Thursday, October 30, 2008

Christy Barritt-Who taught me to write. So blame HER!

Do you remember the TV shows that had cult followings and were critically acclaimed, but the networks canceled them because their viewership wasn’t high enough? Shows like Jericho, Firefly, Freaks and Geeks, Twin Peaks, and Arrested Development. All had a good fan base, but, in the end, it just wasn’t enough.

We have to face it: sometimes good TV shows that have gotten great reviews have the plug pulled.

I never thought the same might happen with my Squeaky Clean Mystery series. My fan base was steadily growing and the series was getting great reviews. But in September, my publisher informed me that unless my sales numbers increase, the Squeaky Clean series will cease to exist. My publisher said he loves my writing and wants the series to continue. But, like any business, money is the bottom line.

You see, even when you’re published, you still have to seek publication.

When I heard about my numbers, I realized I had two primary choices. I could pout and whine and feel sorry for myself. This was a very tempting option, one filled with lots of chocolate and sappy movies and “woe is me” moments.

Or, option number two, I could fight with everything in me to keep the series alive. I could put on my boxing gloves, prepare to sweat and take a few knocks in the face. I could prepare myself to take a bullet and maybe pull some hair out, all with the hope that I might come out victorious.

If I went with option number two, then I knew I had to be honest with my readers about the potential fate of the series. But let’s face it—does any writer really want to own up to having bad sales numbers? I mean, what if I marked myself in the industry as a failure and no publisher ever wanted to touch me again? There were definite risks involved with total and complete honesty.

But over and over again, God has been calling me to honest. I know this sounds funny, since I am a Christian. But I’m a peacemaker, so if being honest causes hurt feelings or drama, I have a tendency to keep my mouth shut. In more than one area, God has been leading me to speak up, even if it means ridicule, conflict or falling out of someone’s good graces.

So, I went with option number two. I decided that if my Squeaky Clean series is going to go down, it’s going to go down fighting. The process has surprisingly been energizing so far, probably more of an adrenaline rush than anything else. I’ve been contacting the media, book clubs, libraries and following up with them if I don’t hear an initial response. I’ve been blogging and doing more blog tours. I’ve been contacting stores and readers, trying to get them interested.

I’ve been learning a lot this whole situation, things that I think can help other writers, both published and unpublished. I’ve been learning that:

· If you’re called to do something, don’t give up, even when the odds are against you
· If you believe in something, give it your very last breath. Anything that’s worth having is worth fighting for.
· Publishing isn’t for the faint of heart.
· View being published as a challenge—and learn to embrace challenges.

By the way, I started a contest to save the Squeaky Clean series. Tell me how you’re helping to spread the word about the series, and be entered to win a $50 gift certificate to Details are on my blog

About Suspicious Minds: Rock and roll may never die, but the King is definitely dead . . . again.

In this smart and suspenseful sequel to Hazardous Duty, crime-scene cleaner Gabby St. Claire finds herself stuck doing mold remediation to pay the bills. But her first day on the job, she uncovers a surprise in the crawlspace of a dilapidated home: Elvis, dead as a doornail and still wearing his blue suede shoes. How could she possibly keep her nose out of a case like this?

Elvis turns out to be Darnell Evans, a down-on-his-luck impersonator whose luck just got a lot worse, and there is no shortage of suspects. When his widow begs her to help, Gabby takes on the case of who-killed-the-King. In the meantime her would-be rival, Chad Davis, is turning into one hunka hunka burnin’ love and starting to dish out some serious TLC, which is the last thing Gabby needs right now.

Realizing the futility of running from God and from her responsibilities, Gabby decides to reconsider her priorities her life. But when the ersatz Elvis killer catches on to her investigation, will she survive long enough to be able to?

Bio: Christy Barritt is the author of the Squeaky Clean Mystery series, which follows the adventures of a crime-scene cleaner who likes to stick her nose into police business. The first book in the series, Hazardous Duty, was a finalist in the American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year. She’s married to a teacher and they have a two-year-old son. When Christy has some free time, she’s enjoys… who’s she kidding? She never has any free time! And she wouldn’t have it any other way. For more information, visit her Website

Help save the Squeaky Clean series by buying a book… and win a gift certificate in the process. Visit her blog for more details.




Pamela S Thibodeaux said...

Hey Christy!

Boy your advice hit home. I was about ready to throw in the towel a couple of days ago.

Due to unforseeen and unfortunate circumstanced I invoked the kill clause in my contract with a small press publisher and pulled my WF novel.

Though at peace about that decision, I hate having to start over in the search & submit process.

