Soon after completing the first milestone in any writer’s career, publishing the first novel, I attained the second: I sold my first copy.
This achievement, objectively minuscule, nevertheless filled me with excitement. Someone, somewhere, has decided that my book seemed interesting enough to fork over the $5 I charge for it. In addition, by purchasing the book, this brave soul has indicated that he or she is willing to spend a few hours reading it. The investment of time–a few hours even for a short book such as The Dead Sister–is a far greater show of trust in me than paying the price of the book.
After the glowing warmth of this initial sale finally died down, I began to wonder just who this first reader was. The sales reports Amazon provides its authors appropriately reveal no personal information of their customers. So I am completely in the dark regarding this person and will likely remain so. He might be a man, or she might be a woman. He might be a dentist, or she might be a country singer. He might be a voracious consumer of books, or she might be a one-book-a-month reader. I don’t, and cannot, know.
The only thing I do know is that my first reader lives in one of a group of countries for which Amazon awards authors a 70% royalty rate. (Purchases from other countries, such as Israel, for example, result in a mere 35% royalty). The 70% countries include such places as the United States, Great Britain, France, Brazil, and The Vatican.
So perhaps my first reader resides in the Holy See, in the heart of Rome, at the very center of Catholicism. Maybe he wears a cassock and a clerical collar. Perhaps he fills his days with devotion to God. He might be a low-level priest, one of the many clerks that function as secretaries and assistants in the Vatican bureaucracy. Or he could be a cardinal, filling an important position in the higher echelons of the Church.
Or, if I allow my imagination to run wild and free, his cassock is white and he holds the topmost position in the Church. I like this possibility because I understand that the Pope is considered infallible, and if he bought my book, it means that it was the correct decision. This is what I hope every one of my readers will feel when they read my books.
So, Pope Francis, if you were the one who bought my book, I’d like to thank you. I hope–well, considering you’re infallible, I know–that you will enjoy it.
And if by any chance my first reader is not the pope, I hope that he or she will not think they made a mistake in buying and reading The Dead Sister, and I thank them for putting their trust in me.
Just sold my second copy. Was that you, Mr. President?