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Change, for me, is a daunting thing. And there are some big changes going on in my life right now.

My husband, who is a pastor, has accepted a call at a new church. We are moving to a new town, into a new house.

The people at Zion Lutheran in rural Hudson have been very welcoming and have been enthusiastically preparing the parsonage for our arrival. It’s impressive to me that although they don’t know us very well, they’ve opened their hearts to us, ready to take a chance in making us a part of their church family.

They’ve given the first floor a fresh coat of paint, in colors of our choosing, and they’re putting in a new shower in the first floor bathroom. There will soon be new linoleum in the entryway and main floor bathroom, and possibly, the kitchen.

There are beautiful oak floors in all the bedrooms on the second floor, and we were pretty sure there would be the same kind on the first floor, too. But the carpet was not that old, and in decent shape, and we were a little nervous about asking if we could rip up the carpet and get rid of it. We both love hardwood floors. But what if the floors were very scuffed, or patched, or painted? No one remembered quite what they had looked like before the house was carpeted. We decided not to push the issue, fearing what we would find. It went without saying that if we took the carpet up and found a mess, we couldn’t ask them to put down new carpet, or spend a lot of money refinishing the floors. But we kept thinking about those wood floors – we peeked under the carpet in a few corners. And finally, we got up the courage to ask to have the carpet removed.

“Are you sure this is what you want?” one of the carpenters asked several times. “Once the carpet is up, you can’t put it back down. “  We committed to buying area rugs at our expense, if needed, to cover up any irredeemable flaws. We were willing to take our chances, and so, thankfully, were they.

Life is full of little – and big – decisions, full of turning points, each with its own set of risks.

Unless we’re Nora Roberts and have a few million readers to spare, we ask readers to take a chance on us each time we try to sell them one of our books. In this economy, readers think twice before they spend money on an unknown author. So we come up with dazzling plots and edge-of-your seat suspense and romance that makes the coldest heart sigh with passion. We design enticing covers and write tantalizing back-cover blurbs, all designed to convince new readers to take a chance on us.

Writers go to conferences, finagle editor appointments, write compelling query letters and send stunning synopsis, with the express purpose of convincing the people in power to take a chance on our books — on us! Those looking for employment, like my husband has been for the past couple of months, interview and go to job fairs, network, and redo their resumes in hopes of the same.

In real life and in fiction, when boy meets girl, the first thing that has to happen if the romance is to progress is for one to convince the other to take a chance on them, to open up their heart to the possibility of a relationship.

Sometimes, we’re brave enough to take a chance and then, end up disappointed when our tentative advances are spurned. We rip up perfectly good carpeting in hopes of finding shiny, like-new, narrow board oak flooring, and instead, we find worn, patched-up pine full of gouges and mars. There are no guarantees in this life. Love ends tragically. Hearts are broken. Dreams are dashed. We’ve all been there, done that.

But if we never try – never venture out of the shadows and say, “Please take a chance on me,” we have no hope of a happy ending.

Three years ago, publisher Mike Simpson, of Second Wind Publishing, took a chance on me and published Night and Day. I hope that he is convinced that he made a good decision that day. In some respects, I was taking a chance, too, when I signed on with Second Wind. They were a fledgling company, just getting started.

Just the thought of having my books in print was pretty terrifying in and of itself. An artist takes a huge risk each and every time they reveal their work to an audience of people who may or may not like what they’ve written, painted or performed. Each and every time we open ourselves up to another person, either personally or professionally, we risk rejection, ridicule or criticism.

Thankfully, I can say that my experience with Second Wind has been wonderful. Being published has exceeded my wildest expectations. I’m sure there are people out there who don’t like my books, but I’m here to tell you that hearing wonderful things about and getting complimentary reviews on the books I’ve written is an absolute thrill. I took a chance and have been wonderfully blessed in return.

We got a call today saying the oak floors under the carpeting at the parsonage are in very good condition. There are two slightly worn spots, in areas that can be conveniently covered with a small area rug.

A new year is here. I’m not saying you should gamble away your life savings trying to hit the jackpot, but I would urge you to take a few chances. Don’t be afraid to try. Put yourself out there. Go for the gold and see what happens!

When I was 10 or 11, my parents decided to sell the tent-top camper we’d had for a number of years and buy a bigger one. They put an ad in the paper and had a few responses, but no buyer. Then, one Saturday, while the ad was still running, they had to go somewhere. I was the oldest child in our family, so before they left, they said, “If anyone calls about the camper, tell them we want $500 for it.”

I was in awe. That was a lot of money back in 1967.

Well, wouldn’t you know, an hour after they left, the phone rang – someone had seen the ad and was interested in the camper. I told them the price, answered some questions, and told them where we lived so they could come and see it. A short time later, the phone rang again – someone else wanted to come and see the camper. I gave them directions to get to our house (which was 6 miles from town, on a gravel road) and went back to my other job, which was to make sure my younger brothers and sisters weren’t wrecking the house.

An hour later, I was standing in the yard, showing the camper to both couples, who had coincidentally arrived within minutes of each other. After looking the camper over and asking a few questions, the first couple offered me $450. The other couple jumped in and offered $500, the asking price set by my dad. The first couple was still hanging around, so instead of saying yes, I told a little story about one of our camping trips and how much our family had enjoyed the state park where we’d camped.

