I heard a preacher once say, “What’s the first thing you do when you look at a group picture that you’re in? Raise your hand if your answer is: Look for myself.” Guess how many hands were raised?
All of them, including mine.
A couple of days ago, my 9th novel, The Promise, came out. Always an exciting time, for the most part. If you’re still waiting to be published–especially if you’ve been waiting a long time–you might think, “What do you mean, for the most part? You’ve signed a multi-book deal with a major publisher. Something you’ve written is being made into a book and sold in stores all over the place, and you’re getting paid for doing something you love? How can there be a downside?”
For me, there kinda is.
Take a look at the picture above. What do you see? These are all the Christian fiction books being released in September. Just September. And just through traditional CBA publishers. If you add in the books from smaller, independent houses and self-published books, it would be way bigger.
The good news is…my book (The Promise) is among them. The bad news? My book is among them. You can find it…just keep looking.
When I first saw this, I was excited and instantly scanned it to find my book. Then I started looking at books from author friends, happy to find many I recognized (and happy for them, that they have another book coming out). But soon I started seeing this pic from a different angle, from a reader’s POV. Man, that’s a lot of books. SO many books to choose from. What’s the chances they’ll see my book in the middle of this huge pile or pick mine as one of the few books they’ll buy this month?
Then my marketing-self kicks into gear (reminds me of those old cartoons with the little red devil on your shoulder). How can I get people to pick my book, and not all these others (well, they can buy a few others)? How can I stand out from all the rest? There’s way too many books to choose from. I’ve got to do something, anything, to make a splash. How could I make it go viral? Maybe do something on YouTube. No, that won’t work. I’d have to hire a ridiculously good looking model to pretend he’s me. Besides, there’s too many pics of the real me already out there. But I need to do something that’ll cause my book to become a runaway bestseller. The book everyone is buzzing about.
I hate marketing.
Can’t I just write? Can’t I just focus on the stories and the characters? Can’t I just spend my time doing the creative things I love and interact with people for all the good and right reasons? Can’t I just be glad to have a seat at the table and not care which table I’m sitting at, or how close my table is to the front of the room?
The answer is…Yes. Because I’m a Christian. Because I belong to God. My writing life is not a separate compartment from the rest of my life. It, too, falls under the jurisdiction of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. Even the marketing parts I hate. Anyway, from everything I’m reading and learning about marketing, there is no science to why one book takes off and another one founders. Some great works of literature wind up going nowhere and some dopey books sell a million.
Instead of desperately crying out to that mass of fiction readers, “Pick me, pick me!” I can let it all go and put my energy and focus on the things I’m gifted at and do best. I’ll still do the various marketing things I’m supposed to do, but I’ll leave the results in God’s hands. It’s too big for me. He’s the One who sets my boundaries. That’s how this is supposed to work.
(A sigh). You know, I feel better already.
So…how do you all deal with this stuff?
Walsh is the award-winning and bestselling author of 9 novels, including The
Unfinished Gift, Remembering Christmas and The Dance. He has won 3
Carol Awards and 2 Selah Awards. Six of his books have been Top Picks on RT
Reviews. Two were finalists for Inspirational Book of the Year. Dan is a member
of ACFW and Word Weavers. He lives with his wife, Cindi, in the Daytona Beach
area where they love to take long walks. To connect with Dan or
check out his books, go to: http://danwalshbooks.com.