How to Survive a Failed Book Launch

Last week the second book in the Desires & Decisions series came out. I wish I could say I sold a bunch of copies and all the time and money invested were worth it, but the truth is, I only sold 6 eBook copies and two paperbacks of Flummoxed. That means that I made $8.26. I spent $468 on editing and $85 on advertising. So my total profit is -$544.74. I look at that number and it makes me sad. Where do I go from here?

 

How to Survive a Failed Book Launch – Write More

This morning, after doing the disappointing math, I thought, “What am I going to do now?” The answer came to mind pretty fast. “Keep writing… move to the next project.” Today is the second day of Camp NaNoWriMo, and the project I picked was to edit Kerfuffle, the third book in the Desires & Decisions series. It’s the book I have always had in mind when I started telling Olive’s story. Last May I sat in the amazing Regency Park in London, England and plotted the entire book in 15 minutes with a tiny notebook while my children played in the grass. Kids that grow up in Athens, Greece are impressed by grass. Almost a year later the book is so close to being ready to share with the world. Two more rounds of edits and I’ll be able to start planning yet another launch. So I sat down with my trusty laptop and started to edit. Because it’s already written, and why not? Right? Why not keep trying to succeed at what seems like an insane goal? That seems to be the theme of my life.

The Silver Lining of a Failed Book Launch

With all the time and energy that gets put into launches, it’s probably my least favorite part of the entire writing process. But then reviews start to come in, and you realize that maybe it was worth all the hard work and negative profits after all because another person actually read your book, and they got it! *insert cheering* All the plot points and character arcs came together and projected the meaning you intended to create! It’s a miracle.

Here is a review for Flummoxed that really encouraged me to keep writing, keep editing, even if I continue to fail at marketing:

“Once again Kristin Spencer has captured a beautiful snapshot of what it’s like growing up as a young girl and growing up in the Lord. I was so blessed reading Newfangled and was equally, if not more so, blessed in reading this second installment of the Desires & Decisions series, Flummoxed.

Even as an adult I found myself learning from Olive as she goes through the struggles and difficulties of life and dealing with issues of the heart. I was again blessed by the wisdom of Pappie, the encouragement of Aunt Barb, and the wonderful example of support and friendship provided by the Callis family and the Mashables. These characters have become my dear friends and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for them next.

I would highly recommend this book to all ages and stages of life. There is something here for everyone as it discusses trusting in the Lord and surrendering our hearts, hopes, and fears further to Him.”

They said the characters have become their friends. There isn’t anything more you can ask for as an author (besides for people to pay for your book so you can afford to write more books). I’m genuinely humbled.

So even though I have failed *again* to successfully launch another book (the launch of Newfangled was a total disaster), I won’t quit. I will keep writing and I will continue to fight to get my stories out there.

Happy reading,

Kristin

Kindle or Books Giveaway

Hey there,

Do you like free stuff? Well I’ve partnered up with other Christian authors through CelebrateLit to bring you an awesome giveaway. The first prize winner will get a Kindle Fire, and the runner up will win a free copy of 19 books! That’s a lot of awesome free books to ignore. (Psst, Flummoxed is one of the books on the giveaway list!)

Giveaway Details

Go here to enter, and remember that you can enter until April 8th.

Happy reading and may the force be with you.

-Kristin

 

Flummoxed is Live!

Dear Awesome People,

I implore you to consider my new book, Flummoxed, for your reading consideration. Today is launch day, and that means that in various corners of the inter web, people are learning about my new book for the first time. Maybe you are part of that group. Welcome! I can’t wait to hear what you think about Olive and her unique group of crazy, fun friends. Maybe you’re part of another group, and you’ve been waiting for the second book to arrive after devouring Newfangled. I can’t put into words how happy you people make me. Please accept my digital hug. *Hug*

Flummoxed was actually my husband’s idea, and as usual, when he’s sure he is right about something, he slowly pushes until I acknowledge that he has a point. I was getting ready to write Kerfuffle (the third book in the Decisions & Desires series… coming later this year) and he said, “I think there is another story in between Newfangled and Kerfuffle… you know, before Olive starts high school. Like, what happens with Dean? And how do things change for Olive once she’s more adjusted at school?” Those were both awesome questions that needed to be answered, and writing a vague recap at the beginning of Kerfuffle didn’t do justice to the answers. Hence book #2… Flummoxed: the completely unplanned addition to the Desires & Decisions series.

