Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Ten Thousand Good Things

by Priscille Sibley

Today my baby, The Promise of Stardust, is being born.  As a neonatal intensive care nurse, I have witnessed the miracle of birth many times. I know the Book Pregnant metaphor is pretty thick around here, but this birthing a book is not quite the same thing as delivering a baby. I'm not preparing a radiant warmer or a laryngoscope or making certain the suction is prepared if we need it. No, this birthing a book is all new. Want a peek at my newborn?

Here's a glance through the nursery window at Target. (I admit, I got them to give me a preview yesterday. Think of this as one of those new-fangled, high-definition ultrasounds.)

Let me tell you just a tad about how The Promise of Stardust landed in Target. And I suppose, continuing on with the pregnancy metaphor, this is about my labor. 

A few months ago I received a cryptic call from my agent. You know, there was no warning -- just a ring out of the blue. And then there was this deadly sounding silence as she waited as if I had called her, not the other way around. 

Me: What's wrong?
Her: Nothing. It's all good. Have you already heard from... <editor>?
Me: No...
Her: Oh. I promised not to tell.

My anxiety level rose, but she repeated that it was all good (and my agent is not one to pull punches.)

This was followed by a wait and then finally a call came from my editor: Guess what? 

The news was that The Promise of Stardust had been picked by Target for the February Book Club. (Picture me jumping up and down. Ridiculous happy dance.)

Now when Target picks a book, it keeps it in the store for a year. A full year. This is just wonderful when usually you only get, what, maybe ninety days on the bookstore shelf? And the Target edition is a separate print run with its own ISBN number. It gets that cute little banner. And it faces out! Target stores are located in many places across the country where there are no bookstores. Good news? Great, great news!

To say that I'm thrilled and honored and humbled that Target picked The Promise of Stardust is such an understatement that I hope you will forgive me.

Editor: They will have you write a letter that will go into the front of the book, and they will have you sign a few copies. Oh and this is TOP secret. You can tell no one. No one. 
Me: No problem.

(Of course I was able to tell my husband, but I left my kids in the dark at first.)

A week later my editor emailed me: Target has asked that you sign approximately 5,000 copies… (Then she said she knew that sounded like a lot, but you do 50 or 100 at a time. It's easy.)


I started hyperventilating. 
My teenage son, overhearing the wheezing and other indications of respiratory distress in my room, opened the door and asked: What’s wrong, Mom?
Me: Not wrong. All’s good, but er, here’s some news… (I swore him to secrecy.)
Teenage son walked away: This is really cool. Target!

It was. Really, really cool. Signing 5000 copies is a good problem. 5000! 

A week later, my editor updated me: Good news, Target would like you to sign 10,000 copies instead.
Me, panic attack covered by calm email response: Okay. Squeak. Good problems.

I had no idea how long it would take to sign my name 10,000 times. And I couldn’t tell anyone that I was a little busy signing books.

You see, I didn’t really sign 10,000 books, but I did sign 10,000 "tip-in" sheets. Which if you don't know (I didn't), a tip-in sheet is like the face page (see below). They sent two boxes with tip-ins, two very large boxes. And just as I wrapped my head around the idea of how long it would take me to sign those, they sent a third box. They arrived in mid-November and I had until early December to get them done. Okay. To give you an idea, if they had sent the books not just the tip-ins, we would have been looking at 400 boxes of books. So I was really grateful they boiled it down to three boxes of tip-in sheets.

That is how I spent Thanksgiving week. Not baking pies. Not decorating my house or cleaning for guests. I spent about sixty hours non-stop signing my name. I expended the ink of a dozen pens. My hand didn't go numb or cramp up although I did have a wicked, wicked stiff neck, which has since recovered. Sigh. These were good problems. Labor pains. Good, good, good. 

But how did I do it all? At Thanksgiving? I didn’t. My husband cooked Thanksgiving dinner. God bless him. My kids’ rooms were a mess, but they are doing their own laundry these days and growing up.

Someday I'm going to do some of the things I haven't gotten around to doing while book pregnant. I will repaint the bathroom and my kid's room where the contractor had to dig through the wall to fix the plumbing, but for now a few things will have to wait. Life is busy with a new baby.

I work, write, and do 10,000 things about which I can finally speak. And I rely on the kindness of family and friends, and yes even strangers who held the door open wide when I shipped back the tip-in sheets.

The truth is we cannot do it all. Not alone. We rely on so many people to help us through this. My agent. My editor. The wonderful sales person who put my book in the hands of the Target buyer and into the hands of the independent bookstores and into the hands of the chain stores. My husband. My kids. My writer friends who listen to me whine, who share my good news on Facebook and Twitter. Thanks to everyone who has gone that extra mile. Like every writer, I listed many of the people who helped with my book on my acknowledgement page. Thank you. The Promise of Stardust is my baby, but I am very grateful to all the people who helped deliver it into the world.  Now I think I'm going to swaddle my baby and bid you all a good day. 


  1. Oh Priscille! I could just feel your joy in this post! So, so happy for you!!

    1. I am a very happy woman. So happy to have the book out there.

  2. Congrats, Priscille! Hope it's a wonderful day!

  3. How exciting! Congratulations on your book launch! Can't wait to read it!

  4. Amazing news on the Target book club pick!

  5. This is a beautiful story. Congratulations!

  6. Wow...I can't even imagine signing my name 10k times...though I wish I had that problem...a big congrats btw...


    1. Thank you. It took more hours than I thought, but it is a good problem. I feel very, very fortunate.

  7. Love this post. And you are so right: It takes a village to birth a book baby. But 10,000 signatures? Oh my…!

  8. Priscille, I can tell you that the joy of being a Target club pick doesn't ever dim. Friends have texted me photos from all over the country when they see The Secrets of Mary Bowser in their local Target. As much as I share your pleasure in making a Thanksgiving pie, this is REALLY something for an author to be thankful for (and having a guy who makes you dinner while you sign is also pretty damn wonderful, isn't it?)

    CONGRATULATIONS to you, and let me know if you're in Portland any time.

    1. Thank you so much, Lois! It is indeed a blessing! Thank you for stopping by Book Pregnant. See you on the Target shelves!

  9. That's a lot of signing! I'm very impressed and so happy about the Target deal! congratulations! This is Anne Barnhill!

  10. I just got your book last weekend and I am LOVING IT!! I was just on Amazon hoping you had more! :( I know I will be done with this in no time. Congrats!!

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