In the early months of 2008 I called for a meeting with the national distributor of my first (and to this day, my only) children's book, 'Nubsy McNoodle Wanted A Poodle'.
My plan was to learn more about an industry I had just entered. I felt like a new girl at school and wanted to get the low down on how things worked. I was talking to an 'expert', someone who'd been in the industry for over 30-years. I was in good hands, or so I thought.
By now, I'm sure you know me well enough to envisage how bubbly I become when inspired. I have as much eagerness and enthusiasm as a child whose anticipating a visit by the Tooth Fairy. Despite being toothless and looking a little goofy - I AM EXCITED!
I walked into the office of a partner that I hadn't met before. We introduced ourselves before I proceeded to explain my plans for that year. I wanted to know cut off dates so I could plan the production of the next three titles, which I already had manuscripts for. My goal was to have them completed in time to be featured in catalogues, and in stores by Christmas.
He seemed bemused by my wide-eyed fervour and was quick to interject, asking "How many did you print?" to which I answered with smiley, "10,000 copies" (coming from a print packaging background, this was considered a small run in my realm). "Well that's 8,000 too many," he replied in a monotone voice.
That was it.
That was when my happiness balloon burst (again).
It is only now with hindsight that I realise this was just another rendition of '99% Equals FAIL', and the feelings that accompanied the experience were identical to the primary instance. I was shattered. What's most interesting is that just as my maths went from bad to worse, until I chronically failed and eventually dumped the subject, my book sales seem to be taking the exact same path - down the gurgler.
Instead of dismissing what he said as merely one person's less than optimistic opinion, I made it mean something about me. I felt stupid and childish. I thought myself an idiot for believing that my work could be good enough to succeed in the publishing world. Though I tried to continue on believing in myself, it was forced. My conviction eroded to a point where I felt as gullible as the days I believed in the Tooth Fairy - who on Earth did I think I was?
Consequently, this has been a thorn in my side. This is where I'm stuck. I have 8,000 books (funny that...?) remaining and I have no energy, passion or spirit to do anything more about it. Just as I became known as the 'math's dummy' (which I now know is crazy considering at one point I got 99%), will I also become known as the author who printed 8,000 too many?
Right now, I still cannot face those 8,000 copies. I don't know what will happen to them (or the other three titles that have been in production for the last two and a half years). I'm hoping that just by letting it out, externalising it, will help the healing process. Perhaps one day it'll go 'click' and the path will become clear, for I have already started to realise I'm not bad at maths... so perhaps those 8,000 copies will turn out to be not too many after all.
Until tomorrow, may you only listen to those that serve you and dismiss those that don't.