Giving Thanks in a Difficult Year

2020 has been a difficult year. Worldwide, the corona virus pandemic has raged causing numerous deaths and shutting down economies in countries around the world. Countless lives have been disrupted. No one has escaped the effects of this virus.

In the United States, there has been division and unrest among the populace. Many cities experienced riots with burning and looting. The Western half of the country was ravished by wildfires.

Happy Thanksgiving

Yet in the midst, God tell us to “Give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

So, today, Thanksgiving 2020, I invite you to give thanks. God is still good. His love, mercy, and grace still flow from his thrown to all inhabitants of earth.

I think the words of this old hymn “We Lift Our Hearts in Thanks Today” by Percival A. Chubb, is appropriate for this season.

We lift our hearts in thanks today
For all the gifts of life;
And first, for peace that turns away
The enemies of strife;

And next, the beauty of the earth,
Its flowers and lovely things,
The spring’s great miracle of birth,
With sound of songs and wings;

Then, harvests of its teeming soil
In orchard, croft and field;
But more, the service and the toil
Of those who helped them yield;

And most, the gifts of hope and love,
Of wisdom, truth and right,
The gifts that shine like stars above
To chart the world by night.

As we receive, so let us give,
With ready, generous hand,
Rich fruitage from the lives we live
To bless our home and land.

 
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Book Marketing Amidst Thorns and Thistles

Over Labor Day weekend, I decided to tackle a long-neglected area of my yard. I pulled out weeds and cleared brush.

The weather was hot, so I wore a short sleeve shirt. Only later did I realize that I must have tangled with some Poison Oak when large red welts began to appear on my arms. The damage was not pretty.

As soon as I noticed the allergic reaction, I began to treat the affected areas. I also prayed—asking Jesus to heal me. In my prayer, I reminded God that I was only doing what he wanted me to do—to subdue the Earth and rule over it (Genesis 1:28).

While praying, I was reminded that God told Adam, “Cursed is the ground because of you; …It will produce thorns and thistles for you” (Genesis 3:17-18).

I had certainly run into some nasty thorns and thistles. As I pondered this, I got to thinking that we don’t just run into thorns and thistles while doing yardwork. We also run into thorns and thistles in other areas when we assert dominion.

As a Christian author or publisher, you run into thorns and thistles in the writing, publishing, and marketing of your books. After all, your writing is part of ruling with God on the Earth (Go into all the world and make disciples).

As a Christian author or publisher, you run into all sorts of thorns and thistles like:

  • Computer crashes where work is lost
  • Cancelled events
  • Lost packages when shipping books
  • Money spent on advertising that does not bring results
  • Book launches that flop

It’s good to remember that while we have to deal with thorns and thistles, that is not all that our work produces.

In the same sentence that God tells Adam “It will produce thorns and thistles for you”, God also says:

“…and you will eat the plants of the field.”

We may run into thorns and thistles, but our work will also bring about fruit. So, while you are struggling with the thorns and the thistles, take heart, good crop is also growing. Your efforts—taken for the glory of God—are not made in vain.

Trust God. Ask him to bless your work. He is faithful and tends the seeds that you plant with your books. Good fruit will come—even though you have to fight the thorns and the thistles in the process.

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Photo courtesy of Dimitri.

A Spiritual Response

The year 2020 has been an incredibly difficult year for the United States and much of the world. We have experienced a worldwide pandemic and political and civil unrest in America.

A spiritual response

Coronavirus Pandemic

Authors across the United States as well as the world have been impacted by the pandemic. Shutdowns have greatly restricted authors ability to promote their books. Book launch parties, book signings, book tours, and author speaking engagements have been cancelled.

Numerous authors have lost income from these cancelled events. In-person author events and speaking engagements sell books. Not all conferences and speaking engagements have transitioned to a virtual venue, leaving fewer avenues for authors to promote their books this year.

Political and Civil Unrest

The United States has been tremendous political and civil unrest resulting in the burning, looting, and destroying of property and businesses. These activities have a large cost to society. The cost to repair and rebuild the damage, as well as the loss of business, means fewer discretionary dollars for people to buy books.

While books still sell in a depressed economy, they do not sell at same numbers as when the economy is robust. Authors and publishers book sales are and will continue to be impacted by effects of both the pandemic and the unrest in our country.

The Response

As Christians, our response should be to pray. We need to be praying for our country and our leaders on a daily basis. We must cry out for God to heal—both from the coronavirus and from the unrest that is rocking our country.

Religious leaders around the country are seeing the need for collective prayer and fasting. I encourage you to take part in these events. Two events that you can be involved in are The Return and Eleven 11 at 11.

