So I thought I was a somebody but after my first bookstore visit, sans review copy to give but loaded with a gift of two coffee mugs with quotes from the book printed on the outside… and filled with candy and… press kits… I’m back to being a nobody. It’s good for me. I wouldn’t want to get too big an ego over this writing thing.
At the LoDo Tattered Cover Bookstore in Denver, Colorado, I met Lucas, a bookseller who took me to a back area and let me talk to him about my book for ten minutes. You’d think a professional speaker such as myself would be able to chat up his book without any difficulty but here’s the thing. It’s hard to do. Lucas was a good sport and listened to me stumble through a one sentence synopsis (God how I hate those) followed by some short Q and A about who Cid Wymann was and how it should be sold. He asked about – gulp – theme and I came up with something which I won’t repeat. Didn’t I just write about theme in my author interview for the press kit and at least one interview for a blogger? If I could only link my tongue and brain together.
A couple of things I said, though, did seem to be useful to him – things which I will remember to repeat as I go to the Barnes and Noble down the block for my next ten minute humbling session.
- I told him it was both a historical novel and that it was realistic fiction. I told him there was no magic, were no vampires, and dealt with real issues boys have to deal with. He liked that and took it down as a note.
- I told him it was a boy book and showed him the old cover and new cover. The cover grabbed his attention because it was not a picture of a girl. “Swords,” he said. Now his eyes could have lit up or it could have been my imagination. He said the whole YA section is filled with girl books for girls and knowing this was a boy book would help him to sell it differently – to make it stand out from the shelves of books for girls already out there. This was a good moment for me. I’m defining my market. Whew. I have a market.
- I told him there was a lot about swords and swordplay but that it was not a fantasy novel and had to do with both competitive fencing and stage combat for the theatre. That got a note too.
I swung through the bookstore’s YA section after we finished to see what was there and yes, indeed, there are a lot of books for girls and young women. Not just them, but that certainly is the impression from the face-outs. Interesting. Very similar, of course, to what Andrew Smith has been saying on his blog. But there’s nothing like first hand experience.
So I’d planned on 20 minutes of talking to staff and got 10. Now I’ve got two hours to go before my next appointment, a twenty-minute walk to get to the bookstore, and a beautiful evening to sit outside and write before I move on. My stomachs a little less upset now that the first one’s over with. Butterflies were floating around there before but now they seem to have settled.
Thank you, Lucas at Tattered Cover LoDo. You helped me get through my first promotional gig with only minor injury to my ego. It’s an absolutely beautiful bookstore, by the way. The kind of place I could hang out in to drink coffee, read books, or write. And from what I could tell of the customers, that’s what a lot of them are doing. Now it’s off to the dinner and the next stop.