24 January 2007

P-O'd

Patience. It's not only a virtue, it's a crock of shite.

As I have written before, patience is not a quality I've taken on and, in spite of efforts, it has not taken to me, either. It is obvious we are like oil and water; a combination that can mix well for a brief period of time...and then off we go to our opposing corners where our true colors can shine. Over the years, I have made a grand effort at being patient. I figured it was a lesson I needed to learn, like playing well with others...but that's only gotten me into excruciatingly banal conversations at a dinner party, or the wrong boyfriend, sometimes in the same night. Being patient generally gets me just irritated. And whenever I have attempted patience on a grander scale (beyond simply abstaining from honking at the imbecile in front of me who nodded off at the green light), it inevitably turns around to bit me in the ass.

Case in point: Publishing. I started my own imprint because of my lack of patience. I didn't want to spend half a year shopping a book around, finding the right agent who could get me the right publisher who would offer the right deal. No. I am a Do-It-Yourself kind of kid. Besides, I saw it as an adventure in which I would learn so much...including the ever elusive P word. Phooey.

I received my first lesson in publishing patience when it took 8 inexplicable weeks to finalize the book for print. It didn't take me that long to write the futhermucker, and if I went to complain about it to a friend, they would all say something irritating like, "Just be patient. It's still an accomplishment to have a book done so quickly. You should be proud." Please. The real accomplishment was that I had not gone postal, ripping off heads and tearing new assholes at those who slowed my pace. I tried to remember, this was an adventure. A journey. A lesson. One that made me clench my teeth.

Unlike say a Simon & Schuster, I did not get a release date for my book. When it was done, it was done and would be listed with distributors and available for sale. I asked for a timeline for when the online merchants would pick it up. They had no idea. It was kind of a willy-nilly thing. I was told, "Just be patient. Keep checking the websites. You should be up any day now." A wiser, more seasoned publisher might’ve been able to finesse online stores for pre-sales and get some hype going, but I was merely a publette. I understood that it was a process, it would take time, and I would need to be patient. But not for long. Within a day, it was ready to go. Amazon was first to pick it up...and last. So I waited. And waited. A week went by and I inquired about the other listings, mainly the distribution channels, and was told, "They should have it. Just be patient. It takes time." I had no choice, it seemed, but to heed the advice I was given. So I took my thumb and inserted it...well, you get the idea.

Perhaps I should've known something was amiss when I saw my book was on Barnes & Noble online, but listed as not available. But I, being a cynic, just figured they didn't like me and didn't want my pretty pink book. Fine by me. Amazon liked me. They were my friends (both US and UK), and we would do just fine conquering the world and mending broken hearts one book at a time. After all, I was patient. I understood that it takes time. Taking my rejection incredibly well, I philosophized that not every girl will be asked to the dance.

And then a handsome suitor called.

I won't say which mega-chain emailed me about carrying my book, but it was then that I found my distribution listings had not been set up as they should have been...IN EFFING OCTOBER! Merde. As soon as I received the message, I called the people responsible for listing such things to find out what was going on, and how quickly could we get the problem solved, as there was a mega-chain who wanted my book in their stores for Valentine’s Day. Oh, and there was one major hiccup...the mega-chain has an exclusive deal with a certain distributor and, thus, can only buy the book from that company. FUGH.

With the first call, I was told that everything looked right, and that I would have to be patient...the person I need to speak with had left for the day. I waited until morning and called my rep who said she didn't see anything wrong, that she would look into it...and would call me tomorrow. The next day (#3), I was told that it would be a few days before the listing would go up as they would have to wait for current orders to be filled, then take the book out of production to reconfigure the listing and set it up back again. But time does not stop or even slow for things such as this. Mega-chain. Order. Valentine’s Day. Tick-effing-tock, people! When I inquired if there was any way humanly possible to speed up the process, as I was willing to do just about anything to get this listing up, I was told there was nothing I could do but wait. Ha!

It seems they don't know me very well.

Day #6, I called the distribution company and finally (three calls later) got through to someone who knew whom I should talk to: Publisher Relations. Duh. I called, got voicemail and impatiently waited for a return. Day #7, I got a call back. I explained the situation to my pub rep who said, "Put it in an email,” and hung up. Gotcha. Done. I will now make a long story a bit shorter for you and say that I called and emailed this woman everyday for another six calendar days, and was told, "Be patient. This takes time. And you aren't the only title I'm dealing with. We have thousands." To which I said, "Lady, I have been patient. Two weeks' worth of patient. And I can pretty much guarantee that not all of those thousand titles have an order waiting to be placed by a mega-chain who has an exclusive deal with your company." She said, "Maybe not, but you are just going to have to wait. It takes time."

By this point, I knew all the things in the world that take time. Growth takes time. Wisdom takes time. Getting anywhere in LA takes time. Baking a cake takes bloody time. Getting a book listed in a database, however, takes an effing MOUSE CLICK!

After 14 days of being told to be patient, I lost mine for good. It was not an ugly sight, but was surely uncomfortable at times for a few of the recipients. However, losing my patience actually got me to the right person at the distribution company, one who solved the effing riddle in THREE HOURS. One hundred and eighty minutes, and a bloody mouse click later, my book is listed as it should be. A few folks were forced to eat some crow and we all learned the true value of a little impatience.

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