John had thought that an engagement at the Association of American English Teachers would be just the thing he needed to help get his book off the ground. His publisher had crowed that he’d be autographing and selling books on the exhibition floor to people who routinely bought 23 copies each. In addition to the hefty amount he’d sunk into promotion, John sprang for boxes of copies to autograph and sell.

The reality? He’d sold, and signed, maybe 3 books.

John’s publisher had neglected to mention that, at any one time, there were dozens of authors on the exhibit floor. And when one of those authors was Jenny Norman, author of the acclaimed YA “Otherwheres” series, and another was fantasy author Michael C. McConnolly, whose books were on their third blockbuster miniseries…

In fact, the only real movement on John’s end had been passing teachers stealing copies of his book when he went to the bathroom or was in any way distracted for the briefest of moments (the Elsigraw Publishers staff ostensibly manning the booth had long since snuck off to meet up with other vendors for drinks). He’d lost 30 copies that way, and while the thought that they might end up in a library was some consolation, each of those books was a good $5 walking merrily away.

A booth runner from Scholar Specialty Imprints next door offered the only assistance. “These English teachers are underfunded parasites,” he said. “They have so little money for textbooks and libraries that they fill their bags with books here to make up for it. The big companies give away so many handfuls of free books that they get all glaze-eyed, taking everything that isn’t nailed down.”

“What do we do, then?” John asked.

“The big boys have a staff to keep an eye on their tchotchkes and keep the teachers from sneaking away with any swag unless they listen to a sales pitch. Us? Just hope that one or two interested customers show up amidst the leeches.”

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