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The Terror Of Self-Promotion

With a print book in hand the author ventures into the scary world of self-promotion.

It was just a bookstore. Not much different from the many other bookstores that I’ve ventured into over the years. Yet as I stood and peered in through the plate glass window the memories of the happy hours spent browsing and buying in similar establishments disappeared in a flash. The usual sense of pleasure and anticipation evaporated to be replaced by trepidation and tremors. I was not going into this particular bookstore to browse or buy. Quite the opposite. Now that I had print copies of my novel Silent Lies I hoped that this independent store might be willing to take one or two copies on consignment.  

It seemed like a simple enough concept. Walk in, smile and make my request politely. Surely the worst that could happen was that they might say no. Unfortunately my imagination was way ahead of any logical rationale on this one, conjuring up images of a disdainful put down of self-published books or even of someone taking one look at the book and laughing scornfully. How would my fragile ‘newly-published’ self image cope with such a devastating turn of events?

I told myself that maybe it was best to leave the first attempt for some other time. After all, I hadn’t set out that day with the intention of trying to get my book into a bookstore. I had other errands on my mind and only happened to have a box full of books in the trunk of the car ‘just in case’ I should cross paths with an avid reader or two or come upon some other unexpected opportunity to merchandise my books, such as….well, to be honest, this one.

I had no idea the small Connecticut town I found myself in even had a bookstore. If my daughter and I had not decided to stop for a snack between errands we would never have walked past it. If my daughter had not been with me, I might have gone straight back to my car relatively guilt free (who would have known that I’d let nerves get the better of me?) but I made the mistake of pointing out the shop to her as we passed, and even proposed going in, before quickly deciding I needed to fortify myself in the café next door before I took this enormous step.  

Eventually I ran out of excuses to delay and with an encouraging word from my daughter who opted to stay outside, I plucked up the courage to go in. The shop assistant’s friendly greeting made it possible for me to deliver my request fairly coherently, but the small surge of excitement following my accomplishment was short lived when the lady responded that while the store did occasionally take self-published books, she was not the one to speak to about it.

For an instant I thought this might be a gentle brush-off, but as she disappeared into the back of the shop to get the buyer I realized that I would have to repeat my pitch again. Luckily there was no time to escape. The buyer, who turned out to also be the owner, was as friendly and helpful as I could hope for. A few minutes later I left the shop clutching a consignment note in hand and the ecstatic feeling that I had just cleared yet another hurdle in the self-publishing trials.

Or at least, until I face my next bookstore.    

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