night I asked via Twitter and Facebook this question:
How do you balance
blessing the kingdom of God with marketing your wares? Is there such a
Here are the responses:
1. A constant and careful
2. The question implies you
can’t do both at the same time; I’d check that assumption. It’s more of
a healthy tension than opposite objectives.
3. That’s one thing I get
nervous about. Whew.
4. I keep asking and asking
myself (and praying) . . . am I promoting the Lord or me? . . . Am I
seeking glory or giving it to Him? . . . Am I marketing myself or
temporal stuff or seeking to draw all men to Him? If He’s not in it . .
. I don’t want it.
It’s a tension/balancing act
authors face. I don’t know if I’ve balanced well (maybe I’ve camped
more in the tension camp. My shoulders would say so).
Marketing reminds me of a
painful analogy my husband and I heard when we were raising support to
be church planters in France. It went something like this: “Picture a
long gravel driveway and you at the beginning of it. To raise support,
your job is to simply [ha!] turn over every piece of gravel as you make
your way to the house. There will be five rocks with a red X on the
back. Find those, and you’ve found your support.”
But here’s the ironic thing. We
started with that sort of “turn over every rock” strategy. What did it
get us? Lots of fatigue, frustration, and frayed nerves. What did work?
Prayer and paradox. Prayer, because when we got to the end of our
support-raising ropes and gave up, we asked God again for direction. He
gave it. We followed it. And often more support came through His
counterintuitive plan. Paradox because it was never
how we thought it would go. We asked wealthy folks to join us
financially, and they wouldn’t. We asked poor seminary students, who
gladly sacrificed what little they had to help us get to France.
How does this relate to
Perhaps our strategy should be
Prayer and Paradox. And in that, we’ll kill two birds (marketing our
books, advancing the kingdom of God) with one stone (trusting and
1. Truly commit your marketing
adventures to prayer. Ask God to direct your steps, to guide your
blogging, to smile upon your Facebook status.
2. Pray for others in the
industry. It’s been a rough year.
3. Pray God would bless your
4. Pray that the Lord would
specifically show you which social media (if any) is right for you.
Some folks shouldn’t twitter. Some shouldn’t blog. Don’t give in to the
temptation to do everything. Seek Him first.
5. Seek the Lord’s heart for
your books in the first place. Ask about ways you can bless folks with
Before embarking on a new
initiative, ask God to check your motives, to sift your heart.
Seek God and His kingdom as you think about marketing. How can you
combine promoting your book with highlighting the plight of the world?
How can your bookselling positively impact someone in need? (Giving
away books to prisoners may help word of mouth but also help folks who
need Jesus-y words, for example.)
1. Understand that your great
plans might come to naught—by God’s design. Not to frustrate you per
se, but to redirect you. I once sent hundreds of newsletters
highlighting my speaking ministry. It cost a lot of time and money. I
received this many requests to speak: ZERO. What did I learn? For me
(and it’s unique to each person), I was to rely on the Lord to bring
the engagements. And how did He do that? Exclusively through
relationship and word of mouth.
2. Perhaps the scope of your
book or speaking topic is smaller but deeper than you expected. I spoke
on national radio on a well-known program about Building the
Christian Family You Never Had. The book has had moderate
sales. But when I shared my story of abuse, I received an e-mail from a
mom who had adopted a sibling group. All the girls had been sexually
abused. They listened to my story. The youngest said to her eldest
sister, “Why did that lady [me] have to go through all that terrible
stuff?” The eldest answered, “I don’t know, but I’m pretty sure it’s so
she could get through it and then help girls like us.” Those comments
changed my life. If I wrote that book for those girls, it was worth it.
3. I remember sending my novels
to celebrities. What came out of it? A big, fat nothing. Like a
celebrity even has time to read my book! But the best marketing has
happened when I’ve sent my books to folks without a big name. I’ve met
some pretty cool champions of my work who’ve sold way more copies than
I doubt I have it all figured
out. Do any of us? But I do know I am much more relaxed and peaceful
when I pray and I welcome/invite paradox into my marketing efforts.