Sunday, February 01, 2009

jayne anne phillips - lark and termite

This morning, while in the barn cleaning donkey stalls, I heard Jayne Anne Phillips on Public Radio, talking about her novel Lark and Termite. Back in the mid 1970s I was a big fan. David Wilk was sending me issues of his magazine Truck, as well as chapbooks that he was producing, and he turned me on to her work. When Beth and I opened Gulf of Maine Books we of course kept her books in stock. Then one year I heard that she would be signing books at the New England Booksellers fall gathering. I looked forward to meeting her and to getting a signed book. I waited in line, and when I reached the front of the line she took the book, signed her name, and slid it back to me, never making eye contact and never breaking her conversation with the publisher's rep who was helping her with the signing. Too important a conversation, apparently, to actually greet a bookseller who tried to handsell her books. I have not stocked her books since.
I hope that authors (and publishers) will realize that when you are at bookseller conferences, or anywhere else where you are greeting the public and hoping to sell your book, that it is important to make contact. Let us know that you have seen us, give us some connection to your book. Make us happy every time that we sell a copy for you. There are still old fashioned booksellers who get a thrill when we sell a good book.


Blogger Theresa Williams said...

Hi Gary, I am still enjoying the beautiful books you sent to me. Just wanted to say, I got to see Phillips this summer when I was in Provincetown for my writing residency, and she read from Lark and Termite. She's not only a great writer but a very friendly person. Hope ALL is well up in snowland! We're just now getting dug out of our big storm.

1:59 PM  
Blogger Theresa Williams said...

Oh, and I do know what you mean about author-signings. I won't mention the author, but at P-Town something similar happened to me. She kept me waiting ten minutes while she talked to an acquaintance. I had bought one of her books and wanted, at the same time, to give her a copy of my novel as a way of telling her how much she had inspired me to keep writing. She was very rude and took the book, but reluctantly. I feel she probably ditched the book somewhere. Another time, a book I gave to a treasured author ended up for sale at Amazon. The book was selling for more than its cover price because I had inscribed the book to HIM. I actually e-mailed him to tell him I knew he'd ditched the book; he claimed that a student must have taken it without his knowledge. Both incidents were hurtful to me. I think your entry here should be read by all authors: they need to remember that human beings are on the other end of those books.

2:05 PM  

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