Monday, 9 July 2018

Cheers to being brave!

*This post is dedicated to Susie. You were the highlight of that experience for me. You rock, girl!

I step into the cute little store, heart pounding, my backpack heavy in my hand. I've stuffed all my remaining books in there - 15 in total - not knowing what to expect. Surveying the empty store, I get the sinking feeling that I've over-packed.
A trim, middle-aged woman in a knee-length denim skirt and cowboy boots greets me with a smile and a handshake. "You are the author? Nice to meet you! Here is your desk where you can set up." She gestures to a desk below a colourful picture of an owl before getting me a glass of water.
I pull a handful of books out of my backpack, together with some bookmarks and my business cards, arrange everything as best I can, and then someone approaches me.

"Are you Miriam?" a young woman asks me, and I say yes.
"I follow you on social media and read your blog, and I wanted to meet you," she tells me, and omg guys, what a moment! I don't know it then, but this super-sweet girl will save the day for me.
We chat for a while, she buys a book that I sign for her, and then we chat some more.
She tells me that she's trying to do more things on her own, a resolution I admire and try to incorporate into my own life as well.
When she eventually leaves, I give her a hug and tell her how much I appreciate her coming all this way.
Then I take a seat behind my desk and wait.
And wait.
And wait some more.
The store employee is busy shelving books, unpacking boxes and doing some other stuff, and we don't talk. For the most part, it is eerily quiet, and when I can't take it any more I get up and browse the shelves slowly, suppressing the urge of wanting to run away and hide.
Once in a while someone comes in, stops by my desk and asks about my book, but nobody is buying it.
Fortunately Rich has left and is walking the dogs, so he doesn't witness my humiliation first-hand.

After about an hour and a half, a frazzled-looking lady walks in, completely ignoring me, and approaches the employee behind the counter.
"I read in the paper that there is an event here today," she begins. "It looked like a good event, so I came in. Where is it?"
The store clerk smiles and points towards me. "She's right behind you," she says, and the lady turns and comes to my desk.
"Hello -" she stops and peers closer at my book cover, "Miriam. How do you say your last name?"
I tell her and greet her gratefully. Finally, another person to talk to! The lady looks around, seemingly searching for something, and then she asks me: "I read about the event today, and I thought there would be chocolates. Didn't you bring any chocolates?" Feeling immediately guilty, I have to admit that I haven't brought any, and offer a bookmark as consolation prize. She takes it, looking disappointed, but then her face brightens again. "I have an autograph book, would you mind signing it?" she asks me, already pulling the book out of her bag. I do, and I also sign the crinkled piece of paper she hands me where all the events of the bookstore are listed.
She wants to know what the book is about, but after listening for a few seconds she is more interested in telling me about her life. In short, it's not going well, and she goes into some detail about her health issues, her inability to work, and about not having a husband. "You are very lucky that you have one, you know," she says, and I couldn't agree more. 
When my phone vibrates after a few minutes, I know that it's him, and I excuse myself and pick up.
"How is it going?" he asks me, and I say only 4 words: "Pick me up. NOW!" And he does.

I only sold that one book to Susie, the amazing girl who came to see me. Being an unknown author in a strange city, it's probably not surprising, but it still was a very uncomfortable experience. Fortunately, the more cringe-worthy an experience, the better the story! I find it quite hilarious now, and at least I did what I had promised to do: I showed up.

Afterwards, we visited one of Rich's chicken friends, an extremely nice guy with a fascinating life story. We stayed for several hours (the time flew by, it was a great visit!), and then we hit the road again for the 8 hour drive home.
Conclusion?
It was a beautiful road trip through some of the nicest scenery of Canada. Rich and I had a great time, and I'm so happy that he's well enough again to do this. A few months ago he couldn't even sit in a car, and now he drove 1400 km in 2 days!
It's tempting to say that the book signing was a bust, but at the same time, a stranger came because she had somehow found me on the internet, and how cool is that?
One thing is for sure: it was a memorable weekend.

xoxo Miriam

Curious about the book? You can order a copy here, and find out more about it here.


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12 comments

  1. Miriam I am so sorry I was not there. I really am

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    1. Oh, don't feel bad, it was okay! Pretty funny in hindsight. We had a great trip overall!

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  2. Okay, so I work in a bookshop and this type of thing happens ALL THE TIME. The fact that you, a relatively unknown author in a city where you don't know people, sold one book to someone is an accomplishment. Trust me!

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    1. Thanks for sharing this invaluable insight Emelie, it means a lot! You always see photos of those signings when there are long line-ups of people wanting to meet the author, and mine was the complete opposite. But you're right of course, and it makes me feel so much better that I'm in good company!
      While I was sitting there, I kept thinking of the stories that bands tell of the time before they were famous, when they were playing in half-empty, dingy bars. It's all part of the process!

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  3. Well if it makes you feel any better you're book has arrived in my letterbox in Bern, Switzerland last Friday! IG post to follow as soon as I've finished the book I'm currently reading. Good on you to get yourself out there!

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    1. Thank you so much for letting me know, that's so exciting! It's such a dream come true that my book is making its way to so many different countries. I hope you'll enjoy it! 💕

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    2. You took the first step and that is always the hardest and most scary! I am proud of you Miriam. Now you have idea of how these signings work. The next one will feel easier :)

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    3. Thanks for the vote of confidence Mary! You're right, now that the fear of the unknown is gone it feels a lot better. Thanks girlfriend! 😍

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  4. I once had a dream of being a novelist, but one thing I always worried about was the idea that authors have to do book tours, signings, interviews...and that always terrified me, which is silly but real for a socially anxious person. So I admire that you went and faced the challenge. And you looked great!

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    1. I so hear ya, I had the exact same fear! I have a feeling most of us writers are introverts (otherwise, why would we be writing?), and promoting ourselves is completely against our nature. But I've gained 2 important insights throughout this process:
      1. If you don't want to do interviews or signings, you don't have to! You can do whatever the hell you want.
      2. Promotion stuff is a completely different process from writing (just as vulnerable though), but it's also really empowering! It's like learning a new skill, and as scary as it is, it's also a source of pride.

      What I'm trying to say is this: don't let the fear of the promotion part of publishing a book let you keep from doing just that - writing a book. It's just a small part of the much bigger accomplishment of creating your own piece of magic! You can - and SHOULD - do it!!
      Best of luck!

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  5. Hi Miriam!

    I am Piet’s wife Lindsay.

    I am sorry we missed you and Richard, during your quick trip to Calgary. The children and I were really looking forward to meeting you and seeing Richard again.
    I am hopeful we can get out your way for a visit in the near future, I think we would have A LOT to talk about!

    Congratulations with your book, I hope to meet you one day soon :)

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    1. Dear Lindsay,
      I'm sorry too that we missed you, you and I truly have a lot in common with our crazy animal-collecting husbands 😉
      I hope you can come out soon so we can meet!!

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