The slightest negativity (on top of the whole situation) just makes me want to QUIT!

Alas, we can't. :-)

I'd LOVE to do a special blog post on your series and how to save it.

Please email me:

Good luck and may God Bless your efforts and sales!!


Julie Lessman said...

Oh man, Christy, welcome to Seekerville and what an eye-opening, brutally honest post. I don't think I've ever admired an author more!

Thanks for the reality check that you've given us this morning AND the encouragement, because we all need that. And I gotta tell you that your blurb on Suspicious Minds is one of the best I have read, and the cover is WONDERFUL! I don't have a blog to talk the book up, but I can buy it and write a note to pray for it and the series AND for you, WHICH I definitely will do. Okay, now where are my sticky notes ...


Melanie Dickerson said...

Isn't it weird trying to figure out why Harry Potter and the DaVinci Code hit it so big and so many other great books don't?

I applaud you, Christy, for jumping in with determination and marketing yourself and your books. Very proactive of you. :-) It's a harsh reminder that we have to do more than just write a great book. We also have to do our own marketing and publicist-ing. But it sounds like you're kind of enjoying it.

Janet Dean said...

Welcome to Seekerville, Christy! Thanks for the wonderful post! I love your clever set up, using a dead Elvis in Suspicious Minds. Sounds like a blast, to use a phrase from the past. :-)

As you say, staying published isn't easy. Instead of turning to another genre, you're going to the mat. I applaud your fighting spirit and hope all you're doing will keep the series alive.

Promoting is not for the faint of heart. It's costly. We pay with our time and our money. But we can't count on our publishers to do it all, if we want to keep them.

Thanks for your openness. I'll be looking for Suspicious Minds.


Mary Connealy said...

I loved Suspicious Minds and Hazardous Duty, Christy. They were both so great and the characters were so fun. There HAS TO BE MORE.
I need to know what happens to Gabby and the gang.

Good for you with the promotion. It is so, so, so, so, so much more than just writing a book, isn't it?

Kim said...

Hey Christy!
Great advice for everyone! We live in a day where we all need to stand up and fight for what we believe in whether it's our manuscript, our number of sales, or the freedom we enjoy in this country!! (can you tell I've got the election on my mind?)

Either way, you have spoken a very real truth. Thank you!! Now, I have to go check out your work! Your stories will be new to me, and I'm excited!! I love a good mystery!


Kimberli said...

Hi Christy and welcome to Seekerville. I appreciate your advice and perspective. The Seekers can tell you I've been open about my setbacks and disappointments this past year. Others may tell you I gleefully display my ignorance in various matters related to writing. I am concerned about the impression I give others, but if I can learn a lesson or help others in their writing journey, I consider the risk worthwhile. Reading your story encourages me.

· If you’re called to do something, don’t give up, even when the odds are against you
· If you believe in something, give it your very last breath. Anything that’s worth having is worth fighting for.

I wish you could have written this article in January! You just summed up many of the lessons I gleaned from those setbacks, from keynote speakers, and from various other people and situations God exposed me to this year.

Another lesson? Pam, throw in the towel if you want, but don't stop writing. I know that sounds ridiculous, but it's a matter of taking the pressure off yourself so you can be productive.

Cheers to all. Where's the food?

Audra Harders said...

Mornin' Christy and welcome to Seekerville : )

Great post on perserverance! The good Lord only knows all the times I've turned away from the calling only be scolded back into the fray.

I think you've given us all a wake up call, both pubbed and unpubbed. If we are pubbed, we can't sit on our laurels and just think our writing will sustain us.

If we're unpubbed, we need to actively participate in more than just our own writing. Think ahead and be prepared for all God will shower on us.

And we can all look around and support each other. I know I'm guilty of loving an author's work then just keeping it to myself. Well, I guess that won't keep that author on the shelves, will it?

Support our fellow writers and help promote their books! Write to the publishing houses and tell them how much you enjoy your reading choices. Drop your favorite author a note and tell them how much you've enjoyed their book -- so THEY can then pass it along to their editor : )

(Do you hear the drum and fife in the background? LOL!!)

I'm guilty of just sitting in the pews. Thanks for your honesty, Christy. Thanks for showing us how important our opinions are!!

Christy Barritt said...

Hey everyone! Thanks so much for letting me be a guest on Seekerville. You guys are great! And Mary, you crack me. I taught you to write? Too funny. I just love being your critique partner.

Pam, I'd love to do something on your blog. I'll email you next.

Julie, thanks for the prayers and encouragement. I welcome both!!!

