I was really cheesed off a few months ago during the Burningeffigy Press launch of my sci/fi comedy, Section K. I put in the legwork, did a decent reading and entertained a not-inconsiderable number of people who'd come out to the event. At the end of the evening, however, I found out we'd only sold three copies.
Three copies? I was livid! This was the launch of the book, for Heaven's sake! People who come to launches are supposed to buy books, I thought. After all, what else was that event for? I wanted to jump up on stage and yell at them, "What is wrong with you people? Get back here and buy something! We didn't go to all this trouble just so you could admire the pretty cover art!" I knew they had money on them; plenty of drinks were served that night. So why weren't these people who'd come out to support local artists buying more copies of Section K?
Well, last Saturday it was my turn. My friend Monica, editor and publisher of Burningeffigy Press, threw a launch to promote two new new chapbooks, Words Written Backwards by acclaimed horror scribe Gemma Files, and Sea Change by Toronto's Junior Poet Laureate, Adebe D.A.. And I didn't buy either of them. Last Saturday, I was the one not supporting local talent. Does that make me a hypocrite? Or am I just an ass-goblin?
I like to think that I'm neither. So why didn't I shell out for their books? Simple - I knew I was never, ever going to read them. I've done a lot of supporting writers in the past, and their books sit on my shelf gathering dust. I do like horror, but I just don't like Gemma Files' writing. Sorry, Gemma, but your writing style doesn't do it for me. I'm also not that into poetry, unless it's really cool and speaks to me on a level that I get. My friend Cynthia Gould does that perfectly. Ditto most of Monica's work. To me, however, they are the exceptions that prove the poetic rule. Adebe is a very good poet, I'm sure, but I know I'm not going to read her work, either.
This year, with my finances already really strained, I simply can't support everybody. Therefore, I'm only going to buy books that I'm actually going to read. And that's hitting the nail right on the flat, non-pointy part, isn't it? When it comes to buying books, most people are only going to buy what they're actually going to read. And people in the literary community just aren't that into science fiction comedy. The same way I'm not that into poetry and literary works. It's not that the people who came to the Section K launch were cheap bastards - they just weren't ever going to read my book. Finally I can accept that.
Sorry Adebe and Gemma. If it helps, I did feel bad about not buying your stuff.