My Painful Rejection at Barnes and Noble

My Painful Rejection at Barnes and Noble November 20, 2023

A Prophet and An Author Are Rejected in Their Hometowns

The Bible tells us in Luke 4:24 that Jesus, after being rejected in his hometown, replied with the words, “No prophet is accepted in his hometown.” I have always been somewhat baffled by the fact that the Jews were anxiously looking for the Messiah, and when He showed up, they didn’t recognize Him. Still, in their defense, I might have been a bit skeptical too, if I had played hide-and-seek with Jesus as a child—unless, of course, He used His powers to zone in on my hiding place.

The author at a book signing table
The lonely author at Barnes and Noble/image courtesy of the author

Jesus’ words were brought to mind as I watched people walk by my table at the book signing at Barnes and Noble recently. Okay, okay, I’m no prophet and I’m in no way comparing myself to Jesus. But I could easily change the words a bit to say, “No author is accepted in her hometown.” I could be Danielle Steel incognito for all anyone knew. Sometimes it’s difficult to even get friends and family to support my expensive writing hobby. For example, my husband refuses to chase people down and put fliers in their hands advertising my books. Shoot, if he really loved me, he would physically force people to my table and make them stand there until they realized what a talented writer I am and beg to have one of my signed books. But no, after helping me set up, he bailed because he had something more important to do, like write his sermon. Hmph! Some excuse!

An Author Can Only Take So Much Rejection

There were five local authors at five tables in the store hoping to make a few sales and get our names “out there.” It became somewhat discouraging to see people leaving the store with loads of books in their arms, none of which were mine. Watching people do their best to avoid eye contact with me made me concerned that I had “Covid Infected” stamped across my forehead. I even had a bowl of chocolates on my table to entice customers. The only person who took advantage of my goodies was a man who wandered in asking where the restroom was. After using the restroom, he stopped by my table, grabbed a chocolate and popped it into his mouth, then took another one “for the road,” without so much as glancing at my books. At least he had the decency not to discard his candy wrapper on my table.

Author signing book
May I sign a book for you today? Image courtesy of Pexels

My friend and fellow author, who was a few feet away from me, was a lot bolder than I was in trying to draw in customers. (I tried to do so with chocolates, but that was a dismal failure.) As people walked by, she called out, “Can I sign a book for you?” Some of the responses amused me. Several people replied, “Not today.” Not today? What does that mean? The implication is they might consider it tomorrow or the next day, which, of course, is impossible since we won’t be there. Why not just say, “No, thank you?” At least don’t give us a sliver of hope that maybe someday they will be interested.

Inspired by her boldness, I ventured out of my introverted comfort zone, and asked people walking by, “Do you like humorous Christian fiction?” It amazed me how many people said no. What’s wrong with them? Don’t they like to laugh? Would they rather read creepy vampire books? Apparently, given the traffic at another table where the genre featured sci-fi. However, that author also had two cheerleaders with her, which gave her a distinct advantage. It’s hard to hawk your own books without someone with you to sign their praises to the public. I did have a couple of people say they would “think about it,” which is a softer way of saying, “no.”

Why Are You in A Bookstore if You Don’t Like to Read?

Woman in a bookstore
What are you doing in a bookstore if you don’t like to read? Image courtesy of Pexels

But the response that really baffled me was the response I got from several people who informed me, “I’m not much of a reader.” What? Well, what the heck are you doing in a Barnes and Noble bookstore? Yeah, I know, Barnes and Noble sell other items, as well as having a small café. But seriously, if you want coffee, go to Starbucks. Plus, you’re not fooling me. I see you sneaking behind the bookshelves.

This experience was certainly different from what I see on television and movies where an author has a book signing at a bookstore and people are lined up out to the sidewalk to have an autographed copy. All I can say is, those people who didn’t buy my books will be sorry when I’m dead and my autographed books are worth a ton of money.


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