Monday, September 22, 2014

New Publishing Trends

Freshly released!
I was so excited when my editor told me my new Too Blessed to be Stressed Journal would be carried by Cracker Barrel! As you already know, these days it's not a sure thing that anyone at all will carry your books.

In fact, I've heard a few interesting industry trends recently that I thought I'd pass on you, writerly friends.

The first is sadly no surprise - as bookstores and book departments in big box stores are shrinking in size and number (have you noticed the teensy book section in Sam's Club recently compared to the bustling multi-aisles they had only two years ago?) traditional publishers are shrinking in number as well. Some are closing their doors and others are merging, but the result is the same ... less opportunities for agents and authors to attract traditional press eyeballs.

They want to stick with the tried and true, thank you. Meaning mostly the mega-names that have sold well for them in the past. That's why agents are pitching quality manuscripts by quality authors to publishing houses and are being turned away.

Oh, except for gift books. Pubs seem to be open to gift books, even from newish authors as long as the titles are catchy and they have mass appeal. People will always want to pick up nice gift books for friends in the hospital or someone going through a bad time. It's something to wrap in a pretty package to show how much you care and something the recipient can hold in her hands to feel the love.

Hence the primary reason Cracker Barrel, who as you know specializes in gift shopping to take your mind off your growling stomach while you're waiting for your table, snapped up the beautifully embossed hard cover version of my original paperback book, Too Blessed to be Stressed. Gift books are still a goldmine and will be for some time until someone figures out a way to sell an e-book you can tie a shiny bow around.

And we mustn't forget how-to books. People are eager to buy gift books for Aunt Matilda's Christmas present and BFF Louise's surprise birthday party, but they're downright hyper to buy themselves the newest self-help book on improving their marriage, parenting, sex, and spiritual lives in five easy steps. Who wouldn't want to do something important to them even better? And at little cost with no one aware that you're trying to fix a secret fault?

So if you're a gift book or self-help writer, or if you specialize in devos or spiritual encouragement, you may eat a celebratory Cadbury bar. But only one.

You'll need to pocket the change because there's not a lot of money in book deals these days. You may not have known - unless you're already a published inspirational author - and I hate to be the one to break it to you if this is a sudden shock, but ... you'll never get rich in this writing gig. Average first and second book advances used to be $10k to $15k ten years ago but nowadays if they're offered at all, they're more like $3k to $5k. And sadly, there are so many companies that don't offer any advance at all, people are tickled to get that much. Try to feed, clothe, and air-condition your family for a month with that.

The logical outcome of all this is, of course, a huge boon in online self-publishing and the use of social media for platform-building.

Many traditionally published authors are going hybrid (producing some self-published books along with the ones their traditional publisher churns out), and many new authors are choosing from the get-go to indie publish. The age old hideous-cover-terrible-editing stigma of self-published books is beginning to fade as indie companies cater more and more to discerning authors, but going the extra mile to produce nothing short of excellent quality material is essential for the new kids on the block if they want this trend to continue to be a viable option.

So what's a writer to do?

Keep writing, that's what. Explore all possibilities - blogs, guest posts, print magazines (there are a few left and hey, Sunday School materials will always be on demand!), e-zines ... oh, far too many opportunities to name here if you use your imagination and do your homework.

But that's the main thing: If you feel called to write, then keep on using every possible opportunity to impact lives with your written words. If Papa God asks you to build a shed, my friend, He'll supply the nails.

*A special shout out to Casey Herringshaw for her astute 9/15/14 blogpost on The WordServe Water Cooler titled "A View From the Assistant's Desk." By the way, if you don't subscribe to or, you absolutely positively need to get your behunkus in gear and do it today!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Best Picture of All Time

This image says it all
Yes, if you've followed my blog for long, you've seen this picture before. And you'll no doubt see it again. As a writer, it's my absolute favorite picture-says-a-thousand-words image of all time.

I know people usually think of this words-jumping-to-life feeling in terms of fiction, but as an inspirational nonfiction writer, this is exactly the way I want my readers to feel about Papa God wrapping His warm, loving, safe arms around them through the catalyst of my words on the page.

It's what I live for.

And when I receive letters from readers telling me they've been in this exact place, feeling the acceptance and contentment reflected in the face of the gal in the image, I rejoice down to the tips of my toenails.

Here are a few comments I've received:

"Thank you for helping me realize it's okay to be a diamond in the rough." ~Denise

"I'm 21 years old and have recently been laid off so I can no longer help my father with his medical bills. I read the first two pages of Too Blessed to be Stressed and started to cry. It had an enormous impact on my heart. I read certain sections daily and take it with me almost everywhere I go to refer to when I feel lost."  ~Erin

"I live in Puerto Rico and just finished reading Too Blessed to be Stressed in Spanish. I love the way you show us how God is included in everyday."  -Ana Maria

"I am currently a stay-at-home mom and Mom NEEDS Chocolate helped me know I'm not alone in this crazy and wonderful ride called Motherhood." ~Krystle

"Your book, Everyday Hope, truly saved me last year during one of the most challenging times of my life. Every day, as I lay in bed crying, the only thing that I could feel comfort in doing was reading pages of this book. I've read it again and again. The winter season passed and now, a year later, I'm in a place of renewed hope in my life. The only difference is that this year I have a new attitude and a new path to follow."  ~Marisa

"I cannot say enough how More Beauty, Less Beast has blessed my life. I bought the last copy at the bookstore and gave it to a teacher at the preschool going through a hard time. I know it will transform her life like it has mine."  ~Leondra

"Thank you and your co-writers for our wonderful book, Grit for the Oyster; it has inspired me and hit me right between the eyes that it's not about me but about doing the best I can with the gifts God has given me. May God bless you a thousand times as you have blessed us with this book."  ~Dave

"After seeing the format of how you compile your thoughts in Too Blessed to be Stressed into short messages and categories made me realize, 'Yes! That'show my brain works! Forget all the details, just get to the good stuff!'" ~Kaley

"Thank so much for writing More Beauty, Less Beast, Debora. I can't say enough wonderful things about it. You touched my heart, made me laugh out loud and brought me closer to the Lord."   ~Lori

"I just lost my dad due to a heart attack last Saturday. It was the hardest thing I've ever gone through in my life. I just read your book, Too Blessed to be Stressed, this week and it gave me a lot of hope and comfort. Thank you and God bless you."  ~Jen

"I let my mom borrow my copy of Too Blessed to be Stressed and she is on her tenth read now. I can't thank you enough for helping put that beautiful smile back on my mom's face!"  ~Pamela

Writerly friend, I share these comments with you to help spur you on. Sometimes we write for months, even years without feedback that anyone is responding out there. But this is the bottom line of why we toil away as writers, isn't it? To touch another heart ... to become the catalyst for that powerful unseen force to reach out through the page and envelop the reader in a comforting, healing, strengthening embrace.

So what has been your motivation to keep on writing?