August 28, 2013

KNOW YOUR READERSHIP by Bruce Atchison

There are only two ways of working effectively, harder or smarter. I learned the hard way that the subjects I thought were interesting are obviously not of interest to others. My three memoirs are an apt example of this.

When a Man Loves a Rabbit: Learning and Living With Bunnies sold well, particularly since it was a debut book. I knew many rabbit owners and having been their friend, they bought a total of  two-hundred-and-fifty copies.

My second memoir, Deliverance from Jericho: Six Years in a Blind School, did poorly. At first, I felt astonished. The fact that most people with perfect sight have no interest in accounts of life in that sort of institution did not occur to me when I wrote my memoir. Neither did I record any sensational stories of abuse in it. Only blind people wanted the book but I lacked the money to have it in an accessible format. As a result, I barely sold fifty print copies.

I assumed my third book would do better. How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity has been out for less than a year but it also has done poorly. Though I promoted it on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Linked In, only a few copies sold.

I now realize that I should have done research on how well books on the subject of toxic churches sold. My second mistake was to assume that apologetics ministries would jump at the chance to promote my testimony of God's providential leading. Every ministry to which I sent a copy politely said "no" or failed to reply.

Though we writers find it difficult to step back from our creations and see potential pitfalls, it is possible. What we can do, and what I should have done, is enlist friends who we trust to give good suggestions on where would be the best places to plug our books or articles. Of course Googling can be of help but it does consume a lot of time. Writing groups which point the way instead of the finger are also good places for advice.

I certainly have learned my lesson. Like attracts like. My rabbit book sold well because my friends love to read about bunny antics. If I had my blind school memoir in an accessible format, I might have sold more copies to sight-impaired people. I'm now concentrating on  telling cult recovery organizations about my journey to biblical Christianity. Time will tell if I'm successful or not.

Bruce Atchison is a freelance writer and self-published author. His articles have appeared in a wide variety of magazines since the nineties. Atchison's first two books are available at Bruce Atchison's books while his latest memoir is at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual bookworm publishers.

4 comments:

Tracy Krauss said...

I'm not sure you should judge the success of a book by sales alone. Perhaps out of those fifty copies, your story really spoke to someone. If God calls you to write something, then you should do it. Maybe these were stories you needed to tell for your own sake... Just my thoughts.

Rachel said...

Bruce, while I agree with Tracy, I understand the frustration a writer can have with publishing and feeling as though no one is reading. It's like an opera singer performing to an empty auditorium. With that being said, I agree that out of all the people who got the book, perhaps some of them were really touched.

Also, I'd say don't give up on your books. You can still put the books in a format that sight impaired people can read. If you think the message is worth getting out, continue to fight for it. The books are you babies, and you are the one who can give life to them.

Back to the reason you posted, it is important to know your audience. Now that the book is out, you're able to understand that audience so much better. So, I say continue to push forward!

Happy Writing!

Ramona Heikel said...

Thanks for the helpful tips, Bruce. You've done some tough work for the rest of us to learn from, and I also am sure that all of your books have landed in the right hands, by God's leading.

T. L. Wiens said...

Hey Bruce,
I understand your frustration but your stories are important. For the fifty people who have read your books, I pray for eyes to be opened and the message shared. Unfortunately, church is more about a social club than worshiping Jesus Christ. They aren't ready to face the truth that there's is a religion, not a true faith.