We walked into the bookstore. It was the same one I'd entered a year and three months prior, the one where, for the first time, I envisioned my book on a shelf. I didn't know the name of my book, or even what it would be about besides our upcoming road trip. I just knew I was going to write a book and I wanted it on the shelf of a bookstore. That bookstore.
The blond lady behind the counter looked up as I approached the register, my husband standing a bit behind me and to the side. It was shortly after they'd opened and no one was waiting. I hadn't wanted to do this, but we were there, in a town eleven hours from home. Last time we were there I was writing my book. The next time we're in the area, I'll be writing my second. If I passed up this opportunity, I'd regret it. I was nervous and wanted to just get in the car and head straight home, but instead I walked directly to the counter and smiled. She looked up with anticipation and I said hello.
"I'm an author."
There it was. I could feel it. The wall. "OK...." she said.
"I just wanted to let you know...I came in last January, over a year ago, and I was in the travel section, and I pointed and I said 'I want my book there,' and I could see it. I could see it. It was the first time I could see my book on a shelf in a bookstore. And then we went on a road trip and I wrote about it. I wrote a book. Here, want to see it?"
I was already pulling it out and handing it to her. How could she say no?
She took it and began leafing through it. "Congratulations. Writing a book takes a lot of work."
Yes, it does.
She continued flipping pages, stopping whenever a photo caught her eye. I was encouraged. Until she handed it back and said, gently, "We get a lot of authors who want us to carry their books." She paused, thought for a moment. "I wonder...no, she handles events. But you could talk to her about consignment? Do you order direct or..."
"Oh. No. That goes through my publisher."
"OK. Well, if you go to our website there's a section for Authors with information on submitting your work."
She handed my book back to me. I thanked her, and with a controlled gait I made it outside before the tears started to fall. "I'm proud of you," my husband said. He knew I didn't want to put myself out there, didn't want to ask, but I did it.
It was hard. It sucked. But I did it.
I didn't cry much, just enough to deal with overcoming my fear of rejection and then actually being rejected. Except, was I? What did I expect - that she'd order the book while I was standing there?
As a matter of fact, I did. It had happened at Barnes & Noble, why not there? Because this independent bookstore has a limited inventory and needs to be confident of the books it carries. It needs more time than a casual page flip while the author is standing right there, eyes wide and pleading oh, so pathetically.
Instead of feeling rejected and dejected, I've chosen to take this experience as motivation. I'll visit the Author section on their site. In fact, I'll seek out other bookstores and find their Author sections. I'll submit my book. I'll hope. And I'll keep writing. If this book doesn't make it on their shelves, maybe the next one will, or the next one.
Most importantly, I'll keep challenging myself to do the things that are uncomfortable, especially when I know that if I don't, I'll regret it. Nobody gets a "Yes" every time, and by not taking a chance, I'd essentially be rejecting myself.
Writing a book is hard. Promoting it is harder. Hardest of all is believing in yourself enough to do it over, and over, and over. But if you do that, if I do that, then there's no such thing as rejection.
Wanna help an author out? Request Two Lane Gems from your local bookseller or library. Or just go ahead and get a copy for yourself: