Books in Action, Part 4
How is that book doing? Ask the question of somebody in a large publishing house, and the answer you get is likely to feature numbers the house uses to keep score (that book sold so-and-so many copies; that book hasn’t earned out its $XX,XXX advance). But if you ask the same question of an independent publisher, chances are good that the answer will focus on qualitative changes the book has sparked in the world beyond the publishing company.
Sales figures and other financial yardsticks obviously matter to independent publishers too. Still, as our Books in Action series keeps showing, IBPA members are committed to improving the lives of particular readers, the lives of people those readers interact with, and, as word spreads, the lives of more and more other people around the country and around the globe.
Although this is the final installment of Books in Action, it is most definitely not the last Independent story on the subject. In fact, it fits into a stream of reports that show the power of independent publishers’ books and that have run for decades in every issue as stand-alone articles and/or in roundups.
The welcome mat is always out for more. Through the years that I’ve been the editor of the Independent, and the years when I was writing and revising How to Get Happily Published and working at PW and the New York Times Book Review, I’ve always loved learning about independent publishers who aim to make the world a better place through their books—and manage to do that by deploying publishing know-how and skills. So thanks again to all of you who have shared your books-in-action experiences, and here’s an invitation to everybody: Please keep those stories coming.
A Diet for a Particular Disease
My book Gluten-Free Diet: A Comprehensive Resource Guide has been published in five editions with 10 printings. As a dietitian specializing in celiac disease and the gluten-free diet, my goal is to provide practical, trustworthy information to those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, health professionals, culinary professionals, the food industry, and the media.
The guide includes detailed food and ingredient information, meal plans, recipes with nutritional analysis, tips on prevention of cross-contamination and eating out, nutrition information, a listing of more than 3,100 gluten-free specialty products arranged by company and product name, a directory of more than 270 companies, and other resources.
Doctors, dietitians, national celiac organizations, and food companies and distributors in the United States and Canada buy my books direct from me at a volume discount. Also, I sell many books when I speak at consumer, health professional, and food industry conferences and when I appear as a guest on radio and TV or am featured in magazines, newspapers, and other online media.
What I hear from professionals and from patients and their families shows me that the book matters. Comments include:
“This is the book I recommend to all my patients with celiac disease.”
“This is more than 5 stars! Without a question, this is the resource to have if you or a family member has celiac disease.”
“This book is absolutely outstanding—one of the best pieces of work on celiac disease I have ever read for completeness of information!”
“I needed this book before I accumulated the mountain of computer printouts and handouts that adorn my office. Buy it or spend the next 20 years of your life unnecessarily duplicating this research.”
Gluten Free Diet
Improving Customer Service
I wrote and published Smile: Sell More with Amazing Customer Service to help businesses quickly and easily improve customer service and sales or donations. It’s a 60-minute crash course.
People have responded very favorably. Here are just a couple of examples: A local car dealer purchased one book for each member of his staff. And a local store owner who sells my book in her gift shop told me that a restaurant owner first purchased one copy when his business was down because three waitresses were not getting along with customers; then purchased three more copies, and two weeks later reported that business was up because of Smile’s effect on the waitresses. Just that morning, he said, a customer had hugged one of them and given her the biggest tip she had ever received—a $20 tip for breakfast! He was elated.
Solid Press, LLC
Helping Kids in Foster Care
Who Would Have Thunk It (written by George C. Fraser and Emma Fraser-Pendleton; co-written and illustrated by me) is the story of Emma, George, and Joseph Fraser, three siblings who were placed in the foster care system after their mother became mentally ill and their father could no longer care for them. Based on fact, the story follows the trio as they bounce from one home to another, looking for a family to call their own. They quickly find that it takes teamwork to make the dream work.
A letter I got from a teacher in a nonprofit mental health agency reflects responses to the book. The letter said in part, “I am working with an African-American male student who is 17 years old. He currently reads at about a fourth-grade level. Typically when I read with students, we alternate, with me modeling by reading a page, and then allowing the student to read a page. However, the student is so engaged in the story that he insists on reading each page aloud to me. The young man I’m sure can relate to George in a lot of ways since he has had similar experiences.”
FraserNet Publishing Group
Emboldened to Ask for the Ocean
Deeper perception means more than squinting extra-hard at facial expression. Reading people deeper can include insightful face reading for character, reading auras in outrageously accurate detail, even doing a kind of consciousness meld known as Skilled Empath Merge.
