When perseverance pays off

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Rick Shartzer was right. All I needed to do was be patient and let my hard work and perseverance pay off.
“It’s only been a month,” the Cleveland school teacher said.
“I know, but patience has never been my strong suit,” I whined. (I know I was whining, because I heard it in my voice. Which took me back 15 years, to the days when my children would tease me: “You want some cheese to go with that whine?”)
That was before I knew that Sister of Silence sales were going to begin climbing so quickly. So to date, this is how my book is trending: Feb. 18—official launch date. Sell a handful of books. Feb. 19—book release party. Sell 25 books. March 1—books are selling, on average, one per day. March 15—slow climb, two a day. March 30—three a day. April 8—sales appear as if they’re going to climb. But appearances can be deceiving, or so I tell myself.
Then, on April 11—just two days ago, in fact—something happened. What? I have no idea. Well, I do have a few, but they’re not based on hard data—just conjecture. That, and feedback from readers. Feedback from people who are now finding this blog (Thank you Tumblr, Twitter and Facebook, for leveling the playing field for women like me, who have been financially strapped most of our lives!) and actually posting real, honest-to-goodness comments—instead of inviting me to buy Viagra, or push-up bras, or worse!
Some feedback comes from people I know, but much of it is coming from people I’ve never met before. And that’s the exciting part—and the part that makes me realize that all those literary agents and publishing houses are pretty clueless about not just the publishing world, but life in general. (“Nobody likes me. Everybody hates me. Think I’ll go eat worms.”)
Unlike the Amanda Hocking of two years ago, when she wrote her first post, I know what readers want. I know what they like, and I know they will keep coming back for more—if you just give it to them. That’s really at the heart of the matter, and what the publishing industry boils down to.
I know I also have a pretty solid record as a good writer. Yes, being an award-winning journalist doesn’t hurt—unless you’re caught in a whirlpool of unemployed, Pulitzer-prize-winning ones. And yes, having a boatload of professional development courses on your CV certainly makes a difference.
But wait, most of my readers don’t even know these things about me. I seriously doubt that many, if any, of them have even seen my resume. What they do know—what I’m hearing, from what they’re telling me (or other people, who are then telling me!!!)—is that my writing appeals to them. They sense I’m someone they can relate to. And guess what? They’re right!
A woman I never met ordered Sister of Silence recently, after seeing an article about my work in the Preston County News. After receiving it, she wrote to me. I answered. She wrote back. She was thrilled. I was thrilled that she cared enough to write. It was a mutual admiration society in the works, for sure. And growing by the day, apparently.
Because not long after, a second woman (another complete stranger)—who ordered her copy while I was in California a few weeks ago—sent me a message while I was online and we began chatting. To be honest, I didn’t have a lot of time, but she was so sweet and happy I took the time, and, as it turns out, we had a lot in common!
A day or so later, her daughter emails me, thanking me for taking time to talk to her mother, and telling me how much her mom enjoyed it. She was moved with gratitude. I was moved that she was moved, and really appreciated her thoughtfulness in seeking me out to tell me these things.
Here’s the thing that all of this has taught me—and it’s a lesson I learned under Linda Benson, all those years ago while cutting my cub reporter’s teeth: To get the story, you have to be a good listener. You have to pay attention to details. You have to ask questions. You will learn more by listening than you will by doing anything else.
Are you listening now? If you have a voice, if you have talent, if you have a good story to tell—then just do it. Don’t sit back and wait for someone to pull it from the bottom of a drawer, long after you’re dead, and reap the rewards of your hard work.
Because this is what will happen if you have these key ingredients: your book sales, on a rainy April 11, will QUADRUPLE in sales. (And those are just the sales you know about.)
I feel like Casey did, in “Casey’s Revenge” (a sequel to “Casey at the Bat”)–because this time I’m not striking out!
Editor’s note: Sister of Silence is $14.99. To order your copy, go to: http://nellieblybooks.com/sister-of-silence.html


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