It is my absolute joy to welcome the beautiful, talented Kris Camealy to the Five Minute Friday website. I invited Kris to share her self-publishing story, and she did not disappoint.  

Here’s Kris: 

My journey to indie publishing began on my closet floor, with carpet dust in my nostrils, and fiber marks pressed into my tear-streaked cheeks.

For a long time, I held a grossly idealized version of what publishing looked like and what it should look like for me. I had a set definition of success in my mind, and indie publishing never, not-once-ever entered into that vision. But after a deeply painful (and deeply necessary) refining season, where God renovated my soul like some kind of holy-roto-rooter, I surrendered my version of the story for the version that God had in mind.

All of my life I’d dreamed of publishing. I had a specific story in mind and was in fact, writing that story from atop my high-horse that God brought me to my knees, and then to my face. It was there in the prostrate position of my tiny walk-in closet that God tore from my grip my ideas about publication and breathed a new vision into my heart.

The encounter left me devastated in the best possible way. I mourned the death of my dream, but more than that, I grieved for how wildly off-base I had been. My heart was broken for how far I had wandered from the Lord in pursuit of “my dream.” What followed this Ebenezer moment was one of the most intensive refining season I have ever experienced—so much so that my faith life is now distinctly marked by before and after this life-changing season.

Kris CamealyWhen the refining fires cooled, I felt certain that I needed to write down my experience and publish it. The intention for my first book, Holey, Wholly, Holy: A Lenten Journey of Refinement was to be a free download for subscribers. I hadn’t planned to offer it anywhere except as a gift to my blog readers, but a member of my mastermind group encouraged me to consider putting the book on Amazon, in the name of being a good steward of the time I had spent creating the book. She encouraged me to offer it for free and sell it to people who may never have heard of me through my blog.

After some prayer, I agreed that there couldn’t be much harm in doing it this way. Of course, I had never done any of this before, and had (and still do not have) no team or assistant or pocket guru to help me manage all of this. I was learning as I went, praying hourly for God to help me not make a fool of myself. I can honestly say that God launched that book. I knew nothing, had no resources or marketing savvy, and Jesus overcame all of that on my behalf.

It still astounds me when I think about it.

A few significant doors opened to me as I prepared to launch the book, and to my shock and amazement, God carried that small book around the globe. I had a friend connect me with a website that offered resources for pastors, and they offered to post my book on their website. Churches with whom I had no affiliation in Canada, the U.S., and overseas contacted me and asked permission to use my book with their congregations for their Lenten studies. My own church purchased copies and offered them to our congregation.

I never once asked for any of these things. These were manna from heaven, pure gifts that felt like God’s way of saying to me I HAVE this, because that was my fevered prayer in the midst of that launch—that God would carry it because I had no idea what I was doing.

Faithfully, generously, God did carry it. In the first two weeks alone, the book was downloaded 1500 times from my website. To my surprise, while the book was available in full, for FREE on my blog, it was simultaneously selling on Amazon. I didn’t break any sales records by any stretch, but my little homemade book found its way to the top of the charts on Amazon multiple times, and hung out there throughout the Lenten season. I tell you this not because I lay any claim to it, but because I fully believe that too was God’s gift to me, His generous acknowledgment of my obedience.

It wasn’t the book I ever wanted to write, but it was exactly the book God asked me to write, and even if He hadn’t used it to open the doors that He did, I still would have been satisfied, because that story in those pages is a testimony of my changed life. It’s the story of what it looks like when God peels the scales off of our eyes and lets us taste grace in a way that we never have, and that we can never forget. It is the story of a life transfigured by an encounter with the Holy. I didn’t actually care what happened with it sales-wise. It was never about that with that project. It was only ever about saying “yes” to doing it God’s way, rather than my own.

A year later, after numerous requests for a Bible study to go along with Holey, Wholly, Holy, I wrote the Companion Workbook to it, self-publishing that as well.

Kris CamealyMore recently, in 2016, I once again felt God’s nudge to write and publish another book. Once again, I said “yes” and published an Advent devotional that explores what it is to wait during Advent, as well as in other seasons of life. Come, Lord Jesus: The Weight of Waiting received a warm welcome from readers, and again, God surprised me with the doors He opened, and the way He brought along various invitations to share.

