Time to Write with Karen Sargent

Are You Trapped in Your Writing World?

By Karen Sargent

Writing had consumed every aspect of my life. When I wasn’t teaching English during the day or sleeping at night, I was sitting at my desk, logged into my laptop—and logged out of my life. But what choice did I have? I was a new author chasing the dream, and the dream takes hustle. I love the dream. I love to write. But I hated what it was doing to me.

I had many masters, and I tried to serve them all: Facebook groups, writing blogs, reading blogs, my own blog, Twitter, book launch teams, agents to beg, a publisher to please, a platform to build, a book to market, ARCs to read, reviews to post, endorsements to write, contests to judge, writing friends to promote, reading friends to meet, workshops to present, new writers to mentor, a work-in-progress…

And the list of so many good things goes on. But, oh the craziness!

I had what my youngest daughter diagnosed as FOMO—fear of missing out. I was afraid to miss the next Tweet or the next article or the next professional connection that would move me one step farther down “the write road.” I feared missing out on the one magic thing I should be doing—whatever it was—and was in constant search of it.  

The pressures of being a debut author had skewed my perspective. For most of 2016 and 2017, I was so busy trying to write, publish, and promote a story, I missed out on too much of my own story. If a friend asked to meet at the coffee shop, I’d calculate how much writing time it would cost me. If I watched a movie with my family, the plot I was most interested in was the one I was writing in my head.

Living my life was like reading a book by skimming the chapters, or sometimes just the opening and closing paragraphs, or maybe skipping a chapter entirely. You get the gist of the story, but you don’t fully experience it. That was me.

Until life pounded at my door.  Correction: It busted through like a SWAT team and refused to be neglected anymore.  

I was in the midst of my debut’s first year, still deep into building relationships, trying to find my place in the writing community and my way into readers’ hands. And then my mom’s health started a rapid decline. The doctor recommended hospice, and she wished to spend her last days at home, so I wrote sub plans, cashed in my sick days, and moved in for a few months.

From a writing standpoint, the first two weeks were the hardest. I had little time to engage on social media or to read and comment on blogs. I missed my writing friends, and I truly think I suffered withdrawal symptoms. I had to break promises to promote book releases and cancel workshops I had committed to teach. I struggled to fulfill my volunteer role in a writing organization, and I couldn’t post on my blog. Nothing was more important than the privilege of caring for my mom, but I feared how quickly I would lose the relationships I cherished and the connections I had worked so hard to make.

But soon, my real life came back into focus.

I rediscovered the person I once was who had become lost in the writer I wanted to be. Becoming reacquainted with myself allowed me to fully engage in the joy and grief of caring for my mom until she passed in June. In that time, my oldest daughter graduated from college, moved out, and started her career. The rest of summer passed, a new school year began, and I was busy preparing for my daughter’s November wedding. The holiday season followed, and now here I am, looking back at 2018. I can’t say I was much of a writer last year, but I’m proud to say I was a devoted daughter and an involved wife, mother, and friend.

And here’s the amazing part. My writing community didn’t forget me. Before the end of 2018, I was invited to participate in author events, teach workshops, and guest post. My book sales had a little boost in time for Christmas, and occasionally a reader will ask when my next book will be out. I’m on faculty for the 2019 Missouri Writers Guild Conference, and I’ve booked my first out-of-state speaking engagement at a fundraiser for a children’s hospital. The astounding thing is I solicited none of these invitations. In spite of my fear of missing out, my writing community opened their arms wide and said, “Welcome back.” My heart is so full!

The past ten months replaced my FOMO with JOMO—the joy of missing out. I remembered how to enjoy life away from my laptop. Now, as I turn my daughter’s old bedroom into my new office, I better understand how to balance the two worlds that are so important to me. I’ve evaluated how I spend my time in the writing world. I’ve identified where I find authentic relationships, important information, valuable partnerships, and personal progress. That’s where you’ll find me. Everything else is clutter. I’ve set writing goals—and writing limits. When it’s time for me to be a writer, I’ll fully be a writer…guilt free. And when it’s time for me to be a wife, a mom, or a friend, I’ll fully be that as well…frustration free.

In 2019, I’m going to spend less time writing more, and more time living well.

[Click to Tweet] I rediscovered the person I once was who had become lost in the writer I wanted to be. Time to Write with Karen Sargent via @InspiredPrompt #amwriting #writerslife

Writing Prompt: FOMO produces clutter. Clutter steals precious writing time, family time, and energy. Make a list of clutter in your writing life. What can be eliminated to make room for more productivity and joy in both of your worlds?


