I have a very special guest today, the wonderful Joylene Nowell Butler, author of Dead Witness. Not only is Joylene an indefatiguable blogger and generous friend to published and unpublished writers alike, she is a talented writer with one book published and a second on its way next year. I am thrilled that she consented to be a guest here today! Joylene says:

Have you ever wondered why you put so much time and effort into writing that story — only to receive enough rejections to wallpaper a small room?

Some writers say they write because that’s who they are. Some say it’s not a choice but a destiny. Others say it’s for the simple joy of writing a good book. I say it’s all three.

But how do you know if you’ve written a good book?

I had a conversation at my first signing that went something like this…

He picked up a copy of my book, looked it over, then set it down. “Nice cover. Dead Witness, eh? What’s it about?”

“It’s the story of a Canadian woman kidnapped by the FBI. They fake her death, make her family believe she’s dead, and convince her that if she doesn’t stay dead, the killer will go after her children.”

 “Sounds interesting.”

“It is. But what makes this story different is Valerie finds the courage to defy the FBI and go after the killer herself.”

“Sounds a bit daffy.”

“Not at all. She’s willing to risk her life to save her daughters.”

“She still sounds crazy. How much is the book?”

“Twenty dollars.”

“That’s expensive for a novel.”

“That depends on what a few night’s entertainment is worth to you.”

He shrugged and bought a copy.

The next morning he emailed to say, “Joylene, I stayed up all night reading your book. I could not put it down. Thank you for writing such a good story. Yes, it was worth every penny.”

I’ve received many responses like this since publishing Dead Witness in July 2008, but that first one – well, it was my first. Yes, I wrote Dead Witness because it was a story inside of me fighting to get out. And yes, I write because that’s who I am; I can’t imagine not writing.

Marketers tell you that you must believe in your work to be successful. But until I heard from my readers, for years (24 to be exact), I never truly believed in my ability. Those responses were a validation. If they loved my book, then it must be good. They weren’t family and friends; they had nothing to gain by lying.

One day I received a bad review, and something very special happened. Instead of becoming an emotional cripple and folding like an accordion, I realized that everyone is entitled to an opinion. I know Dead Witness is a good book, and I know I can’t please everyone.

If you’re a writer, then write. Learn your craft. Know that if you doubt your ability, time and effort will diminish that doubt. One day you’ll be overwhelmed with the most powerful and beautiful feeling ever: My book is worth every penny.  

* * *

Joylene Nowell Butler was born in Manitoba and raised in British Columbia, Canada. She attended Douglas College and Simon Fraser University. In 1992, she and her husband retired to a community in central BC called Cluculz Lake. There, Joylene wrote 4 other books and is currently working on her sixth. Her novel Broken But Not Dead will be released in 2011 by Theytus Books.

See also: Dead Witness Excerpt by Joylene Nowell Butler
                Pat Bertram Introduces Valerie McCormick, Hero of Dead Witness by Joylene Nowell Butler

41 Responses to “DEAD WITNESS IS WORTH EVERY PENNY by Joylene Nowell Butler”

  1. joylene Says:

    Pat, I can’t possibly describe what a thrill it is to be on both your blogs. Thank you. You’re a precious gift from God. Amen.

  2. Gale Laure Says:

    Thanks for sharing your story with us, Joylene. I knew it had to have a happy ending. But his questions! I ejoyed it. Best of luck with your book. GL

  3. joylene Says:

    Thank you, Gale. Your webpage is very well done. Best of luck with your work too.

  4. Susan Helene Gottfried Says:

    Nice to meet you, ladies! I’m dropping in to let you know I’ve posted about this visit over at Win a Book. Hope it brings you some new fans, Joylene!

  5. joylene Says:

    Thank you, Susan. See what I mean? The Net is full of wonderful, generous people.

  6. Karen Lange Says:

    “Worth every penny!” What a wonderful commentary on your book. Thanks for sharing the story.

  7. A. F. Stewart Says:

    Interesting anecdote. It is a nice feeling when someone tells you they like your book.

  8. joylene Says:

    Hi Anita. Yes, it felt great.

  9. Deborah J Ledford Says:

    Thank you for sharing this face-to-face about a doubter who became a fan after actually reading your book. Your quick responses were ideal and certainly hooked him enough to trust in you enough to make the purchase. I wish you the best with DEAD WITNESS.

  10. joylene Says:

    Thank you, Deborah. It was one of those moments you never forget. Thanks for stopping by.

