Money or Planting Seeds?

I’m skipping ahead for this post because it is what I call “The rubber hits the road.” It goes back to motives. It is something, as difficult as it is to write, that anyone hoping or planning to enter a writers world must know. It is not to discourage you but give you an inside look at the real business of publishing. This part of that business is not fair to authors but it is a fact!

Three things are involved. You the author, the publishers, and the retailer. None operates without the other unless you sell your books yourself and cut out the retailers, but you are still left with a publisher. Without the publisher your book will not be printed!

When a book goes out to the world, for example, through a bookstore. The bookstore takes a % and sends the rest to the publisher. The publisher takes their % and sends the rest to you. I think I’ve mentioned this before.

What happens if a publisher goes out of business? Here’s the cold hard facts!

Book # 1
Book # 2
Book # 3


Book # 4
Book # 5

Book # 1 and 2 = over $11,000 paid in publishing fees. That does not take into account for the books I had to buy, all promotional items; book marks, business cards, posters, advertising, etc. THAT PUBLISHER WENT OUT OF BUSINESS!

Book # 3 = No publishing fee. (I cancelled the contract not knowing what I now know. I wrote about this one) Yet I still had to buy all the promotional items and buying my books, as mentioned above.

Book # 4 and 5 = $8,000 paid in publishing fees. Not counting buying my books, promotional items, advertising, etc. THAT PUBLISHER FOLDED when two top executives were indicted for embezzlement, fraud, theft by taking, and a whole string of charges.

All of these books are still being sold on Amazon as well as the other book selling businesses AND I DO NOT GET A PENNY! When one of the books sells that business gets the money because there is no publisher in the middle to disperse funds to me. (Those businesses will NOT pay directly!) The books are no longer being printed but don’t forget they are still out there! (Used books, little off the beaten path book sellers, etc)

What’s my recourse? Sue Amazon and any other businesses that sell my books for copyright infringement! (I spoke to a copyright attorney about this) This is true of any articles, books, etc. that you have written and have with a publisher and/or under contract with a copyright.

Money or planting seeds? After much anger, hurt, and disbelief for all the hard work, time, and expense put into writing these books I asked the Lord for His will regarding the books. They are His books for His glory. After much prayer I chose to continue to allow the books to be sold and pray that the Lord will speak through them to all those who read them.

I hope this has not doused any dreams of writing but hopefully it has helped to inform and enable you to go forward with eyes wide open. Any publisher can fold at any time no matter how big or how long they have been in business. I learned that the hard way. Four of those books were published with very well known long standing publishers. God bless you as you look again at the motives behind your desire.

Don’t run away yet – Happier posts are coming.

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Lord, Can We…?

After two non-fiction books and a serious, “In your face book,” the Lord said, “Are you ready to write another?” I groaned and whined a little. “Lord, (whiny voice) we’ve been doing all these serious books and I’m kind of worn out. Can we do a novel maybe? I’m really sick of all this serious stuff.” (sniff, sniff)

And “Pursuit” was being born.

As usual, when I sat down to this computer I had absolutely no idea what would be written. The past 2 years have been filled with a book being released, book signing events, and just every day life.

To start another book was both exciting and daunting. Daunting because I eat, sleep, and breathe whatever writing project I have undertaken. Which means no sleep, a quick sandwich, and a mind that never stops. He didn’t give me a clue as to what kind of story it would be, which means really sitting at the foot of the Throne and praying Someone up there knows what He’s doing! I prayed turning it all over to Him and started typing.

I was glad when I saw we were using Atlanta and Georgia areas as the locations for the story. At least I was familiar with that and wouldn’t have to do a bunch of research stuff. When He started bringing in beaches I was really excited. The Lord knows I like mysteries, suspense, and beaches, so as the pages started filling with words I was also pleased to see I had two characters in positions that I was familiar with also. But I had no idea where any of this was going!

And then the story got into something I was totally unfamiliar with – weddings. Two of them!

I started off with a little research and then decided to consult with my very dear friend about how to plan a big wedding. When I married I insisted on a very informal, small wedding. In fact, it was very small, only five of us! And I wanted to wear jeans and a Mickey Mouse T-shirt but my groom said “NO!” (not all little girls dream of a big wedding) I had no clue how to plan, much less describe, a big wedding and that was frustrating me to no end.

Have you ever tried to describe a long flowing beautiful wedding dress with material and lace that you’ve never heard of, much less can pronounce? And how come a kid has to have the wedding ring on a satin pillow? Is the groom so weak or lazy he can’t hold a ring?

