My Journey as an Author

Hello!

Thanks for taking a moment to learn more about me. With the thousands of people we see online each day, I always like the thought of taking an extra moment to show you that I’m an actual person and not just another profile or automated social media account. I really am a real person with a deep desire to help others.

Regardless of how well or how little we know each other online right now, I’d really like to share my background with you.

Why?

Because without knowing who I am and where I came from, you won’t understand the basis for why I do what I do and say what I say.

First and foremost you need to know that…

I Am Not That Different.Heather Hart

Believe it or not, I’m probably a lot more like you than you realize. I didn’t get my first book published because I had the right connections at the right publishing house. I’m not the neighbor of a best-selling author. I don’t have an extravagant publishing or marketing budget. I’m just your average girl next door who works hard day in and day out.

I have a husband and four children that I have to take care of and a pile of bills to pay each month. But we should probably start at the beginning…

I LOVE Writing –

Heather HartI always have. Even before I learned to read and write, I would pretend to write stories by making squiggly lines on pieces of paper. I took an independent writing class in high school–even won a few writing contests and got a few poems published–and I wrote ALL the time just for fun.

I wrote everything.

From stories to songs, journals to news articles, you name it, I tried my hand at writing it.

Yet while I have always wanted to be an author, I learned early on that it was one of those taboo professions. Unrealistic, I believe is what they called it. Yes, I was allowed to take the classes I wanted, but I shouldn’t plan on pursuing a career in that field. I felt like I was a football player being told I should play football for the school team, but not to expect to ever play in the NFL.  So I moved on to more ‘realistic’ pursuits.

Life Happens…

In December 2007 something happened that changed my life in a major way–forever.

I gave birth to twin girls.

The Hart Family 2007Having four kids 5 and under at home, made it impossible to afford daycare so I could keep working–thus I became a stay-at-home mom. I took an extended leave from my day job and we suffered from the loss of income–struggling to get by. I wanted so much to contribute to our family financially, but it just didn’t look possible.

Anytime someone suggested working from home, I figured it was some sort of scam and looked the other way–real people didn’t do that. I had seen other people blow thousands of dollars on start-up fees for things that never panned out. I wasn’t about to ruin my family by trying it.

My Dream Came True

So I wrote stories in my free time and started volunteering for a couple of online ministries in 2008 just to feel like I was still contributing to society.

In 2009 two of the ministries sort of overlapped. One of the moms in the online moms group that I led asked about devotionals for teen girls–it just so happened that I also volunteered for a teen girls ministry led by Shelley Hitz (FindYourTrueBeauty.com), but she didn’t have any devotionals that I knew of. So I asked.

Shelley Hitz and Heather HartI got an e-mail back saying she didn’t, but it would be a great addition to her ministry and she wanted to know if I could help get it started. Me. She wanted me to write! I was beyond giddy and started right away. It took a while to get everything up and going, but our first devotional book (a book with my name right there on the cover) was published in 2010.

But that was just the start–I had a lot to learn, and I do me a LOT.

A Book Marketing Blunder

One day I was at the grocery store with my husband and we ran into our pastor’s wife. We got to talking and it turns out that daughter was on a mission’s trip to help teens–she wanted to go into teen ministry. Of course my husband spoke up proudly that I was involved with a ministry for teens and had even written this book… and I cowered. I quickly said it was nothing important and turned the conversation away from me. Needless to say, I didn’t sell any books that day. And sadly, this wasn’t a one-time thing. I proudly presented my book to my mom when she came to visit–almost a year after it came out.

Tell her over the phone? No way.Paul and Heather Hart

Announce it on Facebook? Not a chance.

Write part two in secret? Absolutely.

Because I wrote this book with Shelley for her ministry, we did have a following already. I assumed that she was going to take care of everything and forbid myself to ever brag about it–humility is important right?

Well, maybe, but this was beyond humility–it was a fear of book marketing. I just didn’t catch that until over a year later.

An Important Mind Shift

I was looking at marketing all wrong. I didn’t want to trick people into spending their money on something they didn’t need. My book was for Christian teen girls, so why would I tell anyone else about it? That was my mindset. The problem with that mindset is that the right people have to hear about it from somebody, AND many of the people I didn’t tell about my book were involved in youth ministry, had teen girls, or knew 20 people who fit in one of those two categories–in other words, these were people who were interested, I just had to tell them.

