This past weekend, our store held a "bookseller showcase" event in honor of a co-worker's recent publication. Unsurprisingly, the staff is peopled with writers, and I've definitely got some talented co-workers. There were poems and stories, kids' pieces and really-not-for-kids pieces. The audience wasn't huge, but it was the kind of crowd that shows up ready to be supportive. A group that laughed and applauded in all the right places for adult pieces could have decided to be too cool for my middle grade piece, but nope. The two of us who read children's pieces were welcomed and made to feel our writing was as "real" as everyone else's.
I don't know how much of the audience was comprised of readers' friends and family--probably a significant portion. But the first person who showed up was pure customer. Asked if she was there for one of us in particular, she replied, "All of you! I've been shopping at the store for years, and when I saw this event on the calendar, I thought, 'It's about time.'"
As someone who now knows the people she works with just a bit better, I agree.