Book Sales

Occasionally, friends will ask me how many books I've sold. I have not been keeping up with the numbers closely in recent months. I was going to the post office to ship books almost daily for a while, then a couple of times a week. At this point, it's very sporadic. And I don't give much thought to how many books are in print. But this morning I decided to check totals on my own spreadsheet and my invoice file from 'print on demand' distributors.

Currently, there are a little over 400 of my books in circulation. That number includes well over 100 books that I have given away. However, from the feedback I've received, it's clear that easily over 1,000 people have now read the book. And it is still being shared.

Most of the emails I get now are from people who were loaned a copy of the book. It seems that most readers have someone in mind that they want to share the book with as soon as they finish it. And many books have been shared with multiple readers. I hear from those readers and/or from those who are loaning out their copy yet again.

Occasionally I will get a book order (or two) from someone who read another person's copy and wants to buy the book for someone else. One person said, after reading it, that he wanted to buy ten copies. You may have noticed (if you've visited my book website) that I added an option to purchase ten books at a discounted price. It was for that person. (I think he probably decided just to loan out his copy ten times because there was never an order for ten books. But regardless of that, it meant a lot to me that he felt so strongly about the message of the book when he'd finished it.) I did not write this book to make money from my story. It was my sincere desire to help others.

The feedback has been incredible. And I just want to say again, to all of you who have corresponded with me, how much I have appreciated hearing from you. I only wish that all of the private comments and personal stories shared with me could be public! (Yet I understand why they can't be in many cases.)

The most frequent comment I've received from readers (including people I have never even met) is: "Thank you for writing this book! I felt like you were telling MY story!" Another frequent response has been: "After reading your book, I now know I'm not crazy. You think and feel all of the same things I have thought and felt, and yet you had no idea HOW I felt!" Several people have told me, "You articulated feelings and convictions I have had for years that I just couldn't put words to. I cried and cried as I read your book." One person said she was reading it on an airplane and had to stop because she was so overwhelmed with emotion that she feared she was drawing attention to herself with her tears.

No matter what any of my critics think my motivation was in writing this book, it was to help other people who carried the same baggage I have carried. It was to tell the stories of victims who have been much maligned for simply needing to speak. It was to confront the wrong of spiritual abuse. It was to educate others; to help those with no common experience to understand what it's like to have these roots and how excruciating a process it is to break free. It was to give hope to those who are not yet free by proclaiming the gospel and sharing my own triumphant story of deliverance.

I told friends so many times (as I was writing) that if my book truly helped even one person, it would be worth all the time, energy and emotion I poured into it. And it would be worth all the criticism and disdain that I might receive as well. In just eight months, I have heard from hundreds of readers who have thanked me for having the courage to share my story. It's been so rewarding. And through this experience, God has helped me to heal even more than I had. So much emotion was purged out of me through the writing of the book. I was a much freer person writing the last chapter than I was writing the first. It was a transforming experience. And that aspect came as a complete surprise to me.

One reader wrote to me to acknowledge that the book was honest and fair, but he did not believe that God inspired me to write it. And many, many others have said just the opposite. There will always be differing opinions. I realize that I have heard mostly from those who feel positively about the book. Those who feel negatively will probably never communicate with me directly (and identify themselves); although a few have.

If any of you are reading this, I want you to know that I appreciate the honest dialogue and your willingness to share your thoughts and identities with me. Even if we disagree, by doing so, you have communicated to me that I still matter to you. You are not completely indifferent toward me. I promise you that I am far from indifferent toward you. So that does matter to me. And I really do appreciate when someone is willing to sign their name to their comments. Anonymous jabs and ambiguous pot shots taken at someone (anyone) are cowardly. I have yet to delete any criticism that has been left in a blog or guestbook comment. If it crossed a certain line, I might. But I don't want to censor people from their opinions or negate someone else's feelings. I know what that feels like. I don't want to do it to others.

Well, enough of this morning's ramblings. I just thought I would share this information with blog readers in case you have wondered. I certainly could not say that I have been compensated financially for a year's investment of time, effort and emotion. But that was never my goal. (My only financial goal was to break even. And I did that pretty quickly because of the generous contributions others made to this effort.) On the other hand, the emotional and spiritual blessings have far exceeded my highest expectations.

I'm very thankful for all of the friends God has added to my life through the book. Some are old friendships renewed. Others are with people I have never met in person, but have developed a strong bond of friendship with by phone and Internet communication all over the country.

When the book was first released, I would occasionally hear reports of people suggesting I wrote the book to make money. That was and is laughable to me. I am a completely unknown, self-published author. Nobody even knows who I am. Oh sure, I would love to have my book become a best seller. It would be very exciting as a writer. When people would get excited about my story and tell me they thought I wasn't doing enough to promote it because it had more potential than I realized, it was flattering and I suppose I occasionally even entertained a few grand thoughts. But not for more than a few minutes. I'm not really a big dreamer. And I have never aspired to wealth or fame. But I have always aspired to help others. And it's extremely satisfying to know I have done that.

I have a wedding to go to in two hours! I have got to wrap this up!


Anonymous said…
I have yet to read the book due to time constraints but should be able to soon! Thank you for continuing to share your journey; so much of it parallels my own. I'm still learning as I go so this helps me a lot. Like you, I wrote mine to help others with no desire to make money or be famous. I'm actually very shy, and although everyone tells me that authors must become speakers too, I cringe at that thought! I am much more comfortable backstage, doing what I can to be Jesus' hands, feet, and heart to broken hearts and aching souls.

