The Book Seller

On a whim, I made a decision today to approach a local book store in an attempt to get my book out into the big, wide world. I recently saw the shop’s flyer, and noted that they are advertising themselves as supportive of local authors, so I felt as though it might have been a welcoming place to start.

When I approached the shop owner, the welcome was frosty. When I introduced myself, and told her that I’m a local author, I was met with a barrage of interrogative and defensive questions. I never actually managed to even say the words I had wanted to say for the first time, “I’m wondering if you’d be interested in taking a copy or two of my book to sell in your shop?” When I told the woman that this was the first time I had EVER approached a shop, EVER, to sell my work (the hint being, back off a little), I was patronised and spoken to like I had prudent sections of my brain missing. I was informed that my chosen publishing company, and others like them, are all “sharks”, and that I could have done better. I was told that self-published books (mine amongst them) “just LOOK self-published”, and I had wasted my money. I was warned that my book probably won’t sell because self-published authors rarely sell copies straight off the shelf, and there’s too much competition. When I asked if I could leave a flyer about my book launch in the shop, the response was hostile and reluctant (I believe the exact words were, “I suppose you could leave one…”). Finally, a story was relayed in which a woman had spent thousands of dollars self-publishing her books, and every single copy of her ten or so works were piled up in dusty boxes in her shed, never to see the light of day…

Then, I was told about the shop owners own self-published work – the one printed on trade paper (therefore, better than mine), the one done by Amazon so the author gets all the profits (therefore, better than mine), the one thicker than mine (yes, that’s right, she actually compared the thickness of her book against my own, as if that is somehow a measure of its worth). She gave me her retail price (a full dollar less than my own, and therefore, you guessed it, better). She pulled her book out of a decorative cotton purse and informed me that she was lucky enough to have been shortlisted for a prize for her book, and had made her money back within six months. Three years later, she is still selling copies (“people just keep buying it, and I’m like, why do you want THAT?! It’s three years old!” That wasn’t me talking. Just to clarify).

I had a choice to make in that moment.

Option one: take the ONE copy of my book that she accepted for the shop, the one that “won’t sell”, and “probably won’t even get picked up off the shelf because it doesn’t stand up against the big names”, and walk out with my head held high, no closer to getting my work recognised.

Or, option two: leave my book there. Leave the time, the energy, and love I put into it. Leave the pride I feel for its very existence. Leave all of the positivity I have worked hard to pour into its creation, trying to protect it from any inkling that I couldn’t make it a reality. Leave all of the belief and faith other people have placed in me as an author. Leave it all sitting in the book seller’s shop, and hope to high heaven that that little self-published number flies off her shelf quicker than she can say ‘bubble burster’, one person closer to being acknowledged as a writer.

I left my book there. Because that woman is just a lesson in growing a thick skin, and I’m not about to let one Negative Nancy trick me into ruining this creation or believing it wasn’t all worth it. Because I’m proving a point. Because I think she’s wrong, and I want the evidence.

I write because I am compelled to write. I write because it makes me joyous. And I write because it feels like home. If I was in this for the dollars, I would buy myself an independent book shop marketed as a hub in support of local authors, and then I would try to slowly weed out the competition through bitterness and negativity whilst simultaneously tooting my own horn and spruiking my own wares.

I’m in it for the feels. I don’t believe in competition, and I definitely don’t believe in creating a life of dullness and failure by letting other people have me believe my work will not compete with others. I’ve got my own self-doubt and insecurity to grapple with. I refuse to carry someone else’s. Thoughts become reality. Don’t let the bad ones in.

So, I guess I really am an author, now. I’ve got the rejection from the threatened, insecure, competition-focused cynic to prove it.

I’m grateful for today’s lesson.

(Side note: Really, I’m only human, and I’m just PRAYING for someone to buy that book and wipe the smug, self-important smile off today’s lesson’s face. But I mean that with love in my heart and faery dust in my veins).

(Additional side note: people who don’t reside in Adelaide can buy This Little Light of Mine from;; or, Visit for further details).



This Little Light of Mine

I’ve just had a book self-published. It’s called This Little Light of Mine and it’s about a young clairvoyant girl called Stella, and her Faery, Astrid. At its simplest, it’s a story about Mother Earth, and treading carefully on this planet that supports us. At its heart, it’s a story about embracing the light we all have deep inside us, illuminating our souls.

Something I’m learning about the publishing world is that, as an author, you are required to categorise your work based on a set of generic rules, and the rules change every which way you turn. Often.

For example, if your word count falls between (insert considerable range here), then it’s a children’s fiction; any more, and it’s teenage fiction. If your work is pitched at ages (insert smallish number of years lived here) then it’s teen fiction, and if you’ve pitched it any older, it’s adult fiction. Also, teen fiction is sometimes referred to as young adult fiction, and sometimes, pre-teen is considered young adult. The mind boggles. All labels, genres, categories, and target audience forecasts are arbitrary and fraught with the potential to pigeon-hole an author in an area they never thought they belonged to.

Sure, it’s useful to have a vague idea of where something loosely fits in the world, but there’s also something spontaneous and liberating about accepting a work based on nothing but face value (without the rules). Take me, for example – I didn’t think I was a reader of crime fiction, and then I read Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and my limitations changed.

Who knows what magic we might stumble across if we ignore the labels?

I’ve been telling everyone that This Little Light of Mine is a young adult book, however I’ve recently seen it described as children’s fiction. My spiritual mentor (and one of my editors), Wendy, is a full-grown adult and she weeps every time she reads it (I have it on good authority it’s not pain related). My Auntie Pat was one of the first people to ever read an early draft, and she told me she couldn’t put it down. When I worked as a teacher, I read a few chapters to a class of grade five and six students, and they seemed rather interested.

The truth is, I don’t really mind where This Little Light of Mine fits. In terms of labels, genres, and categories, I hope it doesn’t clearly fit anywhere. Because that was never the point of writing it. I wanted to write a book about some of my real-life experiences; I wanted to write a book that would help people embrace their spirituality; and I wanted to write a book for Mother Earth. Also, I made a fairly heavy-duty deal with a sassy Faery, and once the money was on the table I couldn’t take it back.

So, whether you’re a child, a pre-teen, a teenager, an adult, a senior, a whatever, my hope for This Little Light of Mine is that it awakens your inner child, stirs your soul, and helps you find your own Faery*.

*DISCLAIMER: Just don’t make any deals you can’t come good on.

Thank you to Balboa Press who designed and own the cover image.