A Voice Wavering

August 15, 2017

Giveaway: Anything But Simple

August 25, 2017

Everything You Didn’t Want to Know about Writing and Selling Books

August 22, 2017
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One month ago, I wrote about buying 988 copies of Anything But Simple to resell. “Ask me a year from now how that’s going for me,” I said.

Four weeks later, I have a report. So far, I have sold or given away 428 of those books, which leaves me a remainder of 560. I have attended five book signings in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, and sold books at four separate shows/farmers markets in Indiana, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. I have given an author talk in Pittsburgh. I have stopped at various bookstores to offer the book to them.

I haven’t actually made any money.

Sigh.

I still need to make back my initial cost, and when I balance my expenses with profits on the books I have sold so far—what with gas, lodging, booth fees—I am mostly breaking even. But. I still have 560 books left to sell, and I believe I have gotten smarter in using my limited resources. Also, I am learning a lot.

For one, I have learned that it’s HARD WORK to sell a book. I understand the concept of publishing and marketing a whole lot better now. I know WHY all the how-to-be-an-author books I’ve ever read tell you to “know your audience.” I understand WHY advertisement and publicity are so important. And I understand WHY it’s important to be able to say succinctly, preferably in a single sentence, just what exactly your book is about.

All that makes sense to me now because I know how it feels to stand behind a booth with streams of people walking past who have no idea of who I am and little interest in a book about which they know nothing.

I also know how it feels to present my book to a warm and receptive audience who are delighted to hear what I have to say. Whether they are familiar with me through a friend, through our mutual interests, through reading my blog or watching my book trailer, that spark of familiarity makes all the difference in the world.

I am learning other things about being an author. I know how it feels to hold conversations with people who suddenly know a lot more about me than I do about them, maybe people that I’ve waved and smiled at all my life without a second thought. And I’ve assumed that they assume that I am just like everyone else in my circle of friends and family, which is a comfortable and pleasant state of affairs. There is no judgement in that likelihood, no thinking about me beyond a peremptory, Oh, that’s Ted Miller’s daughter, isn’t it? She’s teaching school, isn’t she? Or was it mission work? Like a thousand other Mennonite girls in a thousand other rural communities.

Now all of a sudden I feel very…noticeable. I remember how OPEN I was in my story, how blatantly honest,  and I wonder what they are thinking. Were they offended by my words? Touched? Turned off? Bemused? Of course, if it’s anything but a positive emotion, they won’t mention it. People don’t.

But I am learning there are certain words in the author experience that make everything else worthwhile. Those words are: “It’s like you were telling my story,” and, “That’s exactly what I’ve experienced, but I didn’t know anyone else was like me.” I have heard those words from people I never expected to hear them from, people I had NO IDEA could relate to my innermost self in any way.

It’s like going into a dark cave where you think no one has been before. The way is long and winding and you get lost and you’re scared. To give yourself courage, you write big on the wall in the light of your flashlight, “Luci was here.” And then you go on and stumble into daylight and someone comes up to you and says, “I saw your name. I was there too.”

And suddenly that cave feels cozy and manageable instead of dark and scary. There is loved experience in it. Shared experience. You aren’t alone anymore.

13 comments

  1. “I actually haven’t made any money yet.” LOL! Money certainly isn’t the reason we write, is it? We have a story to tell with a hope and prayer that somebody out there will be blessed in some way. Thanks again for the reminder that an author needs to be able describe her book in one sentence.

  2. Lucinda — I enjoyed reading about what you’ve learned through this experience, and looking at the accompanying photographs. Because they’re so popular, I’ve learned how to create “memes” based on the favorite quotes in my book. I “spin” those memes on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. You can do the same thing with your book. People (potential readers) love them!

  3. I see how this post can answer one of the interview questions asked when I showcase your and your book in September. Here’s to the girl in the cave with a flashlight writing BIG!

  4. i really liked your book it was interesting because i knew a lot of the people and it cool to have cousin that is an author.

  5. I haven’t read your book yet, but plan to. I’m the author of Hutterite Diaries, also part of the Plain Spoken Series. Your thoughts on, ‘words in the author experience that make everything else worthwhile’ resonated with me. I remember getting a phone call from a distant relative. At some point she said, “Linda, I love your book! It’s like I’m going for a walk at your colony with m parents.” Her parents lived at my colony many years ago, and those words melted my heart. Yes, writing, editing, publishing and trying to sell your book is a learning experience, and such a worthwhile and wonderful journey! Al the best for the rest of your book journey!!

  6. I have not yet gotten my hands on your book, but I really really want to read it!!! It looks very good!! I hope you can continue to “get rid of” your books! =)

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