On October 13, I fly to San Francisco for the huge Bouchercon Mystery Writers conference with its cornucopia of best selling and seasoned authors. These pros write for big New York publishers like Random House, Simon and Schuster, Penguin, and St. Martin’s Press. Most of these authors have multiple books out and large followings of fans. Their books are available in hard bound copies, followed a year later by massive print runs of paper editions.
Then there is me, Sasscer Hill, published by the small Rockville, Maryland outfit, Wildside Press. Nobody, has ever heard of Sasscer Hill or her first book, FULL MORTALITY, a trade-paperback horse-racing mystery.
In my heart I hear the acoustic guitar of Jimmy Page, the magical voice of Robert Plant and the lyrics of Led Zeppelin’s 1971 classic, “Going to California.”
Broken pieces of the lyrics play in my head as I plan my trip -- words like, “Took my chances on a big jet plane . . .”
The dreamlike, taking-risks quality of this song resonates with me, a new author traveling to the big time with her paperback book in hand. Since I’m with a small press with a no-returns policy, none of the booksellers at the conference will take a chance by pre ordering the book to sell at the convention. I’m forced to pack books in my suitcase and hope I can sell them on consignment.
If I’m lucky enough to get a signing through a convention bookseller, no doubt I’ll be in the same room at the same time, with the likes of Michael Connelly, Robert Crais and the ghost of Stieg Larsson. I hear Led Zeppelin again . . . “I might be sinking. Throw me a line. If I reach it time . . .”
I’m trying hard to get on a panel at Bouchercon, but the competition for these slots is immense. Did I tell you I am an unknown? My book comes out officially on October 15, right smack in the middle of this conference. If I had some cash, I would host a small party to celebrate the launch of FULL MORTALITY, to let folks know it is available in book stores and as a download on Kindle and Ipad. But there is no cash. When I think like this, Robert Plant is singing, “Standing on a hill in my mountain of dreams, telling myself It’s not as hard, hard – hard as it seems.”
Still, I can do this! I’m a darn good writer, my book is better than average, and I will make friends out there. I will tell myself it’s no big deal. I will follow my heart and chase my dream.