Wednesday, January 23, 2013

An Author’s First

There are many firsts when it comes to being an author, with many unchartered mountains to climb and conquer:
·         Completing your first book

·         Publishing your first book

·         Holding your finished book in your hands

·         Entering your first contest

·         Joining National Novel Writing Month

·         Getting your first review

·         Holding your first book signing

·         Making your first sale

·         Learning your book is chosen for a book club

·         Getting your first contract

·         Seeing your book for sale in bookstores

Eventually, these firsts will start again but with a second book and it will be just as exhilarating as before.  It’s like when you have children…you enjoy the firsts with the first child as much as you do the second and beyond. 
So far, I have been able to conquer many of these firsts and someday I may conquer them all.  If anyone had asked me what other firsts I could add to this list, I’m not sure I could have come up with any on the spot. 

And then recently I was reminded of yet one more author first.
I stopped to check the mail after work one day and inside was a key, which meant I had a package too large to fit in my mail box waiting in one of the larger boxes.  When I opened the box, I discovered a large envelope addressed to me but I did not recognize the person listed on the return address.

I took the envelope home before I finally opened it and I was admittedly confused when inside the large envelope, I found a smaller envelope addressed to the mystery person with my name listed on the return address.  The smaller envelope was not sealed and inside I found…
My book!

Someone was sending me a copy of my book?
Okay.  So, I’ll admit, it had been a long day at work and I wasn’t feeling very well due to my recent illness which was obviously affecting my ability to stay mentally on task.  However, I finally became wise to the whole concept of why someone would send me my book when I saw a card attached to the front of the book.  Opening the card, I read a very nice note from a woman I met briefly on a day trip down to Oregon.  Apparently, her daughter bought her No Mother of Mine for Christmas and she was sending me the book with the request that I autograph it for her.

This was definitely a first.  I never thought I’d receive such a request, especially this soon in my writing career.  But it was certainly nice of her to ask and I was very pleased to oblige. 
It’s funny because I read a post or an article recently, by who I can’t recall, commenting on whether or not they should continue to return autographed books when requested.  It would appear this had become a fairly common occurrence or at least took up time the author no longer wished to give away.  His idea was that he would sign his books when requested but only if the reader sent him something in return.  Not money and not an item worth very much but some sort of gift that showed him the reader was serious about wanting his autograph.  His reasoning was that he had come across an unsettling trend; he would sign the books only to discover that someone was trying to sell his autographed book online for an increased price.  I guess there are those types out there.  This author figured he would weed out those types by requesting that they take the time to put together some kind of offering for him before he would take the time to sign and return the book.  Maybe the types he hoped to avoid did not wish to bother with this sort of exchange and gave up on the request rather than put forth the effort.  But then again, if someone wants something bad enough, they’ll have no problem jumping through a few hoops.

Either way, it was a curious way of looking at this sort of issue when it comes to being an author.  When your name becomes a household name, I can see limiting how often you give your autograph away.  However, there is a long distance between a new author and a household name; years and years of distance or possibly between now and never.
For me, for now, I don’t mind the request for an autograph; especially when the postage is prepaid.  If there ever comes a time when I am concerned about others abusing the request, it’s something I’ll deal with at that time.  In the here and now, though, it’s just an exciting first as an author and it gives me more of a reason to feel proud of my work and my accomplishments.       

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