1.  The Return

Jonathan Kahn, a best-selling Christian author, has spearheaded a national and global day of prayer and repentance. This is an event for Christians to fast and pray at our Nation’s capital on September 26. The event will feature a live simulcast for those who cannot be in Washington D.C. Christian leaders are encouraging all Christians to fast and pray that day, wherever you are. You can learn more on the event’s website at https://thereturn.org.

2.  Eleven 11 at 11

I was made aware of this event at the NRB Convention earlier this year. This event aims to have millions of believers all across America gather, Bibles in hand, to stand side by side and appeal to heaven and to declare that God is the God of this nation. You can learn more about this event on the event’s website at https://www.eleven11at11.org.

I hope that as a Christian author, you will take part in one or both of these events. Our struggle is not with the physical world, but with the Spiritual world. Our best weapons are prayer and God’s word. Let’s employ these to defeat the enemy and continue our Kingdom work.

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Photo courtesy of Nathan Damlao.

Have You Asked?

A couple weeks ago, a friend invited me to spend some time at the beach with her. I live in North Carolina, so we went to a beach in this state.

The day before we were scheduled to leave for our beach trip, a hurricane blew through the coast of North Carolina. Fortunately, the place we were staying at was left intact and accessible—the downed trees had missed the dwelling but lay nearby.

Have You Asked?

While at the beach, my friend and I took a boat tour to a deserted barrier reef island. We planned to look for seashells while there since seashells are plentiful right after a hurricane.

I was especially looking for conch shells and delighted to find some. While most of the shells I found were in good condition, none were as perfect as I would have liked.

Right before we left the beach, I went to the water to wash the sand off my hands. As I made my way back up the shore, two conch shells appeared on the sand in front of me. They were identical and perfect.

I picked them up and showed them to my friend. As I gave her one, she told me that she had prayed as we combed the beach that I would find a perfect conch shell.

I was touched. I had not thought to pray about this. Yet my friend prayed on my behalf, and our good God answered her prayer to show both her and me that he listens and cares for us.

James tell us “You do not have because you do not ask God.” (James 4:2)

Jesus says “I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” (John 14:13-14)

That day on the beach was a gentle reminder to me that I do not ask enough. What about you? Are you asking for God to use the words you have written and published to touch people’s lives?

Are you asking God…

  • For your book to find its way into the hands of those who need the message?
  • For divine appointments for networking opportunities?
  • That the message he has given you to share will not return void?
  • For doors to open for publicity opportunities?
  • For guidance on where to spend your meager marketing dollars?
  • For wisdom on where to spend your marketing time?
  • That the people who need your words of encouragement will find them?
  • For God to bless the work of your hands (your writing and books)?

If you are struggling with marketing and selling your books, pray. Ask God for guidance and blessings for your efforts. After all, God is still in the business of answering prayer.

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You Have No Excuse!

I frequently receive random questions from authors. These come to me through email, voicemail, and social media.

You Have No Excuse

I get questions like:

  • I’ve written a book. Do you have any advice for me?
  • Do I need to register my book with Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data?
  • Can we talk so I can find ways to increase my book sales?
  • I am writing a book. Can I have it listed under both Christian fiction and regular fiction?

I am somewhat dismayed at how broad these questions are. Often, these are questions that whole books and seminars are devoted to answering.  It is clear to me that most of these authors have not taken the time to:

  1. Educate themselves about publishing and marketing.
  2. Connected with a writing or publishing group, since they are sending their question to a random organization or person with whom they have no connection.

There are plenty of books and seminars available to independent authors today. These books and seminars teach new authors everything you need to know about publishing and marketing so that you can be successful.

In addition, there are numerous groups and organizations dedicated to serving independent authors. These organizations also provide the information and resources that authors need to be successful.

Christian Indie Publishing Association (CIPA) not only provides our Members with free webinars, we also inform them of other organizations providing training that are relevant to publishing and marketing Christian books.

For example, CIPA Members have free access to a two-day virtual book selling conference in September put on by another publishing association. Often, the educational opportunities provided by CIPA and other organizations are worth more than the Membership dues.

If you are an independent author, I encourage you to take advantage of as many webinars as you have time for. After all, success follows learning.

In fact, here are two FREE webinars that you can take next week.

How to Effectively Promote Your Self-Published BookWebinars
Sponsored by MAI
Wednesday, August 26 at 8:00 AM CDT
Register by clicking HERE

Marketing & Publicity
Sponsored by Ingram
Wednesday, August 26 at 10 AM CDT
Register by clicking HERE

I encourage you to sign up for these webinars. You really have no excuse not to have the knowledge you need to successfully publish and market your book—all it takes is a little investment of time and money.

By the way, Christian Indie Publishing Association (CIPA) is still running our Summer Membership Special. You can join CIPA now for just $120 and receive Membership through December 2021!

Join today and receive the information and resources you need to better publish, market, and sell your books.

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Photo courtesy of Tumisu.