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What are you writing for?

You read that right. Not what are you waiting for, but what are you writing for? One of the biggest beliefs we hold at Higher Ground Books & Media is that everyone has a story. This doesn't mean that everyone has a bestseller in them, but everyone DOES have a story. And there are people out there who need to hear it.

As a publisher, I'm always disheartened to see ads for those who claim to make you a "best-seller" if you are willing to pay them X amount of dollars. In truth, being called a best-selling author should be reserved for those whose work fits the criteria for being a best-selling author. When I tried looking up those criteria, however, it was very difficult to find anything that could pin those requirements down.

As the publishing industry has opened up and self-publishing has become more prevalent and less stigmatized, the notion of being a best-seller means different things to different people. As evidenced by looking at your book's rankings on Amazon during your first few weeks after release, you will note that you can very quickly go from being #10 in one category to being #300010 in just a matter of days. It really all depends on how many other books are published in that category over that period of time. If you have the bankroll for it, you can hire people to monitor your keywords and swap them out so that you continue to hop from top spot to top spot from week to week, but who has the time and resources for that? And why would you want to? Why would you strive for a label that means virtually nothing?

One of the main ideals that we promote here at Higher Ground is that, as an author, you have to be willing to stand behind your work. You need to develop a platform to speak from about what you have written. You need to be able to take your book out to people and speak from the heart about why you were inspired to write it and what you hope to accomplish by doing so. Generally, if your book has no heart, then we probably aren't going to be interested in publishing it. We are less interested in the numbers here and more interested in the message. And your message may be less about what's in the book than it is about why you finally decided to write. Sometimes, the book is simply a bi-product of a larger cathartic process and why you wrote is just as important or maybe even more important than what you wrote. But the book serves as your ticket to share those thoughts and ideas with the rest of the world. And those processes have nothing to do with numbers. In fact, if you reach one person with what you say about your writing, then you've accomplished a great deal. Just as Christ left the entire flock to find the one lost sheep (Luke 15:6), your message may touch the heart of the one person you were meant to reach through your writing.

If you're a writer and none of this resonates with you, please don't take offense. The process of writing has served me in many ways over the course of my life. I've written for fun, I've written for profit, I've written to gain a degree, I've written as part of my job, I've written to process some terrible things, and I've written to entertain or educate others. I've never written to bolster my ego because I really don't want to give anyone else that much control over how I feel about me. If you enjoy my writing, that's great but if you don't, it really won't break my heart. Quite frankly, if that's how I viewed the process, I might never have written a word. And that would be a shame.

Beware of the publishers who are nothing more than the "puppy-mills" of the writing world. Those who ask for money or promise you best-selling status for a price are attempting to sell you acceptance. Those places aren't helping you get your message out there. If you are writing for a purpose, then it will be more important to monitor the quality of your interactions with people regarding your book rather than the quantity of interactions. A best-selling label is just a label. In the end, I'd rather speak volumes than sell volumes.

By the way, I found a great article on Writer's Digest's site that discussed the difference between being a best-seller on the big lists like the Wall Street Journal or USA Today versus being listed as a best-seller on Amazon. It's an interesting read if you're so inclined.

Thanks for stopping by! Be blessed.

Rebecca Benston is the owner of Higher Ground Books & Media and the author of over twenty titles currently available through Amazon and other outlets. Her books include a mystery series (The Rona Shively Stories), empowerment resources such as Wise Up to Rise Up, Don't Be Stupid (And I Mean That in the Nicest Way), and From Judgment to Jubilee, children's books including Grumble D. Grumble Learns to Smile, All the Scary Things, and See How Strong You Are. Benston lives in Springfield, Ohio with her awesome daughter, Mya and enjoys traveling, reading, writing, and telling it like it is. She enjoys being able to help other authors get their stories out there through Higher Ground and has recently expanded her freelance services to offer more extensive guidance as a writing coach. For more information, you can contact Benston at

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