Finding & Filling a Need with Your Writing

Elliot_LOL_150SoldREV0512.inddI remember sitting in the sales meeting where Baker Publishing first mentioned the Laugh Out Loud joke books by Rob Elliot. Sandwiched between presentations of Amish romance novels and deep theological text books, was this joke book. It was unlike anything else in the catalog.

There were confused looks around the room.

And then the company president stood up.

“You may be asking yourself why we are publishing a joke book for children,” he said. “Well, not too long ago, one of our sales people approached me and told me that if we published a clean joke book for kids, we’d make money on it. So, we’re going to give it a try.”

The sales person in question was Rob Teigen, and it was him who collected the jokes, pitched the idea and got it published under a pen name. Why? Because he saw a need in the marketplace. Sure, there have been other joke books published. But what Rob noticed was that joke books sell and there was room for another one.

And guess what. It paid off. A lot.

Here’s an excerpt from an article published in the New York Post:

It sounds like the usual setup for a knock-knock joke: Who is the best-selling author on all of this holiday season?

Rob Elliott. Rob Elliott who?

Yet it’s no laughing matter for Rob Teigen, a father of five in Grand Rapids, Mich., who, under the pen name Rob Elliott, currently owns the No. 1 and No. 2 spots on’s best-selling book list, outpacing such hits as “Unbroken” and the latest from Bill O’Reilly.

Did you pick up on that? He currently owns the No. 1 and No. 2 spots and Amazon’s best-selling books, ahead of Unbroken and national celebrities.

How did a salesman become the author of the top two books on Amazon? He saw a need and he filled it admirably.

Whether you consider yourself an author or not, maybe you know of a need to fill. What are you doing to fill that need? Do it well and you might just wind up on a bestseller list too.

Book Review | A Cast of Stones

9781441261021A Cast of Stones, first in The Staff & The Sword series by new author, Patrick W. Carr, is a lot like I was in high school. After a bad first impression, Carr’s first novel needed a little time to explain itself before it won me over. But it did win me over in the end.

A Cast of Stones is set in the fantastic Illustra, a land ruled by the crown, the church, and the conclave of readers. With easily-spotted ties to our own world, Illustra is a land in crisis. The king nears the end of his days without leaving an heir. The conclave charged with approving the future king is shrinking rapidly due to unknown assassinations. And the church has been infiltrated by the very powers it seeks to thwart.

Enter Errol Stone, an orphan addicted to ale who may just be the kingdom’s only hope. To be honest, it took me a full third of the book before I found Errol to be worth rooting for. Then again, Luke Skywalker isn’t likeable in Star Wars until at least Episode 5: The Empire Strikes Back.

Being his first novel, Carr should be alotted a certain amount of grace. He crafts some great passages, but there are a few places where I was pulled out of the narrative by details that probably should have been caught by an editor. The plot follows the traditional hero’s journey, but twists in elements unique to Illustra.

For those willing to push past the first third of the book, A Cast of Stones will capture your interest and leave you waiting for the next installment with bated breath.