Thursday, February 4, 2016

The Unique Help I'm Able to Offer

It's not easy to measure success. And if you do it in terms of could-I-live-off-my-writing, then no, I'm not successful. I'm on this author FB group where people are measuring and advertising and do all these things I've never heard of and it's good because I get ideas, but then I get intimidated too. By their success measured, I don't think I'd be doing so well.

But if you do it in terms of have-I-made-progress and did-this-matter-to-anyone, then yes. I do try the things people on these sites say (some of them anyway.) And sometimes I inch forward.

Here's the progress. I saved enough money and paid for a Kirkus review just before Christmas. They feature less than 10% of their reviews in their print media and mine got picked. That's cool. But not as cool as the did-this-matter-to-anyone category.

Yesterday I talked with parents who had adopted their son years ago and have struggled to figure out his behavior ever since. I gave them some ideas including contacting a lawyer to renegotiate a subsidy to help them pay for the significant amount they're having to come up with to pay for all their son's therapies and for respite care for him when it just gets to be too much. I also encouraged them to find peer connections for him within foster care and post-foster care communities in order to help him see his situation in perspective and potentially see himself become a leader, telling kids how it can be to live. These suggestions were the unique help I got to offer because I wrote this book. (And because of the previous work I've done as a teacher and caseworker.) If I hadn't written it, they would never have known I had this background and would not have asked.
One day, I came into work and saw a colleague I'd given a copy to. I know her to be a reader and that she sits on a committee who recommends books for the college where I work. I was explicit when I told her I wanted to be selected and this was why I was giving her the book. Well, and obviously I thought she'd like it.
That morning she handed me cash and told me she'd finished my book and that it had made her want to be a foster parent and that she'd like to pay for the book so that she could support me as a writer. What better impact could you ask for?
Finally, I sent a copy to Marilyn (Atler) VanDerbur. I loved her book Miss America by Day and read it in one sitting. I wanted to thank her for the bravery it took to tell her story and to convince millions of women and survivors of their worth. She's truly a wonder.
She sent me this after she read it.
"Dear Karin,
Thank you for shedding so much light on what happens to too many children.
  Especially RTC...
so little is understood.

I didn't find it raw or dark - found it so educational.

I have emails from adults who have survived this - I will recommend your book -
it is always helpful to have our experiences validated...

Thank you for sharing this..."
So, I'm not a professional writer in that I don't make my money that way. But if I measure success by the impact I'm having, it may not be constant, but it is unique and it matters to me greatly.