I’m sitting at the Antiques Roadshow and in my hand, I have a small vase. The vase is
narrow, with two tiny handles on the sides, and a hallmark underneath that I suspect means it’s worth something.
I’m horribly nervous. The more nervous I get, the more I fidget. Finally, the vase expert is almost ready to see me. He tells me he’ll be over shortly. I’m picking up the vase, wondering at its value. I’m turning it, turning it until...
... one of the little handles snaps off.
I’m horrified. I dig a tube of superglue out of my bag and carefully glue the handle back on. I’m devastated because it’ll have lost value, but hopefully not too much. After all, it has those hallmarks. That means it could still have some value. Again, I pick up the vase to check them. But in doing so, the lip of the vase hits the table and a tiny chip flakes off.
Again, I’m out with the superglue. I carefully glue the chip back into place and set the vase on the table. I must not touch the damn thing again. I reach across, just to position it once more, to find that a drop of glue has found its way onto the table and the vase is stuck fast. I wriggle it, tug it, then wrench it loose. Suddenly, the top of the vase is in my hand but the base is still stuck to the table.
That’s the nightmare. But it feels like it’s coming true. And it’s all down to my current stress levels.
Let me explain.
We haven’t been sleeping. The Girl has had entire nights without sleep. That goes for me, too. The dog has also complained, but I figure he can sleep at any other time and still refuses to help out with the housework, so he doesn’t really count.
I took the Girl to the dentist. I knew she had an enormous cavity, but now we’re worried it’ll abscess and we’ll be in emergency territory, so it’s time to do something about it. I have an appointment with the hospital dental department next Tuesday. On Wednesday I’m taking my mother to her eye specialist for her glaucoma. On the same day I have an appointment with my counselor (thank God). Later in the week I have appointments with the Girl’s liver specialist and the diabetes clinic.
So what better time to organize a promotion on my book, The Candidate's Daughter.
That’s right, there’s a new promotional opportunity in town. It’s called the Kindle Countdown and it gives me the opportunity to discount my book in the US and the UK, and drive myself completely around the twist at the same time.
So I book the promotion in my Amazon page, selecting dates in the third week of November, then book and pay for four advertising slots with various advertisers. I also submit the details to a top advertising organization called Bookbub. Now, if you want results, Bookbub is the place to go. Submitting to them is like sitting at the Antiques Roadshow with that vase in your hand. Having Bookbub select a book for advertising is the equivalent of having the vase expert indicate that he’s on his way over.
And so the nightmare begins.
Bookbub send me an email to say they’ve accepted the book, but not for the dates I wanted. They are the pinnacle of e-book advertising. I’ve heard of books reaching 65,000 downloads on the strength of their advertising. That snap you just heard was the handle of the vase coming off.
I accept their new dates. They’ll promote my book from November 14th to November 17th, so I confirm. Now I’m scrambling; desperate to change the dates with the other advertisers. That’s me gluing the handle back on the vase.
I think I’m just about done. I'm just sitting back and taking a deep breath, when I notice the price of my book has inexplicably changed from $2.99 to $3.77. I try to change it back, but the pricing is greyed out and I can’t. I email Amazon. They tell me it’s to do with territories. I then realize the book is only available at the promotional price in the UK and the US. That’s fine. Everything is in place. A couple of advertisers can’t accommodate me, and one can at a higher price.
At last, I can relax. I have to. The stress from all this has triggered a high-pitched ringing in my head. I need to step back and let the promotion run its course. I have too many other things going on in my life.
But I can’t help myself. I just have to check I have the dates right. I change them to make sure the correct price will be in operation when the promotion starts. This is the equivalent of tipping the vase over to check the hallmarks. When I come back later to check that everything is in place, I see my book isn’t live, it’s a draft. The chip is now lying on the table. I upload the file again. I know I can’t check it for another twelve hours, but I don’t know what else to do. This is me gluing the chip back on. It’s a mess, but I have no other choice. I go back to check the status to discover the publication dates have changed.
The damn vase is now stuck to the table because I can’t change anything for another twelve hours!
I write to Amazon. I’m sending them crazy. I’m sending myself crazy. My counselor tells me she’s glad I’ve got something else in my life. I’m wishing I didn’t. I make a note to tell her I’m way crazier than she thinks.
But here’s the thing. I don’t think I’m alone in this. I think it’s a symptom of someone facing the inevitable when caring for a terminally ill loved one, and trying to keep control of something.
And wish us luck. I, at least, am going to need it.