Your Book Is Out...Scary Words

Monday, January 18, 2016

It’s happened, finally, the moment you’ve dreamed of. No going back now. Your book is out, delivered, on the market. Now you wait, with baited breath, hoping, no, praying that others will get what you were trying to say, relate to your characters and love what you’ve written. Maybe like would be enough. Yes, that would be excellent if everyone who reads your book likes it.

The reality is you have no control over how your book is and will be perceived. Every reader will see something different in your words; infer your intentions from their own experience, their own point-of-view. Most opinions will delight and encourage you to continue writing. The negative you may never know because readers are incredibly generous, especially friends and family. Some readers will see things in your work you never intended; things that will surprise and delight you. It’s these things, the latter, I’d like to address here.

My first book, If I Were A Road, a story book followed by questions and classroom activities, led to a series of two others, all designed to enhance creative thinking in young students. The advanced vocabulary and higher level thinking questions inside were aimed at students ready to give more than the typical, who, what, where and why answers demanded by most educational products; questions most students would find too difficult to handle.

  So imagine my surprise when Title 1 teachers began using the books for middle school students who had difficulty reading. The advanced vocabulary given in short sentences in picture book format didn’t overwhelm or talk down to the older struggling reader, I was told.

The open-ended, story-song picture book, CD and DVD, Arlie the Alligator, written for the kindergarten through third grade student became a hit with preschoolers. One mother wrote to tell me “Arlie” was her son’s first word. Another said her three year old memorized all the text and song lyrics on the word-for-word CD and demanded she play the CD every time they got into the car.

In the story, Arlie the Alligator tries to talk to children on the beach but bellows and scares them away. He vows to someday figure out how to talk to the children. During a whole school assembly in a public school, a little boy, probably a first grader waved his hand madly as I spoke. When I acknowledged him, the little boy shouted, “I know what Arlie can do. He can praise the Lord!” Talk about an unexpected surprise.  

My newest book, We Bought A WWII Bomber, about an incident that took place on the home front during the war, is impacting veterans, especially WWII veterans, in ways I never anticipated. In the few short months it’s been on the market, I’ve heard from several readers who shared it with their ninety plus year old parents and grandparents with the following results; veterans, who never spoke of their war experiences, began speaking of them for the first time. One acquaintance shared that he and his brother sat mesmerized for over two hours as his ninety-five year old father began talking about his WWII experiences. The acquaintance said neither he nor his brother had any idea what their father had lived through. 

It never occurred to me that one of my books would help another writer better define the actions of her characters. A writer colleague mentioned in a recent blog - - that, “I knew that Kate and Lillie, the protagonists in my book, Half-Truths, would have been in elementary school during World War II. Reading this book made the time period come alive for me and helped me think more deeply about how those shortages affected them."

An idea hits you. It twists and turns in your brain until the story begins to emerge. You write and write some more. Then, after multiple revisions and edits, you send it off hoping for publication, believing all along that it’s worthy of a contract. The contract comes. The word comes. The book is finally out, delivered, on the market.

It’s not yours anymore. You’ve given it to the world. No reason to fear. Let the real adventures, the surprises begin.

Have you been surprised by someone’s reaction to one of your books or an article you may have written? Something totally unexpected? Something you never imagined in a million years? I’d love to hear about it. 


Share your experience by February 1st and WIN a book of your choice from Sandra Warren's website. 


Linda A. said...


Congratulations on the positive influences your books have made!

Years back, I wrote a newspaper article for a series called "Tips for Parents" (From Educators). My article suggested that parents inventory school supplies throughout the year and see what needed to be replenished. I also recommended that parents find out if their child had borrowed supplies from fellow students and if so to repay them. Our local postmaster, approached me at the door one day and showed me that he had posted my article on the community board. He pointed to a highlighted section which recommended returning what you borrow. He said, "This applies to adults too." I was nearly blown over by his animated behavior. You never know what reaction words can cause!

Gretchen Griffith said...

Wonderful post, Sandra. I'm glad you put the bomber story out for the readers to take off with it. The most reaction I get on my narrative nonfiction is people who tell me things that should have gone in the book. My reaction to them has been "Where were you when I was writing this book!"

Sandra Warren said...

I LOVE your story of what the postmaster did with your article. You have to wonder how many folks were influenced by his posting your piece. That's really cool.

Thank you for sharing your story.

Sandra Warren said...


Thank you for your comment. When people have stories they wish were in your book they're saying they really liked what you did and wanted to be identified with it. That's a high compliment.

Joan Y. Edwards said...

Dear Sandra,
Thanks for sharing your experiences with your published books and how the reactions of people surprise you in ways you never anticipated.

When my picture book, Flip Flap Floodle came out, I gave a copy to a friend who gave it to her hairdresser's daughter, Casey who was in first grade. Casey slept with the book under her pillow and carried it to school with her every day for a month. She also went through the day singing Flip's song. It filled my heart with joy to know that the story I'd loved since I was a little girl could mean so much to a child.

Thanks for sharing your writing journey in your blog.

Never Give Up
Joan Y. Edwards

Tracy Campbell said...

Sandra, congratulations on publishing another book.

Sandra Warren said...

Thank you Tracy!

Anonymous said...

Sandra, Congratulations and I love hearing how your books affected readers and other writers - true success! :)

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About Me

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Hi! I’m Sandra Warren, a writer with very eclectic writing tastes. I’ve been fortunate to have publications in multiple genres including children’s, gifted education, parenting, how to, poetry, journal, educational activity guides and biography as well as audio and video production. I'm a city gal recently transplanted to the mountains of NC where glorious mountain vistas inspire latest renderings.

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