by Lorilyn Roberts
I gazed through the broken window admiring the grandeur of the Himalayan Mountains twenty miles west of China. I felt like I was starring in a movie as I sat nervously waiting in the dusty, dingy office of the Chief District Officer of Dolakha, Nepal. The room was mostly dark, lit with only one uncovered light bulb. Old wooden chairs lined the bare walls and scraped the concrete floor. A dark-haired, three-year-old little girl named Manisha sat beside me.
The C.D.O., a man in his early 30's, sat at an oversized desk with my papers before him. Wielding incredible power over my future, I needed his approval to adopt Manisha. It was hard for me to fathom how I had put myself into this situation, except that I knew God was leading me. My thoughts flashed momentarily back to my failed marriage of eight years.
"I don't love you anymore," my husband told me one night after I confronted him with evidence that he was seeing another woman.
I replayed scenes of the long hours I worked as a court reporter putting him through medical school. I remembered the wine bottles and cheese that I uncovered in the garbage upon returning home after visiting my family in Atlanta. I recalled the night he contacted the police after I confronted him in his office at the hospital. Two weeks after our divorce was final, the other woman gave birth to his child. I was devastated and hurt. Only a loving God could help me to start over and begin a new life.
A few years after my divorce, I received a letter from World Vision, an evangelical organization that sponsors children in Third World countries. The beginning of the letter, dated February 13, 1993, read: "Over 150 million children worldwide are trapped by hunger, sickness, poverty, and neglect." I took the letter and put it on my refrigerator and thought, someday I am going to adopt a child from another country. The letter ended with a quote from Proverbs 13:12 (LB), "Hope deferred makes the heart sick; but when dreams come true at last, there is life and joy."
Now, eight years later, after much forgiveness, prayer, and healing, God had lead me to Nepal. I looked at Manisha, and with piercing, dark brown eyes focused on me, she spoke softly in very clear English, "I love you."
I responded back, "I love you, too."
I did not know how she could have uttered those words because she could not speak English. It gave me the assurance I needed over the next few days that God was in control. The C.D.O. poured over my documents and after awhile looked up and asked, "You're not 40?"
"No," I said, "but I'm almost 40."
"It's the law you must be 40." He gave a cursory glance through the rest of my documents. He and Silas, my facilitator, exchanged a flurry of words in Nepali. Some elderly Nepali men sitting in the room stared at me. I had the feeling that Silas was talking about my infertility. I felt exposed that such personal information was being bantered about. I saw worry in Silas's eyes and knew my hopes of becoming a mother were precariously in limbo.
"We can go back to Kathmandu and try to get special permission from the Home Minister for you to adopt, but there is nothing more we can do here."
I pondered in my heart what Manisha said to me, "I love you." I had to trust God.
The next morning I heard a knock at my hotel door. I opened it and there was Manisha. She looked beautiful in her new pink dress and checkered blue top, smiling and laughing. My heart was full of both worry and hope.
Before we left the hotel to meet with the Home Minister, I called my Mom and asked for prayer. Isaiah 43:5-6* came to mind, "Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east...and my daughters from the ends of the earth."
"O, Dear God," I prayed, "Please let this be Your will. Manisha needs a forever family, hope, and You."
The sun shone brightly and it was a beautiful day as we arrived at the courthouse.
"They don't like me at the legal office," said Silas, "because I refuse to give them money. In America, it's called bribery, but in Nepal, it happens all the time."
Nobody wanted to help us. Silas spoke in Nepali to a male secretary and he motioned us into another room. An errand boy, after an extended discussion with Silas, went into the Home Minister's office. We waited for what seemed like an eternity. Finally, he reappeared speaking in Nepali to Silas.
Silas breathed a sigh of relief and anticipation.
"The Home Minister has granted his permission for you to adopt Manisha."
My eyes filled with tears as I remembered Manisha's softly-spoken words in the Himalayan Mountains, "I love you." It was as if God had said to me, "I love you."
Yes, Manisha, I love you, too.
Just as God loved us so much that He gave us His Son and adopted us into His family, God had given me the first of two daughters to love from the ends of the earth.
The full story can be read in Children of Dreams, available at Amazon at http://amzn.to/mP32cu , Barnes & Noble http://bit.ly/lZtyOX , and other bookstores. The medical mystery uncovered in the book was featured in Animal Planet’s “Monsters Inside Me,” Episode 210, “Shape Shifters.”
You can watch the episode at the following link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TZYic3eNj0c
Manisha arrived home on Mother's Day, May 8, 1994. I dedicate this story to all mothers for Mother's Day!
Saturday, April 30, 2011
Thursday, April 28, 2011
Monday, April 25, 2011
I recently met Eddie Snipes when he joined the John 3:16 Marketing Network. He launched his book, I Called Him Dancer, the first of April, and it hit the best-seller list in two categories on Amazon.
