It had been a while since I was last at Poetry Club in the Sunset Cafe. I had fallen into the “Strictly” hole with all its sequins and sevens. I wasn’t greeted like the prodigal son. My absence wasn’t even mentioned.
Marcin, the man that managed the café was pleased to see me. He had, he told me, sold one of my poetry books just before Christmas and handed me my share of the booty.
I spent some of my booty on a pot of tea puzzling over the information that he had sold one of my books. I didn’t remember giving him any of my books to sell in the café. There were other poets in the group whose books vied for attention on the shelf. Maybe he had got them directly through the publisher, or sold his own copy bought the night of the book launch. Yes, it’s called clutching at straws.
“If you have any more of your books…” Marcin was quite happy to add them to the pile. Being Poetry Club I happened to toss in a few copies into my rucksack – on the off chance someone might ask.
Marcin frowned at the book. It didn’t look familiar.
“New cover?” he asked.
I couldn’t keep living in denial. The book Marcin had sold wasn’t my book. I wanted badly to hold on to “my” part of the earnings – which were not mine at all. It wasn’t huge sum. It probably wouldn’t be missed. And it just felt so good thinking that someone had bought my book. Except they hadn’t bought my book at all.
Marcin rifled through the books on the shelf finding a copy of the book he had sold. I handed back the booty. The other poet was short, like me; she had dark hair like me; she wore glasses like me; but she wasn’t me.
So what about the book? My nephew thinks I am raking in royalties and now that I am rich, I am like the queen and don’t worry about mundane things like money. Both he and I wish that to be the case but it isn’t.
So what about the book? Let me just say that I think it is a marvellous book. I am proud to have my name attached to it. My biggest concern when it was launched into the world was that it was a second class collection of less that great poetry. It is first class! It is wonderful stuff.
Quite a few books were bought as Christmas presents for mums and grandmothers, aunties, sisters and friends. I have unintentionally identified a specific market demand. The poems seem to have found their own prescription – one before breakfast and one at the end of the day. My own copy sits beside my Bible on the coffee table.
So what about the book? Waterstones in Inverness never took up my offer of selling them in their store. Although they might have a policy of promoting local authors, a clearly Christian poetry book – poetry not being so easy to sell, or religion for that matter – they never really got back to me. My husband boycotted the store for a week or two, but his Waterstones card lured him back. I shall become like the persistent widow to Watertsone’s unjust judge in time for Easter!
Two Christian bookshops, one in Inverness and one in Rugby, were supplied with books. They have certainly sold some of them. I could have cut out the middle man or woman, and sold the book directly to friends of friends, collecting the whole booty instead of sharing it. But I wanted the bookshops to be able to sell them and ask for more. It is a book that is amazing and not just because I think so.
Feedback from those that received the book for a Christmas present is filtering through to me. So far it is all positive. It is unsolicited positive. Mothers and grandmothers, aunties, sisters and friends all across the country are being blessed by the poems and finding encouragement in them.
We were reading and praying through some of the opening verses of Paul’s letter to the Colossians. The phrase “bearing fruit in every good work” v10, caused me to look back over those closing months of last year. I may not yet have convinced Waterstones that they want my book; I may have a relatively full box of the books under my stairs still to sell; both Christian bookshops in Inverness and Rugby may not yet be making repeat requests for new stock – but I am convinced that the book is bearing fruit in the lives of those that read it.