Monday, 22 December 2008

The Inspirational Story Behind the Success of Richard Paul Evans' "A Christmas Box" Part 1/3.

Richard Paul Evans had always wanted to write a book and at age 29 he decided to do it. The book was intended as an expression of love for his (then) two daughters. Once he committed himself to the writing of his book he was truly inspired. He sometimes found himself pulling off the highway so that he could capture his thoughts. It was almost as if "A Christmas Box" wrote itself.

Just completing the manuscript gave him a tremendous feeling of accomplishment although he did think to himself how great it would be to have his book actually on a bookshelf in a bookstore. However, initially this was not a predominant thought and first he needed to get some feedback.

So first he asked his wife to read his book. Keri, not wanting to be placed in a position where she just might have to play her diplomatic card tried to wriggle out from having to read her husband's first book. But he pleaded with her:

"Just read the first 3 pages."

Reluctantly, she took the manuscript and settled down to read it and she didn't stop until she had finished way past midnight. By the end there were tears streaming down Keri's face. Richard didn't know whether to be alarmed or overjoyed by her reaction.

"Rick, where did you get that story?"

He explained that he had made it up and when he pressed her to say what she actually thought of the book she said,

"It makes me want to be a better mother."

Feeling emboldened he went to Kinkos, printed 20 copies and distributed them to his family, friends and neighbours. And at that point he really felt he was done. Then he received a call from one of his brothers. He braced himself, thinking that his brother would call him on his poor punctuation, grammar or both but his brother simply said:

"Your book has changed my life."

And this was the first of many similar calls that he received from those to whom he had shared his book.

Then, about 3 weeks later he received a call from a woman who said:

"Mr Evans, I want to tell you what your book means to me."

"Who are you?" he asked.

She told him but he realised that he didn't know her and so he asked how she had come by his book. She told him who had given her a copy but he didn't know that person either. So he did some research.

He contacted everyone who he'd given a copy of his book and found out who they'd given it to and contacted them. From his research he estimated that in the 4-week period since he had first distributed the 20 copies of his book that it had been read over 160 times. He was flabbergasted but there was more to come.

Two weeks later he received a call from a book clerk at local bookstore.

"Hello Mr Evans, did you write "A Christmas Box"?"

When he replied yes the sense the relief in the clerk's voice was almost tangible. He had been diligently and systematically calling all the "R Evans" in the phone directory.

"Oh good, where do we order it?"

Richard replied,

"You can't order it. It's never been published."

You could sense that feeling of relief evaporating and being replaced by confusion and incomprehension. The clerk was quiet for a moment then he said, "but we've had 10 orders for that book this week."

When Richard elaborated on the situation the clerk replied,

"You should publish this book."

This is the end of Part 1. Part 2 coming soon.

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