Pre-Order Neurosis

The first Pre-order day is always full of free-floating stress looking for things to barnacle. All those months of preparation and planning, all the financial calculations and predictions will be resolved within the next few days. This is when the customers show up to buy, or they don’t. If they do, then we get to proceed toward shiny future A, which includes paying our bills and shipping out a thousand books in less than 30 days. If they don’t, then we have to flee toward contingency plan B. Then there is the unlikely possibility that customer turn out will exceed expectations and we’ll get to trot briskly toward some castle in the sky. (Where we’ll discover that floating castles are a lot more work and expense than one would expect.)

Orders have been open for an hour, and we don’t know yet which financial future we’ll be implementing. Howard and I end up standing in the kitchen away from obsessively checking our computers. Except that we talk, and naturally the conversation turns toward big picture plans. We talk about what to do if this pre-order causes us to sell out of The Blackness Between, forcing an immediate reprint. We think ahead to the next book release. Would it be better to work on the next book in line, which needs recoloring, or should we jump ahead to Massively Parallel which is ready to go? We can’t answer any of these questions today. The right answers depend upon the results of pre-orders and it will be Wednesday or Thursday before we have an accurate prediction on those. So we should table all the questions and wait. We try, but if we’re separate we gravitate to our computers to check on sales. If we’re together our conversations drift toward future plans. Catch 22 and we’re stuck orbiting the question of pre-orders.

In theory the best idea would be for us to get away from the house and ignore the pre-order entirely. Unfortunately I represent the entire customer support department. This requires me to be on hand to help customers who are having trouble with the system or who just need a question answered. We will send Howard away as soon as Dragon’s Keep opens. He’ll go focus on drawing comics. I’ll be here, keeping tabs on things. Theoretically I can get some other things done, small things which don’t require extended focus. In practice that hasn’t happened yet. Instead I’m hovering, watching orders trickle in, and babbling on my blog.