A friend of a friend has gone into the same large bookstore three times to request my book, without any luck. The store had two copies in October–each store in the chain seemed to receive two copies of my book–but when those were quickly sold, they didn’t order more. The clerk who received this woman’s third request for Walking Backward responded with, “No we don’t have any more copies, but we’ve had quite a few requests for it.” End of sentence. The woman said, “I want to buy it! Are you going to get some in or not?” But that issue seemed beyond the clerk’s sphere of influence, and all she got was a shrug.
I did not expect my book to be in store windows, or even on the shelves with the cover facing out. But I did expect customers to be able to buy it if they asked for a copy. As if it’s not hard enough to write a good book, then find a good publisher, then get a bunch of good reviews, the book stores have to add a whole new level of difficulty to the process. And if friends of friends can’t find it in stores, what are the chances that total strangers might browse by it? Slim.
So that’s a brand new disappointment that a first book can bring… I hope any new authors reading this have better luck with bookstores.
On the other hand, I have been absolutely blown away by a brand new motivation that my first book has brought me: readers! My daily life is suddenly peppered with praise.
Take this weekend. On Sunday my youngest son had a group of friends over for a pizza party. While arranging the drop-offs, one mom said, “I finished your book and I just loved it.” (True, she is a friend, but she really meant it. She teaches high school and hopes to introduce the book to her class.)
In the middle of the party, a neighbour stopped by with a card that praised my “beautiful book.” (She has passed it on to her teenage grand-daughter, who is an aspiring writer.)
Then at the party’s end, a young teenager who came to pick up his little brother said, “I’m halfway through your book. I like it a lot. By page ten, I was laughing out loud. Is there going to be another one?”
Wow. This never happened before. The best I had was, “Still working on that book?” by the few acquaintances who knew I wrote fiction. I never got the feeling that anyone was eagerly awaiting my next story. But now I do. And it is the greatest motivation I’ve ever known.
I am blazing through my new book, anxious to get to the computer each day and tell my story as best I can.
I’m going to send a word of praise to every author whose book I’ve loved. I’ve never done that kind of thing–but I will from now on, because I know it will encourage those writers to keep writing. It will make all the discouraging roadblocks seem pretty flimsy.