Thursday, June 24, 2010

Making Something Happen

It seems that forcing myself to get up at 6:30 in the morning for a week somehow cured me of bouncing out of bed at 6:40. I slept all the way until almost 8 today. I must have been really tired because I went to bed pretty early. I think part of it is that this is my least-favorite time of year. I don't like summer in this part of the world. I read books about kids spending their summers playing outdoors, and I even lived in places where you could do that. Here, that would be a good way to commit suicide by heat stroke. I've heard that doctors in climates like this actually see a fair number of reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder cases in the summer because in the hot weather, people stay indoors during daylight hours and therefore get less sun exposure than people up north get during winter. I can see that. I have energy in the winter, but not really in the summer. It doesn't help that summer weather seems to have come on so suddenly. On the first day of spring, it snowed. On the last day of spring, it was 100 degrees. I was looking at my reading log for the year, and most of my books from May, I remember reading on cool, cloudy days when I curled up under a light blanket with some hot tea. That was not much more than a month ago. It seems like we went from having cool, pleasant weather directly to blistering heat.

In other news, I finally wrote the end of the book yesterday. I'm not entirely sure I like it, but I can fix it in edits. There are a lot of loose ends to wrap up, so I'm worried that the conclusion part pulled a Return of the King and went on forever and ever after the climax, but then I'm also worried that I skimmed over too much instead of dealing with it fully. Now I'm even wondering how much I need, if them talking about how they'll handle things is enough to give closure, or if we need to see them doing it. And I really need a title. I've been reading poetry related to the subject matter, I've done quotations searches on key words related to the story. I've flipped through movie guides to look at titles for ideas I could twist. And nada. I'm drawing a blank. I can visualize the cover, but I can't see a title on it.

I've also found a dress I can wear to the wedding Saturday, after some exploration in my closet. I've got a nice spaghetti-strap dress that I can zip up, and I learned when I had trouble unzipping it that I can slip the straps off my shoulders and twist the dress around so that the zipper is in the front to unzip it. I'm singing with the choir at this wedding (it's the choir director's wedding), so I'll be wearing a choir robe for the service, and that makes a rather bare dress a good idea for not melting under the robe. Plus, the dress goes with a new pair of shoes I still haven't worn. I'll have to iron the dress and give myself a pedicure (the shoes are strappy high-heeled sandals), but otherwise, I'm set.

Meanwhile, I seem to be getting a lot of reader mail lately. It tends to come in waves, like suddenly everyone gets the inclination to write to me, and then for a while no one does. I haven't been able to find any trigger (though maybe I should look at the Bookscan reports and see if there's a related rise in sales anywhere in there). I have started suggesting that people who write demanding more books write directly to the publisher about that. It's not that I don't like hearing from readers, but I figure the demands are better addressed to people who can do something about them. Believe me, I'm already on your side. I want more books, too, but it's not my decision. Snail mail is better than e-mail because it's more likely to be opened and read by a human being who can notice a trend than e-mail is. I've heard that people who e-mailed about wanting more books have received replies along the lines of "there are currently no more books scheduled by that author, but you can sign up for our e-mail list to be notified about new releases." I imagine if I'd received a message like that, I'd have gone into a minor rant of, "I know there aren't any books scheduled, you moron. That's why I wrote to you, to complain about it."

I'm still not sure what good it will do, as they make decisions based on sales figures, and there's currently no editor within the company championing these books who would be inclined to take a stack of reader mail to a meeting as proof that there's a great pent-up demand out there. And even there, the beancounters are likely to say that 20 or even 100 letters doesn't mean the book would sell enough copies to make a profit. To get their attention, it would have to look like the end of Miracle on 34th Street, where they bring in bags and bags of mail. But still, since I'm a firm believer in complaining to the people responsible for the decision, if you are so inclined, you could write to:
Ballantine Books
1745 Broadway
New York, NY 10019

What would make a difference? The big one is the movie being made, which I don't know that anyone can influence. You could support other movies along those lines so the studio will think this one would do well, but I'm not sure how they're classifying this project -- as a romantic comedy, or as fantasy -- and I'm never sure how they classify other movies, so I'm not sure what they'd look at when making a decision. Most fantasy these days seems to be more in the kids' movie category, and romantic comedies haven't been wildly successful this year (because most of them have seriously sucked). I've never heard of a movie getting made because fans demanded it, so I don't know if it would be worthwhile to Google contact information for Universal and write about having seen something about them optioning this book and asking when the movie will be coming out because you're dying to see it. They'd need millions of people to want to see it, so I'm not sure if a few letters or e-mails would matter.

Otherwise, I think it would take something really big to get publishers' attention -- like every single Barnes & Noble store in the entire country selling or special ordering at least one copy of each book in the series, all in a single week (or, preferably, for several weeks), so it would create a serious blip that might make the chain start asking questions. Or a grass-roots fan campaign that gets the attention of some major book blogs and then the publishing industry blogs/press, which would make both publishers and booksellers more aware of the demand as well as generating more sales (because it all comes back to sales). The thing is, these aren't things I can do, organize or lead. Grass-roots campaigns that turn out to have been generated by the person they benefit always backfire, even if the grass-roots support was genuine. It would have to be generated and organized and done by the fans with no involvement from me, other than a little cheerleading, and it would have to be big to have an impact. If you need a summer project, knock yourself out and have fun with it, but I know nothing about it (though if it works, it would look great on a resume or college application, and I'd be happy to write reference letters).

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