What Turns a Novel into a Success Story by Zohreh Ghahremani
“It’s a small world”, people say, but I prefer the old Persian saying, “The world is round, who knows when we’ll meet again?” Somehow I find an active world more appealing, more positive, than a small one. But regardless of the choice, I recently came to experience the profound meaning of such expressions.
A few years ago, I wrote a review for Digging to America by Ann Tyler. Shortly after, I received a sweet letter from two ladies in the East Coast, who conducted a book discussion group. Prior to their upcoming session involving this book, they had decided that since the novel included Iranian characters, they should look into a review by an Iranian and that had led them to my article.
Their flattering remarks on my review overwhelmed me. Learning that I was working on a novel, they requested to be informed of its release. I promised to be in touch. However, a few years later, I became so absorbed in my work that I almost forgot my promise. Two weeks into the launch of my novel, Turquoise Books received the following e-mail:
To Whom it May Concern:
I am writing on behalf of a new indie bookstore in Cedarhurst, NY. I have just finished Sky of Red Poppies and would like to know how to go about ordering copies to sell at our store. I’ve read articles by this author and am familiar with her work. I loved the new novel and would be honored to sell it!
Recognizing the NJ lady’s name, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I’ve never met her and therefore can’t put a face or voice to the name, but given a chance, I would give her an angelic image and a heavenly voice to match! Overwhelmed with such unsolicited support, I contacted the store immediately, sent them the requested copies and prayed that they’d have no trouble selling.
To date, The Blue Door Books has sold more copies of my novel than any other vendor- excluding Amazon. New orders come in regularly and now I wouldn’t be surprised if people in Cedarhurst NY know me better than San Diegans do! Her encouraging words continue to pour in, telling me my success matters to them.
“… we need ten more books please. We’re down to one and getting great feedback. A lady wants to use the book for her discussion group.”
On one of her E-mails, a picture was attached, showing copies of my novel on their shelf. No doubt she knew how happy that would make me! But that’s not what this article is about. Beyond all publicity, it thrills me that we hold hands across the miles.
No matter how well one may write, it is ultimately readers who help a book to thrive. We need to make friends along the way and if the words come from the heart, they will be sure to touch another. Readers don’t reach out because they know you and in fact some of your biggest support may come from the least likely sources.
Meanwhile, if you should happen to pass through Cedarhurst NY, stop by The Blue Door Books and visit the people who don’t just provide books, but deeply care about their clients. Good recommendations are why we all became readers and receiving such unique care is what makes independent bookstores irreplaceable.
Zohreh Ghahremani (Zoe) is the author of Sky of Red Poppies. Over a hundred of her essays, poems and short stories have appeared in ethnic magazines and American publications. When not writing, she loves to paint. Zoe’s book is nominated for the One Book One San Diego program. Click here to vote.