So, how’s your book doing? Or, This is NOT a response to Amy Glass.

So, how’s your book doing? Or, This is NOT a response to Amy Glass.

A couple weeks ago, a rather misguided woman wrote a blogpost that went viral. (Please don’t click on that link. It’s already had enough hits!) I only (finally) heard about this post last week and I’m already sick of thinking about it and reading responses to it. So I won’t write another one. It doesn’t really seem to warrant one. In this case, I agree with Matt Walsh’s response. Which means I (and you) don’t owe anyone a response. I won’t add to Amy Glass’s online success by giving her any more time on my blog than she deserves. I just wanted to preface my own thoughts with this disclaimer so you know I am fully aware that there are people in the world who think having a family and writing about it is a worthless endeavor. At least when compared to hiking the Himalayas.
But I don’t think it’s worthless. And neither do you or you wouldn’t be reading this. Now please follow my warped train of thought as I consider briefly how Amy Glass defines success . . . and move quickly along to how I define success.
There’s a question I’ve heard this past year.
“How is your book doing?”
It’s a good question. I get it all the time.
Last May I had a book signing at a wonderful local shop called Cloe & Company. The owner took a chance on me and hosted an author as her artist during the town’s monthly Art Walk. I’ll never forget a group of men who stopped in that night. One of them asked me how my book was selling. I said it was doing okay and somehow my response was too pessimistic for him. He tried to tell me that I needed to give out a better vibe. I told him the book itself is fantastic (and it is). Well-written. Exciting! A real page-turner!
Too late. He had gotten the wrong “vibe” from me and wouldn’t buy the book.
Was I supposed to lie about my sales? Good Morning America has not called me yet, people!
Although I thought he was presumptuous, I gleaned what I could from the meeting and tried to have a more positive outlook.
That was a bit more difficult after an agent at the MontroseChristian Writers Conference told me how many copies you have to sell in order to consider a book successful. The number was so terrible I blocked it out. All I remember is that the first 500 copies are assumed to have been sold to “friends and family.” That was not a great week.
A few months ago, I was blessed with a visit from my friend Judy. If you read about my little stint at Allume last year, you know who she is. She asked “the question,” too. But then we got to talk about what success really means.

Alison, Judy, and Eva (in the Moby) in October
(By the way, my hair was great then! Drat this postpartum thinning of the locks!)

Here’s the thing. I wrote a book. It’s a reallygood book. I believe in this book so completely that I am proud to have my name attached to it. Writing One Traveleris one of the things I was called to do.
The fact that it is published and people have actually read it is icing! Some of the readers are people I don’t even know personally. The feedback I’ve received from my readers has been overwhelmingly positive. A lot of them tell me they couldn’t put the book down. To me, that is the mark of a good book. I’ve even made a little bit of money from the book.
So writing a good book, one that people enjoy. Is this success? For me, it’s part of a successful life. I don’t have to be famous. I just need to do what I’ve been called to do. Having people read it, enjoy it, be touched by it, maybe even inspired a little bit. That’s success.
But that success is worth nothing if I don’t also follow His call in the rest of my life. The call to put my husband and kids ahead of myself. The call I’ve been feeling to live a slower life. To let go of obligation, of expectation, of guilt, of caring what other human beings think of me. The call to accept who I am and where I am and my limitations. To receive grace from Him and to give it to myself. To be okay when everybody isn’t happy with Alison.
It’s a tough call. But walking in this grace is what will ultimately allow me to live a successful life. When I get to the end, I don’t want people to stand up and say what a great writer I was. I want to have followed the call of God on my life.
Who cares if everybody says, “Who’s she?”
As long as the only One who matters says, “Well done!”

  • Terri Tiffany
    Posted at 18:57h, 30 January Reply

    A huge amen!!! I'm going to remember this when someone asks me this question.

  • Linda Bonney Olin
    Posted at 19:04h, 30 January Reply

    Preach it, Sister!
    I have had it up to my adenoids with the "nattering nabobs of negativism" (thank you, William Safire) who see only one definition of success, of dedication, of quality, of smart career management, of diligence… in short, of a writer's worthiness. The latest salvo was Thomas Smith's rant in Christian Communicator, no less. "Lazy" indie authors, indeed. If I hadn't been up late (as usual) perfecting the design and layout of my new book, I might have had time and energy to get really offended! 🙂
    I for one am thoroughly impressed with your fabulous achievements, Alison. All of them!

  • Alison Treat
    Posted at 21:20h, 30 January Reply

    Thanks for reading, Terri!

  • Alison Treat
    Posted at 21:22h, 30 January Reply

    Thanks, Linda! Glad I hit a nerve with you. 🙂

  • Faith Bogdan
    Posted at 23:32h, 30 January Reply

    I love and appreciate this post, Alison! Can so relate. Before my book came out, a sorta famous person who'd read it emailed me and said, "Get your website ready for the traffic; this has best seller written all over it." I was elated! So I invested in a real website and waited….. Fast forward several months after the book release and I'm sitting at a bookstore in Rochester next to another author, both trying to sell our books. He didn't care about my topic and I didn't care about his. But we ended up buying a copy of each other's book so we could say we'd sold a book that day! Ha! Like you, I feel I've written a very helpful book and the emails continue to come in from moms telling me how it's helped them. My favorite book reviews are the ones that say, "well written." But my first royalty check was actually a "reality check"! I know my book isn't doing as well as it could because I'm not good at promotion and networking. Some days I'm tempted to feel sad about what could be if I wasn't so inept on the internet. If I had more time. But those moments are becoming fewer and farther between as I realize, as you've so beautifully put it, "success is worth nothing if I don't follow His call on the rest of my life." Amen! 🙂

  • Alison Treat
    Posted at 00:09h, 31 January Reply

    Faith, thank you so much for commenting! I think you're better at networking than I am! And I think of you as a "bigger" author. Maybe it's your beautiful website that got me . . . Anyway, your post on that first paycheck was so comforting to me! I think I commented on it. Glad this post helped you in return!

  • Olivia Stocum
    Posted at 07:48h, 31 January Reply

    The 'magic' number is kind of a joke, anyway. Only something like 3 percent of novels EVER make that number. And yet thousands of people every year say the are going to write a book, and then never do. So, doesn't that make EVERY published book a success story?

  • Alison Treat
    Posted at 07:55h, 31 January Reply

    Exactly, Olivia! And with your second book coming out very, VERY soon, you are a double success. 🙂

  • Dave Fessenden
    Posted at 10:12h, 31 January Reply

    Linda, not to be negative, but it was not William Safire who said "nattering nabobs of negativism." That was Spiro Agnew. William Safire is famous for being the only one who understood what he meant. 🙂

  • Dave Fessenden
    Posted at 10:18h, 31 January Reply

    Alison, that's a great post. Personally, I hate getting that question, "How's the book selling?" I don't see why people think an author should be constantly checking on book sales. When would you ever get any writing done?

  • Alison Treat
    Posted at 23:16h, 31 January Reply

    So true, Dave. Thanks for reading!

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