Your book is finished, the hard work is done, and you’re ready to bask in the glory of your accomplishment. Take some time to marvel at having completed the process and finally having your name on a cover. You should also spend some time thinking about what you want to write next. There’s no better time for dreaming big dreams than when the pressure is off. So get out your notepad and do some dreaming.
What worlds are out there waiting to be explored?
What does your favourite character do next?
What theme have you been dying to tackle?
The big chore facing you now, though, the one task that few of us writers are gifted in, or even want to participate in (because, let’s face it, we’re generally folks who like to hide in a bubble) is the task of marketing your book. It is something you have to do, though. No sense creating your masterpiece if no one is going to read it, right? Time to move out of your comfort zone, writer!
Soon you’ll get lots of hints and ideas from every direction. The publisher will say one thing. Writer friends will suggest another. Things like: You should be blogging! People like to buy books from people who blog! You should be getting reviews! Or how about book signings? Blog tours! Radio! Television? Everything and anything. Whatever it takes to sell your book.
Your book took a lot of hard work to create. There has to be some payoff, right? And the easiest way to measure success is sales—so go get them! Blog, seek reviews, social network, attend conferences, and keep your eye on your sales ranking. Always watch your sales rank. Obsess over it! Bask in the glow of every positive review, cringe at every review that clearly ‘just doesn’t get it.’
But after you’ve done all that, many of you, most of you, will find limited success. Your book won’t sell like hotcakes. It will sputter or languish. That sales rank won’t move no matter what you do. It will seem like all you did was for nothing.
You’ll panic and try lots of different things. Sell it for 99 cents! Perma-free! More reviews, more blogs, more interviews. But still you’ll fight with despondency, eventually reaching the point where you question whether you should be a writer at all.
Am I just wasting my time and money?
Take a deep breath. In and out. Repeat. Okay, are you sane now?
Here’s what I’d like to suggest. From now on, reclassify everything you do as a writer. First, clear your mind of any measure of success or failure. God doesn’t see any of it that way, and so neither should you. Focus on what God thinks of when he thinks ‘success.’ It won’t be how many books you sold, or even how many people loved your story. Not really.
That’s great, Kerry—a real Sunday morning inspirational. How does that apply to me? I’m trying to do something significant here. What are you trying to say?
What I’m trying to say is this: think of everything you do as a writer, from the first thought you put on the page, to the hundreds of interviews you do, to the many people you’ll meet, even how you respond to the negative reviews, as opportunities to build influence.
Build influence? Isn’t that what I’ve been doing with all the blogs and interviews and stuff? Trying to get the word out? Plus, ‘building influence’ sounds like a quest for power or fame. That seems antithetical to the Christian life.
No, no, and no. What I’m suggesting is that you think of your writer life as a non-stop opportunity to build influence for God. That you use whatever platform you have—no matter how small—and whatever activities that come your way, to reach more people and lead them closer to God.
Pay it forward
A big part of this is helping others, of course. In every one of these activities, writing and marketing alike, you will have a chance to interact with others. Be helpful, be supportive. Be the best follower of Christ you can be. Use whatever gifts you’ve been given, and whatever connection you make to bless people.
Teach a writers course? Sure! You’ll help others learn, and also increase your ability to spread God’s love. Judge a writing contest? Absolutely! A great opportunity to offer encouragement and support. Same goes for nearly every writing-related activity you could be involved in.
Then, whether your book becomes a bestseller or not, you’ll know the journey wasn’t wasted. You’ll know you made the best of whatever opportunity came your way. Make some friends, be an example, help others.
Get out there writers, and build some influence.
Kerry Nietz, one of my favourite writers, I might add, writes speculative fiction for the Christian market (you have to read it to get it, so just get it, alright?).
Also published on Medium.