I'm making an assumption here, but I suspect that you, like every author, published and still-to-be-published, share this dream:
to walk into a book store and see your title on the shelf.
What a feeling that will be!
There’s a validation the comes from knowing that a professional reader has judged your book to be good enough to take up valuable shelf space in the highly competitive real estate of a brick and mortar book store.
My novel, Mother Teresa’s Advice for Jilted Lovers was published in January 2016 and has been sold in three independent book stores. Sadly, I've still not walked into those stores to see it on the shelf since they're all too far from where I live.
That said, I have seen it on the shelf at my local library, living happily among other titles in the adult fiction section. But, that's a library and I donated the copy, so it doesn’t feel like it really counts toward having fulfilled my "every author's dream."
Well, last weekend my dream, my wish, came true!
So, how did it feel to finally experience walking into a book store and seeing my title on the shelf? Not at all the way I expected it would.
Here's how it played out:
Me, scanning a book shelf for an interesting title...
Oh my gosh! That's my book!
Emotion: Elation and a little squeak of excitement.
But… dammit…. in a used book store?
Emotion: Deep disappointment, pouty face and inner fake crying.
I stared at the book, wondering what to do.
Should I leave it there for someone to buy and enjoy?
My inner critic piped up:
Enjoy? Obviously, your book is not one for the “Keeper Shelf.” That reader probably didn’t even finish it before she tossed it aside like yesterday’s horoscope. Don't leave it there to disappoint another poor sucker.
You should buy it and gift to someone who says they’d like to read it but doesn't want to waste $15 on a book they'll just toss out anyway.
When is half-price book day? If you wait, you’ll only have to waste $0.75. Plus tax.
These emotions and reactions lasted about 5 seconds. And then my brain woke up again and “remembered” what I’d been looking for on these shelves: research books for my work-in-progress, which is kind of the non-fiction version of Mother Teresa’s Advice for Jilted Lovers.
Emotion: Amused because the Universe did a "gotcha!" on me!
I started to laugh. It was perfect.
My novel answers the question of what my life might look like if I had the power to control the Universe (as The Secret asserts we can) and if I believed, like Mother Teresa did, that suffering is a gift from God.
The answer was obvious: I’d become a psychic serial killer. This novel is my cautionary tale to myself to not try to develop my universe-controlling abilities!
And this is where it had been mis-shelved—with the Inspirational titles, right above Religion!
Elation to disappointment to inner knowing that all is right in my dark humour Universe.
With any luck (or the will of my mind?) the book I’m currently writing will one day sit on this very shelf, in this same store, among other actual inspirational books that rest above religion.
The real gift from the Universe in fulfilling my "walk into a book store and see my title on the shelf" dream, was how quickly I shut down my inner critic and embraced the truth that there’s nothing wrong with writing books that aren’t “keepers,” books that serve their purpose while being read and then are passed along for the next person to enjoy.