Following his launch, Eddie shared some of his thoughts with the John 3:16 Marketing Network authors, and I asked him if we could pass along his insights in a blog interview. Words of wisdom can help all of us to become better at marketing our books. Enjoy, and please feel free to share your thoughts on this important topic.
Question by Lorilyn: Eddie, If someone were to ask you what you learned from marketing your book I Called Him Dancer over the last several weeks, what would you tell him?
1. Self Evaluate
Authors must first step back and evaluate their plans. We all claim to be in this for the Lord, but are we really? If we are honest, there is a bit of selfish ambition in all of us. And we must guard our ambitions to keep them in check. Otherwise we'll find ourselves with a runaway ego, or grumbling with disappointment.
When we present something for an audience to hear or read, it's only natural to want that message to reach as many people as possible. However, not every message reaches the masses. You may be called to reach one person, or you may be entrusted with a best seller. If it's truly a ministry, is it for us to decide?
I say all of this because as Christians, we should examine our motives. There is nothing wrong with marketing your work, but there is a balance we must keep in perspective.
Having said this, let's take a look at marketing. Unless you have already hit the bestseller list, no one knows who you are. Plopping a book on Amazon's store won't sell books. To sell books, people have to know your book exists. The real nuts and bolts of marketing don't begin when you publish, it begins now.
2. Networking is crucial.
Networking is all about relationships. To establish relationships you must get involved in the world of writing. Writers conferences are a great place to meet people. Facebook and blogging are great ways to meet people. You don't have to have a popular blog to be a successful author. If you enjoy blogging, do so. At a minimum, every author should have a landing page to direct readers to. But if writing blog entries is a burden, don't burn yourself out or beat yourself up over it. It is a tool, but isn't a necessity. But getting involved with other authors is.
Identify a list of blogs that fits your style and interests, and begin commenting. Be an encourager. Over time, you will build a relationship and when it comes time to publish, other writers will be eager to help you. An example of this is a very popular blogger and speaker I know. When it came time to market my book, her blog had a three year waiting list for author interviews. It would not have been fair to bump another author down the list, but she still managed to help my book by posting a blurb and giveaway at the end of the current interview. Fellow authors will do that for friends, but don't expect much if you approach someone you've never interacted with.
Helping others is a great marketing tool. Promoting other authors on facebook, twitter, and if you blog, do so there. Then others will be willing to return the favor once you publish. No one wants to feel used, so build relationships now – before the time comes to market your book.
John316 marketing is a great tool in your selling arsenal; however, don't rely exclusively upon one networking tool. Think of launch day as it is intended to be. A launch. Once launched, you have the problem of sustained marketing. Otherwise your book will fall to the ground and be forgotten. None of us want our work to find its place in the graveyard of forgotten books. Writing is not for the faint of heart. As the Bible says, the race isn't to the swift. It takes persistence and endurance
3. Looking for a break.
Every bestselling author got a break. Is it luck? Not really. Think of marketing as a wall of doors. Most doors will not open, but some will. You cannot know which doors will open until you knock and ask to be invited in. Authors must be thick skinned, for most doors will be closed to anyone who is unknown. Sometimes the person behind the door will be hurtful. Don't give up on all the doors because most don't yield success. There are thousands of doors to try, and you won't find the ones that can benefit you unless you keep knocking. Who knows, behind a door may be someone who believes in your book and will give you that special break that pushes you over the top. As the cliché goes, "Luck is when preparation meets opportunity." In a nutshell, opportunity is what you are looking for. And you probably won't find it without perseverance and being prepared.
4. Make it easy for readers to find your book.
Post it everywhere and use every opportunity to make it easy to find and buy. Make it available as an ebook in as many formats as possible. Use smashwords.com to reach the ebook markets for Apple, Sony, Barnes and Noble, etc. Amazon has great tools for the Kindle format. All these tools are free. The goal is to get the book as high in the rankings as possible. This is so readers can find your books. Each category has a top 100 list, but unless you can get in the top 20, readers probably won't find your book. Seldom will readers browse through more than two pages of information.
John316's strategy is great for getting your book off the launch pad, but one day of ranking won't keep you airborne. The goal is to get a sustainable ranking. There are some good ways to do this. Facebook and blogs are the best tools for no-name authors. Do blog tours. You'll be surprised how many readers will buy because they read about it on their favorite site. Don't give a bland author interview, but make yourself likeable with humor, anecdotes, and tidbits about you that intrigue readers.
