September 29, 2022

Larry Gildersleeve Talks About His Book Rising To #15 on Barnes & Noble's Best Seller List

Larry Gildersleeve

Larry, your fourth novel, Blue by You, recently rose to a #15 position on Barnes & Noble’s best-seller list. Any comments?

You bet. First and foremost, it came as a complete surprise. I learned about it when a friend texted that he’d seen the rating posted in our Sunday paper. Second, after everything I put into the book, it was extremely gratifying to enjoy that brief but shining moment in the sun. And seeing John Grisham listed at #16 caused me to fantasize that he was asking his agent or publisher “Who is this number fifteen guy?”

What do you mean by “brief moment”?

By the time I got around to checking the Barnes & Noble website a few days later, I wasn’t even ranked in their Top 100. Although I’ve never been able to find anything approaching a standard method of measurement to achieve bestseller status, my extensive research tells me it comes from one of two things, or both. Either cumulative sales of at least ten thousand books over an unspecified period of time, or a certain velocity of book sales in a very short period of time. I believe my carefully crafted and successfully executed launch triggered the Barnes & Noble algorithms for one week, and since I wasn’t able to sustain the momentum, I disappeared as quickly as I appeared. And I’m not yet claiming to be a best-selling author.

You mentioned your launch. How are you marketing your books?

Sad to say, I’ve only really put serious effort into marketing my current one, hoping for a read-through by those who enjoy Blue by You and wonder what else I’ve written. We all know the reality of self-publishing is that our books will never, or likely never, be on the shelves of mainstream book stores or in libraries. That leaves online distribution and marketing, and I have yet to crack the code to sustain significant sales over a long period of time. But I keep trying.

What are you trying?

Like many or most authors, I abhor social media for all the reasons we know so well. My focus has been on growing my proprietary opt-in/opt-out email database, using a free novella I wrote entitled My Way as my magnet tied to me web site, as well as beginning to write an infrequent newsletter targeted at readers. Instead of focusing entirely on selling books, I’m after peer recognition as an author by entering Blue in writing and award contests, as well as writing a recurring feature column in a four-color lifestyle magazine. And I’m seeking other periodical writing opportunities, as well, both traditional and online.

What is it about social media that’s caused you to feel the way you do?

In terms of marketing myself as an author and selling my books, I haven’t found a shred of empirical evidence supporting social media cause-effect relationships. Said another way, after a ton of research, I’ve found no legitimate bestselling indie author who has documented “I did these things, in this way, spending this amount of money, and achieved these results.” If I missed it, I hope it’s the subject of a future Suite T submission, or many submissions. It would be an enormous benefit to all self-published authors.

What’s the best writing advice you’ve received?

It came from a small gathering a few years ago with NY Times best-selling author Ann Patchett. When asked if she had a formula to recommend to aspiring authors, she replied in words to this effect: “Most books are purchased and read by women, especially fiction. Think about writing a book about women, for women, with women characters who are not defined by men nor dependent upon them. And have a happy ending.” From that evening on, that’s been the formula driving my writing, and I don’t see it ever changing. As a side note, I recently wrote her a thank-you letter and included her latest book, These Precious Days, with an autograph request. A few weeks later, the book came back with a personal note from her.

And the worst advice?

Just about anything and everything that comes from an unpublished author, or from the legions of people who promote themselves as bestselling, award-winning or acclaimed authors, but never disclose anything to substantiate those claims. Maybe they have some worthwhile thoughts and ideas, but if they begin by potentially misrepresenting themselves, I have no interest in what they have to say about anything else. You can’t lead further than you’ve been.

Larry Gildersleeve. He says, "American by birth and Southern by the Grace of God." Larry was born in Knoxville, TN, and raised and educated in Virginia and Kentucky. A three-decade corporate career took him across the country and around the world before he returned to Kentucky in 2014 to realize his long-deferred dream of becoming a published author. His three Parchment Series novels were released between 2016 and 2019, and his fourth novel, Blue by You, was published in mid-2022. All of Larry's works of fiction will be in the Christian and Inspirational genres. He is a member of the Association of American Christian Fiction Writers, the Academy of American Poets, the Alliance of Independent Authors, the Author's Guild and the Bluegrass Writer's Guild. Larry is married; the father of two and grandfather of four.

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