My friend had many good ole belly laughs at my phone calls screaming in her ear about the stupidity of wasting all that money for an hours worth of “I do’s.” “Have you seen the prices of some of these rags they get married in!?” The research was killing me! Flowers, food, cake, clothing for brides maids, what do the men wear? Oh crap, I forgot the Mom’s and Dads! You mean I have to dress them, too? (screaaaaam) The honeymoons were fun and of course they went where I have been before. It was fun writing. Some of those cakes and wedding dresses are awesome! And some I wouldn’t wear to camp in!

As the story progressed I would send a chapter to my friend to edit. That way she didn’t have to spend hours upon hours going through several chapters. She would call me laughing and I knew right then, when she couldn’t even talk for laughing, I was in trouble, or she loved what was written.

My first novel, even with the cottin’ pickin’ wedding research stuff, was fun and once again, another manuscript would be shipped off to a publisher.

Hang in there – I’m not done yet.

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Don’t Take It Personally

By now I have three books published and I’m busy doing book signing events at various bookstores in the area. There are some days I sell none, but have met people and have made a list of e-mail addresses from the drawing, to notify of my next event.

This is kind of fun because I’ll look up and someone will be standing there that came to my last signing event and we usually will get into a short conversation about whatever book they bought or whichever one is my latest. Kind of like an old home week. Its nice to know people will let you know when they enjoy your book and better yet, when they show up at your next event.

We will on occasion create “followers” if they really enjoy our books. But I have found, like I’ve stated earlier, “It takes all kinds to make a world.” My latest, at that time was Seek My Face. My display table had all three books; Laying Down my Net, Sacrifices of a Saint, and Seek My Face.

Its interesting to watch people’s reactions as they pick up a book, glance at the cover, turn it over and read the back cover. I can almost read their mind by their facial expressions.

The reactions to Seek My Face has actually been a surprise to me. People, on the most part, will linger over the other two books and maybe ask a few questions about it, but when Seek My Face is picked up, if it is, it is like someone has touched something nasty!

I actually had someone say, “I don’t read that kind of stuff!” and tossed the book back on the table and walked away. I admit, Seek My Face is a confrontational book. Is it that people don’t want to be confronted with the Word of God? Is that why many do not read the Bible, because it confronts us, as well as guides us?

I learned, basically from having that book on my display table, to not take reactions or comments personally. Everyone has their own tastes in reading material and we are not going to be able to please all of them.

To me, its sad because even today, and maybe even more so today with the anti-Christian stuff going on, that there is such a lack of interest in Seek My Face. On occasion I will have someone who shows a genuine interest in it but on the most part I bring the same number home as I took.

Their loss, not mine, is my way of thinking. I can’t take their lack of interest personally. It is their choice as to what they read or don’t read. That is not a reflection on me.

If you would like one FREE copy of “Seek My Face” (I’ll pay the postage – USA ONLY) (Additional copies are $10.00 + $5.00 postage & handling) send me an e-mail with your name and address to: elah501c@bellsouth.net.

I’ll be back with more. Stay tuned.

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Anticipation

A summary, of sorts.

The stories have been written. The publisher selected. The editing has been done, the manuscript has been sent and accepted and the tax form sent. (Yes, you will pay the govt. taxes on all books sold and if you do not send a tax form you will receive no royalties!) Those are the first steps we have taken in our dream of seeing a real book with our name on the front.

We wait.

After some time has passed we get the formatted copy to go through and check for any mistakes. We read our story again and check everything and make the necessary corrections and send them back to the publisher.

We wait some more.

The Publisher makes the corrections and sends us another formatted copy of our book with the corrections made and we check to make sure all the mistakes we sent are corrected. (If you keep a copy of the page, paragraph and mistake, as well as the correction, you will not have guess work and a very simple means of checking what has been corrected without having to reread the entire book again.) Then we sent “accept” for the formatted copy back to the publisher.

We wait some more.

An e-mail (with this particular publisher) will be sent saying my book has gone to print.

Yayyyyyyyyyyy

The anticipation rises. The hard stuff is behind and now in just two or three weeks I’ll be receiving my box of free books! (No, you don’t get one free this time. 🙂 )

Seeing our work done in a formatted form is one thing, but having the actual “real” book in hand is yet another, and no matter how many books you have published, its always exciting to see the new, real thing, in living color, in your hand.

I’m guess-timating release sometime late July. Once I get the official release date, I’ll share that.

Stay tuned, more good stuff ahead.

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Be Encouraged Even When Things Don’t Look Good

As I sit here and type this I sit in awe. The Lord said, “You will write a book.” (singular) Now several years later I have eight published books. (I AM is about to be released) Thinking back I wonder, how did all this happen?

