By Amy MacKinnon
When my cab pulled up to the hotel, I hoped -- just a bit, I already felt abundantly blessed -- to have a view of Lake Michigan. I took it as a sign when I was upgraded to a corner suite with window after window filled with water views. Then I knew my dinner with Chicago-area booksellers would go well.
Random House sales rep, John Hastie, picked me up and drove me to the boutique restaurant in downtown. I thought it a good indication that he recognized me from my author photo -- not too photo-shopped. Now John is the kind of person one feels immediately comfortable with, someone who laughs easily and obviously loves books. I imagine booksellers are not simply clients to him, but friends. When we walked into the private dining room, I was greeted by the other Random House sales rep, Bridget Piekarz. Now, I had been hearing about Bridget for months. The folks on my marketing team were thrilled when they learned Bridget was excited by my book and asked if she could take me around to meet booksellers in the Midwest. I had the sense Bridget was a force and I was right.
Bridget introduced me to several booksellers who had already arrived, when one directed me to the table. Bridget had wrapped my galleys in beautiful paper, placed a sticker with the new cover in the upper right-hand corner, wrapped it in decorative twine and then tucked into the bow flowers from her own garden. Flowers from my book. It was only because there were hours to go that I didn't weep.
And the booksellers! There was Mary from Anderson's Book Shops (she reached out to me even before I boarded the plane to Chicago!); Suzy from The Book Cellar (clever, it's located in a basement); Scott from 57th Street & Seminary Coop; Wanda, regional manager for Borders (overseeing about 120 stores and a darling dog at home); Sue from Lake Forest Books; Flo of Barnes & Noble, Linda from Centuries & Sleuths, and Ianni of Unabridged Books. Imagine for a moment sitting around a table overflowing with excellent food and wine, and better yet, conversation! These were people who loved books, who loved stories about how books are made, and especially the people behind them. Isn't that stunning? Now I'm not ususally a social person, a little awkward around the "beautiful people" of suburbia I suppose, but I was immediately at ease with these folks. They are my beautiful people. I felt as though I fit in.
When talk turned to Tethered, they listened attentively as I told the genesis of the story. There was a collective gasp when I told them of the envelope, and they loved the new cover.
The night was over too soon, I didn't want the conversation to end and I certainly didn't want to lose touch with these new friends. It was dream-like, better than a ball.
But it wasn't over. The next night I would share dinner with booksellers in Grand Rapids. I'll save that story for next week.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
By Amy MacKinnon