FYI: This post was written 2 months ago, and scheduled last week–all before my book suddenly got a lot of attention from the real food community this week! Even as the Lord is suddenly blessing sales of my book, I still believe that His definition of success has nothing to do with numbers, so this post is not and will never be ‘out of date’…
The biggest question I faced as I timidly stepped into the waters of self-publishing was, “Can I do this successfully?” I didn’t want all my efforts to end shy of the goal. But what was the goal? What defines a successful eBook?
In the beginning my understanding of an ebook’s success came down to one thing: going viral. That seemed to be the goal of all the marketing advice I’d read. A viral book meant money and fame, which would make it worth my effort and mark my book as a success.
Getting my book to ‘go viral’ proved to be an elusive goal. Despite my best efforts and many satisfied customers, sales never grew to the spree I thought would confirm success. Eventually I had to face the sales figures and ask myself the hard question: Had I failed, or was my book a success after all? Too often, I felt I had failed.
But finally, over a year after release, I gained some perspective. I looked back on the work I had done and the results and I knew the truth: my book was a success all along. What changed my perspective?
I finally understood that eBook success is not defined by numbers and sales, but by one word:
Maybe only a few hundred people have bought my book, but those few have repeatedly written to tell me how my book blessed them, taught them a new recipe their family loves, and helped them realize they really could feed their families well with limited time.
Two definitions of success…
The world defines success by numbers and fame, but in the Kingdom of God, we are called to serve ‘the least of these’. In blogging terms, I think that means we need to be willing to do the work–to write words that encourage and build up–even if only one person reads them.
That’s a challenging prospect. My pride doesn’t really appreciate work that doesn’t bring me fame. There’s no fame in writing an eBook that only sells a hundred copies. But if we embrace humble servanthood, God will allow us to see our efforts and impact from His perspective.
The Lord helped me to see that one changed life—one family making more nutritious choices and enjoying better health because of my words—was enough to call my book a success.
Yes, I’ve made money, too. Not enough for my man to quit his day job, mind you, but enough to pay for my web hosting, a transfer to wordpress, and a little extra to help make ends meet around here. But it’s not about the money. The money is gravy. The real worth of my effort is in the impact my book has had in a handful of people’s lives, including my own.
Maybe your dream book isn’t the next popular how-to guide. Maybe you doubt you could make money, or that the heart-story you compose in your bed at night could change any body’s lives.
But if I could lean in and whisper a piece of truth that’s very dear to me, I would tell you this:
If the words you write touch another’s heart, giving them even a slight adjustment in perspective, it is like when one changes direction by one degree on a compass. The change doesn’t seem big with that first step, but in 30 miles your course will have taken you into a different county. One word that lightens or brightens your reader’s heart can seem small in the moment, but know this: ten years from now that reader could have more joy and walk more closely with their Savior because of your willingness to have even a ‘small’ impact.
So here’s to you, sister, writer, friend: Here’s to YOUR successful eBook. May God give grace. wisdom, insight and the time to write the words He’s put on your heart. And may you be just brave enough to launch them, just strong enough to ask for help, and just tall enough to catch a glimpse of what God can do with a heart willing to serve.
I am SO delighted by you, the women who have joined me here as I’ve shared my self-publishing journey. Your comments and questions have inspired me and your ideas for your own books have excited me. This series is officially complete with this post, but I assure you, the conversation isn’t over. I desire to continue to encourage you in your pursuits! I plan to interview some of the eBook authors I’m delighted to know personally and share our conversations about the process of writing and publishing in upcoming posts. I hope you will enjoy–and maybe one of these days you’ll be publishing your own book, and I’ll be interviewing you! Keep in touch,
All posts in this series can be found under the tag: Path to Publishing