Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Happiest $5 I Ever Made

I’ve been trying to earn money since I was old enough to cross the street by myself. I started out doing the usual money-earning projects – selling lemonade, collecting pop bottles, raking leaves and babysitting. I even engaged in atypical pursuits such as providing a backyard carnival (complete with a ride where my brother, Terry and I rolled kids in a wheel barrel through a home-made African Safari adventure we constructed). I can’t say I made a lot of money, but my needs were minimal and being able to purchase a few Pepsi Colas and chocolate bars were enough to keep me happy.

Of course I moved on to bigger and better things, earned a journalism degree and started my own public relations firm. Every time I book a client on television, place a story in a magazine or some other publicity-grabbing coup, I still get a thrill. But nothing compares to the $5 I earned last week.

Well, to be exact, it wasn’t $5, it was $3.86. I sold my first book, Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within. It’s an ebook that lists for $4.99. Smashwords gets a commission, so my cut is $3.86. But the excitement I felt when I was notified of this first sale was priceless.

I have made a living as a writer for several years. Having people pay me for a story is not that unusual. But this was different. It wasn’t a story about a client. It wasn’t an article on an event. This was a book that my co-author, Jackie and I cooked up all by ourselves. We saw a need, and we decided to address it.

Honestly, I never set out to be a self-help author. I love reading self-improvement books and articles. I always have one or two on my night stand. If I don’t have a new one, I reread an old one. Inspirational stories fuel my soul. Through the years, people who know me best have suggested that I write a self-help book. I wasn’t interested.

That is not to say that I wasn’t writing something. I’m always creating a pitch, press release, background story or article. That is what I do for a living, and I love what I do. For fun, I have written screenplays (five to date), plays (maybe three), teleplays (four), a children’s book, and several short stories. But Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within is my first book for grown ups.

And somebody bought it! Actually, last time I checked (five minutes ago) four people have purchased the book (see link below).


Now at least three of these people are folks that I know. One is a client, one is a family member and one is a friend. But that fourth one, that is someone I never met. He or she went on the Smashwords website, or found it through another means, and decided to have their own electronic copy of Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within.

And I couldn’t be happier.

Writing (and expecting others will read it) can be an emotional roller coaster. Throughout my writing career I have been rejected hundreds of times. I’ve heard the bad news through email, snail mail, on the phone and in person. I try not to take it personally. It’s like having a favorite food. Just because someone else doesn’t like asparagus doesn’t mean you can’t eat it with relish (well, maybe with butter or hollandaise sauce).

The same is true for writing and reading. Everyone has different tastes. But I was beginning to think publishers thought my book tasted like cod liver oil.

Not one to accept defeat, I tried self publishing. Someone (thank you Sam and Mary!) suggested Smashwords. And it worked. Not one, not two, not three – but four people have bought my book. Will I get rich this way? Who knows? It doesn’t really matter. People are reading the book and I’ve already received one lovely response on how much she enjoyed it.

In the end, I’m helping people. And, in the process, someone plunked down their hard-earned $4.99 to erase some negativity in their life and they gave me the thrill of a lifetime – all for $3.86.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Book is Out!!!

Dear Readers,

At long last, my book has been published! For those of you who have offered encouragement, helpful advice, an occasional kick-in-the-butt- I want to thank you for your support.

My book is currently an ebook. By next week, it should be available as a download for kindle, iphones, Apple reader and other similar devices. In time, I hope to have it published as a traditional book, but for now it will be electronic only.

Now I really need your help. I’m asking you to click on the link below and check out the book. If it doesn't work, please cut and paste it or google Sally Marks, Erase Negativity and look for the smashwords entry.


Right now, you can read half of the book for free. If you decide you want to download it, it’s only $4.99. However, the more people who download it, or even click on the free version, the higher the book will go in the ratings and the better presence it will have on the page.

I’m asking all of you to please let your friends, family, everyone in your computer contact list etc., know about the book and have them check it out. Of course I will be doing all the typical promotion I can, but word-of-mouth publicity is always the best. Everyone knows other people, and those people know folks. If I can get you to help me spread the word by asking your friends, co-workers, neighbors etc to check this out, I would be very appreciative.

I am very proud of this book and I truly believe it can help others in a significant way. Although I have always wanted to be a writer, I never saw myself as a self-help writer. I always thought my expertise was in comedy. I feel like writing this book is a true calling to help erase negativity in the world. I sincerely hope you will help me spread the word about the book and ask your friends to ask THEIR friends to do the same.

Many thanks to all of you.

Love, Sally

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Spring Cleaning of Our House and Soul

I’ve seen a few articles about spring cleaning in the newspaper and on television. I’m semi-motivated to do a little seasonal clean-up – but I thought it would be so much nicer to write about it than to actually do it. It reminds me of a former boss of mine who said that every time she had the desire to exercise she sat down until the feeling went away.

I used to be very enthusiastic about cleaning. Needless to say, this “need to clean” has long since lost its luster. I appreciate a clean house, and my house is always presentable, but the excitement of polishing furniture, vacuuming carpets and scrubbing the bathroom is not my idea of a good time.

In my youth, I actually enjoyed cleaning. I’d play my favorite Bonnie Raitt tapes and I’d scrub while grooving to the music. I remember my youngest daughter, Brittany, who was maybe 4 years old at the time, would run through the house with her hands on her ears and yell, “No! No more Bonnie Raitt!” I think I should have played more than one album over and over.

Another one of my pet peeves is clutter. I love getting rid of things more than most people enjoy collecting it. I would love to live a simple life with fewer attachments, but this has never happened because I’m always partnered with hoarders. My mother was a product of the Depression, so she kept everything. Why she thought the utility bill stubs from 1946 would come in handy, I’ll never know. However, it isn’t uncommon, because my spouse, CB, not only keeps everything, somehow my spousal pack rat inherited the family archive of utility bills, doctor bills, college tuition payments etc. as well. All of these items are at least 30 years old – and some are old enough to collect social security.

I don’t want you to think I’m wasteful. When I have things, I do use them. And I am a huge believer in reuse and recycle. But after a while it is time to let go. That is why I felt vindicated when I interviewed Lisa Montgomery, one of the top feng shui practitioners in the southwest, about how to improve the energy in the home.

Here are some tips that are listed in the Home Sweet Home Chapter.

• Give the house a thorough cleaning. Qi stagnates in a messy environment. Not everyone enjoys cleaning, but your life is worth it. Clean up your act and keep it that way.
• Get rid of clutter.
• Box items you don’t use and put a date on it. If you haven’t used it in a year, sell it, give it away or donate it to charity.
• Take an inventory of the things in your house. Pay attention to how each object makes you feel. If you experience a negative sensation, get rid of it.
• Surround yourself with things you love. If that means getting rid of that ugly lamp you inherited from Aunt Tilly, so be it. You don’t wear Aunt Tilly’s clothes and you don’t have to live with her ugly furnishings.

It’s raining today. It’s a perfect daytime for cleaning. It’s not my favorite chore, but I’m going to do it. I see a few stacks of papers to recycle, some magazine that I will donate to the library, and the toilets…well…I don’t need to go into that. Well, actually I DO need to “go” in there, but I digress. Sometimes you just have to buck up and get things done – pleasant or otherwise.

And for those of you who are patiently waiting for the arrival of my upcoming book, Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within, I should have it available on kindle and as an ebook in just a few days. I just need one of the ladies I featured in the book to give me written approval for her chapter. Once that is done, the book will be ready to roll. I just hope my interviewee hasn’t misplaced what I sent to her. Oh well, if she did, maybe it will resurface during spring cleaning.