I’ve known for a long time that a great story is a powerful tool for teaching.
The first business fable book that really stood out to me was The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni. However, it was not until December 2012 when I first learned how to write a fiction parable book like this.
From Idea to Finished Concept
In fall 2012 I was promoting a new endeavor: financial coaching to help families with their finances. Upon the encouragement and training from author and former keynote speaker Rick Butts, I put together ideas for a fiction parable book. I’d write my main characters as the people in my target audience. The characters, and readers like you, learn my personal finance concepts as the story progresses.
The personal finance book market has enough non-fiction how-to materials. Why not write a story?
By mid-January I had picked my title for the book: A Couple with Common Cents. I first shared the book publicly when I read the first few chapters at a Macon, Missouri Rotary Club meeting in March. Comments I received that day ranged from, “That was an unusual presentation” to “I want to hear the rest of the story!” I only had the first few scenes written out at that time, so my call to action for them was to sign up on an email list to get a PDF of my advance reading copy when I finished the story in the summer.
I was looking for other work because nobody took me up on my financial coaching free consultation during my initial months in business. So I did direct sales for four months as an insurance agent. I enjoyed meeting with people, and learning about the insurance industry, but the whole thing was not a good fit for me. One of the worst problems was that my creativity had disappeared because I was working so many hours. I did not have the energy to keep writing that story. Creating is my top strength according to the StandOut Strengths Assessment, and I realize (after recognizing them, yet fighting with them for the longest time) that I must use my strengths in order for me to feel fulfilled.
In early August 2013, about one week after I quit selling insurance, my creativity came back. I finished writing the first draft of Couple seven days after that. I really didn’t know what else to do at the time except to get that book done and publish it.
Since I had self-published before, I was familiar with the process. I hired a cover designer, Zak Erving. (He’s great!) I printed advance reading copies for feedback from some friends. I tested both the story and cover design and made changes according to feedback. This all happened in September.
After trying out the IngramSpark print-on-demand service, I used CreateSpace again to print paperback copies. CreateSpace is very easy to use and gets your book listed in the largest bookseller, its parent company, Amazon. Ingram has a wider distribution and reportedly a more professional look, but the process of using them was going to take much longer. (I’ll spare you the reasons.) Because I had used CreateSpace for my previous work and wanted to get this book in print quickly, I decided to use that company again.
It’s extremely easy to publish to Kindle once you know how to do it. Couple appeared in the Kindle store several days before the paperback appeared on Amazon. For the paperback I had to approve the proof first. A printed proof is much better to examine than a digital proof copy, and waited about a week for the printed proof to come in the mail.
Before the paperback was officially done, and because the Kindle version was live on Amazon, I could go ahead and accept reviews. To help generate these reviews, I gave away free digital copies of Couple on Story Cartel for 20 days in October and promoted this giveaway to people that know me.
Story Cartel is a website where over 11,000 people have subscribed for opportunities to read books for free in exchange for honest reviews. Several dozen people downloaded it, and some of them posted reviews on Amazon fairly quickly. Story Cartel also encourages readers to post book reviews on their own blogs and other book websites, too. Some authors in the past 12 months have seen nearly 100 Amazon reviews for their books!
I also gave away paperback copies of the book to select people during the first month of release.
Purpose of A Couple with Common Cents
I wrote this book for engaged couples, newlyweds, and young families. Many couples struggle with harmonizing their views on money. Their day-to-day finances lack discipline, yet they want to make improvements. This inspirational story encourages them-and you-to work together toward a brighter financial future, regardless of your current income level. People with household incomes of $70,000 can be just as broke as those with $20,000.
Gratitude, abundance, and forgiveness are three themes that run throughout Couple. This book resonates with Christians as many of the lessons are biblical.
In addition, the cookie jar concept of personal finances is unique to this book.
You could say that a few project failures helped this book become reality. Its birth was a little messy, its first bicycle ride resulted in skinned knees and elbows, its graduation was delayed. The book required several companions along the way, too. Now it is here, and will soon give birth to children. Translation: I have more books forthcoming in the Copper Coin Chronicles series!