5. Take advantage of social networking.
Facebook is a great tool, but you need a lot of contacts to be effective. Begin friending people – even those you don't know. Remember, this is a marketing tool. You can create another facebook account for personal friends if you'd like. Focus on other writers. Writers friend writers because they also are trying to build up their contact base. Currently, I have over 2,200 FB friends. Only a fraction of those will respond, but each one is a potential contact. And a potential promoter. When your book comes out, have a giveaway where facebook friends get entries for posting links to your book on their profiles. Or links to your landing page. Each person that posts expands your marketing exponentially.
Twitter isn't as effective as facebook. In fact, the response is usually quite low. Yet, it's still a free marketing tool and since tweeting takes seconds, it is still worth the effort. At this stage, every little bit counts.
6. Price your book reasonably.
Unless you have specialized knowledge that's in high demand, you won't sell many books if you price them over $10. The best marketing in the world can't overcome an overpriced book. Avoid vanity presses like the plague. Most make their money by selling you overpriced packages and care nothing about selling books. There are exceptions, but few. To verify a press, go to their store and see how they are pricing books. If the press sells 28 page books for $10-12 or a full page novel (300 pages) for $18-25, walk away. Readers will not pay that for a famous author, so a new author won't stand a chance. This is why I started my own imprint. Start an imprint, or partner with someone who has.
7. Ebook prices are also important.
Don't sell an ebook for $9.99. The cheaper the book, the more the sales. If you want to get attention, sell it for .99 cents. I know most authors baulk at that price, but consider the facts. You are a no name author. People will take a chance on spending a dollar, but they won't toss out $10 for someone they've never heard of. Your family and friends might, but once launch day is over, your sales will plummet. I've used this philosophy, and my launch day put my book in the top 10 in two categories. It's now two weeks later, and I still bounce between #8 and #15. People are still buying as word spreads and they see the price.
Consider the business world. How do new businesses attract people? They offer great values at low prices. The introductory marketing plan is not designed to make money, but to build a reputation. Grabbing customer's attention and becoming known is the initial focus. If you're an independent author, you should approach marketing with the same philosophy. It's not a get rich quick scheme. Marketing your writing is a slow and deliberate process. Create value and draw readers in. Build your reputation with the first few books and work toward reaching a sustainable income.
8. Get influencers.
One or two reviews will not present a good impression to readers. Contact people who are interested in the genre of your book and recruit influencers. Provide them with a free book for posting reviews. The purpose of an influencer is to influence the market to look at your book. If you locate reviewers from your genre, they can post honest comments about your book and rate it. This builds your book's credibility. For a few dollars, you will have gotten advertising that's invaluable. When you market your book, readers want to see if it is worth their time. Reviews give a good indication of the value of your writing. Readers can tell if the reviewer is sincere, so don't pad your ratings. If customers feel deceived, they will sink your ratings with bad reviews.
9. Give books away.
Allow bloggers to give away free copies of your book. They post the interview and blurb, they appeal to their readers and handle the contest, but you must ship the book free of charge to the winner. Some new authors don't like this idea, but let's face it, $10 for focused advertisement is a great deal.
10. Look at marketing as a long - term effort.
Don't launch and then let your book plummet to the ground. Launch, and follow up with marketing. Then market some more. Let the marketing pay off for a week or so, and then start a new campaign. Find new ways to reach readers outside your circle of influence so you aren't wearing people out. Don't saturate your market; find ways to reach new ones. Be creative. Make connections. Build relationships. Remember, it's about people, not just your book. Take care of people, put in the work, be persistent. Then let the book sales take care of itself.
You can purchase a copy of I Called Him Dancer at your local bookstores and on-line, including Amazon.com, at the following link: http://amzn.to/gbN8vc
Saturday, April 23, 2011
Friday, April 22, 2011
Monday, April 18, 2011
The John 3:16 Marketing Network
The Finest Example of Launching Christian Books in the WorldQ&A with Lorilyn Roberts
I started the John 3:16 Network last summer and am excited about what God is doing. I will share some Q&A here to help your readers learn more about the network and answer some questions that I have addressed at various times.
Question: What is the John 3:16 Marketing Network?
Answer: The John 3:16 Marketing Network is a network of Christian authors from all over the world who have united for a common purpose: To help Christian authors launch books on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. The launches last for twenty-four hours, and during that time, authors in the network post tweets and Facebook announcements, host interviews of the launching author, post blogs about the upcoming book, and send emails to opt-in lists. Oftentimes there are free e-gifts available to those who buy the book on launch day. We’ve had several authors to reach best-seller status at Amazon, and even those who didn’t still received a lot of publicity and exposure for their book.
Question: I don’t have a blog/website, don’t use Twitter, and don’t care for Facebook, but can I still be in the network? I have a book coming out that I need help promoting.
Answer: You must have an active blog or website to be a member of the John 3:16 Marketing Network. The reasons relate to the type of social marketing and network promotion we do for Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
You will need a blog/website to help others if you wish to be a blog host for a launch.