It happened because of God’s grace and through my faith in Him! He showed me in each writing, that He is faithful to do what He says He will do. One book proved that, but eight? How can I ever doubt Him again? That is not bragging on me, that is bragging on our faithful Lord, Jesus Christ.

If you recall I had stated in earlier posts that the proceeds go into the ministry and in another post I talked about our motives for writing. Yes, the sales of my books supports Elah Ministry, Inc along with donations from loving people. But what if there are no sales?

Of course I love when people buy my books and especially if they enjoy them, but I have to confess that when book stores started going out of business and the book signing events dwindled down to almost nonexistent due to all the new technology that allows people to read on their confounded devices, it gets discouraging. I haven’t done book signing events in quite some time now due to that fact. People just don’t seem to want a “real” book and book stores, as well as authors, have suffered. I have heard that is changing though and people are returning to the “real” books. Praise God.

The Lord asked me one day, “Are you writing to make money, or are you wanting people to be drawn to Me through your books?” My immediate answer, of course, was the latter.

“Okay – Prove it!”

No book signing events, selling a book here and there, no royalties to speak of coming in, do I give up? Do I stack the boxes of books in the basement and say, “forget it! It’s a waste of money?” And believe me I have a LOT of money tied up in these books!

I’m sure some of you are wondering why I’m willing to give a free book. Answer – Because it isn’t about the money! Doctors offices, Dental offices, Hospital ladies rooms, clinic waiting rooms, wherever I have an opportunity to leave a book with a sticky note “Free to take” with my business card and a book mark advertising the ministry inside the book, I do. Its more than “Get your name out there.” Its a means to introduce people to Jesus.

More good stuff to come.

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The Library

A publisher is constantly telling their authors, “Get your name out there!” That can mean giving free books away, sitting in a coffee shop handing out business cards with a few books on the table, having a drawing for a free book, or doing a signing event at the local library.

People tend to buy books from authors they are familiar with. I’ve heard so many say to each other at book signing events, “This sounds interesting but I’ve never heard of this author.” We are unknown authors when we first start out and that does make a difference.

I started having a drawing to win a free book. Just a simple slip of paper with their name and e-mail address placed in a jar and I assured people that I do not share their e-mail addresses. This accomplished two things; 1. “Would you like to enter a free drawing” drew people from the door straight to my display. 2. It enabled me to create an e-mail list of people to notify of my next signing event. At the end of my allotted time I would have the manager draw a name from the jar. We’d announce it over the intercom in case the person was still in the store. If no one came forward then I would e-mail the person and announce their winning. I found this worked very well and yes, I sold more books because more people lingered at my table.

My least favorite place to do book signing events are libraries. “Get your name out there” is the incentive but people are at libraries to get free reading material, not buy books. I’ve met some very nice people at libraries and have had some wonderful conversations and have sold maybe one or two books at the most while there.

Being a Christian author it also gives us an opportunity to discuss Christian beliefs, witness, or just present Christian reading. On the back cover of Laying Down my Net it mentions that I “see angels and hear the angels sing.” Three young high school gals stopped at my table and in reading that, one exclaimed, “You see angels!?” That led to an interesting discussion.

So libraries are not out of the question and expect to donate a copy of your book. Some libraries ( and book stores) will even have you do a “reading and a question and answer” session. But don’t expect to sell several books. And yes, you will need cash. (or accept credit cards)

Stay tuned, we’re not finished yet.

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A library signing event in Tn.

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Motives

That “Encyclopedia Britannica” that got thrown in the trash so long ago was written out of hurt, anger, and revenge for all those who had hurt me. Thinking back on it, I think the Lord used that sarcastic and rude man on the other end of the line to stop me from my sinful intentions of hurting others. I’m grateful now, even though it stopped me from writing for many years.

This leads me to the question – why do you want to write a book, a magazine article, a devotional, or even a blog? Is there an ulterior motive hidden down deep behind that desire? We all must think long and hard about that question because our answer determines what we write and how we write it.

As I’ve stated before, I had no intention of writing a book after my “book” hit the bottom of the trash can. The Lord had told me, “You will write a book” at that women’s retreat two weeks after I got saved and fifteen years later He said, “Are you ready to write a book?”

Before I put the pen to the paper He told me in no uncertain terms, “All proceeds from the sales of your book is to go into the ministry. You are not to take even a penny!” They do, and they have from that moment on, even though I didn’t know what the book was going to be about, or if it really would come to pass, and if it did, if it would even sell. I agreed.

