Self Indulgence

By , February 4, 2011

The Fairbanks trip ended successfully on Wednesday evening, when my sister-in-law, the two dogs and I rolled into Haines.

We had a very good trip. I have to confess, however, to some less-than-exemplary behavior during the course of it. I indulged myself in ways I assumed I never would, if I were ever given the chance.

I had a short layover in Juneau before my flight to Anchorage. I had enough time to visit a couple shopping centers. I went into Hearthside Books and perused their Alaska Fiction shelf until I found my book, Shy Ghosts Dancing: Dark Tales from Southeast Alaska. They’d taken half a dozen copies on consignment in December. I wanted to see if they still had any left.

This is a lot like “vanity Googling,” plugging one’s own name into a search engine to see what pops up. In the years before I published my book, if I thought much about how I might behave as a published author, I’m sure I assumed I would be above such behavior. As it turns out, I’m not.

To compound my shame, I not only gave in to peeking at my book on the bookstore shelf, but I did it badly. I found one copy of my book in the shelf. I did not look to see if the shelf held more than one copy of any other author’s work—a simple move that would have given me some useful information as to how my book might be selling!

I also went to The Friends of the Library Bookstore. I would have done that anyway, because it’s one of the best used book stores I’ve ever known, but I confess I checked the Alaska section. No used copies of my book there.

Had there been, I’m not sure what I would have learned from that. On the one hand, it means that no one has bought it and disliked it enough to donate to the used bookstore. On the other hand, I and many others pass on books we love after reading them, so anyone donating my book would help circulate it. True, I wouldn’t benefit from the additional sale (usually 25¢, maybe as much as $1.00) but perhaps from the additional exposure.

I also dropped by a complimentary copy for the manager of Gulliver’s Books in Fairbanks, another outstanding independent bookstore. The manager wasn’t in at the time, and with the business of the move, I haven’t been able to call her yet and follow up but maybe they’ll carry it soon, as well.

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