Thursday, 28 January 2010
Mobbed by my mates
My friend, let’s call her K, wants to buy When I Was Joe. She wanders into a bookshop. Looks around a bit. Disappointed not to see it on display. Approaches the counter.
There’s a blonde woman in front of her. “I’m looking for a book,” says the blonde. “It’s called When I Was Joe. I don’t think you’ve got it.”
The shop assistant looks it up. “How do you spell Joe?” she asks.
“With an ‘e’” say K and the blonde in unison.
The shop assistant looks a little surprised. “I want to order it as well,” says K.
“Oh right,” says the shop assistant. “Both of you. The same book. Goodness. I don’t think I know it.”
“Oh you should,” says the blonde woman. “I’m friends with the author. She’s quite local. London, anyway. I’m sure you’ll have lots of people asking for it.”
K is thinking fast. She doesn’t want the assistant to assume that it’s only friends of the author who want to buy my book. “I’ve heard it’s very good,” she says. “Really excellent. I’m surprised you haven’t got it. After all you’ve been asked for it twice in two minutes.”
The assistant starts looking it up - it’s out of stock at the publisher’s she says, but she’ll try the wholesaler. K is running late. “I’ll come back another day,” she says.
As she’s getting into her car she sees the blonde woman again – my friend H, as it turned out. “They were able to order it for me,” H tells her. So K confesses that she actually is one of my friends. And has my book. She’s ordering it from bookshops here and there to get it noticed. And because she's a lovely friend. And because she's decided to give it to every teenager she knows who has a birthday this year.
This is the sort of anecdote that makes me laugh a lot - and then makes me hyper-ventilate worrying that no one will ever actually see my book in a bookshop or buy it unless they know me. So how completely fabulous that on the same day I get a message on Facebook from someone who has seen a customer buying When I Was Joe from the Salt Mills Bookshop in Saltaire. Saltaire. I don’t even know where it is. It can’t have been a friend of mine…can it?
Anyway, clearly K and H have accidentally come up with a new and exciting way of promoting books. Friend power is added to the considerable efforts of the publisher's hard-working sales force. Watch out booksellers…a flash mob of my mates could be coming your way.