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Seekerville: The Journey Continues

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Job #1: They Got Books

Job #1: They Got Books


by Pam Hillman

I participated in a book fair this past weekend, and a good time was had by all. I hope to share more next month about my experience at A Page Away Book Fair, hopefully with thoughts from some of the other vendors who participated.

But there is one small snippet that fits today’s topic. Wifi and phone service in the venue was practically non-existent. So it was either cash, check, or accept credit/debit card payments offline and hope the payments went through later.

I chose to accept payments offline and took a few like that and they went through later when I was able to get reception. I took a chance, but I went in with my eyes wide open. If the cards were declined, I was prepared to just pray the books blessed the recipients.

It was a situation of THEY GOT BOOKS. I GOT MONEY. (I hoped.)

But where am I going with this? Let me back up for a minute.

The idea for this blog post came from setting up the software for the ACFW Bookstore to be held onsite at the ACFW Conference in St. Louis like IMMEDIATELY! (Seriously, it’s September 8-11th).

Job #1: They Got Books

As most of you are aware, I’m the ACFW Treasurer. This year when the bookstore ACFW partners with couldn’t make it due to other commitments, ACFW decided to go ahead with the bookstore anyway. I was slightly familiar with some software that caters exclusively to consignment sales, so started the learning curve for that software months ago.

My training for the bookstore staff has been intensive and one step at a time. The main thing in my view is to get to the point of scanning and selling books during the online book sale which spans a three-day weekend. It is imperative that the bookstore get that part RIGHT, making it seamless and a perfect experience for our customers.

In other words, THEY GET BOOKS. WE GET MONEY. (We hope.)

Everything that happens after that… reconciling remaining inventory, paying consignors, paying sales tax, etc. will come all in good time.

Going even farther BACK in time... Where did this “They Got Books…” mantra come from?

A LONG time ago, I was a fresh-faced kid out of college and working my new job at a furnace/heater manufacturer, a company I worked at for 28 years. It was small family run business that was just getting started and they were still preparing invoices by hand. Computer generated inventory, invoices, and bookkeeping was in the infant stages, but with a computer science degree under my belt, my dream was to take the company into the computer-driven age. (Which did happen eventually, btw.)

But when I started, everything was done by hand. Remember I said SMALL company, as in ONE other lady in the office. Her name was Yvette, and she became my mentor for many years. Not long after I started work, during the busiest season of the company, Yvette’s husband suddenly became very ill and had to be hospitalized. There was nothing for it but for her to go be by his side. I can’t remember how long she was out of the office, a few days, a week or so. Not more than that. Thankfully, her husband recovered and all was well on that front.

When she returned to the office and anxiously asked how things went, I plopped two stacks in front of her.

A stack of handwritten invoices.

A stack of deposit slips.

Then I said, “They got heaters and I got money. That’s all I know.”

(Anybody who knows me knows I got the money! lol)

But the thing is, I was pretty much telling the truth! I hadn’t been there long enough to be 100% sure that I had charged the customers for the right widget, gadget, or gidget. And since this was before the time of computers and you-can’t-mess-this-up item numbers where the customer could turn in a list (with the aforementioned you-can’t-mess-this-up item numbers) of what he wanted or the parts guy (there was no department… there was a guy named Jim) could give me a specific item number, sometimes I was left guessing.

But I knew our customers got what they wanted (always Job #1), and they gave me checks, which I promptly deposited in the bank (always Job #2). The rest would fall into place, and if it didn’t, we could figure it out and fix it later. Most of the sales I made were to distributors and dealers for the company so I was confident that any minor errors I made in invoicing could be corrected later. But some of them had driven hundreds of miles to pick up full truck loads of heaters and parts to take back to IL, TN, KY, ME (wherever) as winter approached. Job #1 (give the customer what he wants) had to be done, no matter what.

With the ACFW Bookstore, the Storyfest readers will get the books they love, and that’s Job #1. A happy customer is a repeat customer. The consignors will receive payment for their books they brought on consignment. (That’s Job #2). Everything else will fall into place, with good planning and a healthy dose of prayer.

Job #1: They Got Books

So what does this have to do with Seekerville? With writing? With reading? With life?

Sometimes you have a hill to climb. You know where the peak is. You have to know what JOB #1 is. In writing, that might be your deadline. Or it might be writing THE END (as the deadline goes swooshing by). With marketing, it might be getting your next newsletter out or writing you Seekerville blog on time. (Ahem.) There are multiple answers to this question, depending on how big or small your project is.