Karen Sargent is a recovering writing-aholic who does not miss the burning shoulder, lower backache, and 15 pounds that disappeared in 2018 when she ended a long-term relationship with her laptop. Armed with a new 2019 planner, she has scheduled joy back into her life, sprinkled with a moderate dose of writing her WIP, a little bit of blogging, and an occasional workshop presentation. Karen’s debut novel, Waiting for Butterflies, was named the 2017 IAN Book of the Year and received the Foreword Reviews Gold for Christian fiction. Visit her at KarenSargentBooks.com.

The Most Important Book Marketing Secret

by Karen Sargent

When I signed my first publishing contract, I was elated…and petrified. My forever dream of seeing my name on a book cover was coming true!

What could be more exciting for a wanna-be author? The answer is easy. Nothing!

And what could be more terrifying? That answer is easy, too. What if no one buys my book? After all, why would they? I’m an invisible, no-name, insignificant author.

Then, two weeks after I signed my contract, I accidentally discovered the most important book marketing secret. I’m going to share it with you, but before I do, I must ask a few questions.

Let’s pretend your new book releases tomorrow. Who will buy it? Think of five people who will—without a doubt—pay money to read your book. Write down their names, or at least say their names aloud. This is important, so take a few seconds. I’ll wait…

(Don’t read on until you have your list!)

Now that you’ve identified your five people, let’s see who they are.

Is your mom on the list? How about your dad? Cross them off.

Did Grandma and Grandpa make the list? An aunt or an uncle? Cross them off, too.

How about your brother or sister or son or daughter or cousin? Yep. They have to go. In fact, let’s remove anyone related to you.

Mark off your best friend, your neighbor, and your co-worker. Delete anyone in your church or your writing group or your community.

Is anyone left? Do they know you by first name? Then take them off the list, too.

And now your list is blank. But don’t worry. We’re getting to the good stuff.

Why are you certain those five people will purchase your new release? What is the common denominator?

Those people care about you. They have a connection with you, and they’d be happy to buy your book—even if it’s a bad book.

So here’s the important secret. Book marketing is not about selling books. It’s about building relationship. Remember the famous line from the movie Field of Dreams? “If you build it, they will come.” If you build a relationship with readers, book sales will come. It’s a 100% guaranteed book marketing strategy. Here’s how I know.

When it was time to query agents, my online presence was lacking. I felt unqualified to start an author website or a writing blog. But, I had two decades of mom experience, and the target audience for my book included moms, so I started a mom blog instead.

By the time I signed my book contract, I’d been blogging for three months and had about 100 followers (who had no idea I had written a book). I couldn’t wait to share my news, so I made a video and posted it to my blog. (If you want to see a dork announce her book news—click here.)

My blog followers went CRAZY! By the next day, the video had 1,500 views, my blog followers tripled, and I couldn’t keep up with Facebook friend requests.

What if I hadn’t started that mom blog three months prior to my contract offer? Who would have cared that a publisher wanted my book? (My mom, my husband, my best friend…) Instead, my publishing journey was crowded with friends who couldn’t wait for Waiting for Butterflies.

There’s more. I revealed my book cover the same day my book was available for pre-order on Amazon, and guess what? More CRAZY. That day is still my second highest book sale day. Once the book released, Facebook friends posted pictures with their copy of Butterflies, along with their reactions once they finished reading, and I hadn’t even asked them to! With each post, I watched Amazon sales increase.

Relationship. If you build it, sales will come. So how do you build it?

Obviously, my mom blog was a serendipitous beginning (thanks to my severe case of imposter syndrome) that turned out to be a smart accident. If you’re thinking about starting a writing blog or a book review blog, is there a different approach that would target your audience more directly?

Blogging isn’t the only way to build relationship. I cherish the friends I’ve made by interacting on others’ websites, in Facebook groups, and on book launch teams. So if you’re in the habit of stalking those communities, introduce yourself. We’ve been waiting for you!

If building relationship is the most important secret about book marketing, here’s the most important secret about building relationship. You must be genuine. If you have an ulterior motive, it will show.

A rewarding relationship with readers is built just like every other meaningful relationship you have: Give more than is expected. Give without expecting anything in return. When relationship comes first, book sales follow.

Click to Tweet: “Give without expecting anything in return. When relationship comes first, book sales follow.” ~ Karen Sargent @Inspired Prompt #writetip #marketing

Writing Prompt: Bree didn’t hear him walk up behind her, but she knew he was there.


Karen Sargent is an award-winning author whose debut novel, WAITING FOR BUTTERFLIES, is the 2017 IAN Book of the Year. She writes “stories that stir the soul” with characters whose imperfect faith collides with real-life conflicts. A romantic element is woven within. She also blogs at The MOM Journey, where moms aren’t perfect and that’s perfectly okay. Her writing has been featured in Guidepost’s Angels on Earth magazine and online at Writer’s Digest and Southern Writers Magazine Suite T. She is the volunteer coordinator for WFWA and a member of ACFW, the Missouri Writers’ Guild, and the SEMO Writers’ Guild. When she’s not writing, Karen teaches high school and college English and resides in the beautiful Arcadia Valley with her husband and two daughters. Visit her at KarenSargentBooks.com.


