Surprise Schuler Guest Author Spot: Kristina Riggle
We’ve got a surprise guest author spot today featuring one of our favorite Michigan authors! We got to know Kristina Riggle before her days as a published author, when she spent time working at our Grand Rapids store. Now she’s got four books under her belt, including the recently released Keepsake, and we couldn’t be happier for her.
You can meet Kristina in person when she visits our Okemos store for a talk and signing at 7 p.m. on July 17!
Adventures in Bookselling
by Kristina Riggle
Back in the fall of 2007, Christmas loomed with the prospect of (even more) debt. My four-year odyssey toward getting a novel published had resulted in four manuscripts and a (virtual, mostly email) stack of rejections. Staying home with the preschooler and baby was worthwhile, but not profitable. So, off I went in search of a temporary holiday season job, and hallelujah, I landed at Schuler Books in Grand Rapids. This post explains why I have an extra dose of love for the booksellers I meet these days….
My first official night, getting a tour of all the sections, I could barely flex my feet by the end. And here I’d been thinking I could hack it. After all, as a busy mom I was on my feet all the time! I’d worked retail before! No problem! However…OUCH OUCH OUCH (the writer said, eloquently…)
This job also reminded me of something I’d forgotten: You never feel as stupid as your first day at a new job. My previous “first day” had been in 1998, and even then I was just switching from newspaper to newspaper. I remember one night trying to re-shelve a book, and as I approached the appropriate spot, I noted with dismay that the entire shelf of books was crammed in tightly. There was not a centimeter of free space, much less enough to allow me to add a whole new book. I must have stood there, baffled, for ten minutes before I surrendered and had to ask what to do, and my manager showed me the tricks (with only a minimum of impatience, bless her heart).
I learned that bookstore customers are the nicest retail customers I’ve ever met, with rare exceptions, like the old coot who snapped my head off because I didn’t count his change back. (Yes, I should know how to do this. It’s yet another way this GenXer has failed to impress the older generation. However, tossing the money down on the counter in disgust was a bit harsh.)
Mostly , though, they were awesome, including the guy who asked me with a straight face where to find a reference book to help him start his own escort service. (I showed him guides to being an entrepreneur) and the big burly athletic guy who would buy Sports Illustrated, plus a gossip rag like Us Weekly. Even the downcast woman buying books titled something like, How to Stop Loving Jerkfaces and Getting Over Him at Last was pleasant despite my knee-jerk chirpy send-off , “Have a great night!”
My favorite day may have been the time a man came in look for a new author in the mystery genre. I’m not a big mystery reader, mostly, but I had run across Marcus Sakey on the online writer forum Backspace, so I’d read his debut, The Blade Itself, and enjoyed it. So I told this man all about it, and not only did he buy it in hardcover, he came back later to tell me how much he’d loved the book. Bookseller victory! I felt like I should have a cape flapping in the wind.
Scratch that. My favorite day was at the holiday party in March. (Hey, you try to have a holiday party at a store during the busiest retail season of the year.) By then, Real Life & Liars had sold to HarperCollins in a two-book deal, and my manager and friend, Denise, led the employees in a toast in my honor.
Not only are bookstore customers great, but bookseller co-workers are great, too. Long live bookstores! Shop local to keep them alive! (I wonder if Schuler would ever take me back? I’m getting all nostalgic now…)