Pamela Redmond Satran on Making “The List”:
When Christina asked me to write a guest blog about how it feels to be on the New York Times Bestseller List — my new humor book, How Not To Act Old, is #7 on the Paperback How To, Advice, and Miscellaneous for August 23 – all I could think was: I better write this fast.
Although I am determined not to be one of those people who complains about her success -“My book tour was so exhausting, and why was I #7 instead of #1?” – I have to admit that the experience of landing on The List for the first time in 17 books (or maybe 18 or 19; I really have lost track) is not total finger-snapping and blue skies.
Maybe that’s because I’m not really sure what this amounts to. Is it an extremely nice accolade that I will forevermore be entitled to couple with my name: New York Times Bestselling Author, kind of like Duchess, or Oscar winner? Or it is the first step – okay, the eighth or twenty-ninth – in the trajectory of the kind of book that changes not just your career, but your life?
I’m trying to stay in the moment here, but I can’t help looking at my company on the Bestseller List – at the skinny bitches and the guys who hope they serve beer in hell – and think: Jesus, those people cashed in. Their books are famous, they made wheelbarrows full of money, and maybe that will happen to me.
And then I have to go throw some salt over my shoulder, knock on some wood, and kiss the fang of a sabertooth tiger – whatever it takes to ward off the juju you attract by daring to think something good might really happen.
On the other hand, isn’t this one of those moments I should seize by being smart about my career, figuring out how to build on this success by doing the right book proposal, taking the right chances, making the most of this amazing piece of luck?
I’ve heard other people who made The List say it was the result of concerted effort over a long time by a lot of people, but I wouldn’t say that was true for me. The editor who bought my book and indeed my whole publishing division was disappeared mere months before my book came out. There was a protracted struggle over the cover of the book (I won), which made me question whether my publisher even understood the property and the market. I was assigned to a publicist who was on maternity leave until just a few months before the pub date, missing the deadline for all the long-lead magazines.
But the publicist turned out to be well worth the wait, the best I have ever worked with. I made a key first-serial sale myself, to the amazing Lesley Jane Seymour and Judy Coyne at More Magazine, the perfect venue for the book. Attention for the blog that launched the book – HowNotToActOld.com – sparked online sales that helped catapult the book onto the bestseller list right out of the gate.
And so now I have three more full days to enjoy having a book on the New York Times Bestseller List. And even if How Not To Act Old falls off the list on Wednesday evening, when the new roster is announced, it will still show up on the Bestseller List that’s in the actual newspaper next Sunday, which will give it a whole new boost and fresh visibility among thousands of book lovers and potential readers.
Ultimately I feel proud that this project, which I started because no one was interested in the magazine article, which I sold for a low advance to the only publisher who bid on it, which was orphaned and battered before rising to these heights, has achieved one of the most impressive commercial feats possible for a book. I plan to take full advantage of that feeling, for as long as it lasts.
Pamela Redmond Satran is the author of 18 books, including five novels (Younger, The Man I Should Have Married) and ten bestselling baby-naming books (Beyond Jennifer & Jason, Cool Names for Babies) coauthored with Linda Rosenkrantz. She and Linda are also the developers of baby-naming site nameberry. Pam cowrites The Glamour List, writes for The Daily Beast and The Huffington Post, and is the author of a book called 1000 Ways To Be A Slightly Better Woman. And, oh yes, she runs an 800-member social networking group called MEWS.