When she looked at the numbers, Georgia Reggiani shook her head: it made no sense. It was great, but it made no sense. For the third year in a row Olphy Penimmmoy’s Book of Frummmillop Deslerty was number one in book sales across the board: paperback, hardcover, ebook, audiobook… it was mindblowing.
As a matter of principles, Georgia never looked beyond numbers and statistics; she was a money-oriented person. It was her job after all: to make the company money. So whenever her staff presented an author for representation or a book for printing she only had 3 questions. Will it sell? Will it sell? And how much can we sell it for?
But Penimmmoy and his story had defied her understanding of the book business from the onset. In fact they defied her understanding of a lot of things that she would never discuss with anyone.
When she met him, she had no idea who he was. He was a clumsy, pale man who – as he entered her office – looked as if he’d rather be buried in the ground rather than facing her. The handshake was clumsy, the looks were… clumsy too, like his clothes were too big for him. But there was something passionate in his gaze when he looked at the bookshelf.
“I see you like books.” She remembered saying. He’d only nodded.
“In fact…” His voice was barely above a whisper. “I’ve come to speak to you about mine.”
She’d tried to send him away, explaining that she didn’t read the queries or the book excerpts: she had a team of agents for that who were really good at their job. That’s when he mentioned he’d already sent queries to her company: 4 times.
There wasn’t much she could do then. Still, he’d said, since they had a one-hour appointment, he would still tell her about the work of his life the Book of Frummmillop Deslerty. He didn’t understand: she didn’t care about the book, she only cared whether it would sell and with a title like that it probably wouldn’t.
She’d asked him if he would consider changing the title. When he said no, she leaned back into her chair and invited him to proceed. From that one hour, she’d learned a few things: Mr. Penimmmoy might be a clumsy man but he was far from a clumsy mind. And he spoke with a vehemence she’d rarely heard in any writer. His book was not only the work of his life, it was meant to speak directly to a reader’s soul, to touch it. Every person reading this book would learn something different, would give something different.
Since she obviously had no idea what he meant – how he could read that from her countenance she never knew but then Penimmmoy had defied her understanding of a lot of things – he would read to her. He proceeded to read the first chapter of his book and suddenly she understood. Whether it was the words or rather the way his voice cadence captured her attention, she didn’t know. But the story took shape in front of her eyes.
A woman whose life was never what she wanted, trying to escape the confines of her routine despite the expectations of her family, friends… A story she could relate to. She ended the appointment saying she’d take a look. He left her the manuscript and exited, so elated he bumped into her secretary and spilled her coffee. Clumsy man, bright mind.
The book was nowhere near as intense when she read it on her own, but once she started she couldn’t stop. She’d arrived fast to the point where he’d stopped, but within a day she’d finished it. It wasn’t a book that was easy, but neither was it boring. It challenged her, lifted her up and surprised her, never letting her down. Penimmmoy was right: it was a book speaking to the soul. Somehow she felt that she might have read the book differently had she not been Georgia Reggiani, head of Reggiani Publishings. As if… No. No way.
And she decided she would publish it. For the first time in years, she was the one who presented a book. Her staff were baffled, particularly those who did receive Penimmmoy’s queries. She did peruse them and realized why the man couldn’t grab their attention. The letters were clumsy as the man himself and they didn’t capture the essence of the book. Of course, nobody had actually proceeded to the story itself.
It was a huge risk she knew; in fact she only ordered a thousand prints to start with and a 2$ fee for the ebook. They’d know fairly fast whether it would work. She left the title untouched; somehow she knew that people would be intrigued. She did however demand a stronger summary for the back of the printed book. Penimmmoy didn’t disappoint.
The first thousand books were gone in a week, something unheard of for a new author. The reviews on websites, blogs and newspapers were somewhat of a shock. No reviewer seemed to gather the same thing from the book, except that it was a book that enthralled as if it were written just for them. Everyone was spellbound.
When discussions of a translation started, Penimmmoy came to her for the second time. He looked different: less clumsy, more in control. He argued against the translation, saying that the book would lose its soul, its purpose. Anyone from anywhere would be able to understand it. He was right… defying her understanding of the national markets. Europe, Asia, they all loved the book.
It was three years…
“Ms. Reggiani,” a confident male voice called her. She looked up and smiled.
He looked nothing like the first time he stepped into her office: the success of the book had changed him. Literally. He’d made millions for sure, but she wondered if he’d used the money for plastic surgery or if the mere fact of his success had allowed him to become the sexy, dark man who stood in front of her.
“I was thinking a deluxe edition reprint would be nice.”
Another thing that defied her understanding: the book had entered every single home in the USA and in Europe, maybe even Asia and Africa. Still the numbers she was looking at showed that some people purchased the book several times. It made no sense. Well… she had 3 different editions herself so why shouldn’t others be just as eager?