Part of the reason I enjoy receiving photos of people reading my book is that I sometimes forget I wrote it. It’s not in any stores around here, I don’t ever bump into anyone who has read it and I don’t have copies lying around the house, so it fades into the background. Generally, I have no idea if it’s flying off the shelves or gathering dust in the travel section.
Every now and then I check Chapters online and see if they have copies in stock and it’s enlightening for sure. It seems that people in New Brunswick are content to leave it alone while folks in Calgary have rifled through a fair number of copies. For the most part I don’t really think about it very much except for when I discovered that it was sitting at #14 on the Amazon bestselling memoir list the other day. Now I am hip to this kind of thing. There’s a small spike in sales and for an hour it looks like I’m on my way to signing a three book/Julia Roberts film adaptation deal, when really it’s merely a blip.
The next day, however, it was still sitting on the same list, dropped to #23, then later to #47 and I haven’t checked it since. I think I know the ending of that story. I decided to freeze that moment in time, to sit with it for a while, maybe even let my head swell with fantasies of run-away success. I bet everyone who ever publishes a book has some moment of imagining becoming a cultural phenomenon. I can’t say that I’ve ever entertained the notion until now. When the book came out I was so overcome by fear that I would humiliate myself publicly, there was no room in my head to anticipate any other outcome.
The other day someone informed me that there were no copies of FMIF at Costco in my hometown. Could be that they were shipped back to my publisher (books can be sent back unlike any other retail product on the market), that folks were far more seduced by enormous boxes of fishsticks and razor blades than my epistle of arse. Could also be that there was a raging stampede that ended with two women beating each other with 300 foot lengths of garden hose to secure the last copy. As long as nobody was seriously injured, I’m rooting for the latter scenario.
I say it’s good to not know much about how it’s doing. In the absence of evidence to the contrary, I’m a bestselling tour de force. Me and Maeve Binchey (god love her and god rest her), it’s like we’re the same person. She sold over 40 million books and by Jaysus, maybe I have too. Who’s to say otherwise? Don’t tell the grand poobah of psychiatrists I said this but denial and delusion, when used properly, are very handy indeed. I have until November when the the first royalty check arrives to run with this. I’ll face the music then.