Tuesday Talk this week features local author JoEllen Claypool, whose works include 'Realistic Tips to Being a Pastor's Wife' and 'A Realist's Guide to Being a Pastor's Wife'.
Q: JoEllen, these seem like pretty serious titles. What was the road to writing them like for you?
A: The road to writing A Realist's Guide to Being a Pastor's Wife began when my husband and I were thrown into a ministry position seven years ago. I was searching the library shelves for anything that would tell me what my role was. I could find no resource to help me. Toni Morrison says, "If there's a book you really want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it." So I did. Honestly, when I set out to write it, my heart was to warn people - "Don't get into the ministry!" But as I started writing I realized the times when my attitude needed adjusting. I wanted to give new people coming into the ministry an idea of what to expect as well as give people in the congregation an idea of what goes on behind the scenes so they know how to encourage their ministry leaders.
It was definitely an overwhelming process. Writing it was the easy part. All the other little steps to getting it to the final stages about put me over the edge. In fact my husband threatened many times that he was going to ground me from my book project if I didn't quit my bawling. He said, "This is supposed to be a blessing not have you in tears every day." So I did have to walk away from it for periods of time just to save my own sanity.
Q: How is it working with your publisher, Valley Walker Press?
A. Working with Valley Walker Press was great (considering it is me). I did choose the self publishing route and I will tell you why. I wanted to keep the rights to the work that I produced and although I knew the cost would all fall on me, I also knew that cost would all come back to me. The book I sell for $10.00, I get the full $10.00. I do not have to give a percentage to another publisher. To me, self publishing is just good business. I had some work published last year through a traditional publisher and learned a lot. The one thing I was not clear on was the fact that I had given up my rights to my work and now have to ask permission to use it again. I wanted to have more control over the decisions that were made regarding my writing. Also, my husband and I want to write books together one day and I have a couple other people that I would like to help get published so my ultimate goal is to one day become a traditional publisher and be able to do that. It is exhiliarating seeing your own work in book form and I want to give that feeling to other new authors.
Q: Can you tell us what avenues you have taken to market your works?
A: As far as marketing, I have a lot to learn. My first step was to make it available for the Kindle through Amazon. I then made a .99 booklet named Realistic Tips to Being a Pastor's Wife that outlined the main book in tip form with an information page at the end leading to A Realist's Guide to Being a Pastor's Wife. I also had a lot of fun creating a couple of Youtube videos. A friend of mine took some silly and some serious pictures of me that I put captions to and named one of the videos The Real Faces of a Pastor's Wife. The second video, the pictures go along with one of my poems in the book. I told my friend, "Maybe I should have someone who doesn't know the pastor's wife take these pictures. You've probably seen faces on me that I am not aware of; like rolling my eyes." I did lots of promoting on Facebook, Twitter and email to send people to my links for the videos and ebook. Once it came out in print, the real work began. I sent out press releases to the local newspapers and approached my hometown paper in Gillette, WY who did an interview article for me. I wrote letters to libraries and Bible colleges and churches to get the word out but have found most sales to come from personal interaction. I walk into the the local libraries and bookstores and give my pitch as to why this book would be a great addition to their shelves. Then, of course, book signings. It never hurts to ask, is what I have learned. Coffee shops are a great place for signings. I have participated in holiday bazaars and the local farmer's markets, any function that you can get exposed. There are many places that it does not cost to set up a booth or they ask for a small percentage of your sales. I also belong to the Idaho Authors Community which enables me to do group book signings. We did one at a coffee shop in Boise and at the Karcher Mall. We are just starting out but our goal is to hit every county in Idaho to get the names of local authors out there. It is also a great time to connect with other authors and zone in on their talents. We have illustrators and editors that we can draw from for help with our own book projects so it is a great deal.
Q: Are you currently working on anything else? Where do you see your writing career heading?
A: I have many ideas that I want to write on all the way from poetry to cookbooks, Sunday School curriculums to more serious topics, but think that my next project will be in the area of children's books so that I can have a wider audience and have the opportunity to do more events in libraries. I have been using the strategy of thinking what was hard for me to find on the book shelves when my kids and I were looking for certain topics. By this time next year I hope to have two or three books available on my tables. As I said earlier, my husband and I want to promote books together and he is working on some Bible studies and helps of his own.
Q: Do you remember the time I tried to sell you a vacuum?
A: (Laughing) I do remember when you tried to sell us a vacuum! I also remember being very bummed out that I couldn't buy one. I hope your book isn't as expensive as the vacuum!
Chris: It certainly is not! I was pretty bummed you couldn't buy one, as well. Well, thank you for your time, and your contribution to the literary world.
If you are interested in checking out JoEllen's book, you can find it here at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008EYONAC.
You can contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit JoEllen’s author page at: http://www.facebook.com/JoEllenClaypoolAuthor.
Watch a video of her poem 'I am a Pastor’s Wife' at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fhcXUKEgkbA, or 'Real Faces of a Pastor’s Wife' at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vOckAl6wHKg.