On Life

Answering the Question: How Many Books Have You Sold?

How many books have you sold?

It’s the question people like to ask me about my recently released novel entitled Inn Significant. It seems to be the question people have on their minds as the marker that indicates how successful the book has been thus far.

The funny thing is, I liken the question to someone asking me about my age, how much I make, or how robust my sex life is.

Sometimes we are focused too much on the results and not on the process. At least that’s what my husband and I try to teach our kids. The most important aspect revolves around the process that helps us achieve our goals; the results are often secondary (and yes, at times, can be quite important).

As for Inn Significant, I didn’t set out to write a bestseller. That thought is not based in reality; I like to think more realistically. When I began writing the novel, I set out to start the process, see the process through, and complete a project. A writing project. Do you know how many people start something and never finish it? My goal is always to complete it. Writing has been in my blood since I was about 13 years old. I feel compelled to tell stories, and I’m more concerned with the process of that storytelling journey than I am with the results of that journey.

Moreover, I find myself echoing the sentiments of writer Elizabeth Gilbert when she says, “…if I am not actively creating something, then I am probably actively destroying something (myself, a relationship, or my own peace of mind).” Well said, Ms. Gilbert.

If you have the creative inspiration to redecorate a room, you do it, don’t you? If you have the urge to build a spectacular garden with a fountain in your back yard, you take it on, right? If you sit at a blank canvas and paint something that moves you, you don’t tell your inspiration to run away and hide, do you?

No, you don’t; nor do I. If I have the inspiration—if it happens to bless me with a story I think I can piece together in a meaningful way—I write it. Why would I tell my creativity to take a flying leap?

As for book sales, I do my best to try to promote the book, talk up the book, market the book, and sell the book where I can. Just this week, I entered two independent author book contests, and I’m about to enter more. I sent my book off to people who may be able to help promote it. I mailed out press releases. I was booked to talk at a library and a book signing is in the works at a bookstore. I do what I can.

But this is not why I write.

I write, once again, to quote Elizabeth Gilbert, because of this one, main reason: “…at the end of your creative adventure, you have a souvenir—something that you made, something to remind you forever of your brief but transformative encounter with inspiration.”

Screen Shot 2017-03-26 at 11.07.47 AMTo put it simply, I just like to be able to say that I welcomed inspiration and “I did it.”

I also love the fact that my kids see their mom be fearless about putting her creativity out there.

That’s a process worth teaching.

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15781589_865992106837911_1585157622209528074_nStephanie Verni is Professor of Business Communication at Stevenson University and is the author of the newly released Inn SignificantBaseball Girl, and Beneath the Mimosa Tree.  Along with her colleagues Leeanne Bell McManus and Chip Rouse, she is a co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice, published by Kendall-Hunt. 
To visit Stephanie’s Amazon Author page and see her books, click here.



On Life

Baseball, An Airplane, And A Writer=”One Summer”

BillBrysonOn the eve of the release of Bill Bryson’s latest book, he stood before a crowd at Stevenson University—humbled, excited, and pleased—to talk to students, faculty, and staff members about his works, of which there are many. So gracious was he, that he didn’t even begin his talk by speaking about himself; after being introduced, he simply opened up the floor for questions. The audience had many.

The anticipation for his new book entitled “One Summer: America 1927” is something that readers of history, sports, and discoveries will more than likely relish. The discussion of this book harkens back to the summer of 1927, when things were changing. What brought him to write the book? Two gentlemen in particular: Babe Ruth and Charles Lindbergh. In fact, Babe Ruth hit his 60th milestone homerun on today’s date in September of 1927 (September 30). That year was also when Charles Lindbergh took his solo, non-stop flight across the Atlantic. The idea for the book started with baseball and an airplane. However, Bryson soon discovered there was more to the summer of 1927. There was also gangster Al Capone, the carving of Mount Rushmore, and the invention of the television by Philo Farnsworth, among others.OneSummer

With enthusiasm, knowledge, and a great curiosity, Bryson engaged his audience with candor, humor, and a splash of brilliance. You see, he doesn’t believe he is a brilliant writer, even when he was complimented as such by an audience member.

“I take brilliant and clever things people say and put them into my writing,” he claimed.

When asked about his craft, something that I and fellow writers and writing students took a keen interest in, he said he has only two things that guide him: curiosity and enthusiasm. He grew up in Des Moines, Iowa, where his parents worked at the newspaper, The Des Moines Register. “English was the only subject I was good at—it’s what we talked about at dinner.” From Des Moines, he went to England, where he worked at a hospital, met a nurse (and married her—they are still married today), and began to freelance (he still resides in England today). When National Geographic wanted him to do a piece on Provence or anywhere else, he attributed his success as a journalist to his intense curiosity, and his interest in researching and uncovering truths. He has no set way he goes about his work, except that he reads and researches and allows interesting things to pique his curiosity.

The release of his book is set for tomorrow, and I know I am curious enough to want to read more about that era of the 1920s, especially as someone who loves baseball. I always enjoy reading another take on The Babe, as well as other fascinating stories that will take me back in time to the roaring twenties.