I've just returned from a trip home to Oregon. It's the first time I've been back since Schooled came out, and it was a bit of a hero's welcome. Although keep in mind I'm from one of the smallest towns on earth, and most people there don't even read, let alone know that I published a book. So when I say hero's welcome, make of it what you will.
I do have to admit that being home was a little more satisfying now that the book is out. Not that I don't love home every time I go, but writing the book gave me so much time to reflect on all my experiences there, so I've in a sense become more reflective than usual. So when I passed The Ditch last week, I smiled. Ok, well, first I shuddered. Then I smiled. I drove past the Dairy Queen, noticed that there's a new freeway exit being constructed, and even got together with one of my high school friends. (Sabrina if you've read the book.) I guess my point is that the book keeps all my memories about my hometown a lot closer to the surface. And as I sat at my parents' kitchen table eating whole wheat bread, I thought about how fortunate I was (and am) to have the life I do.
I got back to Cleveland just in time for the Larchmere Festival, which includes an "Author's Alley" which was exactly that: an alley lined with local authors who are selling their books. And it's an interesting thing trying to sell a book in this type of setting. Because when you buy jewelry or art from a festival, you know exactly what you're getting. If you like it and and it's what you want, then you buy it. But when perusing tables of books (all being sold at full price), you want to be more careful. Because even if you like a book's description, it's sort of a gamble. We are, after all, virtual unknowns. And most people don't want to deal with that kind of which-of-these-books-should-I-buy pressure on the spot like that. Or maybe it was the 100 degree heat. Either way, most people went around taking the advertising materials from each author and then headed home to, I assume, more carefully analyze the selection and then order the one they want online while sitting in an air-conditioned house. And I can't blame them one bit.
Being in the company of so many local authors was encouraging. Not because I've been reminded that we will eventually recoup our investments and become profitable writers. Quite the contrary. Because if there's anything that no-name writers agree on, it's that you don't write for money. Because you don't make any. So I guess the encouraging part was meeting other people who are as crazy as I am when it comes to writing. I mean, only an idiot would actually go through the trouble of publishing a book when the odds of making money at it are slim to none. (Read: None.) But there's something endearing about people who press on anyway; about people who write because they can't not write. So the next time you come across a summer festival featuring books by local authors, buy one. Hell, go crazy and buy two. Even if it's 100 degrees outside. I promise it will make the author's day.