My experiences with indie publishing have taught me a whole host of things I don’t think I could have learned as well elsewhere. Specifically, I learned about the value of having your work professionally edited. This cannot be understated. There’s a temptation with self-publishing to skip this step but that is a grievous mistake. If you’re considering publishing your work, have it thoroughly edited by a reputable editor. If you don’t have money for this, bargain with another solid writing friend, host a yard sale, prop up a lemonade stand—whatever you need to, in order to make this happen.

I also learned a lot about marketing. One of my major hang-ups with indie publishing is that marketing is not my bag. Strengthsfinder lists woo as one of my top 5 strengths, but I’m no sales person. This was one of my constant prayers/laments to God as I stepped out in obedience. God is faithful, and He is generous, and every time I have launched anything, it has been like the bumper sticker says: “If God leads you to it, He will lead you through it.” Call it trite if you want, I call it legit truth. God handled the marketing for my books in ways I could never have. Any remotely good idea that I implemented came because God seeded it into my brain. I write words, I don’t sell things. God knows this, and He generously equipped me and brought others alongside of me who offered their help without me ever asking.

When I spoke with Kate about sharing this experience with you, she asked me what worked well, and what was perhaps harder than I anticipated—she asked me if I saw self-publishing as a spiritual journey and I’ve thought hard about how to fairly answer these questions for you. The truth is that the only reason I self-published anything is because when you come off of a year where your one word is “obedience” and God nudges you to do something, saying “no” isn’t a good answer.

Writing for me is a passion, but it is also an act of worship, and a response of obedience. Self-publishing is part of what that has looked like for me. It wasn’t only a spiritual journey, but a wild, white-knuckle ride from start to finish. I’m not much for roller coasters, but I am wild about Jesus and have learned that it’s always better to be where He is than off doing my own thing.

My self-publishing story doesn’t fit in writing circles where chart-topping and bestseller status are the highest goals. But God has used the process to deepen my relationship with Him, to set me into communities with others who needed the words He asked me to share, and it has afforded me an intimacy with readers that has allowed me the privilege of ministering to them, and receiving their stories as well.

The biggest lesson for me in the process has been that God really is all that we need. The ways that God continuously meets me in the work always defy explanation, and are always better than I could imagine. The best advice I could give is to say that if you’re even thinking about publication, to spend time in earnest prayer. Invite God fully into the process. Our words and stories are important to Him, and He cares about how we share them.

One of the most beautiful things to come out of self-publishing has been Refine {the retreat}. Refine is a women’s spiritual retreat, and in March 2018, I am hosting my 3rd retreat, this time, specifically tailored to writers, where I will host a workshop on self-publishing. If you’re interested in exploring how writing intersects with your faith, I hope you’ll consider joining us for an intensive, inspiring weekend of writing workshops tailored specifically to the needs and desires of attendees.

 

***

Kris CamealyAs a sequin-wearing, homeschooling mother of four, Kris is passionate about Jesus, people and words. Her heart beats to share the hard, but glorious truth about life in Christ. She’s been known to take gratuitous pictures of her culinary creations, causing mouths to water all across Instagram. Once upon a time, she ran 10 miles to raise money for Compassion International.

Kris is the author of Come, Lord Jesus: The Weight of Waiting and Holey, Wholly, Holy: A Lenten Journey of Refinement, and the follow up Companion Workbook. She has contributed to numerous other books, is the host of Refine {the retreat} and the founder and Executive Editor of GraceTable.org. In her free time, she writes at kriscamealy.com.

 

***

If you’ve been inspired by Kris’ story, I encourage you to check out the 2017 BC Stack, only available through Wednesday, July 26th.

Included in the stack of 65 products is Fistbump Media’s self-publishing course, which has been hugely instrumental in my own self-publishing journey.

The self-publishing course alone is usually priced at $29.99, but through July 26th, you can get that plus 64 more products for just $27! 

 

 

GET THE BC STACK HERE

 

 

** Note: Affiliate links have been used in this post. 

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This