Christy Barritt said...

Yes, marketing is so important and so against the nature of most writers. I don't want people to think I never did any marketing before. I did a 30-stop blog tour, book signings, book festivals, mystery dinner theaters (that's a whole 'nother post!), etc. I've just never been very proactive in seeking out a lot of the opportunities, nor have I been good about doing follow up. I might send an email to a magazine, asking if they're interesting in profiling me. A phone call goes so much further! I think I always feared being rejected. But making phone calls has actually opened some doors and now two magazines are featuring me, one in November and one in December. Marketing can definitely suck up a lot of time and resources, though. I'm giving this my best shot, but I'm also trying to use wisdom in what I should or shouldn't do. A phone is free and doesn't take too much time. :-)

Christy Barritt said...


I'm glad my advice hit home. I actually did print one of those and post it by my computer: Anything worth having is worth fighting for. It's true. Most people don't appreciate the things that come easily. I'm confident in my calling and confident that God will take care of me, even when I don't see how that's possible in any given situation.

Prayers for your perserverance (okay, I can never spell that word... what do people think I am? a wordsmith or something? smiles!)

Mary Connealy said...

This mystery dinner theater thing sounds so interesting, Christy.
I'd like to hear more about it.

But maybe it is substantive enough for it's own blog day.

I mean...did you write the play? Is it your book made into a play?

Or did you get involved with a mystery dinner theater (I've heard of that, local people just sort of having a 'murder mystery' dinner party)

I've got these cozy mysteries releasing soon and this intrigues me, the idea of using them as a dinner theater thing.

Cara Slaughter said...

Christy, I'm so glad you're with us today! I love both your books and hope your wonderful series continues.

The business of writing is often the hardest part for a writer, but you're jumping right in there. Good luck.

Joanna Mallory said...

Hi Christy,

Suspicious Minds was one of the most fun books I've read this year. I liked the characters -- and the humour.

Hazardous Duty just arrived this week and it went straight to the "next in line" spot in my reading pile (yes I know I'm reading in reverse!)

I really hope this series continues, and not just because I want to see a fellow writer happy and to find out what happens with Gabby. I like how the books are written.

I originally tried to buy Hazardous Duty on holiday in the US, but neither Borders nor Barnes and Noble had it. One of them didn't even have you in their database, and that's a shame.

Based on Suspicious Minds, I'd say these books should do fine in the mainstream and in Christian stores. I enjoyed it as a Christian (especially appreciated the Christian characters being real and not caricatures) but I didn't see anything that would scare or offend someone of a different faith. Gabby doesn't know what she thinks of this faith thing, and lots of people can relate to that.

Persevere, sister! We need more books that are well-written and fun.

PS when I hear people complain about the quality of Christian books, especially mysteries, I suggest they read Suspicious Minds to see it done right. (Not that any of you others writing in this genre are doing it wrong -- I usually haven't heard of the titles they complain about.)

Patricia W. said...

Glad you chose option #2, Christy. This kind of thing has worked for cancelled television shows so why not?

Hope it works out but in a way, it sounds like it already has. Look how much you've learned and how many new connections you've made that you can apply, if not to this series, then to your next one.

I'm pulling for you!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Christy, welcome to Seekerville!

And no one brought food???? What is the matter with you women??? We've got hungry guests lined up at the door, empty virtual plates in hand.

Oh Mylanta.

Here, gals, I was doing some online research for one of my bakery customers because we both remembered German and Polish kuchens from local bakeries back in our youth, when every neighborhood had it's own particular 'flavor'.

Those kuchens were mouth-watering good. They varied from shop to shop. Anyway, we made a bunch today and I'm offering them up to my starving friends in Seekerville. There's apple custard, cherry custard (Lacey's favorite), pineapple cheese custard and strawberry rhubarb.

Some are done with sweet bread dough, others with a more pastry- like crust. Have fun and enjoy. And I brought some of that vanilla bisciotti coffee, too.

Yum. Just the smell of it gentles a cold winter wind.

Now, Miss Christy.

Your story reminds me of Jan Karon. You know Jan. The mega-rich SC author who quit her advertising job, wrote the Mitford series of wonderfully fun, ecumenical books about the antics of the populace of Mitford and their erstwhile, aging Episcopalian priest.

I see at least a hundred reasons why that SHOULDN'T have worked, but it did. Her initial offering with a small press didn't garner much, but her push and word of mouth sent the first book from hand to hand to hand until people were clamoring for more.

Quirk pays. Proud of your stick-to-it-iveness. Good job.

