How I Broke the Bookseller

Look, I knew I didn’t write a James Patterson novel that would fly off the shelves. I knew that most people would rather not think about child loss. I would rather not think of child loss, but I don’t have a choice, and neither do roughly 100,000 other parents a year or the millions who would like to support us but don’t know how.

Mom’s Search for Meaning wanted to burst forth from me, and I have learned not to kick the gift muse in the face. I know the book is not for everyone, but it IS for some people. And those folks don’t have many books from which to choose.

I know my book is not for everyone, but I also know in my bones that my book is not nothing.

In that spirit, I set off to schedule a few book signings/author events in the handful of cities where I knew I could get butts in seats. I’m nothing if not frugal. I know that I am not famous, am self-funding this operation, and will not get butts in seats in every city. Therefore, I was strategic in selecting my cites.

I called a bookstore that shall remain nameless in an unnamed town to schedule a May book signing. The manager was upbeat and enthusiastically asked me about my preferred dates (May 19th or 20th) and the title of my book. As she checked the calendar and the book’s availability, she asked, “Oh, so this will be like Mother’s Day event?”

“Well…” was all I mentioned to get out before her whole shit changed entirely.

She must have seen the subtitle “Grief and Growth After Child Loss.”

“OOOOOH. Umm. Oh my. Um. Well. Uhhhhh. Well, you’ll need to, uh, email ______, the Community Research Manager. Oh my. Um. Well, we actually don’t HAVE a CRM at the time, but, um, this is who you email. OOOOOH. Uhhh, and then, uh, we’ll, oh my, have to see if it’s a fit, you understand. Um, OK? Uuuuuhh, good luck,” she barely managed to stammer as I politely listened.

“Welp. This is probably not happening!” was my first thought. I wondered if I should have apologized. “I’m sorry the mere title of my tragedy from nearly a decade ago ruined your day.”

Folks. I broke the bookseller. And I listened to it, reservedly, happen in real-time.

Strangely, it didn’t phase me in the slightest. I’m not sure why.

Maybe nine-and-a-half years down the road, I’ve become accustomed to folks not being able to handle what I had no choice but to endure.

My second thought was, “I’ll have a book signing at a taco truck; who cares! I will punk rock this thing! That’ll be fun!”

Because while I know I can’t get butts in seats in every town, I know I can get many butts in many seats in a few towns.

Years ago, this encounter would have stung. Now, I couldn’t wait to tell my author friends the story! I finally have a funny “author-life” story!

I took this as progress in my “grief journey” (still loathe that phrase).

And progress is progress, and, like my book, it’s not everything, but it is something.

If you’re in Los Angeles, Peoria, Chicago, or San Diego and know a place that’ll let me sit in a corner and sign books for an hour or two while bringing in some business for them– I’m all ears. Otherwise, I’ll see you at a taco truck near you soon!


  1. Michael Kazmierczak
    May 1, 2023

    Wow, that first paragraph is an excellent pitch for a broad readership that might not necessarily be self-evident. Nicely done.

    I’m ordering the book this week. If there’s a way to order that best helps you continue to reach your market, let me know.

    I’d love to have it signed one day, which should be no problem, as I love tacos.

    • Melissa
      May 1, 2023

      Wow, thank you so much. Means a lot to me from the likes of you, Professor K! It all shakes out about the same, so whatever is best for you. That said, I will ask folks to ask their local libraries to stock it — especially in underserved communities– for those who might benefit but don’t have extra cash. Also worth noting, B&N has been surprisingly pleasant to work with, and their printing is the best of all options. Would love to complain about the Zon, but can’t; they’ve been good. Always like to support indie stores, so ordering from your local is great– and I will shout out all indie stores and libraries who carry the book! Thanks for the kind words and support! I’ll sign your book in taco grease!

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