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.

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