Moose on the Cover and other Mixed Blessings of Authorhood: A Guest Post by Heather Lende

When If You Lived Here, I’d Know Your Name (Algonquin, 2005) was published I was in a Seattle nursing home recovering from a terrible accident. I was run over by a truck. (I know, it’s all material, but there are easier ways to find something to write about, trust me.)

Anyway, with the new book, Take Good Care of the Garden and the Dogs (Algonquin, too.) I was hoping for a big thing. Sort of Academy Awards meets a New Yorker author event. I imagined adoring fans lined up around the block. I’d wear a skirt and a scarf and my glasses and look like an author. (Or maybe a parka, so I’d look Alaskan. Seth Kantner looks great in that white one. But I don’t have a parka, and no one Outside would believe that it rains as much as it snows in my part of Alaska. Although orange rubber overalls could be sort of Deadliest Catch-y.)

Which brings me to moose on the covers of Alaskan books. I’m two for two now. The latest cover features a moose riding a bicycle. What I have learned, is that authors write books but publishers sell them. Mine assures me, and so far has been correct, that a moose on the cover sells books to people who don’t live where there are real moose. Moose make people smile, like Bullwinkle, or underwear. The reason you write is so people will read what you say, and if that’s how to do it, well, let there be moose. The good news is that if there is a moose on the cover, then you don’t have to put the word “Alaska” in the title and that makes it easier to come up with one.

But back to the big book launch fiasco. (In my mind it was a fiasco. My husband says I daydream too much. That is another side effect of the writing life.) The launch was supposed to be May 18th. In Haines, the small town where I have lived most of my life now, the 18th is high school graduation. The whole town, more or less, turns out to wish the twenty grads well. So, the bookstore was allowed to sell my book on the 17th. I was to leave on the book tour the 19th. That way, I’d be gone three weeks during which time everyone could read my book without looking at me funny in the grocery store. (I had no idea Heather was off her rocker so badly… Maybe she shouldn’t coach our children in cross –country… I can’t believe she wrote that about me… I’m going to kill her… Or her chickens… She must be making a gazillion dollars and could donate a lot more to the library endowment fund.)

Instead, on Wednesday April 28th, Liz from the bookstore called me up and said my book was out in Juneau, so she needed to get some signed and for sale asap. So, my big day was spent with Liz and the boxes of books. Walter came in and talked about his mother dying, and bought a copy. Ron stopped by looking for a calendar, and asked if that was my book and bought three. That was it. I wore whatever I had on, jeans and something. I forget already.

But here’s the thing: just holding that brand new book with my name on it made me feel like a queen. Over the moon. Really. It is thrilling. Which is all a long way of saying hello and welcome to the writer side of my life. (The rest is an open book.) I will be guest posting about what it feels like to have a book published, the book tour, or whatever writer-ly things you’d like to know from me. Please ask and I’ll do my best to be helpful.

Scroll to Top