This book deals with one of the most fundamental and defining questions in every human being’s life; what does love mean? Olive tries to balance what she knows about the Bible with what she sees the Christians doing around her, but doesn’t come to any easy conclusions. As Olive works to figure all that out, she realizes that maybe a few of the other characters could use those answers, too.

For a full synopsis and description of my creative writing process for Flummoxed, please check out this awesome video that my husband made.

I hope you love reading Flummoxed as much as I loved writing it.

Happy reading,

Kristin N. Spencer

Book Review: Such A Tease (Meddlin’ Madeline) by Chautona Havig

Such a Tease by Chautona Havig

This book is the 2nd book in the Meddlin’ Madeline Series. For a review of the first book, “Sweet On You,” click here.

I give this book 5/5 stars.

Category: Fiction (Historical Mystery)

Such a Tease,” is an amazing sequel to Havig’s first Meddlin’ Madeline book, “Sweet on You.” Though Madeline is determined not to make the same mistakes, she still has a lot to learn. When she tries to be more considerate of the people in her life that care for her, she still can’t seem to kick her meddlin’ habit of investigating crime, and I’m glad.

One of the many things I loved about this book was the way Madeline has learned to show others grace and mercy, for the most part. While in the last book she was right about most people’s attitudes and actions, she came off as judgmental. In this book, she tries to give everyone the benefit of the doubt.

Vernon Smythe is back as Rockland’s local villain, or is he? Even Madeline isn’t sure. And if you’re hoping to get some more Russell and Madeline time in, you won’t be disappointed. Or will you?

I know I’m taking this book’s title a little too literally, but hey, it’s fun to tease.

If you love a good mystery, this book’s playful style and impressive wit are sure to win your admiration. I can’t wait for the next installment of Meddlin’ Madeline. This is yet another winner in a long line of amazing books by author Chautona Havig.

As always, happy reading!

-Kristin

I was given a copy of this book in case I wanted to review it. All opinions expressed are solely mine. This post contains affiliate links.

Book Review: That Book for Wives by Sally Poyzer

That Book for Wives by Sally Poyzer

I give this book 3.5/5 stars.

While I appreciate the great advice that Sally Poyzer offers in her book, “That Book for Wives,” I felt that overall her approach to becoming a better wife was oversimplified. The theme of the book seems to be, “If you just do what I’m telling you, everything will be ok.” I do think that wives should strive to do all of the things Poyzer says. For example, she has an entire section on how to apologize well, even if your spouse doesn’t apologize first (or at all). I think that is great. Her four point approach is strategic and should be fairly easy to implement. But I feel that the book missed a lot of background, the roots, of how we can change to be better wives. Even if you do everything the book advises, if you aren’t doing it out of a strong and secure devotion to Jesus Christ, being firmly rooted in His love and grace, you will fail. It seems to me that she is assuming the people that read this book already have a really strong and mature walk with the Lord.

I love the way she approaches the book from the perspective that even if your husband isn’t willing to work on your marriage at all, there are still things the wife can do on her own that can improve the marriage relationship.

The next critique is a specific sensitivity for me, and may not apply to all readers. Poyzer glosses over the complications previous sexual abuse can have on a couple’s sexual relationship, suggesting that Jesus can heal, and it may also be a good idea to receive Christian counseling. As someone that works with survivors of sexual abuse, I can tell you that finding a healthy way to relate to your spouse after surviving earlier sexual abuse is a lot of hard work. It takes a lot of counseling, and re-learning truth. It isn’t something that prayer alone can solve, from what I have seen. I know that opinion isn’t very popular, but if that is how we are going to approach sexual abuse, why not simply pray for a better marriage instead of using a book like “That Book for Wives,” to help guide us?

I feel that the book leaned heavily on her own stories, and could have been more scripture focused.

She also doesn’t take boundaries within marriage into consideration, and if you have really bad in-laws, she suggests you do your best to grin and bear it for your husband’s sake. She doesn’t ever mention that there are times when a wife and her husband must place boundaries in their familial relationships for their spiritual and emotional health. Though she does give a list of boundaries she uses to keep herself pure and distanced from the very real threat of adultery. I use the same boundaries in my own life, and have found them to be very effective.

Overall, I think there are a lot of nuggets of wisdom tucked throughout this book. If I was going to recommend a book of this type to a friend though, I would rather recommend “The Peaceful Wife” by April Cassidy.

