Yesterday I left my house to hand-deliver Advance Reader copies of my novel to bookstores here in St. Louis. My publisher has been sending out these ARCs (as they’re called), but I wanted to hand-deliver copies to the independent stores in my hometown. It was a new experience for me: walking in, not as a customer, but as an author…deepening the relationship I already have with most of these stores, and changing it, too.
As I left my house and made my way down my ice-encrusted drive-way, I thought about the other times I’ve left my house over the years—when the journey was important, and seemed to mark some change in my life. I thought about a panicked run to the hospital late at night with a dying dog; the solemn and silent walk to the car to attend the funeral of someone I loved; the terrible weight in my heart as I headed to a doctor’s appointment for a diagnosis. I remembered other departures too: the joyous rush to the airport for a vacation overseas; the worry (and excitement too) as I headed to a month-long writer’s retreat. Toting luggage, or backpacks, or an evening bag. Making my way to graduations and weddings and to meet with friends. And then yesterday, a trip of a wholly different sort: to take a breath, find courage and push open a door. To introduce myself as a newly published author. To ask that the person across from me consider my book.
These wonderful booksellers greeted me cordially. They took time to listen…to talk about my book and about books and publishing in general. We’re talking business people here. They can’t afford to carry a book if they think it won’t sell. But they are also open to possibility. They promised to read my book. And if they like it, I know they will help others discover it as well.
These meetings brought home, once again, what a treasure these stores are to our communities. I did not need to “clear things with corporate.” I could shake hands with booksellers who have ordered hard-to-find books for me, who’ve hosted reading groups and author signings I’ve attended. Who have taken the time to find out what I’m reading and then recommend other titles from their fascinating inventories.
The walk down my driveway took courage…but I was not going to a place unknown. I was going to meet people who take books seriously. Who wish me well. Who may, I hope, be willing to join me on this journey. For that…and for so much more, I give them thanks.
Take a peek at these two wonderful indie bookstores:
Main Street Books; 307 South Main Street; St. Charles, MO
www.mainstreetbooks.net PH: 636-949-0105; Owner: Vicki Erwin (Pictured in photo: Betty)
Subterranean Books; 6275 Delmar; St. Louis, MO
www.subbooks.com PH: 314-862-6100
Owner: Kelly von Plonski (Pictured in photo: Alex)