Monday, April 19, 2010

Guest Blogger-Author Karen Rabbitt

Trading Fathers: The First Year

Publishers put out a million books in 2009 alone.
When I read this week in Publisher’s Weekly that
three-quarters of those books were self-published, I wondered how many sold any copies.

My self-published memoir, Trading Fathers, Forgiving Dad, Embracing God, (Winepress, 2009) has sold in the hundreds. Considering the competition, I’m glad for those numbers.

Why did I join the crowd in 2009? I think I could have gotten a traditional publishing contract. But I didn’t start writing for publication until six years ago, at fifty-two years old. After publishing a couple of magazine articles, I took three years to write the memoir. Between finding an agent who would pitch the project to a publisher and then waiting for their decision-making along with the time lag to actual publication, I expected to be sixty years old.

Also, feeling called primarily to speaking, I wrote the book to increase my credibility as a retreat leader, not to start a long writing career. Both my age and my goals provoked my decision to speed up the process by paying my own way.

What have I learned in the year since Trading Fathers has been out?

1. I was right. It’s a great title. I’ve sold several copies and gotten lots of comments on the title alone.
2. Like every author, my fantasy of selling thousands in the first year, was fantasy.
3. Marketing requires sharp focus, tenacious persistence, and gigantic self-belief. And the obstacles are many: my local newspaper refused to allow a columnist to write about my book because it was self-published.
4. Satan does not like his lies exposed. My husband has gotten cancer this year. Our cars have broken down. More times than not, I’ve gotten sick during or after ministry time.
5. Social media—Twitter, Facebook—take a lot of time.
6. Word of mouth is slow.
7. Trading Fathers has changed several people’s lives.
8. Obedience doesn’t necessarily mean “success.”
9. Winning an award doesn’t mean a whole lot: I was named 2009 Writer of the Year, but as far as I know, it hasn’t gotten me any interviews.
10. Getting on TV doesn’t guarantee anything. An interview in a large Southern city was fun, but it sold no books.

Would I do it the same way if I knew then what I know now? That’s an unanswerable question. I made the best decision I knew how to make, listened to the Holy Spirit as well as I knew how to listen, and proceeded with faith.

That’s all God expects of any of us. He will do the rest. The battle is the Lord’s and he will accomplish his purposes in each of our lives as we do the best we can and trust him.

Karen Rabbitt, M.S.W., a seasoned psychotherapist, has written for Marriage Partnership and Today’s Christian Woman, in addition to writing her own story, Trading Fathers: Forgiving Dad, Embracing God (WinePress, 2009). She speaks on emotionally healthy Christianity with a special emphasis on the forgiveness process. A grandmother, she has been married to Jerry since 1972, lives in Illinois, and attends a Vineyard church. Karen Rabbitt