It shows you have enough knowledge to do very basic internet marketing.
The John 3:16 Marketing Network is not designed to do the hard work of marketing your book for you. Those who have enjoyed the network the most and have achieved best-seller status made the most of the internet for promoting their book on launch day. We have around eighty-five authors now, and if even half of the authors help on a launch, I would imagine we are reaching close to five hundred thousand people. As we grow, I look forward to reaching a million people on launches and boosting rankings even higher in subcategories. An author can also use sources outside the network to launch a book, increasing his exposure.
Question: Does everybody who submits their name to join the John 3:16 Marketing Network get accepted into the network?
Answer: Even assuming a person meets all the criteria as listed on the submission page, no. As time has passed, I have become more selective. For instance, early on, if someone didn’t leave all his information, which is basically, his name, website/blog, and email, if I had his email, I would follow up in an email and ask him for his full name or blog.
I don’t do that anymore. If an applicant can’t follow the directions on how to apply, I would rather he not join. The rules are specific about how to launch a book to best-seller status, and if an author can’t follow the rules about how to join, he won’t be able to follow the rules for hosting a launch.
Before I approve a person on the John 3:16 Marketing Network, I always check out his or her blog/website. If I see something that raises a question mark in my mind, I don’t go any further in the application process. I also only let in about three or four authors per week. It is very time consuming because there are several steps in the process, and since I am doing this at no charge, I only have a limited amount of time each week to devote to new members.
Question: What is the John 3:16 Marketing Network like on a day-to-day basis?
We have a Facebook page that is used basically to announce books on launch day and as publicity for the network. People find us there and become a fan, but that does not make a person a member of the network. The Facebook page is only a tiny fragment of the big picture.
We have a blog for launching books, a page where many of the books written by our authors are listed for purchase, an introduction page for new members, and we are fixing to launch a resource page of available services offered by authors within the network.
The most important part of the network is our Yahoo Forum, which is by invite only. You can’t be a member of the forum unless you are in the John 3:16 Marketing Network. We have a very verbose group on the forum. It is not unusual to have between fifty and one hundred email postings each day.
Question: What is my role (Lorilyn Roberts) in the John 3:16 Marketing Network?
I admit everybody into the network. I verify all the launch dates and launches to make sure each author is ready/prepared to launch and is not in conflict with anyone else’s launch. I provide an important document explaining how to host a professional launch based on the Peggy McColl Best-Seller Program. (We also have made some modifications to that program to suit our network). I answer a lot of individual emails from members and oversee the general running of the network. It is a labor of love.
I had no idea when I began this network, which I felt led by God to form, that it would be so successful. I have touched a felt-need in the Christian arena of authors and marketing. We have a connectedness and sharing among like-minded individuals. We make no distinction between self-published, POD published, or mainline published. It doesn’t come up in conversation on the forum, as I have seen on other forums, because nobody cares.
There is a camaraderie and feeling of good will that must be akin to what existed in the early church. We truly have something special here. As with any group, however, it is not for everyone. You must have at least some familiarity with how to post on Facebook, twitter, blog, et cetera, or be willing to learn without complaining; you must be willing to follow the instructions on how to launch a best-seller and be willing to be edified—we want everyone to succeed; and you must be willing to give of yourself to help others on launches or give an e-gift for those who have landing pages. The landing pages have been fabulously successful in helping authors to achieve best-seller status. You will learn what that is when you join the John 3:16 Marketing Network.
As far as I know, we have done something that has never been done—united Christian authors from all over the world in one network representing every way a book can be published. On book launches, we all join together and cheer each other on through announcements of various kinds, helping each author to achieve that coveted best-seller status. We share our thoughts, insights, knowledge, blogs, successes, prayer requests, and dreams. What started out as a way for authors to launch books has become so much more. I am not sure where God will take it, but I am trusting Him for the future. As I love to say, the best is yet to come!
To visit our information page and submit an application go to:
Friday, April 8, 2011
Thursday, April 7, 2011
Enjoy a free ebook by going to this link:
If you download, please follow me on my blog here and help me get to one hundred followers.
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Love Your Characters
A recent event popped into my head where I misjudged somebody’s comment. Fortunately, it bugged me enough that I said something about it to my daughter, who promptly straightened out my misunderstanding. I was thankful she did and later wondered how many times I’ve misjudged someone and never knew.
As a fictional writer it’s important to understand the inner workings of even the most bastard character. The psychology of being is at the core of every living thing and crucial to what makes each individual unique. If we want to make believable characters, we better know what makes them itch, do something stupid, or surprise the reader; but to love them? I am not sure I can do that. Perhaps I can love getting to know them better as I create them, but I don’t know if I have the power of Dickens to love my antagonistic characters the way he did.