My line of self-published books celebrates personal development through trademarked skill sets for reading yourself, profiling others, cord-cutting, and other skills in a system called Energy Spirituality. We have 335,000 copies of books in print worldwide, with a huge base of clients who connect to me for phone sessions and workshops.
The how-to books for empaths are the most life-changing. Empowered by Empathy was the first self-help book in English for empaths, and Become the Most Important Person in the Room: Your 30-Day Plan for Empath Empowerment is our top seller internationally.
I regularly receive heartfelt thank-yous from people whose lives the books changed. What follows comes from one of my favorites, an unsolicited testimonial that said in part:
“Life’s been full of anxiety except when I’ve minimized contact with people or lost myself in things like books, work, etc. I bought Become the Most Important Person in the Room back in March, and yes, wow, I’ve really started to fall in love with myself and the world. . . . In February I felt fogged, dull, and stuck. Now I feel like me again. . . . This weekend something really amazing happened. I spent the whole day just in my own skin. . . . I didn’t know it was possible to feel such peace. . . . I remember you wrote somewhere to ask [God] for the ocean, because too many people ask only for a thimble. . . . I thought, ‘Well, all right, I’ll ask for the ocean—might as well.’ But my expectations were thimble-sized. Imagine ordering the ocean from Amazon and expecting it to arrive in one of their brown cardboard packages—well, that was me. And the delivery turned up, and I opened the front door and yes, there’s the ocean, right on the doorstep.
“One thing about the ocean—it’s quite big, and impossible to mistake it for anything else.”
Women’s Intuition Worldwide
Comfort When a Pet Dies
A Dog to Remember is a short verse gift book designed to comfort people who are grieving because their dogs have died. I wrote it after the loss of my own dog, Bailey, in 2008. Losing a close companion is painful, and I wanted to create something that could be given to people to acknowledge their loss and serve as a keepsake.
One comment from a woman who gave my book to a friend perfectly summed up what I intended to do. She wrote to tell me that her friend was “absolutely thrilled and touched” to receive it, and “you brought a bit of joy to a broken heart!”
Evergreen Bay Publishing
Reiser’s Ramblings is a collection of columns by Father Bernard Reiser, the founding pastor of Epiphany Parish in Coon Rapids, MN, and the founder of Reiser Relief Inc, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation run by volunteers to help the impoverished people of Haiti.
Fr. Reiser’s spiritual columns in the weekly church bulletin were well received decade after decade by the parishioners of Epiphany. Many of them kept these columns in stacks or three-ring binders, and many of them asked Fr. Reiser to put his writings in a book. But it was not until after the 2010 Haiti earthquake that he assembled the best of his writing in book form to benefit Haitian relief efforts.
Reiser Relief volunteers had no experience in publishing, distributing, selling retail,
or selling wholesale, and no marketing knowledge, but they worked in faith, approaching local Catholic gift stores where people knew or knew of Fr. Reiser. The managers were open to selling the book, compassionate about the cause, and generous with discount rates, so that most of the proceeds from sales could go toward Haiti relief efforts.
Reiser Relief also used the book to advertise the projects in Haiti. Each book came with a bookmark, a Haiti brochure, and a donation envelope, and many donation envelopes came back, yielding more than $25,000.
After Fr. Reiser’s death, a Memorial Hardcover Edition was released in October 2012. His book continues to challenge readers with short reflections, thought-provoking questions, and a prayer to grow closer to Christ and strengthen your soul. Whether the reader is a cradle Catholic or a convert, lay, clergy or religious, simply curious or struggling, the book’s stories bring happiness, hope, and healing.
One reader said, “I truly feel I have experienced a Divine connection. Reiser’s Ramblings touched my mind, heart, and soul in a way that I will not soon forget.”
Reiser Relief Inc
Making a Comeback
The Tick Slayer helps people cope with the intensity of a disease that is very misunderstood, allows them to connect with an athlete who is totally recovered, shows them how I got well so that they can get well, and gives them the A to Z process of how a recovery looks.
Readers are people who suffer from an autoimmune disease, usually Lyme patients or their family members, and doctors and health care professionals trying to help their patients recover.
Published in September 2012, the book has sold 4,000 copies and is in its second printing.
Most readers are floored to find out that someone could be as ill as I was and clinging to life and then go back to professional sports and be better than ever. I get wonderful feedback, including—to give just one example—“I have tried some of what you have done and feel much better. I think your book is fabulous and will be a great resource for so many! I am a health and wellness coach and have already recommended the book to clients.”
