Saturday, May 02, 2009

movin' on up

The other week or so I facebooked that Because I Love Her, the mother-daughter anthology I have an essay in, was in the self-help section at my local Borders and nowhere to be seen on the Mother's Day display.
Although I do have a secret ambition (not so secret anymore!) to write a self-help book (God knows I've read enough of them to have an idea of how they work, or uh, don't work...) I also felt a little like, oof, egg-on-the-face-ish, since BILH is such a Mother's Day book. But then on Thursday, I walked into Barnes & Noble downtown, and there on the Mother's Day display, was the anthology. It was on the bottom shelf, but it was there, and I felt vindicated, as if the book's previous placement was some kind of negative personal character assessment, and now the placement fairies from the corporate office were deciding after all that I was worthy. Did I mention I've read quite a few self-help books?

I whiled some time perusing the tables and shelves and finally got up the nerve to ask if I could sign a few of the copies. Are other authors bashful about this kind of thing? If it were a scheduled signing I would be bold, bubbly, possibly sequined, wielding my signing pen with a flourish, but this was a spontaneous occurrence. What if they balked? But the women at the customer service desk were happy to oblige me, and so eased my mind and made me feel special, a condition I've been considering lately. I thought they might ask me for identification, but they just asked my name and seemed sufficiently tickled to have me there.

They handed me a pen and suggested how to sign, since the book is by thirty-three other writers. First I signed page 114 where my essay starts, as per their instructions, but that seemed a little too covert, so they had me switch to the title page and add the page number in my autograph, which felt like the correct way to proceed. As I was leaving the store, one of the nice women who helped me was rearranging the Mother's Day display, switching Because I Love Her with a few copies of another book on the top shelf, and I told her how great it looked. Now it would be one of the first books you saw when entering the store, which, if you're in the Rittenhouse Square neighborhood, I recommend.

I thought as I walked in the balmy post-rain sunshine, how bloggable and sweet this mini-story of hope and redemption was: one day our book is nowhere to be seen, and then within a week it's on the bottom shelf in the front of store, and then a few minutes later, on the top. It's arrived, up from the streets to the high-rise, just like George Jefferson. And I learned, or re-learned the valuable lesson that it's worth it to take career risks, even though this one might not seem significant or risky at all, the stakes were really only my pride, and the possibility that I might feel like an idiot, because after a few years in the publishing business, I still know so little about how it all works. And I learned something else that morning: that you too can probably go into your neighborhood bookstore and sign a few books. They won't card you, and they'll be glad you stopped by. Who knew?

1 comment:

Amelia Plum said...

Do you think I could convince them I'm Virgina Woolf? That's a great post, so uplifting. I love little slices of hope and redemption. Those risks always seem so scary at first but I think the scariest part winds up being the anticipatory anxiety about them. Can't wait to see you this weekend! xox