Everything was in place. Newings book store in Dapto Mall had put posters up around their shop and on the counter, advertising that I was coming to the store in nine days time to meet people and sign copies of my novel, Devolution. Dapto Mall centre management also displayed these posters around the Mall. The local paper printed an article about me and my book on Thursday, and mentioned the fact that I would be appearing at Newings the following Saturday to meet, greet, sell and sign.
Each day of the week leading up to the in-store appearance, I expected a box of books to arrive. I wasn't panicking early in the week, even though the consignment was overdue. I was edging closer to something resembling panic on Wednesday, falling headlong into it on Thursday, and by Friday evening as I contemplated possible outcomes for the following day, I was freaking out. No books for the book signing.
In desperation I made a video titled, 'The World's First Invisible Book Signing", and posted it on Facebook and YouTube. I made an order form and filled most of the first page with the names of people who had already ordered copies, including the fact, in the last column, that they had already paid for their copy. I needed to have something tangible to give to people if I wasn't going to be able to hand them a physical book in exchange for their hard earned cash, so I printed out a little flier with a link to my blog on it, and also links to my 3 most recent short story publications.
Saturday morning, with an entire butterfly farm fluttering in my stomach, I arrived at Newings, met the staff, who were super supportive, positive and encouraging, and set up the podium out the front of the book shop. Opposite Woolworths supermarket. A good location and normally a busy time of day. It was 11am, and I had three hours to stand and smile, and chat and sell.
Friends and family came to offer support and hang out for a bit with me at the podium, in an effort to create some atmosphere of interest. Though they didn't conspire, they arrived at different times spread over the the few hours I was there. They paid for books they had already ordered and they bought copies, and most importantly they encouraged me. God knows I needed that support and encouragement.
I felt very awkward most of the time. Smiling and saying gidday to people, and trying to engage them in conversation. I didn't know whether to allow them to express interest and build on that, or to push hard and generate enthusiasm...hard sell. I don't know if my efforts were too weak, or just right. Newings staff said it went well, and I managed to sell a few copies to complete strangers, but in the end I was disappointed as I often am.
My problem is that I can't help dreaming and thinking big. It makes no difference how hard I try to rein myself in, to keep a lid on my emotions and my hopes. Reality itself often makes no difference. I'm a chronic dreamer. I may fear the worst, but I still hope for the best. Possibilities excite me. They make my head spin. As I write this, I feel excited. I'm already thinking about the next book store appearance, the next newspaper article, about getting into schools and libraries, about being interviewed on radio. I have a number in mind and I still believe that I can sell that many copies of Devolution, so I will persist with my crazy dreams being convinced that God has given me a talent for writing and that I should use that gift.