. I couldn't help but wonder if I'd fallen through the cracks. Fortunately, my agent's blog mentioned a meeting with my editor where they talked about the exciting launch plans, so it doesn't sound like they've forgotten me entirely (though it would be kind of nice to be let in on the exciting launch plans for my own book). I hate bringing stuff like up, though, because it's hard to do without feeling like I'm demanding a twelve-city book tour, a spot on the Today Show and a full-page ad in Entertainment Weekly. No, really, all I want is for the publisher's own web site to acknowledge that they're publishing my book. (Though I wouldn't turn down that full-page ad.)

Another part of my problem in feeling like I'm behind is that I'm having to wait for other people to do stuff for me. I thought I was making progress in hiring people to do stuff instead of trying to do it all myself. I even went the extra step in hiring people on a purely business basis even though I have very talented friends who I'm sure would have been willing to cut me a deal. The problem with hiring friends is that it's harder to complain if they don't get something done on time, and if they're cutting you a deal, you can't expect them to put your project ahead of their regular work. And it turns out that was a good plan because I've been having to complain about work not getting done. I put that off as long as I could because I've been in the vendor position, and I always hated it when clients called to wonder where their stuff was. But then I remembered that those calls came before the deadline. I hated it when we'd agree on a deadline, and then days or even weeks before, the client would start checking in to see how things were going.

Now I'm starting to understand that impulse. I had some stuff designed and printed, and then I still didn't have it after the longest window they gave for printing and delivery. I waited an additional couple of days, then checked on the status. It hadn't been printed yet. After my status check, it got printed the next day, then they changed my delivery to air instead of ground, but that still amounted to me getting it nearly a week after I'd counted on having it -- which meant I missed a couple of opportunities to use those materials. Then there's the design element I was getting done for my web site. An advertised "three-day turnaround" is turning into three weeks. I approved the final design more than a week ago, and all they have to do is give me the final files. The response to my nag yesterday was, "Oops, we'll get on that ASAP. Sorry." (I still don't have it.) I want to redesign my web site, but I can't do it until I get those files. If that was the more typical experience my clients had, I can see why they'd be calling before the deadline to check on progress. If you wait until the deadline -- until the time you need something -- and the work hasn't started yet, then it's going to be late. That status check before things are due seems to be the only way to be sure things will get done by the due date. God help me, I was sending my own, "Just checking to see where we are and when I'll get that" reminders yesterday. It's not even just my vendors. One of my clients has been consistently late in paying me for work, and after spending three months tracking down a late payment, I'm not up to giving them any grace period. I start nagging the day it's late, because it's going to take resubmitting the invoice and going back through the whole system, and that adds a couple of weeks to the process. I'm not going to wait the standard fifteen days before I start sending late notices, or else it will be a month late by the time I get a check.

I really hate having to do that kind of nagging. My way of doing business has always been to set a deadline we both can deal with, then I leave them alone to do the work and get it to me on deadline, or else they leave me alone to do the work and I get it to them on or before deadline. I pay when it's due, and they pay when it's due, and we're all happy. How much productivity is lost because of all those, "So, am I ever going to get that?" messages?

And to top it off, the neighborhood grocery store had avocados on sale, but they didn't have any guacamole mix -- the packet you just mix with mashed avocados that makes better guacamole than if I try to make it from scratch. You'd think it would be a great cross-promotion to have all those piles of avocados, then other stuff you might buy to go with them. But no. How do businesses stay in business when they do dumb stuff like this or miss opportunities?

Okay, the rant is over and I feel somewhat better. Maybe now that I have that out of my system, I might even be able to write today. It's sad what a big panic attack that turns into anger can do for your creativity. I need to just let it go (even though there are still people who owe me stuff, and I've got a deadline here, people! The book is coming out in two weeks!!! Ahem.)

Oh, and this is your last chance to enter the book or icon contest. Deadline is 10 p.m. Central Daylight Time.

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