I read an interesting interview a while ago with Karen Hancock, a woman who has won three Christy Awards in a row for her fantasy novels. For those who might not know, that’s one of the top awards presented to a Christian author. The interview dealt mostly with how she writes – the disciplines she uses, the methods that work for her. Then the question that always comes up was asked – “What’s your marketing strategy?”
That’s a question that not only writers are interested in. Publishers want to know your answer up front, when you send them a proposal for a book. They want to know how you plan to sell it, if and when it is accepted for publication. It’s a question that most writers dread. Most just want to write. They don’t want to have to be bothered spending hours and hours planning how to sell their books. But, the reality is, they must. Publishers expect it.
I wrestled with this issue as I prepared the proposal for my first novel and it’s something that still occupies a lot of my time and energy since One Smooth Stone was published last year. Now that I’m working on the sequel, it’s something that is always on my mind. So I was more than a little surprised when Karen said that she is doing only a minimal amount of marketing. She said that God had made it clear at the very beginning that He was going to take care of it, so she was leaving it almost entirely up to Him.
But then I read another article about Tony Hines, another author whose work is gaining a following. I wouldn’t be surprised if one of his books is a Christy winner some day. Tony has a massive marketing strategy. When I look at what he’s doing I wonder when he sleeps – or writes. The article mentioned that the publisher who received his manuscript leaned strongly toward accepting it because of the marketing he was already doing. The book was good. The marketing strategy was awesome.
So, there’s Karen. And then there’s Tony. From the contact I’ve had with them, their books, and their plans, I believe they are both sincere and committed Christians. Two believers, two writers writing what they believe God wants them to write, two totally different approaches to doing it. So who’s right?
They both are. This is an example of how God works, uniquely and specifically in a person’s life. He has led Karen down one road and Tony down another. Both work because both are God’s ideas. So, what’s the bottom line? Find out what God’s idea is for you. He has one. Do a Biblical word search on words like, ‘plans,’ ‘prosper,’ ‘future,’ and see the pattern that emerges. Pray and ask Him to tell you. He will.
Jeremiah said it – “This is what the Lord says: … “For I know the plans I have for you … plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (vs 11-13)
Our lives are a grand journey when we let God lead us through them. There’s Karen. And then there’s Tony. There’s Marcia. And then there’s … you.