1) An archaeologist writes books on sex and relationships? Explain that one!
I think God has an amazing sense of humor! Yes, I trained as an anthropologist and did archaeology for a time in Laos, exploring an ancient temple. And today I do write books on sex and family issues. But the two careers are not that different. When I was an archaeologist, I was putting broken pots back together. Now with God’s help, I am putting broken lives back together.
2) Who reads your books?
My first book, Why Say No When My Hormones Say Go? was for teens who were hurt in sexual relationships. But when I wrote Help! My Family’s Messed Up! I quickly discovered that adults were not buying copies to give to their teens but secretly keeping the books for themselves. The adults were facing the same issues as many of the young people in my audience. My newest book, Standing Tall After Falling Short, coming out this Fall, will be marketed to a broader audience. So look for it on the New York Times best seller list in a few months!
3) Is your family messed up?
Every family is messed up to some degree. My family had quirks like any other family. The truth is that I grew up in a really abnormal home. My father and mother remained faithful to each other. My brothers and I had spats but we grew to love each other. Nobody took drugs or got pregnant before marriage. It was pretty unusual.
4) So what makes you think you can you help people who face more difficult situations?
Somebody has got to show the way to normal. When a person comes out of a battle with drugs or alcohol or sexual abuse, they have a story to tell. But that person doesn’t know the inside scoop of what healthy family relationships can be like. In my books, my clients and friends share their experiences of emotional and physical abuse or stories about the mistakes they have made in the past. Like Brian who tells about how he got involved with drugs and women and robbed a bank and faced ten years in a federal prison. But my positive experience within my own family gives hope to my readers by showing what strong families can look like. Cautionary note: Be careful getting to know me. Your story might end up in one of my books!
5) Is it easy to sell books?
When you are excited about the topic, sure. Everywhere I go people start talking about family relationships. I’ve sold books at funerals, at weddings, in airports. But the most unusual sale was while I was in a doctor’s office waiting for my husband who was having a colonoscopy. This lady was sitting next to me while she waited for her mother to have the same procedure. We got talking and she ended up buying two of my books. I didn’t even have to use anesthesia to make the sale.
6) Any tips for other would-be authors?
Be persistent. My first book was rejected by about 20 publishers. The manuscript is on papyrus and is disintegrating in a box in my closet. Someday I’ll become an archaeologist again, dig through the layers of stratigraphy and dust it off. But my second book found two publishers right away. I got to choose! Develop your craft by reading good stuff and hanging with other writers. And once your book is published, market it! Weld a copy to your forehead and carry it with you everywhere you go. Who knows, your proctologist might want a copy!
7) How can I help you sell more books?
Tell people that if they sell ten copies of any of my books I’ll mention them in the table of contents in my next book. No, maybe in the appendix. A footnote? Seriously? If your readers have youth groups at their churches, serve at a Christian camp, or have ties to Christian schools, my books are on current issues that teens face daily. Each chapter has practical discussion questions with scriptures for the reader to consider alone or with a class. Encourage your staff to order enough copies for everyone in the group. Telling my publisher that we need another print run would be a pleasure.
Another option is to sponsor a local book burning. Have everyone bring a pile of old books from home and throw them (the books, that is, not the people) on the bonfire. Then when people are bored and looking for a good read, offer to sell them copies of my books. Do NOT – I repeat, do NOT – burn my books!
Emily's Amazon Page!