On Monday, my daughter and I went shopping. I bought a pretty new dress for YA Fest, and when I brought it to the register, the woman asked my daughter if she had a dance coming up. I told her the dress was for me. (Note: I'm not that much bigger than my daughter any more, and because of my small size, I have to shop in the juniors section if I don't want my clothes to fall off me during the course of the day.) What happened next had me wanting to smack myself.
No, the cashier didn't make fun of me for shopping in the juniors department. I told her I'm an author and I was buying the dress for an upcoming book signing. She looked at me in amazement. Then she proceeded to tell me how cool it was that I'm an author and asked what I write. Here's the part where I wanted to smack myself. I told her the book released that day and it was for teens. That's all I said. She looked at me like she was expecting me to say more, which I should have, but I paid my bill and left the store.
Here's the thing. I'm not comfortable talking about being an author to people I meet under normal everyday circumstances. I tend to dodge the subject. If I'm at a book signing or a school visit, it's a completely different story. But put me with people who don't know what I do for a living and I clam up. Why? I could say I don't know, but that's not true. I do know why. I'm not a best seller. I'm not a name people recognize unless you know me. Should I be embarrassed because of that? Of course not! Yet I don't talk about my books unless I'm in a book-related setting.
I've published 23 books, 3 novellas, and over 200 short stories. Why shouldn't I be proud of that? I'm sharing this today because I suspect I'm not the only author who acts this way—thinking less of him/herself because he/she hasn't hit the NYT best-seller list. We need to stop acting this way. I look at my daughter, who couldn't be more proud to have her book published and available for free. She gets it, and she's nine. Maybe we all could learn something from her.
*If you have a question you'd like me to answer from the other side of the editor's desk, feel free to leave it in the comments and I'll schedule it for a future post.