TL;DR The good: someone bought my ebooks as a friendly gesture because they knew me for reasons unrelated to writing. The better: they recommended the books to a second person who bought them too. The BEST: the second person liked the books even more!
Full explanation. It’s long, but I feel bubbly, so I’m sharing backstory and all.
I work the Butterflies & Blooms exhibit at the Chicago Botanic Garden every summer. It’s a volunteer gig done in four-hour shifts, and I’ve hopped from shift to shift over the years as as my library schedule allowed. Since many volunteers have worked the same shift all five years the exhibit’s been open, I’ve gotten to know dozens of fascinating, knowledgeable, helpful, friendly people.
The volunteer pool is a fascinating and inclusive group, mostly retirees from all backgrounds imaginable. Being casual acquaintances who might never otherwise cross social paths, we cover All the Usual Topics during quiet periods between visitor groups. You know the list: what do you do, where do you live, how’s the family, what’s new in your life, etc… Since I’m an author, writing anecdotes are one of the things I end up sharing.
Few of the others are speculative fiction readers, but they ask great questions about the nuts and bolts aspects and are cheerfully supportive in a general way. Their reactions and respect are welcome reminders that the wide world is much bigger and more accepting of independent authors than the pop-culture and publishing pools where I spend most of my time swimming.
One of the volunteers on my new shift last year–let’s call her Butterfly Reader One–was so tickled to learn she knew a published author she grabbed some of my ebooks so she could say she owned them. Despite not being a speculative fiction reader (at all) she ended up reading and enjoying the Partners books and Flight Plan, then read and loved Extraordinary. This made me giddy, and I was profuse with thanks and gratitude, but of course I chalked up the praise to politeness and casual friendliness because that’s how I roll.
This year Reader One and I are both on a new shift together, and a few weeks ago I learned that Reader One mentioned to another volunteer that I wrote books she’d enjoyed. (!) The way I heard this news was the truly glee-making part. Reader Two approached me to say how much she had enjoyed Extraordinary, and did I have any print books–because she would love to own a signed book.
I restrained myself to merely hopping up and down and clapping, but picture the happy Kermit flailing inside. Yeah. There was flailing.
Of course I shared the news that I have two novels in print form, then issued the disclaimer that they are in a different series. We chatted about the two series and what she liked about Extraordinary (more strictly internal happy-dancing on my part) and she wrote down the titles of the other books in the Rough Passages collection.
I honestly thought it would end there, but this week…well. This week Reader Two brought in the copy of Controlled Descent she purchased, and handed me a pen.
Soon after that I handed out two business cards to two more volunteers who were delighted by the sight of the print book.
Color me happy.