The first couple countered with an offer of $550. I mentioned how easy the camper was to put up and tear down. Working together, my dad, my sister and I could do it in 10 minutes flat. The second couple offered $600. I showed them how the table could be folded down and made into a bed. The first couple upped their bid to $650. That was more money than the second couple had, or was willing to offer.

I pronounced the camper SOLD, got $650 cash from the winning bidders, wrote them a receipt, and waved goodbye as they drove down the road, pulling the camper behind. You can imagine my parent’s shock and glee when they came home and I handed them $650.

Night & Day - Book signing

It was at that moment that I first experienced the joy and exhilaration of selling something. As writers, pitching, or trying to sell our books may or may not be part of our comfort zone. But like it or not, published or unpublished, if you’re a writer, you have something to sell, and you need to pitch your book, not just once, but over and over again. Selling yourself, and your book, is an important part of being an author… the difference between being published or unpublished… the difference between success and failure.

When I made the decision to go with a small, independent press (Second Wind Publishing) for my book, Night and Day, it was in part because I own a bed and breakfast and tea house and knew that I had a built-in venue for selling my book. Each day, 4 – 40 people walk in the door – all potential buyers. Still, a stack of nice, new books sitting on a table with a cute little sign rarely sell themselves. Neither will a bump on a log at a book signing.

What does sell my books is me. I pitch my book once or twice every day – sometimes ten or twelve – to each and every guest who walks in the door. As you might guess – I’ve got my pitch down – and I have sold about 300 books in the last 3 1/2 months. I sold 8 over the lunch hour just yesterday.

That doesn’t mean everyone who walks in the door buys a book. Some are not interested. I can see their eyes glazing over 10 seconds into my pitch. Some look excited until I mention the words “internet romance”. Perhaps they’ve been burned by an online lover – perhaps their spouse has had an online dalliance – maybe they think computers are for the birds. Whatever the case, when you try to sell something, you have to be ready for rejection – and then, you have to pick yourself up and keep trying.

“It’s midnight in Minnesota and daybreak in Denmark…” I regularly vary my pitch depending on who I’m talking to – young, old, someone I know, a stranger. The important thing is that I believe in my book. I love my characters and am convinced people will enjoy reading Night and Day.

I live for those moments when I connect with a reader, when we strike common ground, when their faces light up. Sometimes it’s when they see the log-cabin quilt on the cover of Night and Day, sometimes it’s when they hear the words Danish, “junk in the attic”, or bonfire. And when I take their $15 and autograph their book, it’s just as exciting as selling that camper for my parents when I was 11 years old.

Selling is hard. Whether you’re pitching your book or telling someone about your story at a writing conference, talking to guests at a book signing, or asking the manager of your local grocery store if they would consider stocking your book, you will feel naked at times. Intimidated. Daunted. Unsure.

But there comes a moment, when someone wants to buys your book, when you find a common chord with an editor, the owner of a shop, a librarian, or a potential reader, and make the sale, that you will know it was all worth it.

Find the courage to try, and keep trying.

Don’t ever sell yourself short. Sell yourself and you will sell your book!

The review I’ve been waiting for (for Night and Day) from Romance Reader at Heart has been posted and it’s good! I’m so excited! 🙂

There’s a link below.

Sherrie

It’s been a little over a month since my first book, Night and Day, was released. Family members, friends, people around town, and several members of my husband’s church have now read my baby… ah, my book.

Reactions have ranged from squeals of delight upon simply holding the book in their hands (bless you, Sue, for your enthusiasm), running out and purchasing a dozen copies without knowing whether or not it’s good, bad or mediocre (thank you, Becky, my dear sister-in-law), to blaming their bleary eyes on me due to the fact that my book was too good to put down.  One friend, also a writer, wrote me a glowing review. She said that she wanted Anders for Christmas. This, I like to hear.

Thanks for the flowers, Becky!

Thanks for the flowers, Becky!

A few others don’t seem to be able to look me in the eye. I know, you really don’t want to know what your pastor’s wife thinks about sex. It’s a problem. I realize this.

Other have simply said they read the book. That’s it. This is my least favorite response. Don’t they know they’re driving me crazy?

I want to scream, what did you think of it? Tellllllllll meeeeeeeeeeeeee NOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWWW.

I should be confident enough in my writing – in this book, that it doesn’t matter what people think. Plenty of people have loved this book. It would be silly of me to think that everyone is going to like it. I’ve started reading several books that I haven’t cared enough about to finish.  I mean, really… I should be flattered that they cared enough about me to buy the book, and finish reading it, shouldn’t I?

And, if everybody on earth was fluent enough in the skills of communication to eloquently express what they feel, I’d be out of a job, because they’d all be writers, correct?

I love Night and Day. I believe in it. I am confident of my abilities as a writer. I know it’s a great book, a wonderful story, a beautiful romance.

But I really, really want to know what you think… any little thing… a character you liked, a moment when you swooned, a situation you could relate to.  Please, tell me now.

Buy “Night and Day” now at http://www.SecondWindPublishing.com (they have the best price), or http://www.Amazon.com (search for Night and Day by Sherrie Hansen). If you’d like a signed copy, call the Blue Belle Inn B&B and Tea House and we’ll mail you a copy. We accept MC/Visa/AmEx/Disc.

When you’ve read it, please don’t forget to tell me what you think! 🙂

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