When I got the call last year that Night Lost debuted at #21 on the New York Times mass market extended bestseller list, I was dumbfounded. That had never happened to me, and I had basically resigned myself to the fact that it never would.
Once the shock wore off, however, I calmed down and pegged it as a one-time fluke. Maybe it was a slow month, maybe the bookstores unpacked my boxes first, or maybe a couple of thousand people were bored, wanted something new to read, and decided this while standing next to the V shelf. No way would it happen again.
I kept up that attitude until January, when Evermore debuted at #21 on the Times list, and hung on for a second week at #30. Amazing stuff, or so I thought until I got yelled at for it.
You see, as it has been explained to me, it's not making the list another time, it's what number your book makes on the list. According to my publisher's rules, their marketing people may not refer to me as a NYT bestselling author until my novel makes it to #20 or better. So while my books have appeared on the extended list three times now, I'm still publicized as only a USA Today bestseller (I notice that my series, however, is being touted on online bookseller sites as a NYT bestseller. Different set of rules for the books, I guess.)
Since my second experience of having a novel make the Times list was pretty much ruined by all the unhappiness it caused in NY, I couldn't look forward to my next release. In fact, for the last couple of weeks, I've been dreading it. I keep thinking, with my luck? The book will hit #21 on the list again, and this time they'll send someone to the house to break my legs.
So, before my next release hits the shelves on July 1st, should I:
A. Leave the country and hide out in Europe until it's all over and they're mad at someone else.
B. Have my phone and ISP service turned off until it's all over, etc.
C. Hire a sweet-voiced secretary to say I can't come to the phone or answer e-mail because I'm suffering from a case of acute tinnitus and pink eye.
D. Hire a mean-voiced secretary to say I'm not available and not to bother me or I may decide to make a living writing dog food commercials.
D1. Check out the exciting career opportunities available in the dog food commercial writing field.
D2. I do love dogs almost as much as I love cats.
D3. I'd get to work with David Duchovny, too, if Pedigree signed me, right?
D4. But David's still married, and I'm in a committed relationship too.
E. Get a prescription for Valium and stay on it for the entire month of July.
F. Practice New Age excuses for the book not performing to expectation, like, "The planets weren't aligned correctly" or "I forgot to have my chakrahs balanced" or "Someone must have drained the energy from my writing aura."
G. Blame it on a conspiracy by the Times to keep me at #21 in retaliation for all the times I've made fun of their badly-worded annual rec lists.
H. Hire some big guys from the old neighborhood to answer the phone and casually mention how much they love me, how willing they'd be to stomp into the ground anyone upsets me, and how quickly they can be in New York.
H1. Hire some big guys from the old neighborhood to break both of my legs as a preemptive move, go into the hospital that doesn't have WiFi, and unplug the room phone.
H2. Okay, pretend to have them break both of my legs.
I. Start a Times list betting pool for the new release, and put all my money on #21.
J. Start a rumor that #21 on the Times list is better than #20 and, in fact, usually outsells them.
K. Put my fingers in my ears and sing La-La-La continuously for the next five weeks.
L. Have a highly-publicized nervous breakdown, and twitch and foam at the mouth uncontrollably whenever someone says the words "bestseller list."
M. Consider that I'm already having a nervous breakdown and just haven't realized it yet.
M1. Try to find a therapist who won't break down in tears halfway through the first session.
M2. There's no shame in going back to the therapist, you know, or making her cry again. The poor woman probably needs the emotional outlet.
N. Become a Victoria's Secret Lingerie Model and make Heidi Klum my BFF so I can get Seal's new albums and some of those cute four-leaf clover gold earrings for nothing.
O. Hey, I'm fantasizing here.
P. Have the part of my brain that worries surgically removed.
Q. Take a very looooooooooooooooooong nap.
R. Call Alison Kent and keep her on the phone for five weeks.
S. Go alligator hunting and get lost in the Everglades with a large, single, strapping young male guide who finds me wildly attractive and hasn't had sex since Clinton was in office.
S1. P.S., Bring lots of vitamin E, good sunscreen and strong mosquito repellent.
T. Write a blog post about bestseller list dread, laugh at myself, and then just let it go.
U. But check on the availability of the guys from the old neighborhood, just in case.
Cast your vote in comments.