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"You don't belong here."

When I first published The Trichster Diaries I was urged by other author friends to attend book signing events. Unfortunately, I published The Trichster Diaries during the pandemic so in-person events were a no-go. That was fine by me because I was terrified!

It was hard enough for me to write the book let alone publish it, now I have to sit across from strangers as they read the back and decide if they like it enough to purchase it? A book that I poured my hair, sweat and tears into? (See what I did there? You know, trichotillomania). One about my deepest darkest secret? Yeah, I don't know about that!

The thought of attending a book signing event continued to nag me in the back of my mind as in-person events started happening again. I was proud of my work. I wanted to spread awareness. I ended up thinking, What the heck? and signed up for one a few hours away from me.

In preparation for the event I purchased 25 author copies of The Trichster Diaries, a black book stand to hold said copies, a black table cloth, a huge poster with a collapsable stand, information packets about trichotillomania, business cards, clear holders for my information packets and business cards, postcards with TTD front and back covers, TTD bookmarks, stickers, black bags for people to carry their copies in, a TTD notebook to take down information, a travel safe with a key so that I could store money, Square payment device so people could swipe their debit or credit cards, and more. I also went to the bank to make sure I had change to put into the safe in case people paid with cash. If I was going to a book signing, I was REALLY going.

I walked into the book signing location shaking like a leaf. I was so nervous! I tried to keep a relaxed mind but my thoughts were running a mile a minute. Was my display good enough? Would people want to read my book? Did anyone else write a mental health memoir? Did I make a mistake coming here? I chalked up all of those thoughts to anxiety and took some deep breaths.

As everyone finished setting up I looked around the room at the other tables and a question from earlier kept circling in my mind. Did anyone else write a mental health memoir? The answer was no. The authors around me, from what I could tell, wrote romance and fantasy. Again I thought, Would people want to read my book? Did I make a mistake coming here? I took more deep breaths, looked at the clock, and got ready for the event to begin.

As the event began I had very little traffic come to my table. I watched as their eyes moved across my poster, face grimacing when they came to "trichotillomania," the polite smile forming on their face as they said to themselves, No way, and kept walking. This happened again and again.

There were a few people who stopped to chat with me, taking trichotillomania information packets or asking me if my bookmarks were free. That was about it until a fellow author from across the room walked with a purpose toward my table. I thought to myself, Finally! Someone is interested in my story!

As she got closer to my table I began to notice the same behavior I had seen all day. Eyes moving, face grimacing, except this time she didn't politely smile and walk away. Instead she said, "You don't belong here."

I tried to mask my alarm by laughing as though she said something funny. Trying my hardest to make sure the tears that were welling up didn't fall in front of her. I waited until she was back at her table across the room, waited a little more, then quickly packed up all of my stuff and left.

Was my display good enough? No

Would people want to read my book? No

Did anyone else write a mental health memoir? No

Did I make a mistake coming here? Yes

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You always belong. I am both impressed by your courage and proud of all you do. I have been at shows with you and you are super. Never let the naysaying ninnies get you down, they don't hold a candle to you!

Barbara Lally
Barbara Lally
Oct 15, 2023
Replying to

Thank you so very much for your support and kind words! It means the world to me!

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