It’s All About Hope

I recently had a conversation with a lady who suffers from a mental illness that is mostly stabilized with medication. This woman also struggles from a chronic illness (she is facing possible dialysis) and is in a difficult marriage. She shared with me that someone in her church recently gave her a book of prayers.

This lady started to read some of these prayers at night and they are helping her. I asked her how they were helping. She replied, “By giving me hope. I often feel hopeless at night and reading a couple of the prayers brings me hope.”

This is why we write and publish Christian material—to bring people hope. Hope:

  • For God’s healing.
  • For God’s provision.
  • For God’s comfort and peace.
  • That life is not in vain.
  • For a purpose to keep living.
  • That life can get better.
  • That God will work all things together for good.
  • For eternal life in heaven where there will be no effects of sin, thus no pain or sadness.

I believe hope is needed more than ever today. Over the past three decades, Americans’ view of the Bible as the literal word of God has been declining, while their view that the Bible is a collection of fables, myths and history recorded by man has been increasing. A recent Gallup poll shows that fewer than one in four Americans (24%) now believe the Bible is “the actual word of God, and is to be taken literally, word for word.” This is the first time in Gallup’s four-decade trend that biblical literalism has not surpassed biblical skepticism.

But what about you, author, have you lost your hope? Are you discouraged, wondering if your writing is making a difference in anyone’s life?

Ask yourself: Is it worth it for one? If only one person were encouraged and found hope in your book(s), would your effort be worth it?

This is a tough question. If you can’t answer this question in the affirmative, I would suggest that you check your motives. Are you writing for God—or for human glory? Hebrews exhorts us to “encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today,’ so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” James tells us that “whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.”

One is enough.

To bring hope is a noble calling. Your book might mean the difference for someone between a hopeless existence and a hopeful life. Keep writing and publishing for God’s glory.

Related Posts:
Expectations
What is Your Purpose?
Are You Lacking Motivation?

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Photo courtesy of Blake Richard Verdoom

God is in the Mix

God is at work. We can see his handiwork all around us if we just keep our eyes open for it.

2016 CSPA Catalog Cover

I love it when God works and we don’t even realize we need his intervention. It’s not that we aren’t praying, its just that we are going about our normal activities and then God shows up to help.

At Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) we recently had one of those moments. Each year we put together a cooperative book catalog featuring a number of CSPA members’ books. The catalog is quite an undertaking. We wrangle information from 25 to 30 authors and publishers on 70+ books that needs to be compiled into a coherent layout.

Before going to print with our CSPA catalog, each CSPA member participating in the catalog must proof and give approval for their individual ad in the catalog. This year, we had a God incident.

After much hard work, we sent the catalog to the printer. The printer mailed us hard-copy proofs of the catalog. Upon receiving these proofs, we noticed that an error had occurred in the final prep stages of getting the catalog ready for print. We had a design glitch on five pages. We found it curious that the design glitch showed up on the first four pages, and then on a outlier page closer to the back of the catalog.

We made the necessary corrections and resent the pages to the printer. This time, the printer sent us PDF proofs. All appeared in order, except the outlier page. This time, it had a strange blue box around some text—something that had not been there previously.

Both the catalog designer and I were baffled by this strange blue box. We fixed it and sent the correction off to the printer. Upon receipt, the printer sent back a PDF proof of the one outlier page ready for print.

On this proof of the outlier page, one line of text was half wiped out. I thought that this was really odd. This strange error forced me to read the text and, to my chagrin, I discovered a glaring error that the publisher, the catalog designer, and I all missed when the ad was designed and the proof was approved by the publisher.

God must have a sense of humor. It took him three tries to get our attention to see this egregious error. First, it was the outlier page, then it was a strange blue box highlighting the error that we missed, and finally, it was the incorrect text that looked like someone had taken an eraser to it.

Thankfully, God is patient and persistent. I am grateful that he has my back and takes care of that which seeks to glorify his name.

Related Posts:
God is at Work
Marketing that Glorifies God
Surprised by God

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Endorsements: How Many Is Too Many?

Let’s agree that endorsements are important. Endorsements sell products.

Iscariot

Since we agree that endorsements are important, here’s the question:

How many endorsements should you get for a book?

Recently, I picked up the novel Iscariot by Tosca Lee. It is a story about Judas Iscariot so I thought it would make a great Easter read. In case you don’t know, Tosca Lee is a New York Times bestselling author. She has penned at least seven novels, three of which she co-authored with Ted Dekker. Just for fun, I counted how many endorsements were listed in the Iscariot book.

Tosca Lee had acquired 22 endorsements for this novel. Five were listed on the back cover of the book. All 22 (including the ones from the book cover) were published on the initial pages of the book. Most of these endorsements came from other authors. Some came from professors and other Christian personalities.

I hope you are asking: “Why does a New York Times bestselling author need 22 endorsements?”

The answer is that Tosca Lee knows something that many small publishers and independently published authors have yet to learn. Tosca knows that endorsements sell books.

Yes, a bestselling author will sell books based on her name alone. However, endorsements help sell more books. Sadly, huge numbers of books by small publishers and independently published authors cross my desk not toting one single endorsement.

An endorsement by a known Christian figure can help seal sales. However, if you do not know any famous people, you can still get effective endorsements. The next best thing to having a famous Christian endorse your book is to have a pastor endorse your book. Use the name of the pastor’s church with the endorsement. This sends potential readers the message Christian leaders think the book has value. Having other authors from your local writing group read and recommend your book is another great resource for endorsements.

Take notice. If you want to sell books, get endorsements. Don’t stop at one or two. Go for 20 or more! More will never hurt you, but less will.

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The Most Important Equations

“I thought my marketing was not doing any good.”

This quote is from a member publisher of CSPA. This publisher had been utilizing Christian Small Publishers Association’s membership benefit of distribution via STL for a book. The book had been consistently selling anywhere from five to twenty or more books each month.

No Sales

Then, the publisher decided to head in another direction and transferred the book back to the author. When this transpired, book sales stopped.

Not dropped… stopped.

After about five months of not selling any books, the author contacted the publisher concerned because his book was no longer selling. The publisher contacted me to see what my thoughts were.

I told her that I thought the change simply came from marketing. I knew that she had been doing some marketing for the book and wondered if, upon the book reverting to the author, the author had done any marketing.

This publisher’s response was that, in fact, the author had not been doing any marketing, and that she thought her marketing had not been doing any good either. In hindsight, she was able to see that her marketing was actually making a difference.

The most important equations every author or publisher should know are:

Marketing = Sales
No Marketing = No Sales

Marketing is essential in selling books. While you may not be able to trace which marketing efforts are directly linked to sales—and end up feeling, like this publisher, that your marketing efforts aren’t working—the bottom line is that your marketing efforts will add up to sales.

The Importance of Truth

Dan Poynter is known as the self-publishing guru. His books and services help authors self-publish their books with success.

In this interview, Dan talks about writing and the importance of making sure what you write is truth. Good advice for all writers, but especially for you who seek to advance God’s Kingdom through your books.

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