Selling Books for 25 Years
by Natalie Bright
The Amarillo Downtown Library hosted a reception this month to celebrate Jodi Thomas’ 25 year career as a published author. With millions of books in print, numerous awards, and four RITA’s, the prestigious golden statue from the Romance Writer’s of America, this lady deserves a celebration. We also recognized ten years of The Jodi Thomas Fan Club, which can boast of a membership that spans across the country.
Her fans in Amarillo were delighted to have an autographed copy of the newest historical, PROMISE ME TEXAS (Berkley), the 7th novel in her popular Whispering Mountain Series. Jodi shared news about her upcoming projects, reminding us that inspiration continues to come from the members of her fan club. She knows that we’re anxiously awaiting each and every one.
Autographings and Booksignings
She recalled how early in her career she’d pick an area of the state and cold call bookstores to schedule events. Her husband, Tom, would help load the car with kids and boxes of novels and they’d set out on a weekend road trip to sell books. Her private dream was to make the New York Times Bestseller List some day. Meeting as many librarians and bookstore owners and people as she could, she never lost sight of her dreams. Many times these connections paid off resulting in invitations to speak at fundraisers, book clubs, and writer’s groups. I’ve learned from Jodi that you can never have too many people in your network because you never know where those connections might lead. She advised me early on to start a contact list of these people and include them in every mailing.
Jodi mentioned that her current goal is to write 25-30 pages a week. My jaw dropped. That’s about 7500 words! Every week! I’ve been friends with this lady for some time and I know her plate is loaded with grandkids, guiding college students as Writer-In-Residence, co-chairing a week long summer writing academy and newly elected RWA Board member. She’s no different than the rest of us, except she’s got 39 novels under her belt.
It’s like one of her long time critique partners stated. DeWanna Pace observed that Jodi Thomas “had the same 24 hours as everyone else does who sets out on the writer’s journey and, yes, life got in the way many times. But she always found a way to shift her strategy and made it all work in the end. She never missed an opportunity to learn more, write more, network more, to help other writers, and meet each goal she set for herself.”
The Truth about Selling Books
Selling books is an endless marathon. Don’t kid yourself into thinking otherwise. A newly published author shared her excitement and told me that her book is with a smaller house so she’ll have to do all of the marketing herself. I’m happy for her. Every publishing credit is thrilling, but the ‘who’ in promotion is a misguided belief.
Bestselling authors do their own marketing too. It never ends. The writing, the advertising, the blogging, the speaking, the selling; successful authors do it all. This business is not for the faint of heart. It’s the hardest work you’ll ever do.
Selling More Books
I stayed after Jodi’s event to help clean up. We carefully wrapped the glorious RITA’s in bubble wrap and packed away mementos symbolizing a writing career that began with the first sale in 1988. We carried boxes of leftover books, pens, bags, and bookmarks to Jodi’s car. Before driving off, she asked me for the Fan Club poster I’d made, a 10-year picture collage of memories. She had a bookstore event the next day and thought it would look good next to her autographing table. I watched this amazing author, teacher, and a dear friend of some twenty years drive away. I suddenly realized that there hasn’t been a time that I’ve known her when her car wasn’t filled with boxes. She’s living the dream. Still selling. Still hauling books.
Go to www.jodithomas.com to learn more about Jodi Thomas, New York Times Bestselling author of contemporary and historical novels.
Happy book selling Wordsmith Six friends!