The bound galleys . . . uncorrected proofs. . . of my latest work, The 30-Day Heart Tune-Up, arrived last week, and I celebrated, as I always do, the birth of a new book. (Even though I’ve had more than 40 “children,” each one is still special to me!) It will be in hard covers and on bookstore (and Amazon) shelves on February 4, 2014–just in time for Valentine’s Day, Heart Month, and also, most likely, the next Congressional argument with Obama about the budget and the debt ceiling! Oh how politics and history play havoc with book releases and publicity plans. I do recall in 2000, when the Gore/Bush election was contested and the country’s breath hung on every Floridian chad, that I felt so sorry for authors publishing books then. . . I knew that despite months-long planning and expenditures of great sums of money, none would get any air time on “The Today Show” or “CBS this Morning” or “Good Morning America,” and I felt their pain.
Little did I know that the following year, I would be facing a worse fate. My wonderful book, In the Company of Women–Indirect Aggression Among Women: Why We Hurt Each Other and How to Stop, was published on Sept 10, 2001. Yes, one day before 9/11. My partners had already embarked on a whirlwind book tour that was to include a spot on “The Today Show.” Our book was covered in a full-page article in Time Magazine. “This is it,” I’d thought then. “This book is going to make it to the top.” So as I watched in horror as the buildings crumbled and wept for the thousands of lives senselessly lost, I didn’t lament the aborted launch of our book. But, indeed, who could pay attention to anything else that week, month, or year? To its credit, the publisher re-released the book 6 months later, and my partners did appear on GMA, but the best-seller momentum was lost, although I do have to say that the book continues to sell even now.
Such is the fate of authors. Quixotic at best, the publishing industry is subject to the vagaries of fad and fashion but also to the harsh realities of time and place. All of us cast our fates to the wind. . . fearing the worst, hoping for the best. Many of us work hard to get our books out to the public. My dear friend, science writer Linda Marsa, for instance, just published Fevered: Why a Hotter Planet Will Hurt Our Health–And How We Can Save Ourselves. She has been crisscrossing the country for the last couple of months, signing books, speaking on panels, being interviewed, getting the word out. It’s a full-time job–one she readily undertook–but it’s exhausting and expensive nonetheless. My current partner, Dr. Steven Masley, is preparing a documentary on the subject of The 30-Day Heart Tune-Up which will appear on PBS. If all goes well, it will be broadcast when the book launches in February. But will anyone buy the book if the nation is glued to CNN, worrying that the government will be shut down, pulling the world economy and our fragile recovery with it? Who’s to say?
And the more’s the pity. Because this is an excellent book. Filled with solid advice about a diet that anyone (including me) can follow, great recipes, reasonable exercise goals, lifestyle choices that reduce stress, recommendations for supplements to help the process, and even a chapter on the positive feedback loop between a healthy heart and a robust sex life. My fondest wish is that it gets into the hands of people who could benefit from it. . . which means most of us! Only time and the ineffable march of history will tell. . . And so I wait and hope for the best.