Category Archives: writing block

Author Finds Success through Ebooks: Royalties, Publishing Deal, Even a Movie

Today I heard a story on the radio that caught my attention. It began with a story not unlike my own. A writer discussed how she’d received complementary letters from publishers and editors in response to her manuscript submissions. Although they liked her work respondents didn’t think they’d be able to market it. As this was my experience, I wanted to hear what happened.

Also like me, Karen McQuestion had been a freelance writer, and had written on a regular basis for a local newspaper. Karen loved to write. Her heart’s desire was to write novels. Karen had written several and had even had an agent. Unfortunately, she was unable to sell her books.

A year ago McQuestion began to think she’d never be a success as a novelist. When her freelance work dried up, she realized it was time to take a serious look at her options. During this time Karen learned about a writer who published his novels as e-books.  After 7,000 download the author had earned a small royalty and a publishing deal.

Karen didn’t know the basics such as how to design a book cover or determine pricing, but decided publishing on the ‘Net was worth a try. McQuestion reasoned that if her books weren’t successful she’d have lost little, and in the best case she’d make enough money to continue writing. During the next six months she uploaded six books.

The end result?

Karen McQuestion wrote on her blog: “I’ve had (to me) unbelievable success. The first few months I was stunned that anyone was actually buying and reading my books. I’d wanted it for so long that I was afraid of it all going away. Some small part of me thought that my sales would peak and then taper off to nothing. But despite my worries, my sales numbers kept growing, partially because I was adding books and also because more people were buying e-book readers.

“The best part–I got emails and reviews and comments on the message boards from readers who liked my books and were recommending them to others! Without this word of mouth I never would have had the kind of numbers I had. Some of the posters are people I now consider to be Internet friends. My world became wider, and happier too, for that matter.”

Karen’s story doesn’t end there. She’s had one of her novels optioned for film. She also was contacted by an editor who wanted to publish her books.

Karen’s success didn’t come overnight. Her love of writing kept her going. Not every writer is likely to have Karen McQuestion’s success; however, if you love writing, the process is its own reward.

Patience is the hardest part of the writer’s journey. Karen McQuestion offers advice to writers who are yearning for validation of their work through publishing:

“To other writers I say–please, keep the faith. Keep writing and improving (that’s a given, I know) and keep up with the latest news and opportunities, because you never ever know.”

What keeps me going? A commitment to the women who contributed to my book Living in the Heartland: Three Extraordinary Women’s Stories; the positive comments and support I’ve had since I released the book and it’s companion blog Living in the Heartland; and the faith that something good WILL happen.

To read stories of other extraordinary women go to Living in the Heartland.

Read how three women overcame life’s challenges on the way to success: Living in the Heartland: Three Extraordinary Women’s Stories on

Click Living in the Heartland video preview.



Filed under Amazon, blog, book, dreams, editors, frustration, hopeful, income, indie writer, job, luck, on writing, Pamela Ferris-Olson, perseverance, publishing, royalty, success, writers, writing, writing block

OMG, What Will You Do?

In response to my last post Martin asked, “My God, I would have preferred to read something more cheerful. So what now? What will you do?”

I would have liked to have posted something more cheerful. Believe me I would like to say I already reached my goal of selling 100,000 books. Didn’t happen though. Not even close.

What will I do?  This is a good question. In any decision-making process one answer is always: Do nothing. One way I could ignore yesterday’s problem is to say, “So what if one indie bookstore in Washington can’t get my book? After all, it IS available on And, I HAVE been PROMISED that Ingram WILL carry my book (Living in the Heartland: Three Extraordinary Women’s Stories) in their catalog within the next 6-8 WEEKS.” Doing nothing might also demonstrate that I’m beat up, that I have no fight left in me. I have had a number of setbacks trying to make my book available to a larger audience than only those who buy books on Amazon.

What will I do? In response I ask, “What can I do?” When I decided to take the self-publishing route, I believed in the power of the Internet. We all hear about videos going viral on YouTube. Many of us have faith in Twitter, believe it is THE WAY to spread the word. Why else are so MANY people joining SM Webinars, purchasing programs to increase their Twitter followers, and using auto-messaging sites?

I spent several weeks in February concentrating on SM. I built a following on Twitter, on Facebook and on my blog. I joined a tribe. I also saw my sales on Amazon plummet. What I’ve taken away from this experience is that I have to balance my social media work with more traditional networking. I’m actively trying to arrange for book signings (the subject of my next eye-opening post), radio and newspaper interviews, and, whatever else I can think of that will make people familiar with my book and with me.