Longing for her family after her sudden death, Maggie becomes a lingering spirit and returns home where she helplessly witnesses her family’s downward spiral in the aftermath of her passing. Her husband is haunted by past mistakes and struggles to redeem himself. Her teenage daughter silently drowns in her own guilt, secretly believing she caused her mother’s death. Only her five-year-old, full of innocence, can sense her presence. Although limited by their grief and lack of faith, Maggie is determined to keep a sacred promise and save her family before her second chance runs out. A tender portrait of a mother whose love reaches beyond possible, Waiting for Butterflies will embrace your heart and not let go.

LINKS:
Website: http://www.karensargentbooks.com
Blog: http://www.karensargentbooks.com/blog/
Facebook: www.Facebook.com/KarenSargentAuthor
Twitter: www.Twitter.com/KarenSargentBks

 

 

 

 

 

3 Questions Wednesday with Karen Sargent

Happy Wednesday!  Author Karen Sargent creates characters whose imperfect faith collides with real-life conflicts, taking readers on a journey through grace and redemption to discover enduring hope. Let’s see how she tackles our questions…

First Question:

What inspires you?

Karen:  Momhood inspires me. For nearly 21 years I’ve loved being a mom, and that’s long enough to look back and realize I expected too much from myself—just like moms typically do. I expected perfection and always fell short because I compared myself to moms who loved to cook (my least favorite book is a recipe book!) and to moms whose homes were spotless (I’m good at moving clutter from one room to another and closing the door). I overlooked what I did well. Like my own mom, I’m a good listener and I have honest conversations about the hard stuff.

I try to remember what it was like to be a young adult and that my girls are still learning how to do life. It took time for me to sort the important from the trivial, but once I did, I was inspired to share. So I started The MOM Journey, a blog where moms aren’t perfect and that’s perfectly okay. Being a mom has also inspired the novels I write. Each explores the depth of a mother’s love and how that love can reach beyond possible. I love being a teacher. I love being a writer. But most of all, I love being a mom.

What a great way to look at inspiration. Now…

You’re a new addition to the crayon box. What color would you be and why?

Karen: My crayon color would be passionately purple. First, purple is my favorite color…inspired by guess what? Momhood! When my first daughter was born, I loved dressing her in frills and lace, but there was so much pink!

Just to be different, I started to dress her in purple instead, and somewhere along the way purple became my favorite color. It makes my heart happy! Passionately…that’s genetic. I credit my Italian grandparents. Whatever we feel, we feel deeply.

I like that. Color should make the heart happy. 🙂

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Karen: I wanted to write before I could write. I remember sitting at the kitchen table with a crayon, pretending to write words. However, I never dreamed I could be a writer. I chose to be an English teacher instead, so I could be surrounded by books and writing. My desire to write would wiggle every now and then to remind me it was still there, but I was busy raising two daughters and 120 students each year. Little did I realize that being a teacher and a mom were preparing me for Waiting for Butterflies. Teaching students to read great literature and to express themselves in writing taught me to be a better story teller and writer. And being a mom gave me something important to write about.

It’s amazing how life prepares us for writing. Thanks so much for dropping by!

Make sure and leave a comment if you’d like to be entered in the giveaway of a print copy of Waiting for Butterflies.


Waiting For Butterflies

A mother’s love never ends—not even when her life does.

Longing for her family after a tragic accident, Maggie becomes a lingering spirit and returns home where she helplessly witnesses her family’s downward spiral in the aftermath of her death. Her husband is haunted by past mistakes and struggles to redeem himself. Her teenage daughter silently drowns in her own guilt, secretly believing she caused her mother’s death. Only her five-year-old, full of innocence, can sense her presence. Although limited by her family’s grief and lack of faith, Maggie is determined to keep a sacred promise and save her family before her second chance runs out.

A tender portrait of a mother whose love reaches beyond possible, Waiting for Butterflies will embrace your heart and not let go.

Buy the book.


Karen Sargent creates characters whose imperfect faith collides with real-life conflicts, taking readers on a journey through grace and redemption to discover enduring hope. A romantic element is woven within each story. Her writing has been featured in Guidepost’s Angels on Earth magazine and on ForEveryMom.com.

When she is not writing, she teaches high school and college English in the beautiful Arcadia Valley where she resides with her husband and two daughters.

Website: karensargentbooks.com

The MOM Journey Blog: karensargentbooks.com/blog

Facebook: Facebook.com/KarenSargentAuthor

Twitter: Twitter.com/KarenSargent_87

Pinterest: Pinterest.com/KarenSargent87