Reader Experience: The Double-edged Sword

This morning I was reading a review aloud to my husband before I clicked the “send,” button and he asked me if I wasn’t being too harsh. “It’s subjective, isn’t it? Are you sure you want to send that?” I’m so glad he said that, because after a few minutes of abusing the delete key and writing a totally different review, I realized I was using my experience to discount the other author’s book. Not cool, Kristin. Fast forward to later in the day when I happen upon a discussion of one of my books online.

Reader Experience: The Double-edged Sword

Imagine that you have just spent six months of your life carefully crafting a story. You wrote the first drafted, edited, and sent it out into the world on it’s own. If you write contemporary fiction, you understand that when readers bring their own experiences to your story, it can be a double-edged sword. Contemporary fiction is it’s own beast when it comes to reader experience because you can’t really apply your own experiences so well to other genres. For example, you are less likely to complain about a character who is in space doing something you wouldn’t do. Why? You aren’t in space.

Ouch!

My first novel, Newfangled, was an experiment based on my own experiences. I was raised in a really sheltered way, and then when I went into public school, my parents were going through a lot. I faced numerous firsts on my own. It was like I was totally apart from the world, and then suddenly thrust into it without a sufficient support system. So I wrote Newfangled as a way of dealing with that. It’s fiction, so I gave Olive, my protagonist, a supportive family as she faced some of the similar challenges that I experienced. I based her family on real people I know. These people are the ones I want to emulate as they emulate Christ. But they are real people. Clip to me reading that the whole family in my book is too idealized. Le sigh.

Who’s to Blame?

One of the things we talk about in my writing group is reader experience. People will read your book and judge your characters based on how they would respond. If they relate to your character, that’s a good thing. If they think your character is unrealistic because they wouldn’t behave that way, it usually means you’re going to get a bad review. But who is to blame? You certainly can’t blame the reader (say it with me, “Never blame the reader”). But can you blame the author?

How to Approach Reader Experience

We have a way of battling this double-edge sword in the writing world. We go with the majority. If 8 out of 10 people say our characters are acting realistically, we accept the criticism of the 2 that disagree and leave the story the way it is. If a majority of the people testing your book notice a problem during your advanced reading group, you work like crazy to fix it before your launch date.

Reader experience is a real issue, and it needs to be addressed. But somedays the bad reviews hurt more than other days (for example when not one person in your advanced reading group has written you back about the manuscript you sent them a while ago), and you want to quit.

I’m so glad I didn’t send that critical review this morning!

If you’re still reading this, you deserve a cookie. And also, hug an author today. I guarantee you they need it.

-Kristin

When Characters Don’t Behave

One of the topics that comes up a lot at writing meetings is that wayward character. The one that doesn’t end up being anything like they were when they were still just an idea floating in your head, before your birthed them onto paper. I’m almost finished writing the first draft of “Kerfuffle,” the third book in the Desires & Decisions series, and one of the characters is ruining everything.

When Characters Don’t Behave

Chance was supposed to be kind of a red herring. He sits next to Olive in Spanish, and helps her through a few difficult moments, but the more I wrote his character, the more I started to think, “Oh no, I like him better than Dean.” The way I wrote the first two books in the series, you aren’t supposed to like any other boy for Olive, and so far, that has been working. The emails, comments, and feedback I got all included Dean.

“Is Olive going to end up with Dean?”

“Is Dean going to get saved?”

“Dean is such a nice boy.” (This one came from an older reader)

But Chance, as I said, is ruining everything. He’s too nice and considerate. And he’s funny. He isn’t overly mature like Dean (which I always found to be Dean’s most irritating quality). Chance is the kind of guy that us mothers would want our teenage daughters to like.

Imagine he has black hair, and this is Chance…

This is when things get tricky. As a writer, I have the next three books for the Desires & Decisions series plotted (they will be about Holly [Pastor Lance’s wife], Olive, and Anna), but now I’m wondering if maybe I shouldn’t reconsider a few things. I can do that, because I’m the creator of this world.

I know that no matter what I do, there will be some people that are disappointed. I also know that there will definitely be #teamdean and #teamchance after this third book comes out. The way “Kerfuffle” ends, I won’t have to decide, but in the next Olive book, “Resplendent,” the decision has to happen pretty much right away. But that book isn’t on my writing schedule this year, so I have time to think.

I can’t wait for you to read what happens between Dean and Olive in “Flummoxed,” coming out on March 28th.

