I'm pretty confident, and due to many jobs in the public sector, mostly administration, I'm fine chatting to people. When I worked at a health food store, I had people coming in talking to me about their bladder infections, and herbal viagra. I am pretty unflappable when it comes to things you want to talk to me about.
Talk to me about my writing/ singing? I'll stammer and blush and feel embarrassed. I've gotten WAY better as time goes by, but there's always that moment of hesitation where I expect this:
But I digress.
The other day, I went ahead and got bookmarks made for my debut from Swoon Romance, The Best Laid Plans. Aside from the fact it has a topless guy on it (basically my cover), there's a bawdy line right at the top of it. 'She said his name like he was already inside her.'
So I'm already feeling blushy about handing this out to people in my town. I live in a SMALL town, and it's a pretty conservative place. But I had them made and am putting myself out there. As you do when you're OWNING it.
So I walked into the ONE bookstore in my small town, feeling like hey. THESE are my people. They love books, and went through the flood just like I did. SOLIDARITY! I'll see if they will take some of my free bookmarks to set on a table somewhere to give to patrons for some promotion of a local author.
Imagine how losery I felt when the disinterested woman behind the counter said, 'No. We don't really "do" that.' I was shocked, and felt like I'd been asking to take a steaming dump on the counter. She literally couldn't care less. The sum of all the fucks she gave could dance the tarantella on the head of a needle, and still not spill their tiny cocktails.
I left the store feeling dejected. Husband told me I should have pushed more, but what was the point? The experience had already been soured for me. You only get ONE debut. One first time with all the experiences, good and bad. This was a bad one.
I found out a few days later from other local authors, that they've also had horrible experiences with this store. It made me feel both better and worse that it wasn't just me.
But one of the ladies in the writers group I went to owns an art gallery. And SHE is a delightful woman who is all about promoting authors and artists from our area. She told me to give her whatever and she'd make a spot for it.
THAT is how people should be. If you can help - help. Lend a hand, a word of encouragement, a word of praise. Do what you can when you can. I'm not saying put yourself out, but if you can help, why aren't you? It made me even more determined to help more people with their journeys.
As for that store? They've lost me as a customer forever. Not because of her decision, but because of her attitude. Most people, upon hearing someone has a book coming out in a week, would at least smile, or say Congratulations! This was an owner of a BOOKSTORE who didn't give a crap about a local author.
And I can tell you one thing - I remember those who help me. I will promote the crap out of the art gallery owner, and my library. They have helped me out so far and I appreciate them. If The Best Laid Plans takes off, I'll do signings there. But the bookstore lost their chance. Never mind as an author, as a CUSTOMER I was treated poorly.
We've all been promoting shopping locally, helping out local merchants since the flood. I've referred so many people to them, and encouraged so many people to spend the extra buck there. Not anymore.
You never know the bridges you're burning with a bad/ unhelpful attitude. It doesn't cost anything to smile and be nice. I promise.