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Fight, Flight or Deer under Headlights?

So I was outside a bookstore. The promotional banner was in place. As well as copies of my book GOODBYE to Italia and free book marks. A person stopped at the table and picked up the book. Flicking through the pages, they looked interested, so I said, “Hi, I’m the author. Delighted to meet you. This is a WW2 love story. The story of my parents in Italy and Africa.”

Surprisingly, the person didn’t even look up; nor did they acknowledge my greeting. Turning the book to look at the back cover, they said, “How are you promoting this?”

Looking back, this is when my Fight or Flight instincts should have kicked in. Unfortunately, it was what can only be described as a Deer under Headlights (DUH) scenario.

“Pardon?” This question wasn’t what I was expecting. However, it was repeated, and the book was placed back on the table. Cool eyes with slightly raised eyebrows stared back at me. So, I answered honestly. Personal gatherings such as this, online marketing through a website, Facebook, Blog, Amazon, etc.

“How many printed copies did you pay for?”

“Pardon?” Yup, I was having a real DUH moment. And yet, I consider myself an intelligent person even though I wasn’t acting like one. In my defence, I was feeling fragile that day and had seriously considered excusing myself from going out in public. But being invited to bookstores doesn’t happen often. As a debut, independently (indie) published author, this was an opportunity not to be missed.

Sadly, the barrage of questions and what I will kindly term as well-intentioned advice from one author to another ... because yes, that person turned out to be an author, continued in much the same vein. I have no illusions that this interaction was far from ideal. However, I feel I came away the nicer and more diplomatic person.

So, some lessons learnt: As an author - if you are out in public with the specific intent of promoting your book prepare yourself to be asked any sort of question and have a handy response ready. A note to the public - be kind. I’m not saying that you should buy my book. However, if the writer is committed to standing in public, ask them what the story is about. You may find it’s something of interest to you. And to fellow creative colleagues - it’s important to support and encourage each other. Creative expression through writing or art or music means baring one’s soul. Even a compliment about a great looking book cover is a nice enough gesture.

Marisa Parker - Author


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