And in case anyone is wondering, No, the publishers fees and all expenses involved does NOT come out of ministry funds.

Shame on me! My doubts were so much higher than my faith. The Lord taught me many hard lessons during those five years of state to state moving and yet I doubted. Another comfort zone destroyed! He’s taking me into unknown waters blind! Fear and doubt will hold us back. Thankfully, I picked up the pen and hoped that He would do what He said and began writing.

My only reason for holding that pen and writing the words given to me at that time was simply two reasons; Stepping out in faith, as He tells us to do, and being obedient. Which He also tells us to be. As the pages progressed I began to see how my words – His words – our words; my journey, could be an encouragement to others. I think the most significant response to that book (Laying Down my Net) is when a woman told me after reading it, “I need to really reevaluate my relationship with Christ.” That made the work, the year long trial and error and learning experience well worth it to me. It can be an eye opener into our own journey.

The biggest blessing for me as a result of my obedience, is my brother. For some reason our relationship had gone astray. We had always been close and suddenly it was as though we’d had a huge fight or something and no longer communicated. I never understood why and was deeply hurt. He read Laying Down my Net and suddenly, our relationship was back to where it had always been. I don’t know why, other than he told me, “It answered a lot of questions.” If I never sold more than that one copy, I would be praising God for it.

As Christians are we writing in the hopes of filling in a gap in the check book, to see our name splattered across the front cover, to help others through our testimonies, or are we writing to glorify the Lord whether we sell them or whether we give them all away? That decision is between you and the Lord but it is a decision that each who put their pen to the paper have to make.

I write to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ. I want to honor Him and bring praise to Him and encourage others to do the same. I pray it will touch a non-believer and open their eyes to Christ’s great and mighty love and hopefully to dispel those silly thoughts of, “God doesn’t do that!” like one woman said when I gave a testimony. Each one of the books, be it fiction or non-fiction, serious or a novel, has a different message the Lord is bringing. If my motives for writing changes, I’ll quit!

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The Donut Shop

Is your mouth watering? Can you smell the enticing aroma of fresh brewed coffee and all those luscious, succulent, aromas of fresh baked, right out of the oven, donuts through the open door?

Well so could I. A friend of mine owns a doughnut shop and I decided it would be such a fantastic idea to ask him if I could do a book signing in his shop. He agreed and one morning early, when I knew he would have plenty of customers, I set up my display at the front of the store and to the left of the entrance door. They’d be sure to see me there and I wouldn’t be in anyone’s way when they stopped to chat and buy one of my books.

What a nice way to enjoy their morning coffee and a fresh doughnut or pastry, don’t you think? Kicked back, reading, sipping hot coffee and wiping the chocolate off your mouth. Or one would think. At least I did.

Ohhhhhh, the smell of those donuts was driving me nuts and I had to make a conscious effort not to drool all over my books. I couldn’t stand there looking like a professional, at least not like a successful author, with a doughnut stuffed in my mouth now could I? I had to suffer until it was time to leave.

The bell over the front door tingled and the customer entered.

Image result for Images - cartoon -fat lady running

Don’t look left and don’t look right! I think the Lord said something like that, too. But He wasn’t heading for the doughnut counter. I was not even given a glance!

Eyes forward, lips pursed in determination and purpose. Get to that counter and get there fast before the others rush in. And more came.

During a lull between customers one of the servers behind the counter wandered over and we chatted. She was apologetic for my not having sold any books and we talked and I learned what a hard time she was having meeting the needs at home. She wanted to buy a book so badly but just didn’t have any extra money.

Then the door opened and another rush came flying past me – in the door – got the box of goodies – and out the door they went. Never look right nor never look left.

That was how my two hour book signing event went. Ohhh, there were plenty of customers filling the little round tables and coming in and carrying out but their focus was on food – not books!

Picking up the book the employee wanted so badly, I signed it and packed up my books, book marks, cash box, and business cards and loaded them and my table in the car. Walking back inside I thanked my friend for allowing me to drool for two hours, bought a couple of chocolate covered donuts, and while paying for them, I handed the book to the gal. “Its my gift to you. God bless you,” I stated and as tears filled her eyes I turned and left.

Do you ever wander why there are so many at pot luck’s at church? FOOD! If there’s food they’ll come. I would not suggest competing with food when trying to sell books.

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Flash Drives,Disc’s, and Printed Copies

Back when I was using the old typewriter and even the word processor there was no such thing as flash drives or C.D.s and D.V.D. disc’s. Everything I wrote was printed on regular typewriter paper so nothing could be saved in other ways.