In 2011, Shelley brought me on to help with a website she had started for authors, and I helped her with a book launch for one of her other books. This is when my mindset really started shifting towards marketing. With what I was learning from her, reading in the author interviews that I helped her with, and just being in an atmosphere where I was surrounded by people marketing their books, everything slowly sank in.

We tweaked a few of the things we were doing in her teen girls ministry to make more sense from a marketing standpoint–adding links to the book in e-mails, and other little things like that–and you’ll never guess what happened!

The book started selling.

And not just selling, that book is now an internationally best-selling book that we get consistent royalties on every single month. It was amazing what a few small changes could do. In essence, we already had the foundation, we just needed to act on it.

So I Started Helping Other Authors

Book Marketing 101Because I was running Shelley’s affiliate program and answering the majority of the questions that authors submitted to her website about publishing and marketing, what I didn’t already know, I learned pretty quickly. I started doing freelance work helping other authors with publishing and marketing, and in 2012 I put my knowledge into the first book that I wrote all on my own, Book Marketing 101.

The best part?

I was finally making an income doing what I loved, AND I got to help other authors see their dreams come true. I loved it. But I still had more to learn.

Overloaded and Overwhelmed…

The most important thing I have learned is that I just can’t do it all. I can’t help every single author I come in contact with publish and market their books (at least not directly). Don’t think I didn’t try though. I drove myself and my family nearly crazy while I did freelance work, helped Shelley with her website, and tried to publish and market my own books. I was being pulled in a thousand different directions trying to make everyone happy. It was just too much.

I gave up freelancing for a while, but I picked up other things and eventually was right back where I didn’t want to be. I helped found a weekly women’s Bible study at my church and FindYourTrueStrength.com, a brother ministry to Shelley’s ministry for teen girls. (You can learn more about my faith-based books and ministry here.)

Shelley and I started a new website together where we helped authors successfully publish and market their books.

I was actually making more money as an author than I ever had working outside the home.

But I was overloaded and overwhelmed, and my family was suffering. I was suffering. I barely had time to write, I was always at my desk, and while I loved my job, I wasn’t happy. I knew I needed to slow down and breathe deeper. It was clear that something needed to give.

I Had A Decision To Make.

I had to decide what I was going to give up. Would I give up my own dream of writing to help other authors? Would I stop helping authors for my own selfish desires? Something had to go, and it was the hardest decision I ever had to make.

The last thing I wanted to do was become another marketing guru who never published their own books. I didn’t want to make my living by taking the money of hardworking authors, and living off the success of my past books. But what it really came down to for me, is that I am a writer through and through. If I don’t write, I get more stressed out. I have trouble thinking clearly.

Writing is my passion.

I’ll always be a writer, and even if I gave up on my own publishing goals, I would still write–it’s part of who I am. So I knew that needed to be my focus.

So I stepped back.

I worked on rebranding my website, BooklyBooks.com, that I had co-founded with Shelley Hitz as a reader extension of TrainingAuthors.com into BooksFaithandCoffee.com. It took a ton of work, but it became my new base of operations that really fit my passion. From this website, I can help authors, live out my love of the written word, and write about my faith.

My Happy Ending Is Only The Beginning

The Hart Family 2014So here I am, working from home and spending my days typing away at my computer, brainstorming new marketing ideas, and encouraging everyone I can. I get to help other authors successfully publish and market their books while continuing to author, contribute to, and market multiple book marketing and faith-based books myself–and I get to have fun doing it!

Long story short, God has given me a heart for helping other authors, and I couldn’t ask for a better job. The best part is that I get to do it all for the glory of God.

 

Here’s to your success,

Heather Hart

Heather Hart
Internationally best-selling and award-winning author.
Book worm. Jesus lover. Coffee drinker. Author coach.

 

P.S. Being a successful author takes a lot of hard work and commitment. I’ve found one of the biggest helps to me is to have a plan. Thus, I encourage you to take the Sell More Books 30-Day Challenge. Get all the details here.