Ruthy (eating kuchen and loving it, happy to share.)

Anita Mae said...

Good going, Christy. At least you won't be sitting there in your dotage wondering why you didn't go for it.

About promotion - I'd like to thank Julie for bringing Amazon to my attention. I review books on both my personal blog and my eharlequin one (yes, even the books I shouldn't read - blush) but I never considered posting them on Amazon b/c those ones seemed so...professional.

But now I've seen how both the consumer and author benefits so you can be sure I'll be doing my part in that aspect.

Kim said...

Okay Ruthie! I've come back for a peek, and here you are eating again! So, I'm going to offer a snack I just tried...Orville Reddenbocker's flavored popcorn...lime and salt, cracked pepper,olive oil and's some yummy stuff! Oh, and there are some lime flavored tortilla chips that are fabulous with some salsa....oooh-la-la!!


Amy said...

Hey Christy,

I actually have an idea to help, I've just been so overwhelmed by other stuff I haven't gotten to it.

I"ll email you soonish. These books must live!

Avily Jerome said...

Hi Christy! I haven't read your Squeaky Cleans yet, but now I want to!
Another thing to add to the list!

Here's to saving the little guys that the networks and publishers want to cancel!

Mary Connealy said...

The Sqeaky Clean Mysteries are really good, funny and scary and fast paced.
Christy's great. And her little son is so adorable I can't believe she can do anything but bounce him and hug him.
but she's a wonder woman.

Erica Vetsch said...

Wow, that call to be honest even if it causes some drama or hurt feelings really smacked me square between the eyes. I've struggled with this myself, and recently too!

You're courageous for launching the campaign to save your series, and also courageous for doing what you know God is calling you to do, regardless of the cost.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Christy, I don't know if you remember me, but you were so welcoming when I arrived back into the writing scene. I loved your post and the honesty. This business is brutal but then when called, we need to preserver and you are showing us how to do that. Kudos to you and thanks a bunch for sharing. We need to know the nitty gritty of the business. There is no happily ever after the "call". Its work and a business. And it needs to be treated as such. Good for you. I'm praying for your success because you are a terrific writer.

Tina M. Russo said...

That was such an inspiring post. Thanks for sharing...heading off to buy your book and save the series.

Christy Barritt said...

Thanks again for letting me blog here. What a great group! I've really enjoyed and appreciated all of your responses. I wish you all the best!

Christy Barritt said...

Mary, I'd love to do another guest blog post about the mystery dinner theater. It's been fun and easy--I'd recommend it for any mystery author who's looking for a unique way to get the word out about their books.

Christy Barritt said...

Hey Joanne!

Thanks for the comments and for letting me know you couldn't find the books at Barnes and Noble or Borders. I really should look into that. I know the Barnes and Nobles around here carry my book, and I've had people in various parts of the country say they've bought my book at Books a Million. I always try to tell people that if a bookstore doesn't shelve my book, ask them to order it. It's available through every distributor, so that should never be a problem. Also, sometimes if they order one copy, they'll order additional copies as well, so it can be a win-win situation.

Again, thanks for letting me know about this, though.

Christy Barritt said...


Thanks for the reminder about Jan Karon. Isn't it funny what kind of books and movies and TV shows really take off? There's really no predicting it.

I can share something I've heard several times over lately. For some reason, humorous mystery novels don't seem to do well in the Christian market. It's a little discouraging. I know that Heartsongs is doing their mysteries now and they seem to be doing well. But full, trade market size books aren't. I know several authors writing in that genre who've had their series cancelled. This really is a shame. This genre does so well in the ABA market. I'd love to see it explode in the Christian market as well.

Christy Barritt said...

Okay, last comment (maybe!). I just wanted to emphasize something I didn't really make clear in my blog post. On top of calling me to be brutally honest, I think God is calling me to take risks. For too long, I've only done the marketing that's in my comfort zone. God's telling me to take chances with things, which can be scary but can also cause incrediable growth.

Also, I think God has made it clear to me that if this series is to succeed, it won't be because of anything I've done--it will be through his grace and power. The sales number goal I have is high--it really seems unobtainable by most standards. But I have to realize that if this series continues, it will be becuase I'm following God's direction in my life and not because of my own cleverness. God's just showing me to rely on him.

God is a God of miracles... and if the Squeaky Clean series is ressurected from the dead, it will be by God's hand!

Missy Tippens said...

Christy, I'm sorry I'm a day late. Thanks so much for blogging in Seekerville with us. Excellent post!! And good for you for choosing option two and going to work. I can't wait to see how great everything turns out for the series!