In an actual bookstore context, I often see customers for whom the whole experience is obviously an enjoyable outing. They are not in a hurry and are happy to come and chat to this unknown author giving out bookmarks and find out about her books. And they can always graciously remove themselves without choosing any when I comment how many other books there are in the store. You see, I like to give people an ‘out’. Perhaps I’m not at heart a good salesperson, but I don’t want people to be embarrassed or pressured into buying. Often these encounters lead to some precious ‘God conversation’—something I always ask God for before I enter a bookstore to promote my books. The whole enterprise is worth it just for those moments.
Then there are those customers who are in a hurry and don’t want to be diverted. They know what they want in that bookstore—and it definitely isn’t any of my books! I’m sure I myself have fitted into this harassed customer role at times. Some might not be in a hurry but are still on a mission. They enter the store in a focussed manner, clutching their list of desired books. They might even be a little suspicious when I explain what sort of books I write, while they hold my bookmark rather gingerly as if debating whether to take it or not. Some might even look askance at my novels.\
‘But are they true stories? I don’t read fiction.’
At which point, I hasten to show them my non-fiction book Soul Friend. It comes in handy.
Then there are those who do read fiction but have made up their minds long ago which authors are worthwhile reading. In a conference setting recently, I watched as a customer stood gazing down at the novels on display at the official bookstore opposite my table. She proceeded to proclaim loudly how disappointed she was because there were no novels by Francine Rivers or certain other famous authors left and how she loves their books and wouldn’t read anything else. Now everyone is of course entitled to have favourite authors. After all, I don’t want to be told who I should like and not like. Besides, I suspect this person did not realise there was any author within earshot—albeit a humble Aussie one. But ... well, let’s just say I find such experiences somewhat character-building!Despite this, I aim to persevere with my promotional adventures. For me, it is such a privilege to be able to offer something to others that I believe in with all my heart and that I trust God can use. But how about you? Have you too made some interesting observations as you promote your books? Or as a reader, how do you respond to those lovely, hopeful authors at book tables?
Jo-Anne Berthelsen lives in Sydney but grew up in Brisbane. She holds degrees in Arts and Theology and has worked as a high school teacher, editor and secretary, as well as in local church ministry. Jo-Anne is passionate about touching hearts and lives through both the written and spoken word. She is the author of six published novels and one non-fiction work, Soul Friend: the story of a shared spiritual journey. Jo-Anne is married to a retired minister and has three grown-up children and three grandchildren. For more information, please visit www.jo-anneberthelsen.com or www.soulfriend.com.au.