EBook Success {Redefined}

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I still believe that His definition of success has nothing to do with numbers, so this post is not and will never be ‘out of date’…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

8 responses to “EBook Success {Redefined}”

  1. Holly Loube Avatar

    Trina, Trina, Trina- I love your heart. I came across your blog by searching “e-book” on Pinterest and finding your pin for the series. God placed it on my heart to write an e-book, a devotional specifically, and I am in the early stages. I’ve searched “e-book” on Pinterest before and stumbled upon a lot of great tips on publishing. But your series was by far the most inspirational set of posts I’ve ever read on e-booking. I love your transparency (all the way through) but especially when you talked about where you got your inspiration to write (in the kitchen.) I loved you how you discussed the many times God dealt with your heart while in the process of writing. God used your posts to reveal some of my own heart issues and secret desires. I love how you love. You truly want to see people be joyous and content, you want the best for everyone. This series is full of so many awesome tips, but more importantly it is full of Jesus! I am so inspired by the way you love.

    1. Trina Avatar

      Holly, I’m super excited that God could use my journey to encourage you. So glad you’re stepping out and working on a book. It is a life-changing experience and one of the things that has brought me closest to our Father. Thank you for your kind comments!

  2. Amy Walker Avatar

    Starting some catch up here. This is beautiful and it is so cool about the timing! I agree that impact is infinitely more important than numbers! But none the less so excited for the numbers coming your way!

  3. Jess Avatar

    I’m with Gretchen…definitely His sense of humor.

    I love this, “The change doesn’t seem big with that first step, but in 30 miles your course will have taken you into a different county.” How very true. Our perspectives are sometimes so limited, but if we look at the potential long term, it can be astounding!

  4. Elizabeth Avatar

    Thank you again for writing this series. It has been very helpful for me as I work on my own book. I’m excited to read some of the interviews you have planned! AND crazy congratulations on getting so much love for your book! Very exciting.

  5. Gretchen Avatar

    I’m fairly sure it was God’s sense of humor that you had this post scheduled to go up today, the morning after your book, ahem, went viral. 😉 So proud of you, my friend. And thankful for your example of humility and perspective a midst it all.

  6. Rachel Avatar

    An excellent and important reminder to steward our words well! Thank you for this enlightening series. I look forward to reading upcoming interviews!! (P.S- I like your new tag line!)

  7. Elizabeth @ DogFurandDandelions Avatar

    What a lovely wrap-up to this series! And so true: our success is not measured in numbers or dollars, but by each life that is impacted by God’s truth.

    Thanks for sharing this series – trust me, it had an impact on me! My ebook is set to release on 9/21 – and your posts certainly helped me get there! 🙂

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