Friday, March 7, 2008

I Hope They All Had A Good Time In Sofia

I was all set on Monday (March 3) to celebrate the U.K. publication date of The Dead And The Gone, only my copies hadn't arrived and I refused to believe the book actually existed until I could see it for myself.

I had my blog entry all planned, a little d&g, a little Day of the Liberation of Bulgaria (coincidentally celebrated on March3). Most likely it would have been my greatest blog entry ever, and would certainly have increased my slowly gained readership by a readership or two.

But in spite of my staring wistfully out the window the entire day, the books didn't arrive. Tuesday, I e-mailed my very nice British publisher and without mentioning certain late eighteenth century unpleasantries even once, let her know of my heartbreak. I even used the word wistfully, which is more than Thomas Jefferson ever did.

Wednesday, when I was doing my volunteer work, someone from my very nice British publisher's office called to say they'd sent the books to my agent. Because my life is filled with wistful sadness, I didn't pick my messages up while I was volunteering, so I didn't get to brag to Marci and Carol that I'd gotten an actual phone call from a completely different country. They would have been real impressed too (drat and curse).

Once I heard the message, I e-mailed my agent and asked about the books (my books!). Sure enough, the books had been mailed there. But they swore they'd send them to me.

My agent was as good as her word, sort of. Today, I got a package of seven copies of The Dead And The Gone, UK Style. The thing is, my contract says I should get 10 copies, which means even if my agent took her traditional commission, I should have gotten 8 1/2 copies. But seven copies is better than none, especially when the book looks so good.
At the end of the book, there's this page that says: If you have enjoyed The Dead And The Gone you must read Life as we Knew it the first thrilling novel in Susan Pfeffer's terrifying sequence about the catastrophic disaster that plunges the whole world into chaos. Then there's a section from LAWKI, the part where the family comes down with the flu.

As soon as I got my copies, I sent an e-mail to my nice British publisher to say Thank You! and I Love It! And guess what? My nice British publisher called me! We talked about how beautiful The Dead And The Gone looks, and the difference between British and American book designs (she favors British). We made social chit chat. And then she asked what I was currently working on. So I told her.

"Five years later," she said. "I assume things have gotten better in those five years."

"Well no," I said. "Actually things are a lot worse."

"But surely they've figured out energy sources," she said.

"Coal," I said (very proud of myself). "And wind power."

My very nice British publisher clearly liked the wind power. I could tell even though she was calling me from an entire ocean away. "So what's the world like?" she asked.

"Well," I say. "The federal government wasn't very strong anyway, so it's pretty much collapsed and now there are federal cities and there are these towns and they're kind of like city states. And society has gotten stratified, with social status based on what you can do for society, so there are upper classes called tiers and everyone else is a drog."

"Ah," said my very nice British publisher. "So we're back to twelfth century feudal Europe."

"Exactly!" I said. And then I explained how Caitlin escaped from an arranged marriage and joined the performing troupe thinking she'd get to perform because she was the understudy and even though she did perform, mostly she was the troupe's slave and the book was about how she suffered but ultimately triumphed.

And my very nice British publisher never once hung up on me! Well, she did eventually, but that was after we said goodbye and wished each other a nice weekend and that sort of thing.

But before she hung up on me eventually, she said the book sounded more like science fiction than LAWKI/d&g. She asked when would the manuscript make its way to my agent, and I muttered something about revisions and Harcourt. Oh, and she asked if it had a title, and I said how I had this poll on my blog with the choices After The Time Before and Since The Time Before and Neither Of The Above and Neither was winning. I think she liked After The Time Before though.

Anyway it was extremely exciting for me to talk about P3B as though it were a real B. It isn't like I get to talk about drogs that often.

So The Dead And The Gone actually now exists and if there's anybody from Coventry reading this, scurry on over to your local bookstore and buy a copy. Now that I think about it, buy two and send me a half. You can keep The Dead And just long as I get The Gone. I have a particular fondness for that page where it says You Must Read Life as we Knew it. It makes me feel so droglike!


Marci said...

O Frabjous Day! I may yet show up and claim my copy.

Maybe your UK publisher will compete for the rights with Harcourt on P3b. Wouldn't that be nice.

We are suitably impressed that you got a phone message from the UK. And that she called back! And that she likes After the Time Before (which I personally voted for) and hope that you make a pile of money and take us out to lunch.

Becky said...

Must say I love the UK cover. And it is exciting to know that it's available in some places now :)

And just so you know, LAWKI is the May selection for Becky's Online Reading Group.

Anonymous said...

A fine chat with your UK publisher is a thrilling event. Congratulations. Egads. I thought the first two books were sci-fi.

