March 9, 2012

Wild Road…

Category: News — Ira @ 6:50 pm


So, then, to every man his chance – to every man, regardless
of his birth, his shining, golden opportunity…

—Thomas Wolfe

Well, I’m back. Way sooner than I figured, back when I last left you to head out on that long slog, to see if the next book would come. Because on that long slog, a little side road popped up, and there was no choice but to take it. So I did. And somehow, strangely, it brought me right back here to the blog. To tell you of how it was.

Nope, I haven’t turned in any new writing to Tyndale. Carol hasn’t read a page of the stuff I’ve been working on, for the sequel. Not even a word. Because it’s still way too rough. Because it’s not ready. And I won’t send it until it is. I have been working at it, and, well, sitting there and staring at it. Trying to “feel” my way in. Probably a bit too intensely. I got a rough draft cobbled together a few weeks after my last post. Sketched out what I needed to write, for a few chapters, in different places. And somehow, I even found a good thread or two, to develop. But it never broke loose. Somehow, it all seemed so elusive, so hard. The harder I concentrated, the harder I tried, the more my brain froze up, seemed like. Each day that rolled by was one more day gone. And the inner tension escalated. I’m losing time, here. I have to find it somehow, the voice that will speak my story. And still, day followed day, and not much was getting written, in actual word count.

I badly needed a break, a diversion. Something to get my head cleared. And then, last week, events abruptly took a turn of their own. Seemed like something or someone was nudging me. Stop. Don’t freak out. Take this side road instead. And check out a spectacular view from a new place.

Early last week, it all started with an email from someone at the Tyndale marketing department. Good news, it proclaimed cheerfully. On March 1st, Amazon will slash the cost of Growing Up Amish, Kindle version only, to a mere $3.99. And push it hard. Publicize it. The Tyndale email claimed I should be excited. This was a big deal. Every month, Amazon hand-selects one hundred books to promote. And my book was somehow included in this elite group.

I’d never heard of Amazon’s monthly “hundred books” promotion. But I thought it sounded cool. Amazon knows how to market, I knew that much. But a hundred books? Seemed like a lot, to push out there, even at a discount. And I checked my eBook stats. Growing Up Amish has been floating around lately at the respectable ranking of anywhere between 3500 and 5000 or so. Out of a million eBooks. Maybe, with the discount and the marketing push, it might creep back up there. I hoped it might even climb to 1000 or so, and maybe stay there for a while.

Thursday morning, March 1st. I checked my Amazon ranking. Right at 4500. All right. We’ll keep an eye on it, throughout the day. At noon, I checked again. Amazingly, that 4500 had dropped to around 2000. Wow. Amazon’s machine must be working. They’re probably sending emails to anyone who ever clicked on an Amish fiction book. Hey. Look at this. The real story for $3.99. Close to nothing. Check it out. And by the time I left the office at five, I was at 727. Under that 1000 marker I’d hoped for. In less than half a day. And the cautious thought edged into my head. This could be big.

Way back in the day, last summer, when my book crept onto the very bottom of the New York Times eBook bestseller list, it lurked for days and weeks at around 200 to 300 in the Amazon rankings. And Carol told me at the time that it sold around a thousand copies a week, to make the bestseller list. At that ranking, 200 to 300, it had sold a thousand copies a week. The highest ranking I ever saw back then was 133. And it stayed there very briefly. It might have crept a few notches higher, but I didn’t catch it.

And suddenly, I started imagining things. What if the book reached that plateau again? What if? That would be wild. Totally wild. And on Thursday evening, March 1st, as the book rocketed up past 300, I felt it really could happen. It could.

Turned out I hadn’t seen nothing yet. On Friday, the book kept pushing its way up. And up and up. 200. Then it hovered around 150 for a while. In all of Amazon eBooks. The hundred and fiftieth slot out of a million eBooks. Wild stuff. And still the number climbed steadily. 125. Then 113. Then 106. The highest I’d ever seen it. Maybe I could break into the top one hundred in all of Amazon. How cool would that be?

That evening, I clicked “refresh” now and again, on the Amazon page for my eBook. Nope. Just hung right in there at 106. It’ll probably drop now, I figured. That close to the top 100, but still no cigar. And then, just before 9 PM, I refreshed the link again. And the magical number leaped right out at me from the screen. 91. Number 91 in all Kindle books on Amazon. The top hundred. I’d made it. I stared in ecstasy. And disbelief. And then I snapped a picture of the screen and posted it to Facebook. The top one hundred. I’d made it. In the second day of Amazon’s March promotion. Just unbelievable.

And it turned out, again, that I hadn’t seen nothing yet. This time, my book was heading out and up to join the big boys. I posted the link with promotional sale information on Facebook. My friends went haywire with support, webbing the link on and out into the ether. Word of mouth. Buy this book. $3.99. That’s nothing. By Sunday morning, it broke into the top fifty. By Monday morning, it held at 33. And each day it crept up a bit. Fluctuated some, sure. But always jumped up past previous numbers. 22. Then 27. Then 21. On Wednesday morning, and again on Thursday morning, it broke into the top twenty at number 18. The 18th most sold eBook on all of Amazon.

