I've developed a ritual over the last couple of weeks. At lunch time I head down to the Mall (only two minute's walk from my work) and wander casually into Dymocks to check if my book is on the shelves. When I started doing this I was grasping at straws -- there was almost no chance the orders had been sent out. But as the days went by and the likelihood of the book actually being there increased, so did my heart-rate as I walked through the door. Today my chest felt like it had a belt around it as I headed into the shop and quickly scanned the new release shelves. Nothing. I trod the familiar path to the back of the store and the children's section. Nothing. I scratched my head. Surely the shipment of books should have arrived by now? Alas, it seemed not. Feeling the now familiar sense of disappointment I turned and started out of the shop.
As I was passing the door to the back-room, the place where they keep all the boxes of incoming books, I heard someone inside make a kind of gasping noise. Someone else said 'Oh, you've been waiting for that one?' and the reply was 'Yes, this one's local'. My heart did a somersault. Surely she wasn't talking about my book? Immediately I went into ace detective mode, and rather cleverly tip-toed past the open door of the book-room, ever so nonchalantly glancing inside. One of the staff was reading a book, and I could just see part of a page, though not enough to tell if it was mine or not. I tip-toed back. She moved the page so I could see the cover. I caught a glimpse of an orange background and the word "Ping-Ling".
By this time I'd stopped breathing completely. There was no question of heading out of the shop. Instead I went upstairs and wandered around the rest of the shelves. After maybe two minutes I came back down.
And there it was, facing outwards, with a little tag underneath that said "local author". My book!
Had I dreamed about that moment? Yes! Had I imagined what it would be like? Yes! Was it anything like I dreamed or imagined? Yes! Surprisingly close to how I pictured it. Surreal meets thrilling meets gob-smacking meets breath-taking meets nerve-wracking.
But then things got even more surreal. I picked up one of the books and had a look, and the sales person said "oh, that's just been released". Feeling a little abashed, I told her I was the author. The next thing I knew she was taking me to meet the other staff and the owner and the children's buyer. They asked me lots of excited questions about the book, and could I sign them, and would I mind if they put a display at the front of the store. They brought out a pen and I scribbled (and I do mean scribbled, I have a terrible signature, something to remedy) my name in however many books there were. They put "signed by author" stickers on and put them back on the shelves, some at the back of the store in the Children's section, some at the front right inside the door. Marion, the children's buyer, took a photo of me with the rest of the staff for their Twitter feed. Then they all wished me well and said how exciting it was and told me they'll make sure the book flies off the shelves.
I went out of the store with an impossibly huge grin on my face, and back to my desk at work. There I spent the afternoon debugging java-script files. At least I think that's what I did.
What an amazing lunch-time. To have my book on the shelves was already a head-trip, to have such an encouraging and enthusiastic reception from the people who will be working hard to sell it puts it on a whole new plane.
A huge hats-off to the team at Dymocks Rundle Mall. Thank you for making this newbie author feel so welcome!