I’ve often wondered what it must be like for an author to spot someone reading his or her book. Imagine
sitting on a plane next to a person who’s perusing your book. Would you reveal that you’re the author or just wait until the person sees the photo on the book jacket, glances at you, and says, "Wow, you look a little like this author. But I’m sure you don’t write crap like this."
Earlier this year, first-time author Imran Ahmad wrote a comment on Scott Pack’s blog about the excitement of seeing his newly published (and previously self-published) memoir Unimagined in a bookstore:
I slip out of the office at lunchtime to go to Borders. A bus is
coming, so I run to the bus stop and just make it. I flash my travel
card and he doesn’t even blink, as if I’m not really here, as if I’m a
figment of my own imagination.
My heart is thumping as Borders approaches. I jump off the bus, run
across the road and regain my composure, before I stride casually
inside the store. I don’t want to draw attention to myself, get
recognised and be accosted by a crowd of hysterical young women.
(Actually, I do).
There it is, facing me on the shelf – eight copies, ‘front of store’
as promised. This is the moment I have waited all my life for. Wow! I
can hardly believe it. I thought this was going to happen in 2005, with
my magnificent self-published book (with its mysterious, enigmatic
cover), but somehow I wasn’t able to persuade Borders to stock it, let
alone put it ‘front of store’.
I move on, casually strolling around the tables, waiting for the
magic moment. Hold on, here’s a chap, a youngish man, casually dressed,
looks a bit foreign, he’s looking over the books in that display, the
one with my book in it. His eyes are running over the books
systematically, and he’s taking little steps sideways, towards my book.
I move into a casual holding position, from where I can observe him,
but he won’t see me. That’s it, he’s in place now, his eyes are running
down the shelves and now he’s … that’s right sunshine … good man … he’s
looking at my book! His face is steady, right on it. … Oh yes … oh yes
.. come on .. oh yes… oh yes … he’s reaching for it … he’s got it! …
He’s picked up my book! It’s in his hands … he’s studying the cover …
good looking chap on the cover, don’t you think? … now the back … great
quotes, eh? … haven’t you always loved Sue Cook , as I have done? … now
he’s reading the inside front flap … a logical approach … seems like a
smart chap … it’s taking him an awfully long time to read the front
flap .. okay, he’s done … hey! … what the hell do you think you’re
doing? … what the hell are you doing? … he’s put it back … back on the
shelf .. he’s moving on … stupid bastard! you stupid idiot! … what the
hell are you doing in a bookshop?! … can you even read?…
I return to the office a broken man.