In my “other” life as a grandmother, Job #1 might be to be at my son and DIL’s house no later than 7:30 am on my days to keep their kids so that they can be out the door on time for work and to get the oldest to school on time. Nothing short of the stomach bug or the flu will interfere with THAT Job #1. Trust me!

There are millions of Job #1’s in our lives. Some are as simple as Be There at Seven! Some are much more complicated and involve many moving parts … as I’m finding with learning new software and training others … remotely, even!

So, for whatever project or life event you’re working on, whether it be short-term or long-term, find the Job #1 for that and work toward it with a vengeance, and everything else will fall into place.

What’s your Job #1 for today? Or even for a bigger project that’s looming?

A Few Thoughts about Conferences...and Networking :)


The ACFW conference is on the horizon and after two years it's going to be great to have the chance to see folks in person again. I'm super excited to get the chance to attac...er...hug as many author and reader friends as possible. Readers, you say? Well, THIS year, ACFW is also having StoryFest so readers can join in the fun, so it's double the fun for authors. We get a chance to see our writing buddies AND hang out with the folks who love our fictional people!!
But conferences can be great for more than just socializing and aggressively hugging folks. :) They are also good networking and marketing places. In case you haven't heard this enough on Seekerville, let me say it one more 'gin. 

A Few Thoughts about Conferences...and Networking :)

Visibility is important in marketing. 

Now, does that mean you need to spend all your time and money going to every writer's conference on the planet? No! I like people, but that sounds absolutely terrifying (and expensive) to me. However, if you DO go to a conference, then it's a great time to use your time well and engage in some friendly networking. 

1. Have a business card- for the newbies out there, this is a very good investment. It keeps you in people's minds longer than an introduction. It's also a good idea to have your photo on your card so that folks have both the auditory clue of your name/voice as well as a visual reminder of what you look like :)

2. Share the fun on social media - this is a great way for people who know you online to look for you if you're going to be at the conference. It's also helpful for those introverts who aren't as comfortable initiating contact with stranger, because you can find "your group" faster. In fact, the group may very well come to you if they know you're going to be present. (And, as always, social media is a great marketing tool anyway). 

3. Find your emotional support people - Like I said in #2, touching base with folks before you get to conference to let them know you're going to be there, sets up an opportunity for you to already have SOME people to hang out with. Plus, there's a good chance those people will know OTHER people, which then broadens your "visibility" within the community. You never know which connections will lead to the best connections. 

A Few Thoughts about Conferences...and Networking :)

4. Smile - yeah, yeah. This seems like a simple thing to share, but nerves can do crazy things to our facial expressions. Unless your smile is Joker-scary, then USUALLY smiles  are reciprocated AND have a tendency to make any face a little nicer. Smiles give off the vibe of approachable. I know not all of us may want to appear approachable, but you'll need to leave that side of you at home during the conference (or only pull it out when you're hiding in your hotel room after "people exhaustion". Bonus: ACFW is a Christian writer's conference, so we'd hope most people would be nice and approachable anyway. This is the time to branch out, put your best foot forward, and try to learn, grow, and build your community. I can assure you, most of the rest of us are there for the same thing and (don't tell anyone), but I still get nervous every time I go!

5. Being Prepared - sound weird to add this to visibility? Well, let me just say, folks who come in ready are more memorable. Ready to take advantage of the moment. Having those business cards, one-sheets, maybe a few first pages...those are great ways to show you've prepared to meet with folks. Also, preparing yourself by creating catchy elevator pitches is another. AND preparing your heart and soul through prayer and mutual encouragement is a great way too. 

Conferences can be crazy, but they can also lead to GREAT opportunities for you to network...and even build your own community of fellow nerds...er....writers. I already knew some of the Seekers when I attended my first conference and immediately had a kinship with them. They introduced to other people. 

P.S. I support fangirling. That last photo is of me and Debbie Maccomber. I've also met Francine Rivers. I walked right up to them to introduce myself and tell them that I loved their books. (and I was nervous the whole time, but...now I have this cool photo to share for visibility! LOL) 
Are you attending a conference soon? What would you like to learn more about as you prepare? Pitches? One-sheets? Business Cards? Etc. ?
Job #1: They Got BooksA Few Thoughts about Conferences...and Networking :)

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