The Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year awards are over for another year. Congratulations again to all our EVVY nominees, winners, and Best Book finalists. I received a gracious email from the winner, Andrew Ceroni, who expressed both his excitement and his appreciation. It’s always great to hear from our award-winning authors.
In fact, a little over a week ago I also received an amazing email from the author of Speechless, which was one of the Best Book of the Year Finalists. This was while the Best Book voting was still occurring at the Self Publishing News website. It was so touching, I asked her permission to share it on my blog after the final votes were in and she granted that permission while simultaneously expressing an interest in congratulating Mr. Ceroni for his win. Thank you, Ms. Brown, for the email below.
Dear Mr. Sampson,
I am writing to thank you for the journey I never expected.
I am the author of Speechless. You know me as E.J. Brown, my kids know me as mom, and the rest of the world knows me as Melissa. I started writing Speechless eight years ago to fill a void and to teach the world about autism. I remember the first phone call I had with Laura Neal, we discussed pricing and I told her I wanted to give the book away. After a moment of silence she calmly explained how pricing worked and I conceded, realizing that “reasonably priced” would have to do if I couldn’t give it away for free. After Speechless was published I did no marketing at all and sold very few books. I already have a full time job, this was just a hobby, and my full-time job was recovering my autistic son. I am his teacher and he is mine. We spend every day together as he gets closer to recovery.
When I received the EVVY nomination, I was floored. I had fallen into this profession because of a passion for my children as I had falling into teaching years ago because of a love of history and the world. My life has taken me some very interesting places when I followed my heart; places I could never have dreamed of. After I won the EVVY I was again delighted and floored. A panel of writers read Speechless and decided that it was well written and worthy of first place. That tickled my heart like you will never know. That was not the end of the road though, still there was more. You continued to push me further down this path as your team nominated Speechless for Book of the Year. For the first time I have to sell myself, something I have never been very good at but for the first time I was up for the challenge. Out of my seclusion I have learned so much, and most important of all is that my story is the story of so many others that I hadn’t realize.
Social media, Facebook, Instragram– it all frightens me but I willingly jumped in with both feet. I was a high school teacher a little over a decade ago. I was in my mid 20’s and my students were 14-17 years old. As I was sending my pleas for votes I received a friend request from a student I had almost 15 years ago. I am 41 years old today and she is just ten years younger. I accepted her request and learned that she has two boys that are also on the autism spectrum. She told me she read my book, loved it, and felt less alone for the first time in a long time. Another friend of mine told me her daughter loved Speechless so much that she wrote a book report about it for school. I could never imagine a teenager loving something I wrote so much that they would write a book report about it for school!
SO I have to say even though there are two days left to vote I want to take a moment to thank you for the journey and the chance to tell my story and for forcing my hand, pushing me out of my comfort zone and making me sell myself. I just finished my second book with Outskirts Press, A Fervent Hope. It is in pre-media right now and I am anxious to share it with the world in just a few short weeks. I am going to do it differently this time.
So thank you again for the opportunity to be a star, if just for a little while. I am so thrilled to just to be nominated. I look forward to seeing how it all turns out on Sunday.
Thanks again for the opportunity,