That’s wild territory. Wild and beautiful. Rarefied air, any way you look at it. I stand here in awe. This is a place I will likely never see again. The book might plummet in the rankings at any time, but no one can ever take it from me that it’s been where it’s been. Even the Tyndale people seem mildly amazed. And perhaps just a little astounded.

And I think back to those days when I was struggling, writing Growing Up Amish. Intensely, frantically at times, as the next monthly deadline relentlessly closed in. In despair, at other times, when I could not find the words to speak what was in my heart. Somehow, I ended up chatting with God in those moments, now and then. Informally, just talking, reminding Him. This is your book. You can take it where you will. Do with it what you want. Just help me get it said right.

I believe He heard me, and did just that. Helped me get it said right. I really do. There are not a dozen words I would change in the entire book, even if I could. I credit my Tyndale editors, too, of course. A lot. But that was a given from the start. It was a miracle they were even involved at all.

And I feel a bit like I felt back then, except for the despair part. Here on this wild and beautiful road, where I see my book flirting with the highest rankings on the internet. This is your book, God. I gave it to you before it was even written. Take it where you will. Now. Next week. Next month. Whenever. Wherever. I don’t know what the future holds. You do. Bless the path of this book.

And here, at this place, I can only stand and marvel in gratitude. The windows of heaven have opened and poured forth blessings such as I could not possibly have imagined.

All right. That felt good, to write the old blog again. I’m thinking I’ll do that now and again, regardless of how the other writing’s going. It’s good to come back to where it all started, and stay connected to my readers. It helps get my brain unstuck. And this is a safe place, where I can be myself. So I’ll plan on posting once a month, at least, sometimes more. Depends on how often I can fit it in.

And now, it’s back to those rough drafts. Maybe with a fresh perspective. Maybe not. In some ways, my head seems clear. In others, it’s more fogged up than ever. We’ll see how it goes.

A couple of links before closing. The link to my eBook on Amazon, for those who want to check it out. Buy it, for crying out loud. For every Kindle in your home. It’s less than a latte at Starbucks.

And finally, the audio version of Growing Up Amish is now available for preorder. It’s being released on April 1st. I’m eagerly awaiting my copy. Should be here any day now.



  1. Good for you, Ira! It’s a great book!

    Comment by The pizzalady — March 9, 2012 @ 7:01 pm

  2. Oh yeah!

    Comment by Richard Miller — March 9, 2012 @ 7:19 pm

  3. I couldn’t be more pleased for you Ira.


    Comment by Leon — March 9, 2012 @ 7:22 pm

  4. I’m so happy for you Ira! I appreciate that you just gave it to God from the beginning. There’s a BIG lesson there for all of us.

    Comment by Kelly Hunt — March 9, 2012 @ 7:22 pm

  5. Sweet!! Congratulations Ira! Oh the perks of our history! :)
    You’ve worked hard and you deserve it. Not to mention the negatives that go with being that kind of honest! May your success continue! Happy writing!

    Comment by Trudy Metzger — March 9, 2012 @ 7:38 pm

  6. That is spectacularly splendid!

    Comment by Rhonda — March 9, 2012 @ 8:16 pm

  7. Ira,
    You’re now number #2 in the Top 100 Kindle books under $3.99.
    Impressive! And although I just got a Kindle today, the paper version of your book is on my shelf.

    Comment by Linky — March 9, 2012 @ 8:26 pm

  8. Awesome news, Ira. Keep going.

    Comment by Shawn Smucker — March 9, 2012 @ 8:32 pm

  9. Congrats! It ended up on my Droid this past week.

    Comment by John — March 9, 2012 @ 9:17 pm

  10. Congratulations, sir. May the light continue to shine upon your path.

    Comment by Jerry Eicher — March 9, 2012 @ 9:23 pm

  11. Mmmn well I pre-ordered the paperback, read it and donated it to our church library, but thinking I’d better order a Kindle to read it again on my Ipad!!! Thanks for letting God work through you-sure enjoy your blog and FB posts!!

    Comment by Joyce from So. Hutchinson — March 9, 2012 @ 11:00 pm

  12. Enjoy the “ride”!

    I don’t have kindle but just bought the paperback version, though. Can’t wait to read it.

    Comment by Sarah — March 10, 2012 @ 6:28 am

  13. Congratulations!
    I am one of the new readers who discovered your book through the Amazon promotion. I enjoyed it immensely. What an interesting life you have led.
    I look forward to reading the sequel.

    Comment by Diane W. — March 10, 2012 @ 3:36 pm

  14. Congratulations Ira. I don’t know if you know it or not, but you owe at least a little bit of this success to a fellow blogger named Tim Challies. Tim is a Christian book reviewer and author with over 20,000 hits per day to his blog. On March 2 he posted this He also did a good review of your book last October. You can read it here.

