Fragile Creators

Last week I met a friend for lunch in the city – lovely lunch, lovely catch up and as I walked from the restaurant the sun was shining on a beautiful Melbourne autumn day. Passing a bookshop I decided to call in, found my books and the children’s bookseller (who wasn’t at all busy) and asked if she’d like me to sign some of my books. Her reply wasn’t at all rude, but a very definite, no thanks!

I consider myself extremely lucky as a writer with a reasonable publishing history with several more books, at various stages, on their way to publication. But what shocked me was the way I felt. As I said, the sun was shining and I was feeling good, but as I left that bookshop I felt like someone had punched me in the stomach with something large and heavy.

I know that bookshops supposedly cannot return books which have been ‘signed’, I know that I probably should have rung first to say I’d be calling in, but here’s the thing. What chance have our books got (some with shiny award medals) of leaping off the shelves if the bookseller doesn’t believe in them, doesn’t know them and doesn’t recommend them to potential buyers?

I’ve picked myself up, dusted myself off and lost myself in my writing, but it still rankles.

I’d love some feedback from other authors on this and yes, I know, I’ve got to toughen up!

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  1. alison reynolds Hi Corinne, Hope you're feeling better now. I feel as if there are two things going on but sorry if I'm confused. There's the issue of not wanting the books signed. I wouldn't take offence at this at all. There is the whole not being able to return thing. Also,it means a lot more to me to have a book signed by the author in front of me, meaning it is a personal experience. Do you think I'm unusual in this? Would you buy a book you were umming about if it was signed? Maybe I'm strange (most probably I am!) Then there is the problem of the bookseller not recommending the book. Hopefully and quite likely after reading your book and meeting you the bookseller will recommend your book. I don't think having a book signed will alter this, unless you're working n the premise that if it's signed, then the bookseller will have to sell it! Hugs Alison
    April 10, 2013 at 2:15 pm · Reply
  2. christinemareebell Dear C, Hope you're feeling better now. Try not to take it too much to heart. The bookseller may not be fortunate enough to have real live authors come in as a norm and took fright at the idea of someone "writing" in their books. Or she may not have been the owner to give permission. Either way, it's great that you make the effort. Keep on, keeping on. The next one will be joy-filled to see you. xx Chris
    April 11, 2013 at 4:17 pm · Reply
    • Corinne Fenton
      corinne Yes, all ok Chris. More cross than upset, honest.
      April 13, 2013 at 5:20 pm · Reply
  3. Tim G'day Corinne, If I find my books in a bookstore I still offer to sign them, partly because I know they can't be sent back. It's my small act of rebellion against the power imbalance that we're confronted with in the publishing and retailing world. That said, approaching the counter, books in hand, I do feel embarrassed and, like you, vulnerable to rejection. What's that about? Surely if we're proud of our work we should own the moment. Think, 'I wrote/illustrated/conceived this story and I can make this copy special for your customers by adding a personal touch.' Instead, we're almost apologising for inconveniencing them. Maybe next time I won't ask. I'll become a guerilla artist, randomly defacing my own work with my signature... Best wishes, Tim
    April 19, 2013 at 10:41 am · Reply

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