Friday, September 26, 2008

Author of the Week: Linda Danis

Linda Danis is the author of the bestselling book, 365 Things Every New Mom Should Know (Harvest House). She contributed many quotes to Grit for the Oyster and generously endorsed the book. The mother of four, Linda is known in her community for having a gracious heart and a giving spirit.

Hi Linda! Welcome to Grit for the Oyster.
Thanks so much for inviting me!

Can you give us a little bit of information about your publishing history?

My book 365 Things Every New Mom Should Know was published in 2002 by Harvest House Publishers. Six years later, it is still in print and is in its ninth printing. I have had numerous “Wow!” moments with its publication including when I found out it was being translated into Indonesian and when it was featured on the television program, “Friends”. 365 Things… guides a new mom through the first year of her baby’s life, one day at a time, giving practical tips, encouragement, and godly insight. It makes a great baby shower gift!

When in the process of writing your book did you begin to look for a publisher?

My original intent in writing the book was to give it as a gift to friends when they had a new baby. As a mother or four, people often came to me for mothering advice, so I thought this would make a nice, personalized gift. As I began sharing it with others, many said, “This is really good! You should consider getting it published.”
After hearing this several times, I began to do a little research on how to publish a book. The more I read, the more I realized that it was going to take a lot of time and energy, of which I had little with four young children at home. I decided to just begin taking the initial steps and perhaps when all my children were in school, I would then pursue a publisher. I worked on my query letter and book proposal, made a list of possible publishers, and read as much as I could about what it takes to write, publish, and market a book. Little did I know I was laying the ground work, for an incredible opportunity that awaited me.

My husband was on a business trip and struck up a conversation with the man sitting next to him. They had much in common and conversed back and forth during the flight. As they approached the end of the flight, the gentleman mentioned he was the founder and president of Harvest House Publishers. My husband told him about my manuscript and, amazingly, Mr. Hawkins said they might be interested! Fortunately, I had everything ready, so I sent off my manuscript and book proposal thinking he was probably just being polite in offering to look at it. Yet, six months later I received a call from the acquisitions editor saying they were interested in publishing my book!

What has been the best part about being published?

The best part is knowing that my book is helping new moms through that exciting, yet often overwhelming, first year of their baby’s life. My desire is to help and encourage other women in what I think is the most important job and ministry we will ever have – motherhood. Knowing that I can help moms in this way is what motivates me to write. I don’t think about the number of books sold, but instead stand in awe that I have had the privilege of helping over 40,000 moms.

Are you a morning writer or a night writer?

Most of my book was written between midnight and 2:00 a.m., because that was when everyone was tucked in bed, fast asleep. Now that I have teenagers who keep later hours than I do, my best time for writing is in the morning!

Do you have plans to write another book?

My publisher has invited me to write additional books, but I have had to turn down the offers due to several serious illnesses in my family. I believe God wants me to focus my attention and energy on these family members, instead of on writing, for this season of my life. Most of the time I feel at peace about it, but sometimes I think, “Why God? Why would you want me to pass up on all these great opportunities?” But, I know that when the time is right, He will once again open up the doors, just like He did the first time. In the mean time, all these experiences will be “grit for the oyster”!

What is the most valuable piece of advice you have learned in your life as a writer?

Sometimes, as writers, we let perfectionism and self-doubt get the better of us. I would recommend trying to turn off the critical side of your brain and just let the words flow. Give yourself permission to write poorly at first. Our desire to choose just the right words and say it in just the right way often paralyzes us from beginning to write. For the first draft, focus only on getting the words and ideas out on paper. Then and only then, should you begin the important process of editing.

What do you wish you had known when you first started out as a writer for publication?

That writing a book is only one part of being a published author. Most of your time and effort will be in promoting your book, first to potential publishers then to potential readers. Most of us think once we sign a contract, our publisher will put all their marketing dollars behind our masterpiece and will advertise in every media outlet possible. Reality is that publishers have a limited marketing budget and it is often spent on their established authors where there is a better chance they will receive a good return on their investment. Publishing, yes even Christian publishing, is a business and their goal is to make a profit. It’s our job as authors to help them make that profit by promoting our work.

Has it been a bumpy ride to becoming a published author or has it been pretty well smooth sailing?

Fortunately, it has been pretty smooth sailing. Trying to find time to write subsequent books has proven to be the more challenging task!

How important do you think self-promotion is and in what ways have you been promoting your book offline and online?

Promotion is very important, yet the idea of “self” promotion is difficult. I hated anything that seemed remotely like I was trying to push my own book. Even telling friends about it was awkward, because I didn’t want to seem prideful. But then another author told me, “God has given you this opportunity to share what you feel is very helpful for new moms. How can God ever use it in their lives if they don’t even know the book exists?” That helped me have a new perspective. I am not promoting “myself” or “my” book, but instead I’m promoting a book that I truly believe will help and encourage other mothers.

I have found radio and TV interviews to be the most effective marketing tools, even though they are the most nerve-wracking. Each time I do an interview, I see an immediate increase in sales. Magazine articles are great as well, because they reach such a large audience and they usually focus on your target market.

Where can readers find a copy of your book?

At their local bookstore or on

Is there anything else you would like to share with the readers here?

My parting words would be stay focused, stay positive, and don’t let the statistics deter you from writing. It’s true that getting a book published is difficult, but it is possible. The authors of Chicken Soup for the Soul were rejected by 33 publishers before they found one who was willing to publish it. Editors' jobs depend on finding new writers and new manuscripts. Your book may be just the one they are looking for!

Thank you, Linda,for stopping by our blog. We wish you great success!

Thank you so much for having me and I wish you much success on your new book, Grit for the Oyster. I think all writers, whether published or unpublished, will be inspired to take their writing to the next level after reading it!