First, I love my new Gunnars! Thanks to the weird yellow lenses cutting the blue glare of my desktop screen, I can finally get productive again! Which is very good. Because I’m behind in many things, including updating both my websites.
Second, writers are introverts. Most writers are, anyway. And I’m no exception. We spend the majority of our time tucked away in our offices, spinning stories from our imaginations. Before the Internet, we rarely interacted with the public (unless we were famous, which most of us weren’t—and aren’t). Along comes the Internet, and it’s easier to interact with our readers because we’re still sitting in our offices while doing the interacting. Most writers, if asked by a publisher, to go into a local bookstore and sign copies of a recent release, will be hesitant to do it. In fact, most of us have to force ourselves to do this sort of thing. There’s something weird or a bit off about trumpeting one’s own writing. Other artistic endeavors, like singing, dancing and acting, the idea is to be in front of an audience. Writers like to hide inside our books.
Now, most people who know me in “real life” would never believe that I’m an introvert. That I was a shy child. That I had to force myself to learn to come out of my shell. And that shell is a very comfortable place. It just so happens that I have developed the knack of being a social introvert.
So…a couple of weeks ago, Penny (nickname for my “pen” name, check the blog legend in the right sidebar if you’re confused), had a new release, an excerpt of a single title erotic romance included in a multi-author anthology with several other Canadian erotic romance authors. Until now, all of Penny’s publishers—and all of mine as Cindy—have been based in the United States. And because I live in a smaller town not near any large urban centers, I’ve never seen my—nor Penny’s—books in a bookstore except for the one time I briefly had, as Cindy, copies of the second edition of HEAD OVER HEELS available on commission in a local independent. Then that independent went belly-up, and it took me several years (I know, the horror) to try and arrange another bookstore consignment for my Cindy books. I am in the process of attempting to get that done now.
But Penny, that little devil, likes to jump ahead of me in such matters. So, with the release of the multi-author erotic romance anthology in mid-February, Penny found her way into a local independent bookstore (different from the one that went belly-up). The publisher of the anthology asked me a few times if I had plans to pop into the bookstore and sign copies of the anthology or—agh!!!!—arrange a public booksigning. He was quite persistent, so I agreed that if the “sales team” let the independent in question know what was going on, that I would appear this week or next to sign the copies on the shelves, or in the warehouse if desired. Anything to get out of a public signing and being asked directions to the Dr. Seuss aisle.
Being the brilliant sort that I am, I decided that if I had to torture my introverted self by waltzing into the bookstore and asking to sign copies of the anthology, I might as well get all the pain over with at once and bring along trade copies of HEAD OVER HEELS and WHERE SHE BELONGS for the possible consignment sales. But first, the signing of the anthology needed to be accomplished.
As it so happened, the manager of the bookstore, a lovely young woman, approached me when I entered the store. I thought, “Better make sure they have copies first.” So asked, “Do you have copies of ANTHOLOGY TITLE?” (If you follow that link, you’ll miraculously learn it). She said yes and took me toward them. I was happy to see that they had about ten copies on the shelves. But! At this point I should have been jumping up and down, ecstatic to finally, after all these years, see one of my books on local bookstore shelves that I hadn’t placed there on consignment (even if my name wasn’t on the cover, as there are about twelve contributing authors so only the editor’s name is on the cover). That moment was totally lost to me. I didn’t take a picture. I didn’t kiss the books. Instead, I had to tell the manager, “This might sound a little weird, but I’m one of the contributing authors in this book and my publisher asked me to come down and sign copies. Do you want me to sign the copies?” (Because, well, maybe she didn’t). I think the manager was as surprised by the question as I was by my need to be there so I could tell the publisher that I had followed through with his dastardly plan to extricate me from my office. I took along a copy of another book WITH Penny’s name on the cover, to sort of prove that I was who I said I was, but it turned out she believed me because apparently no one in my town has ever waltzed into the bookstore claiming to be an author in a particular book when in fact they weren’t. I guess that’s not something Canadians like to lie about.
At any rate, we took the books into the back office, and I signed them away from the unknowing crowds, and then she placed them back on the bookshelf. It was a little embarrassing, because the publisher had said something along the lines of how the sales people had informed local bookstores that authors in the area (being me for my area) might be stopping in to sign the copies. But the manager in my independent didn’t know a blessed thing. I don’t know who told who, but no one told her, not even me, because I could not bring myself to call before going down first. No, I just had to buck up and fill the car with recycling and shopping lists, and pop in.
I was home and removing the groceries from the trunk before I realized that I hadn’t fully relished seeing ONE OF MY BOOKS ON BOOKSTORE SHELVES. For the first time ever without having placed them on consignment. Because of my nerves, because of my natural inclination to rather sit home and write, I totally missed on that once-in-a-lifetime experience. So now I’m hoping I’ll run across the anthology in another Canadian bookstore. Then I’ll have my giggle and chuckle. After all this time, I’m on Canadian bookstore shelves (on behalf of Penny)! That feels really great.