My Writing Vision & Challenges

Since my brief experience working at the United Methodist Publishing House between college and my first teaching job, I have always known I wanted to write for children. Even though my writing was put on hold for many years, I retired to follow my dream three years ago. 

By this time my vision for my writing embraced the concept of Bible literacy for children and their parents. I planned to write children’s Bible storybooks and illustrate them with appliqued quilt blocks. I also envisioned children with Bible quilts with many pictures of Bible stories on them so the children would be encouraged to ask to hear them again.

I self-published my first book The Creation in 2011. After receiving a glowing (as in very complimentary) rejection letter from Eerdman’s Publishing on my first book, I chose self-publishing due to my age and the scope of my vision. I feared my vision would be both compromised and delayed if I depended on publishing houses to purchase my manuscripts as well as promote the concept of Bible quilts for children.

I found good counsel and was able to get my first book printed without taking too much out of my pitiful retirement savings, published my book, and excitedly began to sell them with the idea that the income from these books would pay for printing my second book. But I had 2200 books to sell. After I sold books to all my willing friends, I realized that the great majority of my books were still in the shipping boxes.

I can’t help but wonder how many self-published authors are feeling this pinch, maybe even worse than me. I was able to save a lot of money by doing my own illustrations and layout so my costs were less than a quarter of what most would have paid to have this number of hardcover books available for sale.

Marketing is a challenge every author faces. Even those published by main stream publishing companies have to market their books if they have any hope of getting a second book published. Publishing houses are in the business of printing books that sell, not books that sit in boxes.

People who don’t know you aren’t interested in your book. Publishing your book doesn’t make you instantly famous.¬†People have to be passionate about what you are passionate about before they will read your book, or they won’t buy it. People have to be persuaded to buy it. The competition is marketing their books and you will have to do the same. Marketing costs money and/or lots of time.

Because I don’t have more money to invest in marketing, I have to think smarter and work harder. It is imperative that I figure out how to focus on and reach my target audience. Who will read and/or share my book with others?

I’m not writing this to say I have the answers. I hope others will share some pointers with me on marketing my book. I know that if my vision is truly from God, he will also supply the vision on how to market my books as well. With pockets as shallow as mine, my writing and publishing success will have to be a God thing.

PS My second book The First Christmas will be published soon through a print on demand printer. Quilting ideas and fabrics are already available to complement the book.

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About Janice D. Green

Janice D. Green retired as an elementary librarian to write children's books. She is author and publisher of The Creation and The First Christmas, Bible storybooks for children. Her passion is to write about the Bible in a way that encourages young families to want to read it for themselves.


My Writing Vision & Challenges — 5 Comments

  1. Marketing is such a challenge, especially for Christian authors because when we visit schools, we can’t really talk about our books. When I give writing workshops at my daughters’ schools, the kids are eager to learn more about my writing, but I am limited in what I can share. There is a Christian school around here, but I don’t know anyone there, and since I am our church’s Sunday school teacher, I don’t have much chance to visit other churches.

    I know some authors who promote their books at craft fairs. With your quilting ideas that might be a great place for you. Maybe you can have a booth with a small quilting craft for youngsters. The reason I haven’t done this yet is that the craft fairs around here usually cost about $50 for a booth. I don’t know that I would recoup that cost, plus what I would spend on craft items if I attended. I once attended a church Christmas bazzar and didn’t sell any books to people who weren’t members of my church.

    Praying new ideas will come to you.

    • Thanks, Cheryl. I have been to a couple of Christian schools and plan to visit more of them in the fall when school starts again. I’m also considering ways to get up with Christian education ministers through denominations and/or colleges and seminaries.

      I posted this for a heads-up to potential children’s book writers as well as a channel for collecting marketing ideas.

      • It is helpful for potential authors to have a realistic view of self-publishing before entering in, as you say here, Janice. At the same time, you made your choice for special and good reasons, and I admire you for that!

        I wonder if there would be a way for you to team up with others who have unique products to offer. I “met” someone recently (she found me online) who makes custom prayer pillows, for example. If there were five or six of you to work together to find outlets for your products, maybe a site something like this one but with more than authors banding together–could something like that be useful?


        • My Bible Quilts may turn into that in time, but it will take time no matter how you look at it. I see my stack of books as money in the bank as they can still be sold. I hope to have my book The First Christmas out in 2-3 weeks, if my files go through OK. That might give me a boost since it also has fabrics for sale to get the attention of a different group of women. I plan to really get out and market that book, and of course I’ll remind people of The Creation as well.

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