I never imagined how much work promoting my book was going to be. I thought that by using a BIG name (Amazon) on the Internet to sell my book, I’d only need to send out emails to friends and family, ask them to pass it on to their friends and their families, and twitter. Then voila I’d be a success. Well, I’m here to tell you it isn’t that easy.

I expect there are others who have had more success. I would be more upbeat if I hadn’t set my goals so high initially, and I didn’t feel such a deep responsibility to the women I wrote about to share their stories. The positive news is that since my book became available on January 11 on Amazon, I have made several good contacts via Twitter. I’ve found a SM coach who has given me good advice and emotional support. I joined a Tribe of great gals who provide much needed emotional and professional support. These are ALL pluses especially as writers are often isolated in their work. Agents and editors probably offer similar support but, I imagine, not as frequently or earnestly.

Martin asked: What will I do? I’m going to do what I’ve been doing. Rejoice in the good days. Those are the days when I receive positive comments. Whimper and SCREAM on the bad days like yesterday.  I need to find ways to breathe, so I can move forward. Letting others know about the pitfalls I’ve encountered allows me to put a positive spin on them. They become teachable moments.

Now I ask you: What can you do? If you believe in the power of SM, if you want to help prove that writers CAN succeed by self-publishing and self-promotion on the Internet, then you will help me. I’m going to continuing sharing my experience – the good and the bad. I’d really like to prove that my initial belief in the Internet was right. I’d like to believe that everyone who has counseled me to be patient, that it takes time, were also right.

So what can YOU do? Spread the word through twitter, FB, everywhere about my book and, of course, this blog. Tell your friends and family, contact your local newspaper, everywhere, anywhere. Let’s find out what works.

I’ll going to continue blogging and encourage others to leave comments. I want to collect information from others what has worked for them and what hasn’t. How long have they found it takes?

Help me make this blog a community where writers share. What I don’t want is my blog to become an advertiser. Also, I require that all criticism  be constructive not destructive.

I am earnest and passionate about writing, about my book, and about working with other writers to help each of us realize our dreams. So onwards.

Click here for subscription to blog on Kindle Out of the Box Publishing Blog on Kindle

Click video preview to see the YouTube video of my book.


My other blog is Living in the Heartland.


Filed under book, dreams, on demand publishing, on publishing, on writing, publishing, self-publishing, social media, success, writing, writing block

Writer’s Block

I don’t believe in writer’s block. After all, people rarely run out of things to say, and never run out of thoughts. If you can think it or say it then you can write it down. Once you have something written down there are many techniques for deciding where to go from here.

Wander. Look at what you’ve written and let your mind wander. It isn’t important where you go. Wander around. See if you find an idea you want to expand. Even if you decide not to develop any of the ideas, you’ve created a list to refer to later.

Springboard. Build upon the original idea, leap to another place to find a starting point. If you can’t springboard off of your own ideas read the newspaper, listen to the radio, take a walk…Listen and see if you hear something that gives you an idea from which you can move forward.

Internal dialog. Hold a conversation with yourself. Discuss something that you’ve heard. Think about something that’s been bothering you, that challenges you, that motivates you. We all have ideas that haven’t been given the chance to come forward.

Exercise your body, move your mind. Go to the gym. Go for a walk. Clean your home. Sometimes being engaged in physical activity helps to shake out new ideas. If you move around you’ll be actively looking and listening, and possibly walk into the idea you needed.

Take a break. Maybe you’ve been thinking TOO hard, or your brain is tired. A snack, a shower, a nap can be good refreshers. A snack not only provides fuel for thought, it also provides tastes, smells and visual images to stimulate new ideas. Showers, tubs and naps allow the brain to step out of its hyper-drive mode. In a more relaxed state, fresh ideas have a chance to take shape.

There should be no reason to get frustrated. There is so much around you and in you. Put any of it down and play with it. At the end of the day if you don’t like what you’ve written, then move on to something new tomorrow. However, what you did today was time well spent. Not every idea is a masterpiece, but each idea has value.

Click here for subscription to blog on Kindle Out of the Box Publishing Blog on Kindle

Click video preview to see preview of my new book. Click to order.

View my other blog Living in the Heartland

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Filed under writing, writing block