    Comment by Linford — March 10, 2012 @ 9:15 pm

  15. Congratulations! I just bought and read your book and enjoyed it very much. I’m looking forward to the next one. I follow your blog and hope you’ll post often here. God Bless!

    Comment by Margaret — March 11, 2012 @ 1:17 am

  16. Great news! I want to read the next one too. What a wonderful sign for you.

    Comment by Linda Ault — March 11, 2012 @ 4:59 pm

  17. :) Yay! Amazon does a lot of free and promo ebooks. Love that!
    I shot the link to a kindle page on facebook… if she posts it, you’ll get some sales off of that. :)

    Comment by Anita B — March 12, 2012 @ 11:51 pm

  18. I don’t remember how I stumbled on your book. I am halfway through it and feel like you are right next to my ear, telling me this story. I love your ‘voice’ in the book. Congratulations on your Amazon ranking.

    Comment by Diane L. — March 13, 2012 @ 8:54 am

  19. Congratulations, Ira! Keep going! Number one!

    Comment by John Schmid — March 14, 2012 @ 8:48 pm

  20. You do NOT need to have a Kindle device to read the Kindle (electronic, digital) version of the book! ON Amazon, you can download Kindle for PC right there when you buy the Kindle version, and it all downloads very nicely. If you can post to this blog, you can get the handy electronic version of Ira’s book.

    Thanks for letting us know about this exciting progress, Ira! I think the book is helpful to give to anyone who grew up in a rigorous religious background but perhaps did not find Christ there. The reading is engaging, they will relate to it, and the message is authentic.

    Comment by LeRoy — March 14, 2012 @ 9:30 pm

  21. It is such a priviledge to watch my writers start from the begining and end up at the top. Your writing of your first book speaks for itself as will your second book. I feel that writers are the wheel that keep this country going. They are the fame behind the books, plays, television and movies. I try not to be star struck by just having them on my social networks, but it is not easy, and you have worked for and deserve all the attention you get for your book.

    Comment by Carol Ellmore — March 16, 2012 @ 2:41 pm

  22. So happy for you!! Your book is fantastic for so many reasons. Just the story of your life is great, but there is so much more in it. Your book made me think about our freedom in Christ and how fortunate we are to have found it. Please, when you are ready write another book!!! God IS using what you write!

    Comment by Linda Pollock — March 16, 2012 @ 8:45 pm

  23. This is a great book. I always read all the Amish books that come out and you did a great job of telling your life story. Always remember God is good!

    Comment by Belle Hall — March 17, 2012 @ 10:23 pm

  24. I’m glad your book was on sale so that I bought it and read it and enjoyed it. I put my review on Amazon and on my blog. Thank you for your story.
    God is good

    Comment by John Umland — March 18, 2012 @ 7:58 pm

  25. Ira, I am almost finished reading your book and I am humbled and in awe of the emotional roller coaster that you were riding for so long. God loves you. Not because you are or aren’t a particular religion but because you are YOU. He made you and loves you and holds you in his hand. I do not believe that any one religion has the market on salvation. God made us all in his image and he is not going to deny any one of us Heaven just because one group does things one way and a different group does things some other way. If you love God with all your heart and try and be the best person you can be God will never abandon you. Catholic, Amish, Baptist, he loves us all and will welcome us all into his Kingdom. Thank you for sharing your journey with us.

    Comment by Stefani Hutchison — March 18, 2012 @ 8:01 pm

  26. This is a wonderful story! Would like to know more about your life forward from that day.

    Comment by Rose Boyajian — March 18, 2012 @ 9:44 pm

  27. I just finished reading your book, I just kept hoping you would get to know the Jesus I know. What a good ending to a sad story. I pray for Sarah, to find the Lord as you have.


    Comment by Loretta Pfoff — March 18, 2012 @ 9:47 pm

  28. I downloaded your book, Ira, when I saw it for the great price of $3.99. I’m halfway through it right now on my kindle, and it’s fascinating. Amazing. I love it.

    Comment by Ann — March 19, 2012 @ 10:07 pm

  29. Hi, Ira. I couldn’t put down your book. Read it in one sitting and today I wrote a fabulous review for amazon, which my evil wireless Apple mouse caused to disappear. Never buy an Apple wireless mouse.

    Just to let you know, I had many insightful comments.

    Can’t wait for the sequel.

    Comment by Jae Brown — March 29, 2012 @ 9:24 pm

  30. Thank you for sharing so much.

    Comment by Sharmini — April 7, 2012 @ 7:23 am

  31. Just finished your book Ira – couldn’t put it down. Glad you found yourself – kind wishes to you from Australia.

    Comment by Marion Jolly — April 26, 2012 @ 1:42 am

  32. Spectacular!

    Comment by Francine — November 6, 2012 @ 11:11 pm

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