I kind of wish it were a sprint

Measuring 8-by-5 inches, weighing 11.2 ounces, I am happy to say “Dead Jed” has been released upon the world, celebrating its official publication date today. Shortly after midnight, Eastern Standard Time, I received a note from Amazon it had been delivered to my Kindle, and less than 12 hours later, the paperback was available for shipment.

Back in June, I scheduled a vacation this week, thinking I might need to devote time to a school appearance, maybe even a signing at a local book store. Last month I made the rounds, book in hand, to a few bookstores, a handful of libraries, and dished them off to some friends who knew people in schools and libraries.

I sent out a few follow-up emails, hoping to get an invitation. No luck. So it turns out I will have plenty of time this week for other things. Washing my car. Walking the dog. Dusting … no, not dusting. That is most odious of all household chores. Even disappointment won’t drive me to dust.

I’ve looked forward to this day for five years, from the second I wrote the first chapter. It was a combination of Christmas, my birthday and my son’s college graduation (which hasn’t happened yet, but when it does it is going to be huge). Even with those great expectations, I kept telling myself to relax, that it’s a marathon, not a sprint, that if “Dead Jed” spends days, even weeks in stealth mode, it was OK. Keep contacting bookstores and libraries and schools. Work on spreading the word. Maybe by this time next year, the book will have built enough momentum that the second book flies off the shelves, or at least from servers to ebook readers.

Still …

So today will be spent quietly at home, wandering around the internet to find some early reviews, and prepping for the marathon.

To put it all in perspective, I recall an event that occurred just a few weeks ago.

On a very warm and pleasant Saturday, armed with a handful of brand-spanking-new books in my car, I stopped by the Phoenix area’s foremost independent bookstore — Changing Hands in Tempe. I grabbed one of the books off the pile and headed inside, and realized I had no idea who to see. I stepped to the counter, behind a mom who was buying about a dozen books for her two children who stood at her side. The daughter — mayebe 10 — and the son — around 8 — stood on tiptoe with fingertips on the counter, watching as the transaction progressed.

I noticed two copies of the latest  “Diary of a Wimpy Kid.” This was my audience! I tapped the mom on her shoulder. “Excuse me, but it’s apparent you’ve got a couple of avid readers. I’ve written this book about a 13-year-old zombie and I was wondering if I could give you a copy …”

Suddenly the children’s eyes lit up. The girl snatched it out of my hand and said, “Oh yes, and you have to sign it, I can’t believe I’m  meeting an author in real life.” The boy chimed in, “That is so cool, how did you do it? I want to be a writer some day. I can’t wait to tell everyone I met you.”

Anyone who has ever written for others knows that everything after “Suddenly” is a dream sequence. Here is what really happened:

Mom: “Oh, that’s nice. Look kids, this man wants you to have his book.”

Daughter: “OK.”

Son: “…”

Mom: “He’s the author. That means he wrote it. Isn’t that wonderful?”

Daughter: “I guess.”

Son: “Yeah, I guess.”

The real beauty to this particular uninspiring encounter is I have no idea how it will turn out. All I asked them to do was tell other kids if they liked the book. I think they will, as fans of Wimpy Kid. So in my mind, this ends with them fighting over who gets to keep the book in their room, and with dozens of other kids hearing about Dead Jed.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.



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