when books don’t sell

Recently, I spent a few days at a writing conference in the Blue Ridge mountains. One of the options presented to published authors was to bring books to sell in the conference bookstore. Though my book is poetry, and poetry generally doesn’t sell well, I decided to take several copies of Counting Colors along.

Never having had a book published before, it felt strange and at the same time kind of wonderful to mention I had a book in the bookstore. I can’t even begin to count how often we encountered new faces at each meal and throughout the workshops and asked each other what genre we write, if we are published. So even though it felt unnatural, I confessed about Counting Colors, my journey through infertility, adoption, and into motherhood.

I felt a certain kinship with a few women in particular who lived through infertility or pregnancy loss. We felt an openness with one another sometimes not easily achieved when thrown into new environments with new people. I walked away encouraged by the desire others have to encourage women struggling with grief and loss.

So when it came time to pick up my unsold books at the bookstore, I hoped at least a few were going home with conferees. But as I viewed the stack on the table it didn’t look any smaller than the stack I had dropped off on day one. I counted each book, the number growing closer and closer to the original number I brought with me. In the end, I sold one book. One.

One measly book.

I have to admit I trudged up the steps, my arms burdened with unsold books, my heart discouraged, disappointed. I knew not many would sell. But only one? And after I put myself out there, made myself vulnerable, and told so many people about it, people who seemed genuinely interested. Certainly, there are many possible reasons people may not have purchased the book. For starters, it’s poetry. Many conferees are on a budget, have limited space in their suitcase, and the subject matter is limiting. I knew all that, know it. But a part of me couldn’t help but feel frustration, irritation for the trouble I went to to lug the books there, fill out tax forms, cart them back home, all for the sake of one sale.

But as I felt sorry for myself, I remembered my prayer for this little collection of poems. That God would use my words for His glory, and that these poems would serve as a source of encouragement to those on their own journey and perspective for those who love them. What if one person is encouraged by my book? What if that person realizes she is not alone, what if my words resonate with her? What if one person finds hope hidden in those pages?

Isn’t that enough?

grace for each moment, one moment at a time

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