Conferences Are Worth It!

Why invest time and money to attend a writers conference when you can just watch a webinar online? After all, many online webinars are free, or at least cheaper than the cost to attend a conference.

I believe that there is great value in attending live events. Here are three reasons why attending a writers conferences provides greater benefit than reading a book, watching a webinar, or engaging on a forum.

1. The Live Experience

There’s nothing like being in the same room with other authors. Being with others of the same ilk in a room learning together heightens your senses. Learning in a live setting with others deepens the experience and makes it more meaningful.

2. Interaction with Experts

Writers conferences give you a great chance to not only learn from experts, but to interact with them one-on-one. Many conferences allow attendees to sign up for one-on-one consultations with the instructors so that you can glean from their expertise in the area that you need the most direction. Writers conferences truly give you the best return on your dollar in terms of training and consultation from experts. In addition, the passion and energy conference presenters exhibit are catching.

3. Networking

Due to the nature of writing, being an author can be isolating. Writers conferences are a great place to meet other authors. The networking opportunities are limitless. You can find others writing in the same genre who will be willing to support you, write you an endorsement or a review, or collaborate with you on a joint marketing venture. In addition, you will be amazed at what you learn just from talking with other authors.

In a nutshell, writers conferences offer you information, encouragement and support for your journey. I guarantee that if you attend a writers conference you will come away with a renewed vision and passion for your work—like this Christian writers conference attendee:

“I want to begin by thanking you for teaching such a wonderful and enlightening class at the Christian Writer’s Conference. I was blessed immensely with all that you shared, and it was an answer to prayer. I had intended to attend another continuing session when the Lord prompted me to attend yours instead. I’m so glad He did! It was precisely what I was praying for and needing. I can honestly say that because of your class, I was able to return home with everything I had wished to glean.” ~Erin

Writers conferences are not just for aspiring authors. Many Christian writers conferences often have more attendees that are already published authors than those who are not. After all, you can always learn new skills and strategies to improve your craft.

If you live in or near the Carolinas, I invite you to join me at the Carolina Christian Writers Conference in Spartanburg, South Carolina, on March 9th and 10th. I will be teaching two workshops. You can learn more about the conference at https://www.fbs.org/christian-writers-conference-2018.

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Are You Thinking Like an Entrepreneur?

You may not think of yourself as an entrepreneur, but if you have independently published a book, you are.

I often tell people that every book is like a start up business. A book needs a mission statement, a marketing plan, and a budget. As the producer of a book, these are your responsibility, making you an entrepreneur. Are you thinking like one?

Successful entrepreneurs have a number of things in common. These individuals have a way of thinking and acting that is different from other people. The good news is that anyone can learn to think and act like an entrepreneur and reap the benefits. Following are six distinct traits of entrepreneurs.

1. Have Passion

Entrepreneurs tend to be highly passionate about their work. In truth, this passion is what often propels them to success. After all, passion is contagious. As an author, no one else is going to be as passionate about your book as you are. Don’t expect others to sell your book for you. As the author, you are the one with the belief in your message. Let your energy shine through when you talk with others.

2. Willing to Take Risks

Little is gained without risk. Entrepreneurs have to be willing to take risks to move their business forward. As an author, both publishing and marketing your book involve risks. Sometimes you have to risk money for advertising and promotion with no guarantee that you will have a return on your money. Be willing to take risks, but be wise about the risks you take. Do your homework to minimize your losses.

3. Network with Others

Business is all about relationships. Solid relationships are the pathway to success. After all, the number one reason people buy a book is because they are familiar with the author. The more you work on building relationships with readers, the wider your audience will be for your book. Building relationships with other authors can also help pave the way for more success. Collaboration is a powerful tool.

4. Think Outside the Box

Entrepreneurs are creative problem solvers. They are able to apply unconventional approaches to overcome challenges. As an author, your challenge is to get your book noticed. This takes creative, out-of-the-box thinking. Being able to brainstorm creative techniques for your book promotion strategies is important.

5. Ready for Roadblocks

Entrepreneurs understand that they will face problems and challenges. Being mentally prepared to deal with these setbacks is crucial for success. Life and business are not easy. As an author, you will run into roadblocks and become frustrated when your efforts don’t produce fruit. A mindset that is ready to overcome challenges will serve you well.

6. Are Determined

Determination is all about the firmness of your purpose. Determined individuals don’t easily give up. They stick it out for the long haul. Entrepreneurs know they must do hard work to succeed. Determination will get you where brains and brawn cannot. So, be determined, be resolved to do what it takes to get your book and message to the people who need it.

