Don’t ask, don’t tell

The toughest part about being a newly published author is the lure of the bookstore, the irresistible desire to go in and see your latest book on display. Of course, that’s a big mistake.

When my first book, “The Moneyspinners,” about the CEOs who ran Canada’s Big Five banks, came out in 1983, my publisher Doug Gibson gave me some wonderful advice that – for the most part – I have carefully followed.

First, he said, don’t ever go into a bookstore looking for your book.

Second, if you break rule number one, and then can’t find your book, walk out.

If you can’t walk out, don’t ask for your book, because the staffer you speak to will never have heard of it. And even if they do happen to know the book, they won’t be able to find a copy.

Author Martin O’Malley tells about the time he broke all the rules, went into a store, found his book, and then watched with excitement as someone actually pulled a copy off the shelf and began looking through it. He was about to introduce himself and offer to sign the book when the buyer became a browser, put the book back and left, followed a few minutes later by a disconsolate O’Malley.

In the modern era, Doug Gibson’s good advice remains even more difficult to obey. It’s so easy to check where they even give your book’s ranking. (It has bounced around between 800 and 8,000, not bad out of a cajillion titles.)

And Chapters, I’m told, is featuring “Fantasy in Florence” on its front tables in the run-up to Father’s Day and through the July 1 holiday. A quick peek at a few stores to check out such prime placement wouldn’t hurt me, would it?

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