Learning To Say I Do
It doesn’t matter where you’re going, you always need some books. I’m not saying you should pass your sell sheets around at Uncle Fred’s wake, for pity sake. Don’t hand out your business cards in the supermarket checkout lane. But one time I stopped in a cute little shop in Nowhereville for an ice cream. The scooper was a teenage girl and we were alone in the shop. She asked where I was going, where I’d come from and why had I gone there in the first place. I told her, and after a friendly chat she said, “I’ve never met an author before. Do you have any books with you?”
I’ve sold books at soccer games, church suppers, dinner parties and in a parking lot. And it was never me who brought up the subject. It’s like where do you live, ....................
One time my daughter, who works for the FDA in D. C., was with me at the Kiptopeke State Park in Virginia. We were planning to scout the beach for sea glass. We were surprised to discover we had to pay to get in. All my money was in my money bag in the back. I’d just come from a book signing. My daughter said, “Mom, don’t let that Ranger see your money bag, she’ll think you’re a drug dealer.” I couldn’t reach it. I had to open my van and reveal my money bag. This garnered the attention of Ranger Lady who came out of her air conditioned shack with hands on hips. “What’s with all the boxes?” she asked. “They’re books,” I said. “Really.” It wasn’t a question. My money bag zipper squealed; I wished for WD40. She watched me unfold two one dollar bills from my drug dealer money bag to pay. “What kind of stuff do you write?” I told her. “I have a lot of time to read sitting in there,” she said. “Can I buy one?”
So we made a deal in the parking lot. My daughter told her which one was her favorite and Ranger Lady decided to take one of those too. Summers get long.
I’m not saying you should announce yourself at the wedding reception, or steer the conversation in the buffet line. But it does come up. No matter how humble you are, it does come up. And when you get that question, “Do you have any with you?” You need to say, “I do.”
It’s one thing if folks are standing in line wrapped around the block at Barnes and Noble to buy your book. (That was Nicholas Sparks, by the way, not me.) Those of us with small names, small lines, working for small presses sell one book at a time in the bleachers, not from the back of the UPS truck. We sell it with such a smile they will remember and tell their friends who will call you on the phone and say “Do you have another one?” This is how it works. Unless you’re Nicholas Sparks. So here’s the lesson I have to share. Never leave home without your books.