the dreaded realm of marketing

Marketing is a word that sends chills through the hearts of most writers.  In the ‘good old days’, a writer would get a contract with a publisher, send them their work, and breathe a sigh of relief as the publishers did their job to get the work out among the general public.  Or that’s how it seems at least.  Whereas today, even with a major publisher, authors are expected to do their part in building a ‘platform’ of social media following, craft-fair bookings, and speaking circuits. Even Prince Harry (there aren’t many bigger names!) who released his memoir this week, has had to embark on a punishing promotional schedule of interviews and teasers that for a famously spotlight-hating personality must feel like torture. Yes, every author nowadays – not just the self-published – is required to put in graft to sell their own books.!

But so many writers are introverts: people who are happy holed up in isolation where they can let their creative juices flow without interruption.  To leave the nurturing den of creativity and be thrust into the cold hard world of sales-generation, readership-levels and financial solvency can be a brutal awakening that causes many to turn their backs on long-cherished dreams. And for me, having finally obeyed what I felt God was leading me to in publishing my book, I have now awoken in that world.  Experienced authors tell me I am going to have to learn how to market.  I need to pull on my big-girl-pants, get over my cringing fear of anything resembling self-promotion, and start actively selling my book. Shudder.

Deep down I do believe that my God-centred book is not limited to worldly systems like platform-building and marketing.  I absolutely believe that God could make it a best-seller without me having to do a single promotional act, if He wanted to.  Indeed, I have at least one writer friend who feels called to shun worldly marketing advice and to simply trust God for whatever He wants to do with their book.  And if I’m honest, I’d love Him to say that to me.  Because I don’t care about sales.  I didn’t write it for the money – I wrote it for Him. 

But this week when I asked God what to write next (because I believe He told me I have more books inside me), I felt He asked me not to abandon my first book yet – that He wanted me to put some more work into getting it to those He intended it for. And that’s where I discover that it’s not modesty that holds me back, or even the deeply ingrained and painfully British habit of self-deprecation. It’s not a holy denial of self, trusting God to miraculously promote me. It’s fear and shame. My self-protecting inclination is to stay hidden, where I am safe from the opinions and actions of others. In asking me to step onto the path of marketing, God has exposed things that He wants to set me free from. It’s scary, but I want it too. *Takes deep breath*

Some people will misunderstand and judge – some already have – and accuse me of pursuing fame or material gain.  And some will reject me, and my book as a result. But that doesn’t matter.  What matters is that God asked me to write a book because He has people in mind who He wants to read it.  And as part of getting it to them, He has asked me to deny the part of myself that wants to hide – to overcome my fears, be bold, and do what I can to make it more visible. The God Who tells us not to hide our light under a bushel but to stand out like a city on a hill, is the God Who keeps nudging me out of my safe comfort zone. 

So here I am, about to enter the dreaded realm of marketing, thankful that He walks with me and will show me the way ahead, and thankful for those authors who have gone before and who freely share the wisdom won by experience. The path to freedom is often found by pressing through fear, so here I come…


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