Author Talk

I haven’t written much about, well, writing in awhile. I figure it’s time for an update, since many of you have been great supporters of my writing endeavors.

My children’s book, “Sophie, Pay Attention (Rhoda, You Too)!” has been out since September 29.

My memoir, I Love to Tell the Story: Growing Up Blessed and Baptist in Small Town Indiana, has been out since Dec. 3.

Through today, “Sophie” has sold 80 Kindle copies (that’s its only format). “Love to Tell” has sold 50 Kindle copies and 23 paper copies (the paper copies are through Amazon. My mom has also sold 15 on her own). So, that’s a total of 88 copies for “Love to Tell.”

Those figures are … hmmm. In a way, they’re good. But then, I’ll read an article about an author selling 100 copies of her books per day. Another author in a local writing group tells of her debut novel, which sold 20,000 copies in its first few months. Then, my numbers seem discouraging.

The numbers also reflect many hours of promotion on my part, by sending out free review copies, contacting various sites and individuals for reviews, blurbs in a few newspapers and magazines, putting fliers into every Christmas card, and even a speaking engagement. My advice to aspiring authors: don’t quit your day job.

It’s also interesting to me that “Sophie,” which I wrote in a few days, totally on a whim before attending a writing conference (since I’d read you shouldn’t attend a conference with just one thing to pitch), has sold as well as my “baby” (or better, if you consider Kindle only).

And really, that’s okay. Seeing that my “baby” is my own story, and considering that I’m the child who had her face in the plate at her own birthday parties since I so abhorred people looking at me, the idea of people reading my deepest thoughts is more than a little disturbing. I have copies for my own children (which was the goal all along), so if no one else ever reads it, I’m okay with that. Really. I think :).

And, “Sophie” has become a project dear to my heart. I taught Sunday school for ten years, until our church went the modern mega-church route of abandoning “traditional” Bible stories, and headed towards the model of “high energy, sticky, relevant” programming involving small groups. I long for the Sunday school depicted in “Sophie,” where a dynamic teacher shares actual Bible stories with kids who listen. It’s why “Sophie” centers on Rhoda, an obscure (by today’s standards) Bible character. I have almost finished a sequel to “Sophie,” and it’s about another bit-player in the Bible, Naaman. I love the idea of today’s kids learning about these fascinating Bible stories. Many of today’s kids graduate from a decade or more of Sunday school knowing little more theology than “God loves me, and I’m special.” I think that’s a tragedy. I’m happy to contribute to a solution, even if it’s in a small way.

Authors out there: any words of advice? Anything in this post prompt a response? I’d be happy to hear your words of wisdom!

5 thoughts on “Author Talk

  1. I know nothing about what author’s go through in getting their books to sell. I only wish the best for you in this venture.

  2. 168 copies in four and a half months. As you know from reading my blog post, you’re way ahead of me. Of course, I’ve got two short stories and one non-fiction title. Maybe those critters don’t sell as good as YA fictioin and memoirs. Or maybe it the large number of FB contacts you have. I still have less than 50 people who “like” my FB author page despite some requests for friends.

    Dean Wesley Smith says promotion is a waste of time. He says spend all your efforts writing new material and adding them to your items for sale. Having a number of titles for sale results in cross sales, and is evidence of a serious writer. However, I can’t fully believe that ALL promotion is unnecessary. It’s just that we have to better balance writing and promoting, with writing always taking the lead. I wonder if he’s right.

  3. At least today you CAN get your words out there. I remember getting rejection slip after rejection slip and imagining wallpapering with them. At least today, thru word of mouth, your story will spread. There IS an audience for it. I suggest getting into the local homeschool conferences and local women’s conferences (Christian), offering Free Kindle copies to all who attend a women’s conference–things like that to spread the word. As you know it’s very PC to hate a religious upbringing so you need to look “over” that!! Also donate kindle copies to a few libraries and offer to speak free to the Moms during Story Hours or to the ladies book clubs.

    I really know the audience IS there and you’ll will get to them!!! Your story was very good!

  4. Susan,
    I have come to believe that the question you pose rests somewhere in the middle of, the Lost City of Pompeii, and the first settlement of Jamestown we find those answers and perhaps there is where our answer awaits written on a bathroom wall. To become a successful ($) author, call 1-800-I’ll-sell-it-for-you.
    Since venturing out into the writing community lately, which I have not done much of in the past, I am seeing the same beleaguered faces. Most of us I think have really good marketable books. But the one connection I see is we are not sales people, we are either a Passion filled Heart Stopping Novelist, Nora or a How to, Hannah or a Mystery Mike.

    My solution is we need to find our missing piece in this endeavor, a Mr./Ms I can Sell an Eskimo an Ice Burg. Let them do the pushing, promoting, presenting and call us on the book signing day.

    All I want to do is WRITE. I am not sure what part the powers (agents, publishers, those who can help) don’t understand. Susan, if I find that ‘seller’ person I’ll let you know and if you find them… call me at 1-800- I-got-a -book -for -you!

  5. I’m totally convinced that *every* author has to do PR, whether they like it or not, unless they’re writing magazine articles, etc. If you have books you want to see, you *have* to sell them. So, keep looking for ways to sell them.

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