Happy reading,

Kristin

Stop Peer Censorship

Maybe you’ve noticed that I haven’t written anything meaningful lately (Besides the novels I get to work on in secret. No one sees them until I have carefully crafted each word and each intention). I feel pressure not to discuss the things that seem important to write. I’m a writer, and that feeling is torture. Writers don’t like to feel censored. Especially when it’s not colorful language (which I dislike), but their opinions which have been censored. I can’t talk about God. I can’t talk about me, because I believe in God. I can’t talk about politics because I don’t fit into the Dem or Rep camps, and people on both sides hate people like me. When I do talk about God, I’m not “Christian” enough for the Christians. It’s hard to maintain bravery when everything you do is wrong.

It wouldn’t be that bad if I knew strangers would be the only ones who judge my writing, the topics I discuss, and my ideas. But the fact is, I don’t feel that I can write the things that are important to me because if I do, my friendships are at risk. I’m not a person that just throws away a relationship over my opinions. I find it unfortunate, though, that things have gotten to where I feel that my friends and family don’t want me to have an opinion if it isn’t the same as theirs.

I’m a thoughtful person. Every single position I take on any issue has been birthed through research, prayer, and discussion. But it doesn’t seem like people want to discuss differing viewpoints anymore. I get the sense that people are only interested in vilifying people whose opinions differ from theirs. It’s tragic. It’s stupid. I hate it. In my head I imagine all the people on both sides of any argument feeling a bit lazy, and instead of engaging in meaningful conversation, they bust out their bedazzled pink villain wand, and tap all those who dare to disagree on the head. “Well, if they’re a villain, I don’t have to be bothered to consider that their opinions were hard won and thoroughly researched.”

How can we fix anything in this putrid environment? If we can’t work together, what’s the point? Yes, we are different, and we have different opinions. But it used to be that contrasting ideologies caused us to grow and learn as different societies. I saw some of Galileo’s letters at the British National Library last May. They made me think, “What if Galileo had never opposed the idea that the Sun rotates around the Earth?” He was willing to be imprisoned just so he could share his discoveries. He wasn’t trying to force others to believe them. I want to be more like Galileo.

My Proposal to Stop Peer Censorship

So here is my proposal, and yes, it would be nice if you would treat me this way, but at least treat one other person in your life this way, even if it isn’t me:

-Stop shaming people who don’t agree with you. It’s wrong. It is always wrong to shame another person. That’s bullying. Stop it. You aren’t helping. You’re making things worse.

-Stop grouping people together into groups of idiocy or enlightenment based on one of their opinions. Take the time to get to know someone first. Because most of us fall in between the two.

-Employ empathy! Please, for the love of all things, try to be empathetic. I am literally begging you to be more empathetic. You don’t know what it’s like to be someone else. You don’t understand all the gray areas where people really live because you’re so busy trying to paint everything as black and white. It isn’t.

-I’d love to hear your opinions, but don’t shut me down by calling me ignorant when I have one that differs. That isn’t how healthy relationships work.

I wish I could say I’m just going to write what I feel I should write, but I can’t make promises like that right now. I’m soft, and I don’t care if you think that means I’m weak. I do promise that I will do everything I can to make this world just a little less hateful. And just because I think it will be helpful why don’t you post one reading recommendation of a hopeful book below in the comments so that those of us that are looking for a few minutes of reprieve might find it in a clever book.

Happy reading,

Kristin

Thank you!

I want to say thank you for helping me by requesting a price match on Amazon. It is my pleasure to announce that “Newfangled” is now free!

I also sent the third draft of “Flummoxed” to be edited this week. I’m working with a new editor, and am excited to see what changes she suggests. That means that Flummoxed is one step closer to being published this March.

I’m working on a new project called, “From My Side: 10 Days to Healthier, God-Centered Relationships,” which will only be offered through my website free to anyone who signs up for the email updates. If you are already on my email list, I will be sending out a link for the devotional once it’s finished. Here is a preview of the cover:

I have spent the last few days reading books about marketing. I will be running a promotion of “Newfangled” on Spirit Filled eBooks for Valentine’s Day. Once it’s running, I’ll let you know, as the prize is a free Kindle Fire. I hope that any momentum will build toward Flummoxed’s release date. Keep an eye out for beta reading opportunities, and a digital launch party where I will be giving away digital and paperback copies of “Flummoxed.”

That’s all for now. Happy reading!

Love,

Kristin