The One Essential “Ingredient” to Successful Marketing

The closer I come to the release of my first fiction (The Soul Saver, Barbour Books) in May, the more I find myself fascinated with marketing. Specifically, what it all means and how does it all work. Not to mention the endless and overwhelming choices. Where do we start?

I will confess, I’m thankful to have had a nonfiction book (Winning Him Without Words, Regal Books) to market first. Through that journey, I learned that even the most well planned and thought-out marketing plan won’t succeed without one essential ingredient.

God.

Speaking for myself, self-promotion doesn’t come easy and I’m actually glad about that. I have to examine my motivations on a regular basis to make sure prickly pride hasn’t wormed its nefarious self into the scenario. I could easily make it all about me.

However, our marketing is vital to the spread of our message, be it fiction or nonfiction. The thing is, we tend to put it into this category that doesn’t include God because we somehow think it might repulse Him in some way.

I’ve noticed I’ve done this and have recently found Paul to be a great example of an effective marketer. His letters are in the Bible! That’s pretty successful marketing in my book (and God’s obviously).

Paul wrote letters and traveled, “promoting” the message of Christ’s salvation every chance he got. He put himself out there as a teacher, a speaker, a writer and a mentor. He’s a great example for us because even in the midst of his promotion efforts, Paul’s focus remained steadfast on his message.

On Jesus.

Are we any different really? Yes, we want to sell books. Yes, we want our work to reach the minds and hearts of those who need encouragement, strengthening, or just a glimpse of what God’s grace looks like. Doesn’t matter if it’s fiction or nonfiction. God uses whatever He wants to get His Truth out. To share His Son.

So, marketing doesn’t have to be the “necessary evil” of publishing. If we believe in our work and feel God has placed us in such a time as this to share subtly or overtly, through fiction or nonfiction, through articles or Bible studies, then why not start our marketing endeavors with God, seeking His design and will for our efforts? If I’m to believe and trust in His hand, which has brought me to where I am now, what makes me think He won’t be in the marketing mix as well?

How about you? What has your marketing journey taught you about faith? Or vice versa?

Hurry Up And Wait…

We’ve all been there. Staring down a road that leads to who knows where, wondering if we’ll ever reach the end of it. I’ve read that on average, we’ll spend at least five years of our lives just waiting. Waiting for the interminable line of traffic to start moving. Waiting for the phone to ring. Waiting for an email. Waiting for that long-awaited letter to arrive in the mailbox. We wait for good news. We wait for bad news. Waiting is a physically agonizing process, a process that is completely out of our hands.

If you’ve been writing for any length of time, I suspect by now you know all about waiting. Perhaps you were fortunate enough to go in prepared. Some kind soul warned you that once you start submitting your work, you’d be in for the wait of a lifetime. I wasn’t so lucky. When I started sending out queries to agents and editors, I had no idea how long the whole process would take. Even now as a published author, I’m still frustrated by how long everything takes in the world of publishing. You see, I’m not the most patient person in the world. But I have learned, through trial and error, that some things are worth waiting for.

Once upon a time, about a decade ago, I decided to search for my birth family. I’d always known I was adopted, but until then, never felt the need to search. Until God stepped in and said otherwise. Call it what you will – fate, destiny, blatant curiosity. All I knew for sure was that I needed to know. And so I embarked on a journey with an unknown destination.

If you think the wheels of publishing move slowly, try dipping your toes in the murky waters of the adoption ocean. Uncovering any information is akin to embarking on a quest for The Holy Grail.

Fortunately, given my aversion to waiting, I was one of the lucky ones. My answers came quickly. Too quickly perhaps. I was totally unprepared for the onslaught of emotions that took up residence and unpacked for the duration. It was a hard but necessary time in my life. A time when all I could do was throw up my hands, cry out to God, and ask Him for answers.

You see, not only had I found my birth mother, who was not completely receptive to my sudden reappearance in her life, but I discovered that I had a sister. A sister who was completely unaware of my existence. And I was asked to wait. Wait for the right time to tell her. Wait to see whether or not I would be able to establish a relationship with this person I knew nothing about yet felt deep in my soul a connection I could not at the time comprehend.

I said earlier that waiting is something we can’t control. But we try, don’t we? We send follow-up emails, perhaps a phone call or two to nudge the process along. Eventually we realize we’re not doing ourselves any favors. We give up and go back to waiting.

In the Christian community you’ll often hear the following – “God answers prayers three ways. Yes. No. Wait.”  There are no maybes with God. When your answer is a “Yes!”, you know that feeling! You rejoice, cry a little, throw a party. The “No.” answer is hard. It hurts. You don’t understand. You might get angry, depressed, reluctant to try again. But if you know in your heart that God is at work, you’ll accept the no in faith that He has a better plan. Oh, but that “Wait…” Now, that’s the kicker.

How long, God? Why? When will something give?

Sound familiar?

My wait took a little over a year. As frustrated and anxious as I was with the situation, I knew without a doubt that somehow, some way, God was working it out. Was it easy to wait? As easy as walking across a bed of hot coals and broken glass. Every day. Was it worth it?

You bet.

My sister and I now have a wonderful relationship. I’m glad I hung in there. I’m glad I didn’t give up. I’m glad I waited. Most of all, I’m really glad I trusted God.

Nowadays, when I’m checking my email every five seconds waiting for news, I remind myself of that time in my life. I tell myself to cut it out. Stop being so impatient. There is a time and a place for everything. And it’s not up to me.

What about you? What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever waited for?

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