So there's this fabulous book out there called MORTIFICATION, which is a collection of very short essyas about authors' worst public moments--signings and readings gone seriously (channeling Robert Burns here) "aglang."
Anyway. I had one of those moments yesterday. And while it wasn't as bad as the time I had to sit next to Richard Paul Evans at a Deseret Book signing right after he changed the history of the world (and also the universe) by publishing THE CHRISTMAS BOX, I'm still shaken by what happened yesterday.
I was one of the many Utah authors invited to attend the Provo Children's Book Festival, held in the beautiful old library there on University Avenue. And really it was a smashing success for all the attendees. There was so much to see and do and all the planners should be kissed on the lips.
The problem for me personally happened during the book signing. Okay. Writers of realistic fiction have glumly resigned themselves to the reality that if you're signing with fantasy authors, you'll pretty much be the ugly girl at the junior high dance again. Fantasy authors have lines all the way to Wendover while you sit on the end of the table, signing the occassional scrap of paper for a kid whose mother has made him get your autograph (and I'm the first to say my autograph isn't worth much).
On the one hand, you get used this. Fantasy has always been popular, of course, but it's hot hot hot right now. And when you have both the lovely Shannon Hale and Brandon Mull on site, well then it's like having rock stars in your midst. (BTW, if you ever decide to write fantasy and get famous, take a page out of the Shannon-and-Brandon book. They are unfailingly gracious and humble about their impressive achievements.)
On the other hand, you have this experience over and over again and you start getting demoralized even when you've taken a sacred vow to be your best and most mature self. Well, demoralization happened to me in a big way yesterday. I mean NOBODY was swinging over to my end of the table with one of my books--not even one of the pirate books in paper. What I found out later was that the booksellers hadn't even bothered to order any of my titles. And I wasn't the only author there to whom they did this. Apparently they mostly brought over fantasy. Lots and lots and LOTS and also lots (as well as truckloads) of fantasy.
In my other life as a bookseller, I understand why this may have happened. Fantasy is profitable, contemporary fiction is not (except in rare instances). When you do an event, you are faced with the dilemma of how many books you should order so you won't be stuck with stock you have to return or shelve. I get all that. But my bosses at The King's English, Betsy Burton and Anne Holman, would never NOT order books for an author because not ordering books for an author feels like disrespect.
And we hate to be disrespected because we are such delicate hothouse flowers, don't you know.