From Publishers Weekly:
I was flying from the Bay Area down to Orange County recently, thinking about my first book and its publication date just a few weeks away. Was there anything we’d failed to do? Was our social media effort gaining any traction? What should I say at my upcoming events at Rizzoli in New York City and Book Passage in San Francisco?
And then I looked out the window as we passed over the Los Angeles harbor. Ships, as far as I could see, were anchored for mile after mile. I wondered if my books, coming from Hong Kong, were on one of them, or backed up somewhere across the Pacific Ocean. I suddenly had a very bad feeling.
From the time I began working on my book—an attempt to surface my guiding principles that had shaped my work in architecture—my publishing guru, Gerald Sindell, had been preaching the meaning of “pub date.” It took me a long time to fully understand the significance of that date, but it had begun to sink in, and I had become a believer. Not only a believer—over time I organized my life around pub date. It had become my true north, my lodestar.
Pub date is not just the date a book happens to be available in stores. It can become, in a life that may only comprise one book, the single moment in which what one has to say has the potential to be news—to get attention, to enter into the public discourse. My book turned out to be a bit of a memoir, but much more so a polemic, a plea to architects and the communities that work with them to understand that architecture is not just about pretty buildings, but that architecture, done right, shapes lives.
So I had hoped that my pub date was going to be the moment when the attention of a reviewer here or there, an influencer on Instagram, and/or a respected authority in the academic world would coalesce into some kind of buzz, piquing the interest of the general reader and inspiring them to browse the book online or in person, and maybe take it home. As an added inducement, we had folded a large poster of the nine principles that the book was built around, and hoped it would soon be up on designers’ and students’ walls everywhere.
Soon after my flight landed, I called my editor-in-chief and pleaded once again to find out when the books would be in stock at Ingram’s warehouse in Tennessee, and when they would be on the shelves of the bookstores that had preordered them. After much pressing, the timeline became clearer.
The books were likely to go on board a vessel in Hong Kong soon.
And then they would take about four weeks to reach California.
And then it could take a month to get through customs and into the publisher’s warehouse.
I added this up, and we were looking at late December. Then they would need to find an available trucker and get the books to Tennessee. Add a month or so for that. So, basically, pub date was gone. The supply chain stories I’d been reading about without any particular sense that they might affect me, suddenly did.
Having blown past the Christmas season and the hope that our fully illustrated big-enough-for-a-coffee-table book might become a popular gift, we’ve suspended our publicity for a few months. Working with the publisher, the painfully receding event horizon of that magical moment called pub date has whizzed past January and February (wrong time to introduce a design book, apparently)—so April 5 is now our new date.
I’m not feeling very good about the many thousands of dollars invested so far in our marketing efforts. I’m planning to send a note to the hundreds of early orders for the book that have come from the architecture community to slow down expectations. And then, somehow, in a few months, we’ll need to fire up our efforts once again and attempt to catch the public interest before the zeitgeist is kidnapped by other, unknowable events that might, or might not, sweep in next April.
Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly