Lessons From a Glacier for Authors

Thought leader Seth Godin recently wrote the following on his blog:

Glaciers get a bad rap. We often talk about how slow they are. But the speed isn’t the point. The fjord near my house, surrounded by huge cliffs, was formed by a glacier. Not because it was slow, but because it was large, clearly directed, and relentless.

Glaciers make a huge impact. They don’t etch out mere creeks, they carve gorges and canyons.

Lessons from a Glacier for Authors

Authors can take a lesson from glaciers. While you might not be huge like a glacier, you can make an impact by being clearly directed and relentless—even moving at a slow pace.

Are You Clearly Directed?

Do you have a clear direction? Do you have an end goal in mind with well-laid out objectives to reach your goal?

Without a clear goal and direction, we wonder all over the place and end up making less impact. People walk the straightest path when they have their eyes fixed on a distant object. Set a goal and keep your eyes fixed on your goal.

For every activity you do related to your book, ask yourself whether this activity is moving you closer to your goal. Spend your time and energy on the activities that move you in the direction you want to go.

If your desire is to glorify God with your books, then you can be confident that he will direct your steps as your walk in the direction of your goal. You can trust that God will guide you just as Isaiah says:

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”

Are You Relentless?

We expect immediate gratification for our efforts. Our culture has taught us that things should come fast and easy. Get rich quick schemes abound. There are hundreds of gurus on the Internet willing to teach you a few easy steps to grow your business exponentially. The sad truth is that it only works for a handful of businesses. Most business grow slowly and steadily over time.

Glaciers are slow. You don’t see the impact they are making right away. It can take years before you see the change that a slow-moving glacier is making on the earth. The same may be true for your efforts. It may take years before you see the impact your books and writings are having on people.

Being relentless is about perseverance. Writing and marketing your books takes a lot of perseverance. It takes an average of seven contacts to secure a media interview. It takes about nine months of regular blogging to develop a following.

David says in Psalm 127:

Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain.

If your books bring glory to God, then it is God who is building your house. Your job is to be diligent and God’s job is to do the building.

You can make an impact. Don’t rush it. Move carefully and deliberately, trust God, and when you look back, you will see the fruit of your efforts.

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Hope: The Vital Message

Mudslides, floods, volcanoes, school shootings, plane crashes, sex scandals, embezzlement, and tragic accidents. The news if full of awful things happening both here in the United States and around the world. With all this negativity, hopelessness is a common commodity.

Hope is defined as “an optimistic state of mind that is based on an expectation of positive outcomes with respect to events and circumstances in one’s life or the world at large.”

Hope is in short supply in our world today. In North Carolina (where I reside), the suicide hotline receives 255 calls each day and someone commits suicide every six hours. That is a lot of hopelessness.

At the NRB Convention earlier this year, Vice President Mike Pence stated, “Your ministry, your message, your values are needed now more than every before. Every day, every hour, you speak strength to the heart of the American people.”

People are looking for hope. As a Christian author, you offer this message of hope. As Christians we know that our hope is not rooted in this world. Our hope is in Jesus Christ. People need this message.

Hope brings change. According to a new study by Barna, one-third (35%) of all U.S. adults say they have made a “big change” in their life because of a conversation about faith. Christian books spark conversations about faith and bring hope.

As an author, don’t lose hope. Your books are valuable. Christian books bring hope. They help people find or renew their faith.

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Are You Stuck? Here’s the Antidote!

Stymied. Stuck. Stalled. Stopped.

Ever feel this way? Maybe you have run out of steam or ideas. Or maybe you are just discouraged. Or maybe you just aren’t sure what the next best course of action is.

You are not alone.

In John 21, the disciples know that Jesus is alive after his crucifixion. They have seen him twice. Yet, they are not sure what they should do. Jesus has not given them any specific instructions and they are no longer “traveling” with him.

Peter says, “I’m going fishing.” The other disciples tell him, “We’re coming with you.”

They all don’t know what to do next. Peter has an idea. It sounds good. They know how to fish. It’s comfortable. So fishing they go.

Then Jesus shows up. He gives Peter instructions. Jesus tells Peter to “feed my sheep.”

The same can be true for you.

Are you unsure of what to do next? Wondering which marketing endeavor you should undertake? Unsure of which book you should write or publish next?

Here is an old poem that addresses this issue. It is titled “Do the Next Thing”  and Elisabeth Elliot re-popularized years ago.

From an old English parsonage down by the sea
There came in the twilight a message to me;
Its quaint Saxon legend, deeply engraven,
Hath, it seems to me, teaching from Heaven.
And on through the doors the quiet words ring
Like a low inspiration: “DO THE NEXT THING.”

Many a questioning, many a fear,
Many a doubt, hath its quieting here.
Moment by moment, let down from Heaven,
Time, opportunity, and guidance are given.
Fear not tomorrows, child of the King,
Trust them with Jesus, do the next thing

Do it immediately, do it with prayer;
Do it reliantly, casting all care;
Do it with reverence, tracing His hand
Who placed it before thee with earnest command.
Stayed on Omnipotence, safe ‘neath His wing,
Leave all results, do the next thing.

Looking for Jesus, ever serener,
Working or suffering, be thy demeanor;
In His dear presence, the rest of His calm,
The light of His countenance be thy psalm,
Strong in His faithfulness, praise and sing.
Then, as He beckons thee, do the next thing.

Today, just do the next thing that is before you. Trust that God will show up. He will either tell you to do something else or confirm what you are doing.

By the way, today, April 26, is Poem in My Pocket Day!

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Are You Using AIDA to Hook Buyers?

So tell me quick and tell me true, or else, my love, to hell with you!
Less – How this product came to be.
More – What the damn thing does for me!

So ends a poem on advertising by Victor Schwab titled “Tell Me Quick and Tell Me True”.

Poor language aside, these lines sum up some good advice on marketing and advertising copy. Providing more information does not guarantee that the recipient will get your message. Sometimes using fewer words has a greater impact. Keeping your words lean makes them clearer and more memorable.

One model widely used in marketing and advertising can help you be more direct and clear in your marketing communication. The model covers the four steps consumers move through in making a purchase decision. The model is:

AIDA:  Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action.

AIDA represents the four areas your marketing messages need to cover to move a customer to action. Here is a breakdown of the process:

  • Attention: Grab potential reader’s attention by using words that are important to them.
  • Interest: After you have their attention, then you want to build their curiosity. The goal is to keep them engaged to move them to the next step.
  • Desire: Tell your potential readers what is in it for them. Whet their appetite so that you fan desire to read your book. Convince them they want to read your book.
  • Action: Finish with a call to action. Tell the interested reader what to do next—buy the book, read the first chapter free, etc.

Any marketing graphic you create about your book for your website, social media, catalog, magazine, etc., should contain all four of these elements. Consider this Coca-Cola ad.

The picture of a young happy couple grabs your attention. The term happiness grows your interest. Then #openhappiness grows desire. The idea that you might be able to actually drink a bottle of coke and feel happy creates a strong desire. An explicit call to action is missing in this advertisement, but it definitely is implied: “Buy Coke, drink it, and you will feel happy.”

You can easily implement AIDA in your marketing materials starting with your book cover. Make sure that your book’s cover (your #one marketing tool) draws people’s attention and creates interest and desire.

Photo courtesy of Bruce Mars.

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Grow Your Writing and Marketing to the Next Level

Mahatma Gandhi said, “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”

There is always more to learn. There is always room for improvement. As an author or publisher, to stay relevant and up-to-date, you must continually learn. Publishing standards change. Technology changes. With these changes, you must learn and adapt what you do to be effective in reaching your target audience.

I recently served as a faculty member at the Carolina Christian Writers Conference. One of the events at the conference was called “Lightning Learning”. For this event, the conference attendees were broken up into groups. Then each group met for five minutes with each faculty member to discuss a “learning tip” that the faculty had prepared in advance for attendees.

When you have a group of experts offering advice, the learning opportunity is incredibly rich. I think some of the advice that the faculty shared is worth sharing with you. So, here are a few “Lightning Learning” tips from that event.

“What do you need to do before you start writing? Pray. Then pray some more! Just as you followed the call, seek God’s wisdom in every area of your writing.”
Gloria Penwell, www.boldvisionbooks.com

 

“Before you write your book or article, know your target audience. Keep them in mind as you write and write in a way that speaks and resonates with them. Doing this will increase the effectiveness of your writing and any marketing activities you do for your book or article.”
Sarah Bolme, www.christianpublishers.net

 “To write is to sacrifice, as professional writing requires a commitment of time away from people and activities. Take time to determine what level of time requirement you need to schedule for yourself, and specifically what things you are currently doing that you need to sacrifice in order to have the time to write.”
Craig von Buseck, www.inspiration.org

“Be recognizable online. This means having a professional picture for all social media/online sites that is recognizable from one platform to another. Keep your bio consistent. Make sure no one will ever be surprised when they meet you in person because you represent yourself differently online.
Edie Melson, www.thewriteconversation.blogspot.com

“What would happen to your work in progress if you spilled your morning coffee into the computer keyboard or downloaded a virus that ate your hard drive and destroyed your files? Writers need an automatic computer backup system.”
Lori Hatcher, www.reachoutcolumbia.com

 

If you have your own writing or marketing tip you want to share with other authors, please do so in the comment section. Share your wisdom so we call can learn.

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