It was so innocent. I had a small stack of a (self-published) children's book in my hand and the desire to flog them to an unsuspecting public of 2d and 3d graders. The words had been written by me over 50 years ago and stuck away in a box with my other youthful writings. Recently it had been recycled for use as a birthday gift to my sweetheart's granddaughter with some success and that prompted me to casually ask among my acquaintances for an illustrator. To my surprise I got a volunteer who in very short order turned out 14 charming illustrations for the 14 verses of The Elephant Who Couldn't Sneeze.
We have a very good bookstore in Alameda and I blithely entered and asked for the Events Manager. In short order he looked over the book, pronounced it "charming, a good job" and arranged to have it carried in the store. We also made plans for a reading on site. Success!
Okay, after expenses my share of the profits would amount to about 40 cents per copy so success wouldn’t make me rich. In fact, the more I sold the more likely it was that expenses would make me a little poorer. Still, every writer can appreciate the thrill of cheerful acceptance and the surge of fantasy that follows hard on its heels. That surge drove me out the door the next day, list of bookstores in the surrounding area clutched in my hand and a supply of books in a plain manila envelope.
There ensued a short string of “I think I’ll pass,” “Not our cup of tea,” “It has no spine which makes it too hard for us to sell,” and “You can email our events manager, but I don’t think you’ll have much luck.”
It was enough to make me retreat to my writing desk, not quite sucking my thumb but feeling very much like doing so.
I am not defeated though. I’m working up the list of 25 email addressees the bookstore wants before it will schedule a reading and I’ve gone back to the list of bookstores in the area. No more special trips, that would just court rejection I fear, but a discreet package in the back seat of the car that can be quickly mobilized if I find myself in front of a likely looking store.
I hope I’m not reduced to sitting on a folding chair under a tree near a playground reading aloud to passing 7 year olds in the attempt to sell copies to their moms. I hope I’m not reduced to that pass but I make no promises. An author with a book to sell, even a sensitive, easily hurt by rejection author such as myself, can become like unto a force of nature. Coming soon to a bookstore near you.
(Copies of The Elephant Who Couldn’t Sneeze ($10 includes tax and postage) can be easily acquired by emailing me. I accept cash, check, money order and PayPal and, one hopes, compliments.)