I heard the truck pull up outside. I peered out my front door and watched the driver check the delivery slip. By the time he walked to the back of the truck, I stood in the street, waiting for the back panel to rise.
The books were here. This would be my first glimpse.
I explained to the driver, “This is my first chance to see these books. I’m the author.” “You are? That’s cool.”
As he unloaded the pallet and wheeled it up the driveway, the delivery guy asked what the book was about, and when I told him what a journey it had been to get to this moment, he smiled heartily. “Congratulations! I’m proud of you! Do you want me to take your picture with them?” I handed over my phone and smiled for the camera.
What could have been an impersonal delivery was now a celebration.
I leaned over the shipment and cut loose the plastic that held it. “Do you want to see?” I opened the top box and lifted out the first book. “That’s a nice looking book!” he enthused. “Hey, can I buy one right now?”
I pulled out a pen and opened the cover. “What would you like me to write?” Derek (by now, I knew his name) replied, “Can you say something like, ‘Thank you, Mr. Delivery Guy’?” I did just that and added “Happy Landings! Patti Bender” and the date.
My first, signed book.
You might have thought–and I might have, too–that I’d sign the first book to my mom, who was waiting inside, or to myself, even, but this was perfect. Throughout this process, I’ve met people in restaurants, museums, libraries, hotels, on the street–and on this website–who were kind when I approached, showed interest, helped me out in some way, or extended a kindness I didn’t expect. Biography can be a lonely business, but these moments of connection have made solo travel and research a true joy.
The lion’s share of this print run have gone to the Simon & Schuster warehouse and will appear on store shelves and in libraries after the release date, March 14, 2023.
My shipment will be autographed for family, friends, and pre-orders. I’ll hold some back to take with me to author events.
There’s a lot of work to do, I can see that it’s going to take awhile. I set up a little work station to sign, package, and address books. Each of the autographed books will also get a custom-designed bookmark as a special thanks from me.
I took the first batch of books to the post office yesterday, loaded into the Boston Public Library book bag that my niece Jessica gave to me years ago. At last, it finds its true purpose!
The book is beautiful. The jacket, of course, is the eye-catcher. That sky blue will be seen across the room, distinct from the grays and browns and blacks of its neighboring biographies. The cloth cover is “Flag Blue” with silver stamping on the spine. It’s just right–both nautical and classy.
The real treat comes, though, when you begin to read. The paper is smooth, thin, and yet perfectly opaque, a real pleasure to handle. Quality workmanship allows the book to lie flat when you open it to a page–no fighting with springy covers that want to close on you.
I thank my lucky stars for my publisher, David Wilk of City Point Press, whose team of veteran editors and designers wrestled down the complex structure of Happy Landings which includes text with embedded quotes, 123 images, 351 sidebar quotes, 971 reference notes, and a 45-page index. The font choices throughout, but especially at section and chapter headings, wonderfully represent Emilie’s time period and convey her sense of optimism.
I’ve begun to schedule book launch and author events, which seems amazing. I’ll soon replace the “Pre-order” page in this website’s Menu with an “Events” page, so you can come out and participate when I’m in your area. I hope to include some Zoom events, so we can “get together” wherever you are.
If you’ve been to any really fun author events, please tell me about them in the comment section below.
Next time, I have a ghost story to tell. In the meantime,
Happy Landings, everyone!