Monday, August 1, 2011

Ode to the Library

Today I saw my novel on the shelf of a public library for the first time. It was a special milestone on my ongoing adventure in guerilla publishing, not the first and it won’t be the last, but surely one to be treasured. Leading up to it were wonderful occasions such as seeing my novel bound for the first time with its fantastic cover designed by Erin Rogers Pickering. I had seen my prose bound before, but only in anthologies where I was one of many contributors. My novella Feeding the Squirrels was a solo project that made its way to publication, but strictly in electronic format so I had nothing to appreciatively hold in hand. Therefore, seeing Patches of Grey as a paper bound book for the first time was a real treat, as was the first reprint where I was able to work some glowing reviewer quotes into the back cover copy. Speaking of which, receiving the first blurb about my novel which happened to arrive on St. Patrick’s Day was another memorable day in my journey, as was the posting of its first full fledged review. Participating in my first author event at Sparta Books was an amazing experience, and spotting a copy of Patches of Grey on the fiction shelf of Words Bookstore briefly took my breath away. There it sat in a real deal brick and mortar bookstore. My sense of awe on that day is certainly meant as no disrespect to Amazon and the online independent booksellers who gave me my start and account for the vast majority of my sales to date. With a full time job and a family putting demands on my calendar, I simply do not have time to pound the pavement getting my novel into stores in the physical rather than cyber world one pitch at a time. So all hail the online retailers from whom you can purchase my book without needing to leave the comfort of your couch. The next milestone was making my novel available as an ebook, initially for the Kindle and shortly after for the Nook. People with reading devices can now obtain Patches of Grey for a steal. Why I have yet to hit the million sales club on Kindle is beyond me (it only costs a buck!), but patience is a virtue I continue to cultivate.

All of this leads to the sighting of my book in the Maplewood Library. This incredible literary voyage began for me in the library, the branch on Edenwald Avenue in the Bronx to be precise. It was there that my love of the written word was formed and cemented. I’ll never forget those initial trips into fictional worlds inhabited by Henry Huggins, Ramona and Beezus, Encyclopedia Brown, and as I matured and was able to go on more sophisticated literary adventures, my fascination grew exponentially. I can’t say that I recall my first visit to a bookstore, but my earliest trips to the library on a weekly basis are lasting memories. I fell hard for reading and made an oath to some day craft stories of my own. It was rewarding to take out as many books as I wanted with a card belonging exclusively to me, no sign off by Mom and Dad necessary. That was my first credit/debit card. I suppose this made my library visits an early glimpse at adulthood. The books may have been free to borrow, but if lost or damaged or returned late there would be a price to pay. I was (and still am) a very responsible library patron.

Who knows? Perhaps one day a young reader (not too young though, parental supervision is advised on account of adult language and content) will take Patches of Grey out from the library (or win a free copy at giveaway such as this one) and be permanently marked, bitten by the reading bug and perhaps also infected by the venom of the writing bug. It can happen as I well know.

Writing has so far not made me rich or famous. I have no idea what lies ahead, which of course is part of the fun. But I do know that people now have the opportunity to enter a world of my making just as I envisioned as a kid in that Bronx library, which is a pretty cool milestone to hit.

p.s. – If you ever find yourself in Maplewood, NJ and have the opportunity to check out a book from the library written by a local author, there are several to choose from in addition to my own. This town is filled with creative folks. Among them is Terin Miller and my review of his debut novel can be found HERE.

Review of Patches of Grey by A Book Vacation

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