I thought I had resolved my issues with the word 'drog', but reading it at the bottom of your post confirms that, for me, the word does not work, and that I should not have thrown out the list of alternatives I had made. Blame Joan Crawford if you like. 'Drog'. 'Trog'. Her eyebrows blotted out the screen, are the stuff of nightmares, and one could easily envision her beating her children with a wire hanger...and perhaps gnawing on them. But that's 'Trog'. It begins on the front teeth. It works.

'Drog'. It elicits neither empathy, nor sympathy. It stops me cold when I read it. It also sounds too immature for your brilliant readership, and an unlikely word for the powers that be to choose to denote a class distinction.

A bold word is in order here. Perhaps it needn't be invented. 'Foragers', or some such, strikes me as a reasonable fit. Then again, I didn't have a fine chat with even an unbrilliant publisher. Wait a minute. A Latin phrase - non ens - means 'nonentity'. 'Nonens'.


Alice said...



Just thought you should know. Don't tell my mother.

P.S. I concur with bleak up there. I squirm at the word 'drog'. It is far too much like 'droog' for my taste, and while it was satisfying to read A Clockwork Orange and feel superior to my classmates who couldn't figure out what most of the slang meant, I think it's a bit silly. NOT THAT I AM CRITICIZING YOUR BRILLIANCE, MIND YOU.

Alice said...

P.P.S. You should have me do a potential cover art for P3B to impress them. Then if they publish it with that cover, I will get oodles of money. Success!!!!!!!

P.P.P.S. Mama gave me your phone # for the rental agency as a reference and they said it was no longer in service. Maybe she gave me the wrong number? I don't know your email address, but--oh, wait, I think she sends some things to both of us. And maybe it's on this site here. Hm.

Alice said...

P.P.P.P.S. Interesting that they took the dead & the gone and made it THE DEAD AND THE GONE, yes?

Anonymous said...

Is there really the possibility that the British publisher would pick up the book if Harcourt doesn't? Hmmm, that sounds like a win-win alternative. But how will we, your slowly gained readership (and that term I don't like, but I do like 'trog', so we're fifty-fifty) buy the book? I guess I'm dating myself and anything is possible over the internet. And I guess it will be cool to own a book published only in jolly old England, but will they change it so that everyone will be eating Yorkshire pudding instead of beef jerky?

...Glen (who has to do something to his memory to remember his password so he is no longer called Anonymous Glen. But then, sigh, I suppose you'd call me 'Glen who used to be anonymous'.)

Anonymous said...

Oh, yes, one other thing that has nothing to do with this particular blog post, but something I've been meaning to ask you for awhile.

Do you write short stories?

...Glen (anon, alas)

Glen said...

I think I remembered my password.

Just wanted to see if this worked.

I am so proud of my slowly going memory.


Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hi Marci, Becky, Anonynobleak, Alice and Glen(4)-

Greetings to all of you from me and my cat Emily, who is currently sitting on my lap.

First off, thank you always, Becky, for everything you've done for LAWKI. I hope the Becky's Online Readng Group likes LAWKI (and if they don't, feel free to deceive me).

I really like the word drog, because I think it sounds unattractive and somehow derogatory, which, of course, was what I was after. But if any of you want to come up with alternate suggestions, I'm always open to them. It'll take a while before Harcourt reads P3B (assuming they ever do), so I can certainly make the changes.

Speaking of getting ideas and suggestions from people who read this blog, the current title for P3B seems to be Neither Of The Above, which frankly is not the sort of title that's likely to get copies flying off the shelves (assuming it ever gets on the shelves).

As I read the book the other day, I realized how much it's about Caitlin, and how it would be good if the title somehow reflected that. I'm not going to call it The Understudy, and somehow I don't think Caitlin The Drog is going to do it. So if any of you care to name a book you've never read and might never get to read, feel free.

In theory P3B could be purchased by my British publisher and not Harcourt, but obviously I'd like both publishers to buy it. Both houses, I assume, will want to see how d&g does before committing to a third book (Harcourt's been pretty explicit about that; presumably my nice British publisher was too nice and British to be so blunt).

Emily has jumped off my lap. I am free to get up and fold the laundry.

Anonymous said...

A search in Yahoo! of drog, yielded, among other things, the Urban Dictionary has a couple definitions that have to do with drunkenness.

I'm gonna think hard on drog alternatives... Drog is a very hard, very ugly word, and, in so many ways, the perfect word, and yet....

Marci said...

Alice's mother reads this blog.

I don't object to Drog, but it is a little like dog.

Caitlin's Tale. Very Canterburyish, short and to the point. Too girly?

Hello to Emily. And Alexander for that matter.

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hello to Anonymous and to Marci-

I'm always in favor of other people doing my work, so feel free to come up with words and titles.

In fact, if anyone named Anonymous really does offer a usable suggestion, I'll write an acknowledgement, along the lines of, "I wish to thank Anonymous for their suggestion of..."

And I'll be sure to spell Anonymous correctly!