Many writers dream of seeing their published works on the shelf of a bookstore. Think of the heady feeling of walking into a Barnes & Nobel and seeing your name and book among the thousands of bestsellers. That’s never been my goal in life. Selling books means you make money and making money means you move into a higher tax bracket. Who needs that?
Ok, I’ve written four books, and I get a royalty check once a month from Amazon. I’ve spent hundreds of hours planning, plotting, writing and formatting (my wife did that part) and I actually get something ($) back in return for all that agony of being cursed with such a creative mind. I make so much in one month that I can now go to a restaurant and order a Caesar’s salad instead of a regular tossed green. It’s a life of wild self-indulgence. I now know what it’s like to be John Steinbeck. I don’t mean this in a literal sense because he died on December 20, 1968. I now know what Hemingway’s life was like…sometimes I can even understand why he was “cleaning” his shotgun on July 2, 1961.
But I’d like to say that since bookstores are going to totally disappear from our lives in about six years, I’ve gotten more satisfaction from finding my books in the Public Libraries of America. It is in these great institutions that my volumes will remain on a shelf for all time. Actually, that’s not true. I found out that a book’s “borrow” slip where a little grey-haired lady or an English major stamps the due date, needs to have dates stamped on them. If no one checks a book out (say, twice a year) then the product of your sweat and tears will be in the next Fund Raising Book Sale.
[So if you’re in the Coburn Free Library in Owego, NY and you don’t check out my four books, they will sell them for 10 cents. Go ahead, walk past me on the shelf. It’ll be on your conscience, not mine.]
Recently, I toured the Saranac Lake Public Library to check on how my books were doing. I felt like a famous surgeon making rounds of his patients at the Mayo Clinic. I was very surprised to find all my books were shelved properly and had a decent number of check-outs. I was even more pleased at the company I keep on these shelves. In Fiction, I’m right next to Jennifer Egan, a very famous author and editor of The Best American Short Stories of 2014.
For those of you who are not familiar with Jennifer, this is a recent publicity head shot of her:
[Jennifer Egan (no relation), but a guy can wish, can’t he?]
Here’s proof of my claim:
[There I am…just don’t ask who Lesley Egan is, I have no idea.]
I went over to the Non-fiction section. Again, there I was, with two books. This time, however they buried me between two biographies of two relatively unknown individuals.
See what I mean?:
I went straight to a computer and Googled these two people. I found these images:
[A guy named Einstein]
[Same guy, but on a bicycle.]
[The Edison guy with a funny horn-thing. He reminds me of a teacher I had once in high school who also had a sore left hip.]
So, what is the moral of this story? What is the point of showing you photos of my books, when you can go to your computer and order them all yourself? Well, you don’t have to go to the library then, do you? A lot of quiet old men sit and read the newspaper in libraries…for free! And, chances are, there are no book stores with 85 miles of your home.
But, there is a distinct possibility that you may not like to read and that you don’t really like me very much. Then there’s always the option of Books-on-Tape. The only problem is…none of my writing is on tape.
Not to worry, though, if you send me lots of money, I’ll gladly read a copy of my book into a tape recorder…I’ll even mention you by name. There’s something heady in that, let me tell you.
Maybe then I can afford the extra salsa at our local Tex-Mex restaurant. Can you believe they make you pay for that?