  11. Dave Ebright Says:

    …“Nice cover. Dead Witness, eh?” … Now Joylene – He really said “eh”? See I woulda been lost as soon as someone started speaking to me in Canadian. Guess it pays to be bilingual.

    I have read excerpts of Dead Witness (& sneak peaks of Joylene’s current WIP) &, ladies & gentlemen, JOYLENE CAN WRITE! As soon as I get settled into my new temporary ‘home’ (complete with address – this is one of my more miserable escapades) I plan on ordering Dead Witness & Daughter Am I (Pat’s book). In the meantime, keep believin’ in yo’ bad self – eh…?

  12. Dave Ebright Says:

    PAT – I’m forgetting my manners – Thanks for having Joylene stop by – not that your blog’s not already incredibly fantastic n’ stuff but …. uhm… THANKS!

  13. Pat Bertram Says:

    Joylene, thank you for taking such good care of my blog today! It’s been wonderful having you as a guest.

  14. Kim Smith Says:

    Great to see you here Joylene! You are a phenomenal author and a good friend. I wish you much continued success! thanks for this great blog guest, Pat!

  15. kathy stemke Says:

    It’s nice to meet you Jolene and Pat. Your story encouraged me. I love thrillers like your book. “Dead Witness.” I can see a mother risking her life for her children, I would.

    I have two children’s books coming out soon, and I hope I get great comments like yours, Joylene. Good luck.

    • joylene Says:

      Hi Kathy. Congratulations on your upcoming book. Please let me know all about your tour when it begins. Best of luck with every aspect of your marketing.

  16. Katie Hines Says:

    Sounds like a great book. I’m wondering if perhaps the book’s “greatness” didn’t show because you needed a stronger blurb to tell your readers? I wonder that because I was on a radio show and was telling about my book, and I could tell the host wasn’t that thrilled. Then I read a portion of the first chapter on the show, and their attitude changed around completely.

    Perhaps that was the case with your book?

    • joylene Says:

      You’re so right, Katie. Book readings are much easier. Not an easy accomplishment in the middle of a grocery store though. LOL. I did read from my book every Monday on the radio for months. That was a big selling point.

  17. Kim Kouski Says:

    I like this interview. I love how you sold your story to the guy. I learned a lot from this interview. Thanks for sharing!!

    • joylene Says:

      Hi Kim. I was so green in those first few signings. It’s all about sharing the experience. If I can help your books signings go better, than I’ve done my job.

  18. James Rafferty Says:


    Thanks for sharing the story about the doubter at your book signing with us. As writers, we need to believe in our creations. But it’s so much better to get that validation from readers. My own first novel is pre-pub, but I’ve gotten very positive feedback from a few (but not all) beta readers. It’s a great feeling and makes me push harder to get the book out there.

    • joylene Says:

      Hi James. Yes, that was the point of this post that Pat asked me to write. Switch my title Dead Witness with any other title and the gist is we’re more likely to believe others before we believe ourselves. It’s part of human nature. Validation is an important part of being published. And I find it fascinating that all writers, even the best sellers receive validation from their reader’s response rather than instinctively like we’re told to. That’s why author’s ask for feedback. It’s essential to hear what your reader thinks.

      Best of luck with your first book. It’s a thrilling ride, and I hope you enjoy every moment.

  19. barbara Says:

    Great interview! Sounds like a terrific story. I need to run out now and pick one up.

  20. Keith Says:

    Great story, Joylene. I bet I’ve read Dead Witness as many times as anyone other than you. Yep, worth every penny and more.


    • joylene Says:

      Keith, I think you’re right. Other than me, you’re probably the one person who has had to read my book. LOL. Seriously, I couldn’t have done it without you.

  21. Carol J. Garvin Says:

    Having read it, too, I know for a fact it’s a good story and definitely worth every penny. I passed it along to my aunt and it has since moved on to other hands accompanied by a very favourable recommendation. I wish I’d thought to put a personal note/bookmark in it so that, like a note in a bottle, I might find out where it ends up! 😉

    • joylene Says:

      Carol, before our son left for Afghanistan, I slipped an autographed copy of my book in his suitcase, he already had his own copy. Then, last year when we met up in Jamaica for his wedding, he gave me the copy back. It was signed by 30+ soldiers he’d met in Kandahar. What a thrill that was. Some of these kids were from Britain, US, Australia and of course, Canada. The standing joke was, “Anybody got a book I can read?” “Yeah, my mum wrote a book.” “Haha, very funny.”

      It was a big step the day I could tell myself that Dead Witness was worth every penny. I want all writers to feel that.

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