Scenes from the Independence Visitor Center Store, on a certain warm Saturday

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Earlier today I was the guest of the truly beautiful and well-managed Independence Visitor Center Store on the Mall in Philadelphia. If you haven't been, you really should go. It'll make you proud of our city.

I was there to sign copies of my two Philadelphia novels, Dangerous Neighbors and Dr. Radway's Sarsparilla Resolvent. And as grateful as I was for the opportunity, I knew, going in, how hard this would be for this lifelong thwarter of sales scenarios. I couldn't sell Girl Scout cookies when it was required of me years ago. At other author events, I eschew talking about my own books in favor of promoting the books of others. And put me in the midst of a store with only my own books to sell, and all I can think of is how silly I must seem to all those passing by. An American curiosity with a twitch in her writing hand.

When I could climb out of my own head long enough, however, I was grateful for many things. For Sister Kim and her cousin Christine, who came and visited for a long sweet while. For the grandparents of twins, who embraced Dangerous Neighbors. For the junior in high school who hopes to be a writer, for the handsome couple who eventually overcame stormy skies and storm surges on the Chesapeake and made their way to the city, for the couple from Australia, for the couple from western PA.

And then there was this totally adorable little boy who could not get enough of the Dr. Radway cover. So convinced was he that he had to have this book that his mother and I began talking. She is a literature professor in China, as it turns out, at the end of a few months based in Boston, and it was fascinating to talk with her—and to hear her appreciation for this country. I was glad to hear that my fellow Americans had been kind to her and her family. I was glad to see the good of us through her eyes.

And that little boy—I'll never forget him.

I'm not good at sales. Indeed, I'm downright terrible at sales, suffering some inner shame as the clock ticks on. But today I was given the chance to see and hear the appreciation that others have for my city. It was enough for me. It was energizing.


Serena said...

I was never very good at sales either. I got fired after one day as a telemarketer for a window company for being too nice.

Your books sell themselves I think, if I'm not selling them for you every time I'm in a bookstore.

Jennifer R. Hubbard said...

Everyone feels nervous sitting at that table behind the stack of books. I think it's a rare and extroverted writer who feels totally natural about it. But the upside is getting to talk to some nice people. :-)

I hope to make it to your August 6 event!

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