I had a very interesting experience today.
I took my latest royalty cheque from Amazon to the bank. (I don’t live in the US, and I don’t have a US dollar bank account, so it’s back to the bad old days of paper cheques – or checks, if you are reading this and you’re an American.) The teller noticed that the cheque was from Amazon and commented that it must be a refund for goods I had bought and returned.
I explained that it was actually a royalty cheque, i.e., payment for my books sold.
The teller’s eyes grew large and she gazed up at me as if the very incarnation of celebrity had walked into her bank.
“Are you a writer?” she squealed. “I’ve never met a real author!”
I felt uncomfortably like a fraudster at this moment, given that my total sales have hardly catapulted me into the ranks of best-selling authors, and I’m in no position to give up the day job. On the other hand, I was depositing payment for books that I had written and complete strangers had purchased, so yes, I guess I am a real author.
“What sort of books do you write?” she asked, my cheque lying neglected on the counter beside her.
I hesitated, and then admitted that the first two are romance novels. (The third, which I’m working on now, is a psychological thriller.)
Her eyes, if possible, grew even larger. “I love romance novels! I just read Eat Pray Love!”
I didn’t have the heart to admit that I have neither read the book nor seen the film, and settled for smiling in an encouraging way.
She finally turned her attention to my cheque, but after a moment she interrupted her work to push a slip of paper and a pen towards me.
“Write down your books’ names,” she urged.
So I did. And then I had to tell her that I wrote the books under the pen name of “Elizabeth Krall”. If she had searched Amazon for books written by the name on the cheque she would indeed have found one, but it’s not a romance novel!
Will this woman go home tonight and buy either of my novels? I don’t know.
I’ve never had an encounter like that before, with someone who thinks that writing books is a marvellous thing and that people who write books are special. Perhaps because I spent many years as an editor in publishing, I am much more jaded about books.
But even if she doesn’t buy a book, that bank teller made my day.