I’ve never liked selling things. In fact, I could hardly sell Girl Scout Cookies. I did try, but I usually felt physically sick as I climbed the steps to press someone’s doorbell.
As a writer, I have to sell my words. But one lovely aspect of this, is that I typically don’t have to make a pitch in person. I used to put things in the in the mail and then wait for a response. In writers’ guides like the CWIM (Children’s Writers and Illustrators Market) editors always made it clear that they didn’t want writers to contact them by phone. My response to that policy has always been ‘Perfect!’
But signings are quite different. A very nice community relations person at Barnes and Noble encouraged me to engage with people walking through the store. Smile. Talk. Say hello. My stomach recommended against it. Plus I didn’t want to be like one of those people selling lotion in the middle of the mall.
Strangely enough, I have no trouble with school visits. I walk around. I make eye contact. I wave my arms. It helps that I’m talking about subjects I love, books and writing.
But I decided that I was going to be brave at ALA. I told Leslie Rowe, a member of Peachtree’s staff, that I was going to talk to librarians from Kentucky, Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota and Missouri.
“Why not talk to everyone?” she asked.
I shared my longtime fear of selling things and explained that I’d have an easier time making connections with people from those states. SAVING THE GRIFFIN is on the master lists for the Kentucky Blue Grass Award and Georgia Children’s Choice Award. SAVING THE GRIFFIN features characters from Minnesota. DEFENDING IRENE features characters from Missouri. I’m currently living in Michigan.
“We don’t feel like we’re selling books,” Leslie said. “We feel like we’re sharing them.”
So I made an effort to share my book, but I still looked for common ground. Due to my WorldCat habit, I knew that SAVING THE GRIFFIN was in a library in Papillon, Nebraska. This had delighted me when I saw it, because my husband had been stationed down the road at Offut Air Force Base. So I said hello. I spotted a librarian from Provo, Utah. Due to my narcissistic Google habit, I knew that a librarian from there had given SAVING THE GRIFFIN an enthusiastic review. So I reached out to her as well.
And occasionally, a librarian would reach out to me. I enjoyed talking to a librarian from Tampa who really connected with THE GRIFFIN.
So here’s a photo showing some of the great Peachtree people from our dinner that night.