Today, finding myself at my local shopping centre for the first time since Shadow Queen appeared on shelves, I dropped into Borders, only to find no copies. No copies! They'd had copies last week. I stood in the aisle for a bit, torn between disappointment at not actually seeing my own book on shelves after all this time and a quiet glee that people had actually shelled over money for the book. Perhaps fortunately, none of the staff asked me why I looked
manic lost, so I couldn't share my thoughts with anyone.
I wandered off to my other errands, which brought me within range of the local Angus & Robertson. They did not have my book for sale last week, so I thought it safe to wander in and do a little browsing. Lo, what did I find, but copies of my book! So at last I have seen my own book in a real bookstore — even if it was on the bottom-most shelf. At least, thanks to that awesome cover, it was face-out.
Now, I'm told by reputable types, that it is normal for an author to offer to sign any books on display in a bookstore. What harm? I thought. I'm moving away in a couple of months anyway, I can always avoid the store if I make a total fool of myself. So I nailed my courage to the wall1 and offered to sign their stock.
The sales assistant's smile froze in place. "I'll just get the manager," she said, and she fled. That is the only description for what she did: she fled.
The manager came over, looking similarly concerned. "You want to sign the books…?" she asked, and I began to wonder if all those reputable types had been setting me up, in a stunning display of everyone in the world having a joke at one person's expense.
"Well," she hesitated, as if trying to find a polite way to explain that I was not being normal, not at all. "I suppose… If you want to…"
It seemed foolish to walk away at this point, so I started signing — which is when the manager mentioned a gentleman had been in just last week, asking about this book. She shared this information with a wide-eyed I-escaped-from-death sort of look. "He asked a lot of questions, about the publisher, about why we didn't have any copies, about why we weren't supporting local authors…"
Ah. No wonder they ordered in copies. My friends are well-meaning, and determined, and not beyond accusing bookstores of single-handedly destroying the Australian economy at a pinch. Bless 'em.
- you have no idea how hard it is, being me. honestly. [↩]