from manuscript to bookstore -- the publishing process

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From Justine:

"When you mention a "hook" for publicity, has there been any talk of tying the book's release to the anniversary of 9/11? You said the book may be out in October, shortly after that date. It seems to me that this is a very difficult issue as it's hard to strike the right note between publicity for a book and the "hook" of terrorist attack with resultant huge loss of life. On the other hand, you might benefit from the fact that enough time has passed since those awful events that people ought to be more reflective about their impact and less knee-jerk hysterical. Of course, if we're the middle of a very hotly contested presidential race next October, there's no telling what sort of demogoguery we're going to be subjected to around the issue of 9/11 and its aftermath."

Oh, you betcha! I'm going to answer this before going back to the other comments, because this is a central issue. A member of my writing group asked me in Nov. 2001, when I started bringing my chapters in, whether I was worried about charges of exploitation, and it's been an issue ever since. My attitude then was, 9/11 and its implications -- not politically, but in each of us -- was THE thing on my mind, so I had to write about it; but I've been aware all along of the risky nature of the venture. A number of publishers refused to bid on the book because, "We can't touch the subject matter." Bantam seems to have decided to do the book at the anniversary -- an October book will ship in September, so it's actually right around the date, not shortly after -- because though the book isn't "about" 9/11, it's set in the aftermath, its incidents are triggered by the event and colored by it, and there's no way to avoid or deny that. So we might as well deal head on. It's disingenuous to pretend there won't be controversy about this book, and though I was nervous at first ("May," I was thinking, "April or May...") I think now they're absolutely right to do it this way.

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