What I learned from a grumpy book store owner

My dear friend Kari, who I’ve honored by naming a character in Pulled after, had lunch with me the other day.  Unbeknownst to her, after lunch I was planning to drag her to a local bookstore in town to see if they wanted to stock my book.


I was prepared for them to say, ‘This isn’t the sort of book we sell’ or something along those lines. I wasn’t prepared to hear: “Take your book and get out of my store.”  For reals.


The dreaded crime that I had committed? I mentioned the word ‘Amazon.’  Several times.  It wasn’t my fault.  He asked where it could be purchased, I said: Amazon. I only made things worse when, trying to sell myself, explained that I was a self-published author and had managed to place in the quarter finals of the Amazon Breakthrough novelist competition. That didn’t interested him. All he heard was the evil competition’s name.

Creating Amazon was all part of my diabolical plan…

Now don’t get me wrong, I get it, I do.  To small book store owners, Amazon IS the devil. But to a self-published author like me, it’s a place to get my work into the hands of people that want it.



Now in all fairness, the guy said he was joking, but it still crushed me.  Perhaps seeing me crumble before his very eyes, he said that he would be willing to take my book–just to look at it–and then he’d ‘let me know.’ As I was about to walk out with my pride demolished, when his co-owner stepped in and said she’d ‘heard about my book’.  That’s right. Cause I’ve done my marketing leg work.   She took it on the spot.  After that, the man chilled out and tried to soothe the waters, because at that point, I was just about in tears.  I felt about this big when he was done with me.

Leaving the store a whopping $6.00 bucks richer, I felt awful.  My dear friend, saw this and dragged me into yet another local book store. (I did NOT want to go through that again!) But to my great delight,  this shop owner was super nice. We chatted for quite a long time and she ended up buying 4 of my books! Not only that, she just called me up and ordered 2 more because she’d already sold two copies in the few days that they had been in her store!


So, what boys and girls have we learned today?  Seriously? What have we learned?  Leave your new-found knowledge in the comment box. 🙂


12 thoughts on “What I learned from a grumpy book store owner”

  1. Grumpy small book owners suck. End of story.
    You would think they would be more open to promoting local talent. You obviously have friends and family would be interested in purchasing. But it’s his loss.
    At least you HAVE a book store in your town. My “city” of 17,000 people doesn’t have a single book store. There should be a law against that sort of thing!

  2. 1. Most bookstores don’t like stocking self-published books, and saying “Amazon” in a small shop is akin to uttering “Voldemort” in front of Cornelius Fudge. It’s not only the fact that bookstores are going under that they fear, it’s the overall change in the publishing industry. But what they fail to consider is that Amazon is giving a great many people (you and I included) new opportunities. It’s better to be an active part of that rather than to futilely resist.

    2. Sad to say, there are a great, great many people out there who are publishing their own books, and a good percentage of those books are crap. In the future, you’ll probably not want to differentiate yourself by mentioning the professional cover, editing, good reviews (by local, well-known people if possible), etc before saying “self-published”.

  3. I think this story has taught me that you are VERY brave. Which I knew about you anyway. I am so excited for you with your sales. Now go and write the sequel will ya?? xox Me

  4. I think the operative word here is “grumpy”. At first I was going to say that you need to thicken your skin a little to protect yourself in situations like this, but it seems that your reaction did seem to have a positive effect. All in all, I agree with what the other commenters have to say, especially RJ. She’s so wise

    1. R.J. IS wise, isn’t she? That’s why she’s my hero. I do have VERY thin skin. You think I wouldn’t being an actress, but alas, what people think about me matters more than it should. sigh. What’s a sensitive girl like me to do?

  5. I haven’t done this yet, but am planning to. As I understand it, what you did right was (1) to come in person so they can see who and what you are as a person, (2) bring copies of your book for them to look through and judge on its own merit, (3) leg work beforehand. I understand that agreeing to refund the purchase price of books that are returned is a good way to make brownie points, too. Good luck – and way to go!

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