4 years of writing my editor and I were finally ready to choose a
publisher a year ago. After researching a few different options, we
settled on FriesenPress because their publishing package seemed like
a good option and price for us so we signed up and got started.
"Over the next several months we worked closely with FriesenPress Account Manager Mike and he was very encouraging and professional at walking me through every step of the way. Since this was my first time going through this process I felt like I was bothering him with all kinds of little things, but he never made me feel that way; he always answered my questions patiently and thoughtfully, even if he had to answer the same thing several times."
Over the next several months we worked closely with FriesenPress Account Manager Mike and he was very encouraging and professional at walking me through every step of the way. I phoned and emailed him dozens of times with all kinds of questions and concerns. Since this was my first time going through this process I felt like I was bothering him with all kinds of little things, but he never made me feel that way; he always answered my questions patiently and thoughtfully, even if he had to answer the same thing several times.
Then the magic day finally happened last September when “Playground Prayers and Monkey Bar Meditations” was finally published! And, then I went on selling over 700 copies of my new book in just three months of being published. FriesenPress asked me to share the secret to my success with their fellow authors. I can chalk most of it up to the following 5 factors:
1.) Unique content. “Playground Prayers” is a compilation of prayers I have written over the past 4 years. You might think there would be a lot of prayer books out there, but in my research I discovered that's actually not the case. There are plenty of books about prayer, but not a lot of prayer books. Not only that, but making it one-of-a-kind, all the prayers are based on playground equipment, children's games, kid's toys and other simple, child-like memories everyone can relate to at any age. People who have read my book tell me they have been deeply touched by the prayers which meet them where they are at and speak practically into their daily life experience; nothing could make me happier.
2.) Attractive layout. My editor/photographer and I worked hard to make this book attractive with color photos on every page. We wanted people not only to enjoy the words of the prayers, but to enjoy the look and feel of the book too - we wanted people to want to pick it up. The photos are of adorable children playing and laughing - who doesn't enjoy that? And, we spent several hours changing around the layout so that the words would flow beautifully and be easy on the eyes. Many people have commented on the cute kids and rich colors in the photos; it was worth the extra time and money to put them in.
3.) Broad appeal. While the idea of a Christian Prayer Book may sound like a narrow target audience, the prayers are written from a broadly ecumenical perspective rather than an overtly Evangelical, Protestant, Catholic or any other specific point of view. And, the child-like tone of the prayers makes them even more accessible to the average person rather than being limited to people from a particular faith background or experience. Almost anyone, Christian or not, religious or not, could pick up this book and relate to its content and be touched by the words. What has made me most excited about this book is the number of people who have told me they have given the book to a friend or family member who is not overly religious, but is open to God's love. There are not many other religious books they could have given away without it feeling preachy or judgemental whereas this book does not come across that way at all and yet it still touches people deeply on a spiritual level. I am most excited about this aspect of my book and the way it is blessing people!
"It certainly hasn't been all easy. Some people and bookstores have not been receptive to me or the book; I have had to simply move onto the next opportunity rather than letting these rejections get me down or distract me."
4.) Boldness. I am not a bold, confident person by nature. On the contrary, I am rather soft-spoken and don't like to push things onto other people. I'm not shy, but I do not have a pushy salesman personality at all. By faith, and with the encouragement of family and friends, I have had to believe in this book enough to proudly tell people about it. And, I have had to contact newspaper columnists, radio broadcasters and bookstore owners in order to get a few interviews and book signings which have gone very well and given the book more exposure. Like I said, I do not do this easily or naturally so I have had to push myself to go outside of my comfort zone and believe this book is worth talking about and it is.
5.) Family, friends and connections. By far this fifth factor has been what has helped me the most. If it were not for my amazing family and friends I would not have sold half this amount. I have had incredibly supportive family members and friends who have bought dozens of copies to sell and give away. They have sold many and passed the money onto me and, they have given many away as birthday gifts and Christmas gifts (releasing the book just a couple of months before Christmas was helpful as well). More than half of the 700 books have been bought by friends and family who saw the uniqueness in this book and have since seen how it has touched people and inspired people. A lot of this was made easier by Facebook where I was able to contact hundreds of friends to let them know about the book and the book signings. And, some of these friends had media or bookstore connections which helps a lot making those initial inquiries for interviews and book signings. Again, Facebook and LinkedIN were helpful with this. While I had to work hard and be bold as mentioned above, I owe most of the initial success of this book to my family and friends who have helped me so much.
It certainly hasn't been all easy. Some people and bookstores have not been receptive to me or the book; I have had to simply move onto the next opportunity rather than letting these rejections get me down or distract me. FriesenPress warned me that this is my book to push and no one else is going to do that for me. This is true; I don't have bookstores or media people contacting me - I have to contact them, sometimes several times, and continue to remind them of the book otherwise it easily fades to the bottom of the pile in their busy schedules. I have tried to coordinate my newspaper articles with my book signings to give them greater exposure and that has helped.
I am very pleased with reaching the 700 mark so quickly, but I am also well-aware that these first 700 copies were the easiest to sell. I will have to work harder to sell the next 700 as I need to reach farther outside my immediate circles of influence. And, my intention is not 700 more or even 7000 more; my goal is tens of thousands so I know I have a lot more work to do over the next several months and years. As the saying goes, "If I can do it, anybody can." I never thought I would publish a book - it was never a lifelong dream of mine - it simply came together over the last few years, largely as a result from the encouragement of my friend who is an editor. If I can make this happen with the help of my editor and FriesenPress so can you. Good luck!