I have to admit that when I first heard the term book birthday, I was really confused. According to the Merriam Dictionary, birthday has two meanings. It’s the anniversary of a birth or it’s the day of a person’s birth. Normally, we celebrate birthdays for humans or beloved pets in the anniversary sort of way. Not too many people say, “happy birthday” to a newborn infant, of if they did they might say to the mother, “Congrats on giving birth,” and hope that it was a safe and easy one. Birthdays don’t really get going until a full year later. So a birthday, in essence, functions more like an anniversary of a birth. The day we are born, we’re considered zero and then after 12 months we celebrate the YAHOO-very-big-deal first birthday.
Books are completely different.
On the day a book is born is considered the book birthday. The exact, very day.
The first time I saw people posting on Facebook that it was their book birthday, I honestly thought they meant their book had turned one-years-old. And I thought cool. They’re remembering their book anniversary. And I was seriously impressed that they remembered such a thing.
My seventh book, Queen of Likes, a middle grade, is coming out soon, in about six weeks so I remember that date, April 5. But I couldn’t tell you my other book anniversaries (unless I cheated and looked to see when the book were actually published). All I know is that my new book is coming out and it makes my stomach go all knotty. It feels more like getting ready for a really big deal date, maybe to the prom (which I never went to but I figure that must make a girl or guy get all butterfly filled).
Birthdays, regular ones, on the other hand, don’t do that for me. On birthdays, I sort of expect people to do things for me. You know, like presents, and for my kids to load the dishwasher and make me cute cards.
My book birthday is completely different.
My book is demanding. She’s a real diva. She wants a party thrown just for her. And she expects a whole lot of attention and compliments. And guess who’s got to do all the party planning? Me.
The book never does anything for herself. She’s pretty self-centered when it comes right down to it.
I’ve never once heard her say thank you.
Or paid me a compliment.
But I’m not going to complain because she doesn’t talk back to me either.
In the past, I would do anything to please my book.
Once, I tried a really gimmicky birthday party. I invited the Ugliest Dog in the World (yes, there is a such a thing. There’s a World’s Ugliest Dog Contest and the winners do the talk show circuit). That book was called Things Are Gonna Get Ugly, so I thought I’d be really clever, and you know, invite this celebrity dog to appear. Well, the dog came and, hundreds of people came to the signing. And it was even covered by several area Bay Area television stations. But who had the biggest line at the bookstore? Me or the ugliest dog in the world and her handlers?
You guessed it.
The dog won.
A much bigger line.
She was giving out autographs. And swag.
People had to pay for the birthday girl.
It really was no contest.
But this year, I’m just going to have a regular party, and am not going try anything flashy or gimmicky. I think my book will understand.
Hillary Homzie is the author of the forthcoming Queen of Likes (Simon & Schuster MIX 2016), The Hot List (Simon & Schuster MIX 2011) and Things Are Gonna Be Ugly (Simon & Schuster, 2009). She can be found at hillaryhomzie.com and on her Facebook page.