Prov 17:22

A merry heart doeth good like a medicine... - Proverbs 17:22

Thursday, April 28, 2016

A Funny Thing Happened on My Way to the Best Seller List

Folks have been asking how my book has been selling since its January launch, so I thought I’d write a blog post about it.

All right, maybe two people asked.

Okay, fine, it was one person who asked twice. 

The short answer is, it’s doing well. And I’m learning lots about this crazy business.

I’ve learned even the experts don’t always know.
I was told by more than one publishing professional that if I hoped to sell a book to an American publisher, I would need to move the setting of my story from Manitoba to the United States. I like to remain teachable, but this was one hill I refused to surrender and I’m so glad I didn’t! As I write this, over 6,000 copies have sold, mostly in Kindle format, over 99% of them in the United States. In fact, more have sold in the UK and Australia than in Canada! Judging by the kinds of books that win Canadian literary awards, I think Canadian readers might be too sophisticated for what I write. But don’t tell my American friends I said so.

I’ve learned who knows the tricks.
Because my publisher, Waterfall Press, is owned by Amazon, they’ve got all the marketing genius required to rocket my book into the bestseller category. For a few hours on April 6, The Silver Suitcase hit #26 in all of Kindle books (to put this in perspective, Kindle has over a million books available) and #1 in both the inspirational and historical fiction genres. While it dropped back to the six-digit range the very next day, it stayed at the top in the inspirational category for several days afterwards. 

Amazon achieves this by running a $1.99 special available to certain customers for a few hours. That shoots the e-book to the top of the heap for that day... which generates more reader reviews, which generates more sales, and so on. And in May, the paperbacks are going into U.S. Walmart stores!

I’ve learned patience pays off.
If I had gone ahead and self-published, I’d basically be done now. I’ve sold a copy to everyone I know who wants one and I’m not inclined to go peddling it from door to door. But I knew God was directing me to trust him and wait on his timing, and he is doing more than I could have orchestrated in a million years. Whatever you do, don’t miss out on something God has for you because you jumped ahead or gave up too soon! He works far beyond your horizons.

I’ve learned authors don’t get rich.
And for those of you wondering how many millions of dollars I’m earning, I hate to disappoint you. Most people assume, as I once did, that a bestselling book means—at least—an adequate income to live on. But when you realize an average of one dollar per book goes to the author, spread out over the seven years it took me to write and sell this one, you can see why I won’t be quitting my day job any time soon.

But something far better is happening. Every day, reviews are added by people I’ve never met and likely never will. The scathing reviews keep me grounded, and the kind ones keep me working on my next book. My favorite so far is this one, from an unnamed Amazon customer: 

“As I finish the last page of this book, I have to take a moment to reflect the influence it has made. I don’t think my life will ever be the same. This was a beautiful story that can touch the hearts of many. I found myself praying and digging into my own story for peace. I will recommend this book to everyone I know. Initially this was a random download, but now I’m not so sure.”

I’m not so sure, either. So let’s celebrate, shall we? If you’d like your name in a draw to win a free, autographed copy of The Silver Suitcase, email me at terriejtodd[at]gmail[dot]com by 10:00 p.m. on Sunday, May 1 with the words “Book Draw” in the subject line.


  1. So happy for you, Terrie! Blessing up blessing be yours as you continue! :)

    1. Thank you so much, Marcia! And yours as well...

  2. Thanks for sharing, Terrie

    You're right - we don't write to get rich, but it is very rewarding and encouraging when our writing reaches hearts and changes people for God's glory.

    1. Thanks, Ruth. Thanks for staying faithful with your writing, too!

  3. So wonderful to hear how god is using your book and I celebrate this success with you. Hooray!

  4. I am in awe of the amount of talent, skill, perseverance, guts, humility (ie: editors), and just plain old fashioned work that it takes to get from where I am to where you are. I am feeling more and more privileged to have a friend in you. I got to see the whole process from up close and personal. (Warning: I feel myself drifting into profound comment land - get out your dictionary, and a shovel...) I have bloomed a little by sitting your shadow. Thank you for watering me. Now that your shadow has grown, and my eyes have adjusted to the light, I have discovered that I am a mushroom.

    My book sold 9 copies on Amazon, plus I sold almost a hundred to my friends and family, and I am OK with that.

    1. We're all in someone else's shadow, Karen. And if mine has grown, it likely has more to do with that 20 pounds I gained around Christmas.