Perry Louis Fields
Fiction That Fuels Change
We dared to dream, and the result was One Great Year. The first edition was published in February 2012, and the second was published in June of this year.
When Rene DeFazio and I began writing this novel, we were creating a new reality for ourselves. I was a writer, mother, and artist rooted in my community, and Rene was a writer, traveler, and actor with no roots at all. We wanted our life together to somehow make sense and have purpose.
It was when Rene heard a simple inner voice say “Write a book, you idiot!” that we realized how we would create the next stage of our lives and hopefully make the world a better place at the same time.
After three years of researching, writing, and editing, we published and launched One Great Year, asking through fiction-adventure: What if reincarnation is real? What if you
had a past-life memory and your soul-mate didn’t?
Our 450-plus-page novel was immediately met with exceptional reviews and compared to The Celestine Prophecy and The DaVinci Code. We were thrilled that the information that had so changed and inspired us was having the same effect on others. Comments included: “I am changing jobs now instead of waiting until next winter”; “I am finally getting out of this toxic relationship”; “I fulfilled an 18-year-old financial promise I had ignored, and it freed me immensely.”
Five months after the book was released, a Hollywood production company optioned it, and the ripple effect continues with positive reviews spreading fast. Recently, having sold more than 1,000 books in our regional market, all on our own, we partnered with Greenleaf Book Group for worldwide distribution.
It seems as though we have the entire universe on our side, and we know that as long as we keep working hard, the book will have a phenomenal ride.
The dream continues to flourish for me, for Rene, and for One Great Year, which seems now to have a life and purpose of its own. We look forward to sharing more of our journey with you, and we hope our journey has inspired you to follow your dreams.
One Great Year
For a Better Grasp of Grammar
I feel that The Best Little Grammar Book Ever! has made a difference both to the buyers and to me. Published in May 2010, it has sold several thousand copies. This small book covers some grammar basics, but its primary purpose is to solve the major grammar, punctuation, and word usage issues that confuse a great many of us.
The book draws on my writing, editing, and teaching experience (I have English and journalism degrees, and I teach seventh grade and continuing ed courses). It contains quizzes, lists of commonly misspelled and mispronounced words, a lesson in writing paragraphs and multiple-paragraph letters or essays, and a complete index.
Readers include writers and students, who seem to find the book very helpful. It sells well on Amazon, in my local bookstore, and via a local author who distributes it to local coffee shops, where it outsells all the other books there in most months. The local library system has it, and best of all, I know of six colleges that are using it.
I plan to write a workbook next, likely called The Best Grammar Workbook Ever! A second grammar book (Correct Me If I’m Wrong), which came out last September, is picking up in sales. It took the first book a while to catch on as well.
Understanding Mental Illness
I drew on my background as both a counseling professional and a patient to write Leave of Absence, a novel with a purpose: to increase awareness of what mental illness really is like. I strive to advocate for people with mental illness by increasing awareness, empathy, and understanding with the ultimate goal of building compassion.
The target audience for Leave of Absence is made up of people who suffer from mental illness as well as their friends, families, and caregivers; support groups (the book is designed as a vehicle for discussion); psychology and counseling classrooms (which can use the book as a springboard for discussion of mental illness and treatment approaches); and the general reader who seeks an authentic depiction of schizophrenia, depression, PTSD, grief, and loss.
I’ve had interest from diverse groups including newspapers, literary/book radio shows and blogs, mental health radio shows and blogs, and book groups and bookstores, including my local Barnes & Noble (the events manager likes the tie-in to mental health and anticipates a presentation that will draw a big crowd).
Tanya J. Peterson
A Voice for Native Americans
My partner, Gyasi Ross, and I launched a small press with his first book, Don’t Know Much About Indians (but i wrote this book about us anyways), a compilation of short stories and poems about contemporary Native Americans. It is now in its third printing and has been used in college and high-school courses in fiction, Native American literature, and Native studies.
The book helps non-Native readers understand contemporary Native Americans, as opposed to the historical or romantic image of Native Americans that many people still have. For Native readers, it provides a rare opportunity to see their own struggles, joys, and challenges presented. Though the book’s characters are Indians, the fundamental issues they face are universal.
We have sold more than 4,000 copies via a grassroots, word-of-mouth process, mostly through the book’s Website (dkmai.com), our company Website, Amazon (which sells both the print and e-book editions), and B&N (for the e-book), as well as through readings and book-signing events.
One of my favorite responses to it said: “Thank you for giving a voice to those who have been silenced and for those who have forgotten how to be heard!”
Cut Bank Creek Press