Yesterday, I sold books at the Collingswood Book Festival, which was my first public selling/signing appearance ever. Huzzah! However, something happened that I can’t stop thinking about, so I’ve come here to work it out.
At one point, a girl wandered over to my table with her mother. By my estimate, the girl was probably early middle school. She picked up my book and read the inside jacket. Her mom asked if she wanted it, the girl nodded, and they bought the book.
It probably all looked fine from the outside, but inside I was experiencing a little moment of panic in my head that went something like this…
YAY SOMEONE WANTS TO BUY MY BOOK OH NO SHE LOOKS YOUNG MY BOOK IS MEANT FOR HIGH SCHOOLERS IT HAS “STRONG” LANGUAGE AND SEXUAL “THEMES” SHOULD I WARN HER BUT SHE DID READ THE SYNOPSIS MAYBE SHE’S NOT THAT YOUNG EVERYONE ALWAYS ASSUMES I’M YOUNGER THAN I AM BUT STILL SHOULD I WARN THE MOM BUT IF SHE WERE WORRIED ABOUT THAT WOULDN’T SHE ASK OH NO SHE’S HOLDING OUT THE CASH AND I HAVEN’T FIGURED OUT WHAT TO DO OH NO SMILE.
Yup. Good times.
So, did I do the right thing in letting this girl purchase my book?
Yes and no.
I say yes because of my own experiences growing up. I read adult books (Stephen King, Michael Crichton, etc.) when I was in middle school that definitely contained content kids of my age “should” not read. Because I was a tiny Filipino boy, people always assumed I was several years younger than I actually was. And beyond that, I was mature for my age. I hated whenever a teacher told me I was too young to read something. I could read it, I did read it, and it didn’t transform me into some violent, perverted sociopath. And the world did not surprise me when I grew up.
I say no because I probably should have given the mom a heads up. Based on the interaction, I’d assume she lets her daughter read what she wants, which I generally agree with. But still. Maybe she would have appreciated knowing and still bought the book anyway. But I was flustered and awkward, as I didn’t expect a younger kid to pick up my book (let alone anyone).
Live and learn, folks. Live and learn.