Linda Danis is the author of 365 Things Every New Mom Should Know: A Daily Guide to Loving and Nurturing Your Child (Harvest House Publishers). This book guides a mother through that exciting, yet often overwhelming, first year of her baby’s life, one day at a time.
Q: So Linda, what happened to your book once it went into print?
A: It has sold over 40,000 copies, is in its ninth printing, and has been translated into Indonesian! I think the majority of sales have come from word of mouth. If you have ever been with a group of moms, you know that if we come across something helpful, we are sure to pass that information along, whether it is a good book, product, or babysitter! Another thing that helped was it was featured on the TV program “Friends” when Rachel had her baby. She couldn’t get little Emma to stop crying, so her friends read from my book for advice (and the baby stopped crying!). That was some very unexpected publicity, especially because I had never even watched the program before!
Q: Did you feel that you found your writer’s voice as you wrote the book?
A: As I wrote, I just pictured in my mind a mother of a new baby who so much wanted to be a good mom, but wasn’t sure what to do. I guess my writer’s voice is my own. I just wrote from my heart what I would want to say if I was able to sit down and have coffee with each of my readers. I did a lot of research on infant development in writing this book and could give all the scientific reasons why the things I share are effective, but I wanted it to be written in a more conversational, user-friendly format. You only need to read a few paragraphs a day as it guides you through the first year of your baby’s life one day at a time. One mom told me that was all her tired brain could handle!
Q: Do you find writing easy or not? What’s the easiest part for you? What’s the hardest?
A: Because this book was written over such a long period of time, it wasn’t difficult writing it. I just wrote when I felt led or thought of something new I wanted to add. The hard part came when I was in contract for the book and they wanted to reformat it which required me adding more information. Writing under a tight time frame was much more difficult. I need a chunk of uninterrupted time to write and that is hard to come by at my house. It takes awhile for the words and ideas to start flowing. It’s not something like laundry that I can do in 15 minute pockets of time here and there.
Q: What have you most enjoyed about being an author?
A: Knowing that I am helping other people. I never really think about how many books I have sold. What thrills me is the number of individual people I may have helped as they venture into the wonderful world of parenting. I love talking with my readers when I speak to groups and hear how my book inspired them to be godly, effective mothers. It is a great feeling to know I may have made a small difference in the life of a child by what I taught his or her mom.
Q: Has anything surprised you about the experience?
A: Well, I thought once I wrote the book and worked with my editor to get it ready for print, most of my job was done. But that is only part one. Part two is letting people know your book is out there. Even though I have a degree in marketing, this was the hardest part. I hated anything that seemed remotely like self-promotion. Even telling friends about my book was awkward, because I didn’t want to seem prideful. But then a wise friend told me, “God has given you this opportunity to share what you feel is very helpful for new moms. How can God ever use it in their lives if they don’t even know the book exists?” That helped me have a new perspective, but I admit it is still difficult.
Q: Are you a book lover? Which writers have influenced you?
A: I love to read. I can’t fall asleep at night without reading. Growing up, I would spend my summers reading for hours. I enjoy fiction, but I tend to read to learn and grow spiritually, so most of my favorite books are non-fiction. Because I read on so many different topics, I don’t have one favorite author. I do remember, however, the first parenting book that really influenced me. It was And Then I Had Kids by Susan Alexander Yates. I loved the way she shared her wisdom from raising five children yet was able to laugh at her own mistakes along the way. After finishing her book, I felt like I would enjoy being her friend and glean from her experiences. I hope readers come away from my book with the same feeling.
Q: If you were stuck on Mt. Everest’s Base Camp #3, waiting for the weather to clear before you were able to climb to the top, which two books would you like in your tent? (A copy of the Gideon’s Bible has already been placed beside your sleeping bag.)
A: Thank goodness for the Gideons, because the Bible is what I would really need! My first choice would be a book by Francine Rivers because for years friends have been recommending her books to me and I have never gotten around to reading one. Waiting at the base camp would be the perfect time to just sit, relax, and enjoy one of her books cover to cover. The second book would probably be a book on mountain climbing in extreme conditions, because I love to thoroughly research and learn about whatever situation I find myself in. I inherited that trait from my dad, we are both life-long learners.
Q: Writers are faced with so much to do from a publicity standpoint. What promotional technique has been most effective for you? Least effective?
A: Radio and TV interviews have been the most effective, even though they are the most nerve-wracking. Every time I do an interview, I see an immediate increase in my sales. Magazine articles and interviews are great as well because they reach such a large audience and they usually focus on your target market. The least effective are probably book signings. You sit at a table either hoping someone will walk over or acting like you are very busy, so it’s not a problem that not many people are coming over.
Q: Are you working on anything new?
A: No, right now my focus is on raising my own four children. In my desire to help others be good moms, I don’t want to end up neglecting my own kids. As much as we women try to do it all, usually something has to give, and unfortunately it can often end up being our family. I didn’t want that to happen to me, so I made the difficult decision to turn down some new book opportunities. The good thing is, as my kids get older, I am always learning new things about parenting. I continue to write so when the time is right and God opens the door again, I will be ready. However God can best use me is where I want to be.
Q: Any advice to first time writers on getting published?
A: Dream big, but start small. Set your goals high, but start by just taking baby steps and see where God leads you. Look for opportunities to write whenever you can (perhaps offer to write a column for your school, church, or community newsletter). Do your research. Book publishing is a business just like any other. Read up on all the ins and outs of query letters, book proposals, and writing techniques, so you can present your manuscript in the best possible light. Also attend writer’s conferences. It is the best way to meet publishers and introduce your work to them (other than happening to sit next to one on an airplane!).
Q. Anything else you’d like to add?
A: Can I give one word of encouragement to any new moms who may be reading this? What you are doing has eternal significance. As we deal day in and day out with diapers, tantrums, dishes, spilled milk, and piles of laundry, it’s easy to lose sight of how important our work is as mothers. We look back at the end of the day and feel we haven’t accomplished much of anything. Yet, our work is so important! I think we need to catch a glimpse of God’s vision of motherhood – it is the greatest ministry opportunity we will ever have. We have the privilege of shaping the next generation! You are laying a loving foundation that will last a lifetime!
Linda’s book is available through Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble.com and Walmart.com