Other than feedback from those personally involved, how have you handled serious negative feedback? I've heard about some serious rants and ravings about to erupt towards me, and I am praying for those in opposition but what else can I do to prepare? I'm leaning to just keep moving forward as God calls, trying to minister to those He brings into my life, and let the critics and those who wish to stop me face God Himself as I hide behind my Defender and Shield. Any advice you can give would be really appreciated!
Shari said…
Is this you, Hillary? I think it is based on the content.

First, I read your blog interview and the book really sounds interesting. My family dynamic was different in some ways from yours. But I could relate to some of the same emotions and fears you spoke about. Even within my own family, I never felt that females mattered as much as males. I don't remember rebelling against that. I accepted my place. But I think what has hurt me perhaps the most is that I didn't feel that I mattered as much to my dad because I was a girl. I always felt like the most disposable and easiest child to write off. A counselor once told me he believed I had that role because I was a female in a family that valued males above females. I could not have been a "good enough" daughter to overcome that. (And a female with strong opinions is even less desirable.)

A funny little story; I'll never forget my dad telling me just a few years ago that if anything happened to him, my younger brother was the executor of his will "because he is my firstborn." I had to laugh. I couldn't have cared less that he didn't appoint me as executor. I'm actually relieved I won't have that responsibility. And in my mind, it went without saying. But the reason he gave for it touched a nerve. I tried to laugh it off and said, "Actually, I thought I was born first." And he said, "Well, you know what I mean; Todd is my firstborn male." What that spoke to ME was "You really don't count because you're a girl." (It verbalized and confirmed what I had always felt inside.)

I always knew I was not as important to my dad as my brother was, but that comment made me feel nonexistent as a person because of my gender. It was just a really weird feeling. I could write an entire book about my troubled relationship with my dad. I could write a whole book about my previous marriage. (But I just don't know that I want to write either and relive the two most painful relationships of my life.)

Having said all that, I think I will relate to the patriarchal atmosphere you were apparently raised in even though the details of our lives do not mirror in every aspect.

Most people see me as a leader because I'm outspoken and I'm very passionate about anything that truly matters to me. But, like you described, I don't want to lead. I am much more comfortable being part of the team than I am being in charge of anything/anyone. I just want to be a helper. But I'm vocal. So I guess I would have to say that I'm not really in the background even though I don't desire to be center stage (if that makes any sense).

This is getting really long and I haven't even answered your question yet (you triggered a lot of thoughts). I honestly have not suffered ANY serious negative feedback other than a few digs on my blog, my website and the message board I used to contribute to. Perhaps that has been the biggest surprise.

The public stance of most from my past has been, "We're not reading it. We're not interested." Although, numerous people who have openly embraced the book (and me) have told me that they were confronted (angrily, in some cases) for doing so by friends or family members still in the group. It was demanded of some, "Why would you read/support that book?" Then, when asked, "Have you read it for yourself?" in every case, the response was, "No, and I don't plan to." Yet they insisted they knew what the book was about and why it was written.
Shari said…
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Shari said…
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Shari said…
I have learned to let harsh words and misjudgments roll off my back more quickly through this process. I remind myself that I would probably not feel good toward me either if I were still there. And I accept it. It's a small price to pay for freedom.

There was a time when I hurt constantly inside over people's negative opinions of me. I don't anymore. I'm not even aching for the understanding of my immediate family members like I used to. I really believe writing the book was a step toward freedom from my co-dependence. For instance, when I was writing the book, I longed for my brother to read it and gain some insight into who I really am and why I had to take the stand I have taken. I wanted him to know my heart. I once longed for his love and acceptance. It has come back to me through several sources that he has no interest in even reading it. At first, that hurt me deeply. But at this point I couldn't care less if he never reads it. I didn't expect to ever experience that freedom from my need to be loved by him. But I have. And it feels amazing. I'm not sure I would be where I am today (in growth) had I not written the book.

I will tell you that the rants and raves (claims that my book was just a pack of lies and full of hate) were in anticipation of the book (when nobody knew what was in it), and they seemed to disappear when the book was released. Anybody who has read it knows it was not written in malice, whether they agree with my conclusions or not. And nobody has disputed any of the facts in the book. One person came to my blog and stated that she believed I had misrepresented people's behavior and intent in some places. But she never told me anything specific. I feel pretty certain that her comments were about our differing perspectives.

I have learned that you cannot write a book, any book, and expect not to be criticized by someone. You will be criticized. But I believe your experience will be like mine; the positive responses and the people who tell you how much you have helped them to heal will far outweigh any of the negativity. I think it will be easier than you think it will be. At least, that's been the case for me. I have learned how to embrace God's grace in tough times and rest in that grace.

I also grew a lot from reading the book "When People are Big and God is Small" by Edward Welch. I have a tendency to seek my validation and affirmation through other people when I should seek it only through Christ. When I find myself doing that now, I repent and consciously refocus myself on Whose opinion really matters. That is probably the best advice I can give you.
Shari said…
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Shari said…
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Shari said…
For some weird reason, Blogger is posting my comments in triplicate. So I deleted the copies.
Shari said…
One other thing I forgot to respond to...

I was told the same thing by a lot of people; that I needed to get in front of people and arrange speaking engagements about the book. I don't have any problem with public speaking. But I just never did feel as passionate about promoting my book as I did about writing it. Other than three book signings, which were very low key, I have done virtually nothing to promote the book. I'm not opposed to talking about it. But I felt done after I had published it. I wrote it and then put whom and how many would read it in God's hands.

What I would really like to write about next is CLL and the emotional struggle of living with an incurable disease; from a perspective of faith. That book, if I ever do write it, would include a lot of personal detail. Hopefully, it would be educational and inspirational to others in similar circumstances.