Mystery solved!

So here’s a funny story.

As you may recall, the Spence household was in a Happy Dance uproar last week at the news that Leaf had hit #3 on the Calgary Herald fiction Best Seller list.

I was surfing some pretty high waves while, at the same time, asking myself, ‘how the heck did this happen?’

I am my own marketer/publicist and am the first to admit that I don’t do a stellar job of it. I’d much rather be writing the stories than selling them.

So I was bamboozled.

And a bit schizophrenic.

One part of me was leaping for joy.

Another part was wondering what could have suddenly prompted the fair citizens of Calgary to make a mad rush to their local bookstores to buy copies of Leaf. There had to have been a lot of them in order for him to leap to #3, right? After all, this is a city of a million people.

And yet another part (that fledgling business person within) was wondering how I could leverage this. So I phoned our local paper and the Herald and CBC radio to see if this could be parlayed into . . . I don’t know . . . an interview or something. I also realized that, while I had contacted every other librarian in the province about Leaf, I had totally forgotten the Calgary and Edmonton public library systems. Surely the fact that Leaf was #3 in the city would provide some incentive for Calgary librarians to purchase a few copies.

First, though, when it became clear that the editor of the Book Section of the Daily Herald wasn’t going to return my calls,  I phoned Judith at Owl’s Nest Books to see if they could provide any insight into this amazing turn of events.

And they could.

Turns out the Calgary Library System already had my book. In fact, they had just recently ordered 14 copies of Leaf from Owls Nest Books. It was that single purchase that catapulted Leaf into the #3 position.

14 copies


Kind of amazing that 14 copies in one week is all it takes to make a bestseller.

Well, it was fun while it lasted.

And some really good things came out of that exciting flurry.

#1 – I was pleasantly amazed by the cheering and good wishes that Leaf’s exciting news created in my home and community.

#2 – I am very blessed to have people like Susan Toy promoting my books at library conferences (how else would the Calgary librarians have known about Leaf?) and independent book stores like Owls Nest Books and Monkeyshines carrying Leaf on their shelves and a distributor like John at Alpine Book Peddlers warehousing Leaf so that when an order is made, the bookseller can easily fill it. Then there are the non-bookstores, like Country Charms Flowers and Gifts in Hanna and Crows Landing in Condor, who have made Leaf available in their parts of the world.

#3 – And I was reminded that all those things we put so much stock in and get our validation from — lists, reports, headlines, statistics — are really nothing more than illusions.

Fun illusions, but illusions all the same.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ll happily ride this little wave – especially if it results in getting Leaf‘s story into more homes – but I’m not going to commit hari kari when it slides back off the list again.

In fact, I think it already has.

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6 Responses to Mystery solved!

  1. Dear Maxine,

    After being published “the regular way”, I am now setting out on the wild and crazy adventure of self publishing. Lately, I have been feeling quite anxious and daunted by the road ahead. Your good news, playful attitude and generous spirit have raised my spirits tremendously!

    Thank you,


  2. MyHrt says:

    Heh, enjoy the crests on this roller coaster ride…it could get pretty exciting. Oh, and p.s., we are all still incredibly proud of you, 14 copies sold or not…just sayin’.

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