I encourage you to incorporate these six traits into your life and act like the entrepreneur you are. With God’s help, you can succeed.

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Photo courtesy of David McEachan.

How Not to Sell a Book

Nominations for the 2018 Christian Indie Awards are rolling in. One recent nomination demonstrates how not to sell a book. I thought I would share it with you, so you can know what not to do.

The Christian Indie Awards nomination form requests various information. The form asks the nominating party to list the publisher of the book along with contact information. This contact information is very important, because it is who we contact should the book win an award.

One recent nomination listed CreateSpace as the publisher of the book and gave contact information for CreateSpace. Folks, CreateSpace is not a publisher. Yes, you can request that they assign your book an ISBN number and then they list themselves as the publisher of the book on Amazon, but they are not the true publisher of the book.

If you are an independent author, you are the publisher. If you use any print-on-demand service like CreateSpace, IngramSpark, Lightning Source, BookBaby, or LuLu, you are still the publisher. These companies are simply printing platforms that allow you to independently publish your book.

So, this independent author lists CreateSpace as the publisher of the book and gives the contact information for CreateSpace. Now, if this nominated title were to win an award, we would have to send the announcement to CreateSpace. Do you think CreateSpace cares? Do you think they would contact the author and let the author know that he won an award? No, they won’t. CreateSpace is simply a revenue stream for Amazon. The company exists so that Amazon has more books to sell, and thus can make more money.

In an attempt to see if I could scare up other contact information for this author, I Googled the book’s title. To my dismay, the only place this book is listed on the internet is Amazon. The author does not have a website for the book. Neither the author nor the book are listed on Goodreads. There is not even a Facebook page for the book. Nothing.

Next, I strolled on over to Amazon to check the Author Page to see if I could scare up some information on the author. This time, I was not too surprised when I found that this author had not even completed the author profile for his Author Page on Amazon.

The book in question was published in November 2016. That was a year ago. In that time, the author has done almost nothing (from what I can tell) to promote this book. That’s like saying you are a missionary, but all you do is put some tracts in a local café and spend the rest of your time sitting in your house. How will people hear about the Gospel unless you tell them? How will people know about your book unless you tell them?

Having your book for sale only on Amazon with no other online presence will ensure that your book won’t sell. You must tell people about your book for them to know about it. Telling on the internet includes (at a minimum) having a website and a presence on social media.

By the way, nominations for the Christian Indie Awards are open through November 15, 2017. You can nominate your books at www.christianaward.com.

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How to Get a Book into a Christian Bookstore

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Photo courtesy of Brandon Kawamura.

Is Fear Paralyzing You?

Fear—it is a powerful emotion that can paralyze even the best. Fear robs us of faith, peace, hope, and confidence. It keeps us from realizing our dreams and all the blessings that God has for us.

Fear is wide-spread and powerful. Some Christian authors claim that the term “fear not” is the single command in Scripture that occurs more often than any other. Lloyd Ogilvie in his book 12 Steps to Living without Fear claims that the command “fear not” is stated 366 times in the Bible—one for every day of the year and an extra one for leap year.

Author Rachel Van Dyken recently said, “Fear has one goal for your life: to paralyze you, to keep you in the same state you were in five years ago. It wants you stuck, afraid, and isolated.”

Is fear keeping you tied up and unable to write that manuscript, bring your manuscript to publication, or step out and promote your book? Maybe you struggle with:

  • Fear of failing.
  • Fear of public ridicule.
  • Fear of judgment.
  • Fear of not being good enough.

In essence all these fears really boil down to the fear of failing—not being good enough or doing it “right.”

Has God called you to write, publish, or promote a book and you are battling fear?

I once heard a missionary say that there is no failure in God’s Kingdom except the failure to obey. Isn’t that true? If you do what God asks, who is responsible for the outcome—you or God? The test is in the obedience, not in the outcome.

A wise, saintly woman I know once received this message from God: “Failure comes in not trying, in not engaging.

If God is calling you to write or publish a book, then you are good enough. You are the one he is asking because he knows you are capable. The beauty is that he never makes us do it alone. He is always there to guide and cheer us on.

So often, our inner critic, that whisper in our ear, tells us to play it safe, not take risks, and not risk failure and public humiliation. These self-doubts and shameful feelings that tell us we are not “good enough” are not God’s voice.

If God has or is calling you to do something, remember, you can only fail if you don’t obey. Obey and lean on God’s limitless provisions to complete the task he has called you to.

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Are You Afraid of Failure?
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