Tuesday, March 28, 2006

End Cap Musings

Today's photo shows a book store end cap display.
It's a cardboard shelf unit that a bookstore has the option to buy. It sits at the end of an aisle and showcases special books.

The idea of an end cap has triggered some interesting emotions for me.

First of all, I'm thrilled. Thrilled that the publishing house cares enough about my book to include me with three other terrific authors. Grateful that they are making this investment . . . along with all the rest of the financial risk they are taking by publishing a brand new author.

Second, I'm scared. Will my book do what it's supposed to? Will Bethany House Publishing House's trust in me be justified?

Third, I feel oddly like a can of soup. You know those displays at the end of grocery store aisles? When I wasn't a published novelist, I could think of writing as pure art. But as an author being paid for her work, the book becomes a commodity. That's not an evil thing. If the publishing house doesn't make money, they can't afford their building, their staff, all the myriad expenses of creating books. But it's still taking some getting used to. Especially on days like today when I'm not sure I'll be able to crank out the next batch of soup.

I'm living in the place of tension between art and commerce. A book is a tangible item that can be sold - NEEDS to be sold in order to fulfill its purpose. But the creation of characters and stories is more ephemeral. More personal. More spiritual.

Maybe it's okay to be a can of soup. Soup can be comforting, nourishing, spicy, fragrant. I hope when people grab my book from the end cap this summer and read it, they'll think it's "Mmmm, Mmmm, Good."

By the way, if you didn't see it yet, Novel Journey interviewed me yesterday, and I shared openly about my writing neuroses. Feel free to check it out!

Sharon Hinck


Ruth said...

Great looking endcap (I work in Christian retail). :) I LOVED your soup metaphor! And I wish you all the best with the "launch" of your book baby on the rest of the world.

Mary DeMuth said...

Mmm mmm good!

Way to go on the end cap. That's HUGE! WooooooHOoooooooo.

I'm celebrating with you all the way from France.

Karen Hancock said...

Loved the interview and all your neuroses. Boy could I relate! And congrats on the endcap, too. As for your angst about that, I've learned that, however they do it, those folks in marketing are pretty good about predicting things.

Camy Tang said...

Don't be SCARED you doofus! And being a can of soup is comforting, isn't it? ;)