I’ve been fancying myself as an author for quite a while now.
Many could argue that is exactly what I am, what with the years (and years) of toil on three whole novels, the clearing of my bank balance for publishing shenanigans (several times over) and the fact that my complete series of books, the Life Is Yours Trilogy, has been flying off the virtual bookshelves of evil Amazon for the last few years.
But it seems to be an unspoken assumption that I cannot, in fact, be an author at all, unless I can say my actual books sit on the actual shelves of an actual bookshop.
If I had a quid every time somebody asked me if my book is available in ‘big shops like Tescos’, then I would not have to keep a full-time job going on top of my writing ‘hobby’. And it wouldn’t be Lidl custard creams getting me through the tricky chapters, but something posher featuring stem ginger and dark chocolate.
I’m going to be honest with you, it’s not enough just to write a book these days. The amount of work I have put into publishing and marketing my books is equal to, if not definitely more than, the effort I’ve exerted into writing the damn things. I’m not complaining – I bloody love all of it. As much as I enjoy writing, I suspect I’d be bored to tears if I was never allowed away from my keyboard. And too much marketing would drive me round the bend. I’m lucky I get to do it all.
So I’ve been busy, yes, but not too busy to do a little bit of daydreaming. I’m a visual kinda lass, after all, so the soft-focused image of my books gracing the shelves of some cute little independent bookshop somewhere, is alluring to say the least.
I love the thought of someone happening across Life Is Yours whilst wistfully trailing their searching fingers along an oaken beam of literary depth. Obviously, they’ve been looking for the perfect, life-affirming, uplifting book of SOUL for an absolute age, and the electric pulse that waves down their spine as they pick up my book is undeniable. Further so, as they turn the cover to read the blurb, that pulse transcends into tingles that fill them with excitement and a knowing that this is the book for them.
This has always been the book for them.
Now I ask you, is THAT likely to happen in Tescos?
Anyway, this beautiful daydream of mine has been put on hold for quite a while, whilst I get my head around what it is to work full time, write a fourth book, market the books that are already published, and oh yeah, run a home and a family (sometimes the kids want food. Selfish).
But recently, as I was meandering up a very steep high street in the radically hippyish town of Totnes, I happened across Arcturus Books. I’ve visited this particular book shop many times before and have purchased my fair share of books, gifts and tarot cards there (when in Totnes . . .). I’ve always loved its soulful vibes, its variety of genres from psychology and spirituality to environment and history and I LOVE that it is known as ‘Self Help Central’, meaning people flock from miles around to search out their own, very personal, literary gems.
On this particular day, I was damn lucky that I had a #lifeisyourstrilogy postcard in my bag so I popped into the shop, spoke to a very nice lady called Julie, and left my card there for the owner.
I hadn’t been planning to tout my wares to this awesome place, it was a spur of the moment type of thing. And I had to somehow pull out of the bag that kind of authory air of showing an authentic keenness to stock my books on those particular shelves, without coming across all salesy and desperate. Do you know an author? If you do, ask them about this particular balancing act of social skills. ‘Tis a slippery tightrope, let me tell you.
Anyway, throwing some actual professionalism into the mix, I followed the delivery of the card up with not one but TWO (not salesy) emails to Megan, the owner of Arcturus and – because I had visualised the whole ‘oaken beam of literary depth’ shebang by now – I went back to the shop again, this time to slap a copy of my first book, Life Is Yours into the hands of said Megan.
I tried (and failed) to seem casual about my request, and gifted Megan the book with a nervous smile. I acknowledged that she, as the owner of such an exciting bookshop, probably had a To Be Read list longer than BoJo’s party invites and I would understand if I didn’t hear back from her for several months / years.
Megan embraced the absolute height of professionalism and thanked me for the book, admired the cover (obviously – it’s freaking gorgeous) and said she’d get round to it when she could. Off I trotted on my merry way, trying my darndest to shake the image of my books on those oaken beams so that I didn’t obsess about it until the time I might, or might not, hear back from her.
Well folks, I didn’t have to wait long.
The next MORNING I got an email from Megan:
You dropped your book, Life is Yours, into my shop yesterday. I absolutely devoured it in one sitting last night, and need the other two! Such wonderful books with a lovely message throughout – a very real-life exploration of development and spirituality.
Please do allow me to stock these in my shop!
Oaken beam of literary depth, here I bloody well come . . .
Long story short, this is one very happy author writing this blog post. It just shows that sometimes it’s best not to over-strategize these things. Sometimes grabbing a slightly dog-eared card out of your handbag is enough to kickstart a new connection with fresh, exciting potential.
I’m like a kid at Christmas when I think about my books on the shelves of Arcturus Books. It’s like they’ve finally found their soul-home, and that’s no small thing. And if it gets me a few more sales in the process, then I’m all for it. A woman cannot live on custard creams alone.
You know and I know that I’m hardly going to be able to put a down-payment on that beach-side mansion just yet, but I’ve learned over the years that success isn’t always measured in a monetary fashion. In fact, it rarely is. These days I measure my success with how authentic something feels, with how strongly it makes my heart beat, or how swiftly it pulls me out of my comfort zone. I’m all for ALL of the feels when it comes to success but ok, maybe I’d say yes to some posher biscuits with stem ginger and dark chocolate.
Tell me about YOUR successes (and your favourite bicccies, obvs).
P.S. If you enjoyed this blog post then make sure you sign up to get ALL Abigail's bookish news as and when it happens. You'll also bag yourself a FREE copy of Life Is Yours - the first book in the Life Is Yours Trilogy. Sign up here
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