Saturday, May 5, 2007

An Element of Sadness

By Keith Fisher

I was in our local everything for a dollar store the other day. I was looking at frames for my writing award, but that’s another story.

Anyway, I perused the do-dads and do-hickeys, when I stumbled upon a sight that saddened me. In the school supplies section, I found several shelves devoted to books, not just pocket size paperbacks, but hard cover 80,000 word novels.

Normally this wouldn’t be anything new for me but I had to remember I was in the dollar store. These weren’t just discounted books—they were one step away from give-away, (or throwaway).

I studied the unfamiliar titles, and checked out the unknown authors’ names. I imagined the hopes and dreams, the late into the night, all consuming urge those authors must’ve felt to write their books.

I imagined their elation when their publisher delivered the good news, the hard work of going through the process to see their book in print. Perhaps it didn’t sell well, and the publisher printed too many copies. Whatever the reason, the book had been relegated to the discount store.

As writers, we’re familiar with this story, but I was left with a feeling of sadness for the books that never really saw the light of glory. I was sad for the unknown authors who would’ve been the next Mary Higgins Clark or Ray Bradbury, if only their books had seen more shelf life, or inspired controversy like Dan Brown’s.

But I have to remember, at least the book was published, the author still has a chance.

I agree with Jeffrey Savage’s desire to have many people read his books even if they borrow the first one, or check it out from a library somewhere. If a book is good enough, people will remember and purchase their own copy of the author’s next book.

If the unknown authors I spoke of continue to write, then having their book in the extreme discount section could be a good thing. At least it will get their book into the hands of many. So the sadness I felt may be premature. It may be harder to get a publisher, but those forlorn copies of unexplored prose might be the great-grandfathers of a bestseller someday.

1 comment:

Tristi Pinkston said...

While any exposure is good, I think I would cry my eyes out if I ever saw my books at the dollar store.