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A Bookselling Moment to Cherish…

March 28, 2010

As a writer, the swing of emotions can sneak up and wallop you without notice. One minute, you feel like you’ve nailed the perfect passage that will surely affect the hearts of millions, and the next you feel like you should work in a bank and forget about words altogether. One day, you feel showered with love from family, friends, and people who don’t know you but were moved by your work (hello, random reviewers who tell the world they love your book). And the next day, you wonder if the world has forgotten you (thanks for nothing, Amazon rankings!). With such a range of polar opposites, I find it necessary to hang on to the highlights and share…

When a big box store ordered in a few copies of Escaping The Tiger (which is pretty tricky when your little piece of literature is not considered an especially commercial title), I happily trotted in to sign the stock. As I stood at an information desk, signing all five books the store bought, a little boy, about 9 years old, wandered by. “What’re you looking for?” I asked. “A book,” he said. Being a marketer by day, I couldn’t resist my reply. “Here’s mine.” And I held it up in a fashion that would put Vanna White out of a job if ever Pat Sajak were to see me in action.

His eyes got wide. His mouth dropped open ever so slighty, and he said, “You wrote that?” I blushed. “Why, yes. It’s true, my little friend.” He took it from me, held it, perused it, studied the cover. “If you want it,” I said, “You gotta ask your mom.” He was gone in a flash, showing his mother. And while I hid behind the pop-up books, watching, waiting, praying she’d say yes, she read the flap copy which only months before I had tweaked to death with my editor, hoping it would appeal to mothers desperate to have their boys pick up something other than a Star Wars book. She nodded, and I did a silent squee, approaching her table to introduce myself and sign the boy’s brand new book.

It wasn’t until I left, and snapped a photo of the local author display the bookstore put up for me, that I realized the magnitude of the moment. The boy, Jason, was a beautiful POC (person of color) who looked a whole lot like the boy on the cover of my book. And children of color are acutely aware that kids their particular shade of brown are not often represented on book covers, especially novels. It’s a longstanding issue in the children’s book industry that has gained serious buzz of late with instances of whitewashing covers, where a character in the pages of a book is clearly one of color, but is depicted on the cover as caucasian. If you’re unaware of the issue, I’ll let you do your own googling, but I want to say how proud I am to have witnessed this young person of color see himself represented on the cover of my book (thank you, HarperCollins).

Maybe Jason (pictured in the background of the photo) will never have to see his own children feeling left out of a world that offers endless possibilities for young minds.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. lishacauthen permalink
    March 28, 2010 1:16 pm

    Wow. Managed to turn a bald-faced hard-sell into a beautiful moment. Good going.


    • Laura Manivong permalink*
      April 5, 2010 2:01 pm

      One of my many talents. : p


  2. March 28, 2010 1:18 pm



    • Laura Manivong permalink*
      April 5, 2010 2:00 pm

      That smiley face looks like you!!! Best smile on the planet…


  3. joannejohnson permalink
    March 28, 2010 9:48 pm

    Love this, Laura. Still need to grab your book. This topic is near and dear to me. I hope the boy loves the book and that it inspires him.


    • Laura Manivong permalink*
      April 5, 2010 1:59 pm

      Thank you, Joanne. It was very cool to connect with a young reader that way…and I was just as excited as him!


  4. March 29, 2010 7:02 am

    I love this story, Laura. And you are so right about the ups and downs, but sometimes it’s the (seemingly) small things that bring the greatest ups.


    • Laura Manivong permalink*
      April 5, 2010 1:59 pm

      Yeppers. It takes an author’s ups and downs to know one!


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