What a ride so far. My book came out only two weeks ago and this past Monday and Tuesday I attended the Pacific Northwest Bookseller's Association (PNBA) tradeshow in Portland. Hundreds of booksellers and librarians convened at the Holiday Inn Conference Center for three days to taste the new fall titles and place their orders for the holiday season.
For exhibiting publishers and their authors, PNBA means face time and book signings. It was my first signing. On the Monday evening "Nightcapper" event, my heart pounding with anticipation, I proudly broke out my new blue gel pens (never sign in black, people could mistake your signature for a stamp). I signed books for some of the nicest people I've ever met. There was Paul, manager of the Eagle Harbor Book Company on Bainbridge Island; Nan Macy from Village Books in Bellingham, WA; and JoAnne Kobler and her charming staff from Tea Party Bookshop in Salem, which opened only six weeks ago. (And this is only the short list of great folks I talked with.)
Pam, the librarian with the Eugene Public Library raved about the cover of The Love We All Wait For. When I delivered my disjointed synopsis (I'm new at this, remember) she smiled and nodded, sharing in my success.
Before I went to PNBA, I asked my published and seasoned author friends how I should talk about my novel. They told me to ask booksellers about their stores, what they like to read, what people are buying these days. Then talk about the novel. Each bookseller gave me a slightly different description of their store’s ambiance and selection. But all of them expressed a deep commitment to their community and customers.
At one point during the conference I took a break from talking to look around the hall. Hundreds of booksellers milled among endless stacks and displays of books fresh off the presses. I was struck by the effort and dedication (and money) it takes for a manuscript to move from publisher to distributor to bookseller and finally to readers. In this chain booksellers and librarians are a precious link.
We new authors tend to celebrate publishers who take a chance on our work; PNBA showed me to celebrate booksellers and librarians too.