Many of you may know that I’m in the middle of a book tour. Let’s just say that October has been a crazy month. September, too. I’ve traveled all over the country during the past few months and, just before I embark on my final 2017 destination (Florida), it made sense that I should do a ten-day trip to meet with my readers and friends.
My husband wasn’t happy that I was driving out. I suppose he thought I should fly, but that would have been inconvenient. So, imagine how upset he was when I said I was taking my horse trailer with the living quarters. But it made sense. I’d have a place to sleep, could bring all of my books and “stuff” (because every author has to travel with “stuff” like books, electronics, even my dog Lucee—which turned out to be a huge mistake…but I digress).
In Ohio, I’m staying at a really nice campground. It’s run by Amish people and, as one would expect, they don’t do anything half-way. The facility is clean. The office building is surrounded by really nice gardening (see the photo). And everything is really organized. REALLY organized. I shouldn’t be surprised because, in my experience, for the most part, Amish folks run their businesses like true class acts.
I decided to stay one more day here—mostly because I’m getting a lot of writing done and that means I’m in a good place. So when I went into the office to change my reservation and settle my bill (because they shut the office at noon on Saturdays and obviously don’t work on Sundays), I wasn’t surprised to see how organized everything was.
Except the young woman at the register was having a problem with her computer (a ginormous Apple, btw, which made me feel like techno-sisters with her).
“Ugh!” she said. “I just deleted the whole reservation by accident.”
“Technology.” I chuckled. “Gotta love it, right?”
“So, you’re an author, ja?”
I noticed she ignored my technology comment. But I appreciated the small talk while she battled with the reservation application. “Yes I am.”
“What do you write?”
I want to pause in my story here to tell you that I was taken aback by the question and not for the reason you might think.
Some people might wonder if I was surprised that she didn’t know my name as an Amish fiction author. Perhaps others might even think I should have been insulted. But that wasn’t the reason at all.
I was surprised because most people, upon hearing that I’m an author, never think to ask me what I write. In fact, 9 times out of 10, the next words on their lips are “Really? I always wanted to write a book!” and then they proceed to tell me all about the book they want to write.
As if writing a book is that easy.
It takes much more than an idea to write a book. And I’m not certain how to say this to people without offending them. As with anything in life, it takes years and years of practice and fine-tuning skills. Everyone learns to write in school, but that doesn’t mean they can write well. It also doesn’t mean that they can write fiction novels. And just because they have a great idea doesn’t mean people will read it. I have a large following of readers and I’ve sold a million+ books. And yet, my women’s fiction books, The Faded Photo and Heavenly Blues, do not sell the same volume as my Amish fiction romances.
It’s just different markets and a success in one does not guarantee the same level of success in another genre, right?
But it’s not just writing the book. It’s editing the book (and HOW!), marketing the book, reaching readers, interacting with readers, getting good reviews (because, honestly, who buys a book from a new author with either no reviews or bad reviews?), constantly thinking of new ideas, and continuing to write more books.
It truly is a full-time job. And then some.
Over 10,000 hours is required to put into any career in order for it to (maybe) be a success.
That’s a lot of time.
I suppose it’s like wanting to be an actress. No one wants to be an actress in a flop film, right? But there are only so many slots for actors and actresses in the films that are slated to (maybe) be a success. And an awful lot of people are vyng for those roles. For every successful actor or actress, I bet there are tens of thousands of people hoping to be them one day.
But I digress.
So the Amish woman asks me what types of books I write and, all of the above floats through my head. She’s staring at me, waiting for an answer. So I lower my voice and, with a smile, I say, “What types of books do you think I write?” Maybe I thought I was being witty. Clearly I failed.
She just stared at me. Still waiting.
“Women’s fiction,” I said at last, “and, of course, Amish fiction.”
No response. Dead silence. Crickets are chirping behind me. And I feel really stupid. I mean, honestly, what did I think? That she would automatically say “I bet you write Amish fiction!” Maybe I did think that and, for the life of me, I have no idea why.
Anyway, she doesn’t say one word. Instead, she goes back to her computer, the reservation glitch resolved and taps at the keyboard. “Okay then, everything is set and your balance is $80.” She smiled at me and, sheepishly, I hand her my credit card. She rings it through, I sign the slip, and then she reaches beneath the counter with one hand as she grabs the receipt with another.
“Here you go. Your receipt,” she says as she slides the paper across the counter to me, “and a homemade cookie for you.” She hands me a large oatmeal and M&M cookie wrapped in a cellophane bag.
Is it any wonder that we love the Amish? The receipt and a cookie. That’s business in style.