When computers hit the scene then we had more options for security back up for our manuscripts. That was the case with “Seek My Face” book. I had a printed paper copy, I had the entire manuscript on a disc plus on a flash drive. My back-up, just in case I needed one, was secure.

Remember in the other post I said “You get what you pay for?” This is the publisher that charged absolutely nothing to publish my book. They are the one’s who chose the cover without my being able to approve it or choose what I wanted on the cover.

They are the ones that when I received the formatted copy of my book had left out thirty plus pages and had the entire chapters so screwed up I couldn’t even figure out what went where. The reference scriptures that I had lined up neatly in the back of the book and numbered were scattered all over the pages. No organization what-so-ever. The formatted copy was a total disaster! And worse yet, they expected me to approve it!

When I hit the ceiling I was flatly told “We type set it exactly as you gave it to us.”

Thank God for disc’s, flash drives, and printed copy! Once I threw that in their face things began to change. But the fighting to have a decent book continued. I named them, “A glorified print shop that doesn’t even know how to type set!”

Normally I would not do this but in order to save others I will. We can all be tempted to go for the “free” when we learn what publisher fees are but BE WARNED!

Remember – this is my experience with them!

PUBLISH AMERICA PUBLISHING COMPANY. I have since learned they have been sued many times over, (Fraud, deceptive practices, etc, etc, etc.) and have operated under a different name a couple of times, among other things. And yet they still have a web site hawking, “We’re the biggest totally free publisher.” And it is under PublishAmericaPublishers.com. I just read through it minutes ago. It makes me sick to my stomach! There for a time, because of the law suits against them, they were not accepting any manuscripts. I checked that a couple of years ago and a few times since. Hundreds of authors were left hanging with their books in production when they were out of business due to legal issues. And no, their manuscripts and files were NOT returned to their authors. Those with published books through them – get NO ROYALTIES when their book sells. (This will be discussed, in another post, too.)

Can you tell I have a bitter taste in my mouth just talking about them? It makes me mad, too. Not for me, because I cancelled my contract with them a year after my book came out. I get angry because they are still swindling their authors who unbeknownst to the authors, are being flat out lied to! Plus they absolutely inundate their authors with daily e-mails to buy more books, to buy….. to buy…. to buy….. and do nothing after the book is published except bug everyone to buy, buy, buy.

Had I not had the flash drive, D.V.D., and printed copy of my manuscript I don’t know how all of this would have worked out. I just praise God that He told me to make copies.

I feel I need to say this even though it does seem to be common sense to do. Make sure you have a copy of the completed manuscript BEFORE you submit. You never know what can happen once they have your book.

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Come on back – I hope I haven’t scared you off.

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You What!?

That’s exactly how I felt! (And still do at times) The Lord bugged me for I don’t know how long about getting a computer now that they had been out for a while. I kept refusing and stated more than once, like about a hundred times, “I do not want a computer!”

It does no good to try to change the Lord’s mind when He has made it up. I relented and being as dumb as a rock with technology, I used an awful lot of non-Christian language and had to continually ask for forgiveness.

I would stomp away from the confounded thing ranting and raving. With the patience of Job He would say, “If you’ll just settle down, I’ll help you.” And He did. I’d be talking to someone on the phone, usually a close friend, and the first thing out of my mouth was complaining about this new contraption the Lord made me buy. (He doesn’t make us do anything!)

The first thing I learned, was taught, was how to set up for e-mail. Once I got that achieved I was just a teeny-tiny bit more relaxed. Then the bomb came!

Betcha’ can’t guess. Another book! 2008 was Laying Down my Net – A Walk of Faith, then 2009 Sacrifices of a Saint, and here we go again, 2010. It never occurred to me that this might be my new calling. That new direction He was taking me in when the support groups and Angels by Grace publication ended.

He led me to a different publisher and although this book took much research and hunting scriptures I was blown away by the material He was having me use. For several years the Lord had been giving me prophetic writings and words of knowledge and would only allow me to share them with three people. The binders they were kept in was filling up and frustration was mounting because the four of us who read them felt they needed to be “out there!” This was serious stuff!

“Seek My Face” is my “knock you up side of the head” book. It is no nonsense, in your face, truth filled, with encouragement to believers and dire warnings to non-believers. Several times I’d have to stop typing and get away from it, it is just that strong and impactful.

I had to have much help with the editing, and sought the help of a friend who has two doctorate degrees and knows the Bible inside and out to help me with the scriptures. Finally completing it and going through submitting it to the publisher, more problems arose…….big time!

Stick around. I’ll get to the explanation.

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