A novel lay-down date is when your book is supposed to hit the store shelves. This doesn't always happen according to schedule, especially if it collides with a gift-giving holiday, but it generally works out. It used to be a ritual, first couple of years I was published, to Go See My Book Land. Now my release and writing schedules are so nuts that it's more like oh shit, I have a book out two or three weeks after the fact.
My latest one was my debut in a new genre, though, so I marked the calendar and made the pilgrimage over the weekend. I went first to the teeny tiny historical fiction section where it should have been shelved. No book. Then I wandered over to the humongous inspirational section and started looking. Still no book. I double checked the Christian fiction and Biblical reference subsections, just to be sure. Zip. I even went over to romance and SF. Nada.
I figured it didn't arrive due to a late shipment, sighed, and went up to the info desk to check when the order was due.
"We have copies," BAM clerk told me. "In Fiction/Literature."
I was horrified. "What? Why?"
"Uh, because it's a literary novel."
"It is not a literary novel," I told her. I was going to get into why, only I remembered that the book is a writer-for-hire gig, which I can't discuss. I had to settle for telling her "That author doesn't write literary novels. You couldn't pay her enough to write literary novels."
She gave me the sure-lady smile. "Would you like me to get a copy of it for you, ma'am?"
So now I'm a literary author. You know what this means. I'll have to stop smiling, immediately, and cultivate that haunted, knowing pout. No more wearing X-Files tshirts and bunny slippers; only cords and turtlenecks in suitable colors like charcoal and algae and burnt parchment. I'll have to have my hair chopped off into an intellectual wedge and wear a fanny pack. For fun -- not that I'm really supposed to have any -- I'll have to sneak out at 1 am on a Thursday, sit in a cafe by a condemned building, drink anisette-flavored latte and sulk while some guy with an uneven goatee and stained khaki dockers reads from Fitzgerald and ad-libs where F. Scott got it wrong.
God, I'm so depressed. See? It's starting already.