On Sunday April 29th, around 3 p.m., my friend Phyllis called me and said, “Congratulations for being the number 8 best selling book.”
“What did you just say?”
“Didn’t you see it?” she said. “You’re in today’s paper.”
I pride myself on reading the paper each morning, and the Sunday book news is my favorite section, so by three in the afternoon, I’d already read the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Phyllis, still on the other end of the line, continued explaining that I really was in the paper. While she talked, I went and fished the Post from the jumbled pile of NY Times and Post-Dispatch pages still cluttering my kitchen table.
“Look in the left column,” she said, “where it lists best selling books in St. Louis indpendent bookstores.”
Sure enough, there it was, “Sugar Hill” by Terry Mullgan, at number 8. I was in very good company that morning, because the number 1 was best selling book that week was “The Limpopo Academy of Private Detection” by Alexander McCall Smith. In case you don’t know, Mr. Smith has sold over 40 million books.
So how does a first time author get to be on the same Publishers Weekly list of best selling books as an internatiionally known and rich author like Mccall Smith? It usually happens as the result of an event and Mr. Smith and I both had book talks and signings the previous week. My event was held at Left Bank Books, and he spoke at Chaminde High School; among his sponsers was Maryville University and St. Louis Public Radio. Having sponsors means you get paid to speak.
Someday I may have sponsers and receive a speaker’s fee. I’m not there yet, but I did make the best selling list, and for that I’m grateful.