Authors get their careers started in different ways. Here is one of my earliest experiences. I first presented this post in 2014.
This story is about the best day ever for a first-time published author: me. Naturally it took place a long, long time ago: 1978, to be exact. My sword & planet novel, The Prisoner of Reglathium, had just come out. I had an advance copy but as yet had not seen it on any shelves.
I received an invitation from a local book and magazine distributor, San Diego Periodicals, to come to their warehouse and speak to their route salespeople. These folks were responsible for loading up the shelves and racks of just about every drugstore, supermarket, and all manner of retail outlets throughout San Diego County. They were an author’s new best friends, assuming you could impress jaded men and women who saw dozens of new paperback titles every month.
A couple days a month were set aside for these brief presentations, and all authors with new books were invited. On the day that I made my presentation, only one other author showed up. Good news, right? Wrong. It happened to be the KGB Chicken (a guy named Ted Giannoulas), an icon in the area and soon to become renowned nation-wide as the San Diego Chicken. A book of photos showing his antics had been published, and he came to publicize it.
Every salesperson in the company turned out for the Chicken, and he played them like a drum, doing his entertaining shtick. Afterward, people could interact with him out in the warehouse. But after he was finished, and before they could do this, they had to listen to me. Upon being introduced I received some polite applause, but mostly I got “Who-the-hell-is-this-guy-and-he-better-hurry-up” looks from the Chicken-loving crowd.
So yeah, I spoke quickly, told them what my book was about, asked (begged, pleaded with) them to give it good distribution, and sat down. The manager led the Chicken out into the warehouse to meet the rest of the crew, everyone else following and me bringing up the rear. By the time I got out there it looked like the Pied Piper of Hamelin, all the employees following the Chicken around. I walked down some deserted aisles and soon came upon cartons (CARTONS!) of my first novel, The Prisoner of Reglathium. What a thrill to see them there, even if nobody else cared.
Soon one of the warehouse guys, a young fellow, walked up to me. “Are you Mike Sirota?” he asked. “That’s me,” I told him. The kids got all excited, started asking me questions, said that he’d had an eye on my book ever since it came in a couple days earlier. As we chatted, a second guy came up, then a third. Soon I had a small entourage of warehouse people and others surrounding me, asking me all kinds of writing questions. Dang, that made me feel good. I spoke to them at length.
And the most amazing part: the Chicken, hands on hips in an expression of umbrage, stood farther down the aisle gazing in our direction with only his handler as company.
I didn’t walk out of San Diego Periodicals’ warehouse that day—I floated.
The Prisoner of Reglathium and its sequel, The Conquerors of Reglathium, have since been reissued by Atoris Press in one volume, Warlord of Maldrinium, first of the four-book “World After Death” series. If you have a Kindle you can download a copy of Warlord of Maldrinium for $1.99 Friday through Sunday, December 8th through the 10th.