No one shows up at book tour stop in Atlanta, but author’s story has a twist

Credit: Jamar Perry

Credit: Jamar Perry

Jamar Perry sold thousands of copies of his first children’s book, “Cameron Battle and the Hidden Kingdoms.”

So when Perry launched a nationwide tour to promote the latest installment in the Cameron Battle series, the Decatur bookstore Little Shop of Stories eagerly invited him to be part of a two-author panel discussion.

The invitation was a bit unusual for Perry, who typically appears at schools. But he reluctantly accepted.

Perry arrived early for the 7 o’clock event and found the book store empty. The clock ticked on.


Tick tock.

Bookstore employees said people were probably running late due to traffic.


Tick tock.

Still no one.

“I wondered to myself: Why aren’t people showing up?” Perry said during a recent interview. “Around 7:40 was when I realized that, `Oh, well, there’s nobody coming.’”

“I felt a little embarrassed,” he said.

There was just one thing to do — go to dinner. Afterward, Perry decided to do what he does best. He started writing about it. First, in his journal. Then, on social media.

“I was grateful for the book tour,” Perry remembered writing in the journal. “I was grateful for having two books. Not only do I have one book, but I have two books in the world. I was grateful for having a nice hotel. I started thinking about all the school visits that I had done, all the books that we had sold up to that point.

“I was really excited about all the good things.”

Then Perry took to Twitter: “Kinda embarrassing to admit, but not one person came to my Atlanta tour event,” Perry wrote. “Instead of being bummed about it I’ve decided to focus on being grateful that I get to do this work.”

Then, magic.

Thousands of people saw his post. And the books started to sell. And sell. And sell some more.

“They sold so many,” Perry said. “First of all, they sold all (50) books that I had signed (at the book store). Plus 400 more.”

Soon other bookstores, like Barnes & Noble, were ordering his books as well.

“It just had a snowball effect,” Perry said.

Perry’s Cameron Battle fantasy series is aimed at middle schoolers. Perry is an educator who taught literature to middle school students in Washington, D.C. While completing his Ph.D. at the University of Maryland, College Park, Perry’s research focused on Black boys, the history of traditional and Black masculinity in America and racial literacy.

His studies led Perry to begin writing again, this time to a very targeted audience: “reluctant readers, Black boys who needed to understand that they were magic, that they could also have joy, that they could be vulnerable and emotional, that they could be the hero in their own stories.”

In the coming year, Perry plans to publish his third book, this one about a Black boy who inherits magic by reading his missing friend’s journal.

“The reality of book tours, even for big, huge authors is that sometimes people just don’t show up,” he said.

Credit: Courtesy: Jamar Perry

Credit: Courtesy: Jamar Perry