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This column departs from my usual socio-political commentary for an important reason. I owe a lot of people some very big thanks.
I’ve had the most astounding week. For me it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. You see, last Tuesday my first book, “The Simplicity Primer: 365 Ideas for Making Life More Livable,” was released.
On Tuesday I woke up early – around 3:45 a.m. – and just lay in bed for awhile, wondering what the day would bring. Would people like my book? Or would they think it was stupid? Writing and insecurity often go hand in hand, and I’m no exception.
Word was put out by some impressively large sources to wait until the actual release date to purchase the book, a phenomenon known as a Book Bomb. So as the big day unfolded, I watched with wonder, then amazement, then astonishment as the Amazon rankings went up and up and UP.
For purposes of comparison, on May 19 (about three weeks before its release), my Amazon ranking stood at 126,364 in popularity. On May 24, the ranking was 49,672. On June 4, the ranking was 6,221. Considering the sheer number of books available through Amazon – and considering my book wasn’t released yet – these were not unimpressive numbers.
But on Book Bomb Tuesday, I watched the numbers climb from No. 2,949 in popularity upward until it hit No. 66! Amazon actually sold out! It has to wait until more are printed!
The English have a term for my reaction: Gobsmacked. I was truly, utterly, staggeringly gobsmacked.
On the surface here at home, Book Bomb Day was just an ordinary day. I did the dishes. I homeschooled our kids. I planted some raspberries. We visited with some neighbors.
But throughout the day there was tension and wild excitement in our home. Between math and history, our younger daughter dashed to the computer, refreshed the Amazon link and announced, “You’re at number 143!” Between history and civics, our older daughter checked Amazon, let out a whoop and yelled, “You broke 100!” It was a day of celebration and cheering, of giddy laughter and high relief. In a word, we were all gobsmacked. Big time.
This book has a rocky history. It was conceived in frustration when I realized people could not recognize the connection between good choices and a simple life. Spurred by this frustration, I wrote the first draft of the book (originally 101 tips) in three weeks, acquired an agent (a story unto itself!) and we spent more than a year shopping it around. The manuscript was purchased by a large publisher in December 2007. What a Christmas present!
I started writing magazine articles and columns as a sort of pre-advertisement for the book. I decided to send one of those columns to my favorite news site, WorldNetDaily. For that first column, my finger was literally – and I mean literally – hovering over the “send” button on my computer when the phone rang. It was my agent telling me the publisher had canceled my book, along with 350 other authors. It was a horrible blow, and I cried for hours.
It wasn’t until later I remembered I’d never sent the column to WND. I figured, “What the heck!” and emailed it. What did I have to lose? To my surprise, they accepted it immediately. I wrote a second. They accepted that, also immediately. I wrote a third, and this time didn’t hear back for several days. I thought, “Oh well, it was nice while it lasted.” Then suddenly there was an email in my inbox from WND, asking if I would like my own regular weekly column.
If this wasn’t a case of God closing a door but opening a window, I’d like to know what is.
Why WND decided to take a chance with an unknown rural housewife in north Idaho, I’ll never know. I had no professional writing credentials to speak of. But whatever it was they saw, I’ve been blessed ever since because it fulfilled my dream to be a writer.
A year and a half later, I learned Joseph Farah would be in the area attending a conference, so I gathered my courage and asked if he wanted to get together for coffee. He took me to lunch, and we had a delightful visit. During our meeting, he invited me to submit the manuscript to WND Books. The rest, as they say, is history.
When my advanced copies arrived a couple months ago and I held my own book in my hands for the first time, I had a moment of pure awe and wonder. Did I really do this? Really?
Of course not. No writer does. No writer becomes a published author without all the unseen, unheralded geniuses behind the scenes. I didn’t design the magnificent cover. I didn’t edit the contents. I didn’t typeset the pages. I didn’t do all the difficult legwork to bring this project to fruition. The WND Books team did that, and a more dedicated group of professionals would be hard to find.
To be associated with people of this caliber is a truly humbling experience. It’s been awfully fun to do phone interviews and book signings and get all this lovely attention. But, believe me, it doesn’t escape my notice for one second that this book is a team effort and I am merely a small cog in a big wheel.
Nonetheless, it is true that this project is a personal joy. I’ve wanted to be a published author since I was a teenager, and it’s WND who brought this dream to life. The reason I referred to this week as a once-in-a-lifetime experience is because it was. God willing, I’ll have more books published someday. But this is my first. For a first book to have such high sales is unusual – and humbling. I can take very little credit for those sales figures. The credit goes to WND for its aggressive publicity, as well as to some big-name blogs and websites that pushed it on my behalf.
I humbly and with gratitude offer my thanks for the experiences of the last week. I offer these thanks to WND, to readers, to blogging colleagues, to book buyers and to God.
This truly is the beginning of an extraordinary journey, and it’s been an honor to have you all along for the ride.