I cannot pass a bookstore without browsing and for a few moments in a Virgin bookstore in the Vancouver airport, I lose myself in the titles. And then I wake up: I’m an author, I’ve a new book just published, is it on the shelves?
I can’t believe it. How is that possible? It’s not that it’s a hardcover, for they do have other hardcover fiction titles displayed, and published by my own publisher — titles not on the Maclean‘s best-selling fiction in Canada list for over two months, I note with angry jealousy. For a crazy moment I consider inquiring of the clerk and imagine her saying, Oh, we just can’t keep it in stock, it flies off the shelves. Instead I skulk away, pouting.
It’s amazing how emotional this can be. I’m not this type of person — normally. But normally, too, I’m not on a book tour, I don’t have a book out and normally I do not have a book on anyone’s best-seller list. A sense of entitlement comes quickly … and lethally.
I remember walking in a mall with my then-young son just before my first book was to be published. Passing a bookstore I told him, “Next time we come, my book will be in that store.” I realized, then, that my bookstore experience would change forever. No longer relaxed and easy browsing. Once I had a book published, I would approach bookstores as an Author, making sure I was presentable, checking to see if my titles were on a table or shelf, and then going up to the clerk and explaining that I was the author of a book on their shelf (pointing), and offering to sign.
It’s a job, what you do. My experiences have been varied, from the manager of a large store jumping up and down with enthusiasm, to an annoyed end-of-day who-needs-this response from a clerk. More and more, I’m asked to prove my identity first with an ID before being allowed to sign.
I came to see airport bookstores as the cream of the crop, and longed for the day when my books would be in one. I remember with great satisfaction when I first saw the titles of the Josephine B. Trilogy on the shelf of a bookstore in a San Francisco airport. As the Trilogy became more successful, I began to even expect to see it.
And so, grumpily, I left the Virgin bookstore in the Vancouver airport and proceeded through check-in. There was another bookstore on the way to my gate: I glanced over the shelves warily. No. No. No.
And then: yes. There is was, Mistress of the Sun stacked ever so nicely on a shelf at the front.
Happily, I got on the plane.
Image from BibliOdyessy.
I am one of four authors of a book called Four Ordinary Women. This book is a series of essays written on women's concerns…marriage, what keeps us awake at night, friendship. We have a website http://www.fourordinarywomen.com and a blog that can be accessed from there. We recently had a blurb written about us in the KC Star newspaper (the link to that is on the website). Now we are trying to figure out how to branch out further. We have had several signings — Rainy Day Books in Fairway, Kansas and Border's. Any suggestions on how to take a leap from there? Would love to hear from you. is my email address. Thanks.
I’m so glad there was a nice ending to the story – I was afraid your book WOULDN’T be in the bookstore!
I’m eagerly looking forward to the day it is released in the U.S. :-)