KISSING– A Crucial Component of Christian Publishing

no kissing

Before your mind travels to the gutter, let me tell you that this post is not about kissing in the traditional sense. It’s about publishing and what to do after your book has emerged from the printing press–when the hard work of writing it has ended and the even harder work of promoting it has begun. What? Did you think you could sit back, relax, and watch your book sales rise without work? Sorry to burst your bubble, my friend, but that ain’t happenin’–not in the indie publishing world anyway. So the tip I will share with you today is essential, especially for the Christian writer. It is summed up in this acronym… KISS–Keep It Spiritual Sweetie!

Now, what do I mean by keeping it spiritual? If you are a Christian writer, your content will already be based on spiritual principles (let’s hope so anyway). But I’m talking about ways in which your content will reach the masses. So beyond the book’s spiritual content there are spiritual things you can do to spread the Good News of Christ and at the same time experience publishing success. Here’s what I did and am doing to “keep it spiritual” in my publishing journey.

1. Dedicate the book. My launch party and book signing wasn’t an ordinary book launch and signing. It was a ceremony, so to speak. I had the food, the music, and the books, but I also had prayer, a theme scripture, and an occasion read because I wanted everyone in attendance to know that this was both a celebration for what God had done in my life and an official send off of my book baby into the world to be used by God to bless lives. Most importantly, I used this moment to have my book baby dedicated back unto the Lord, much like new parents do with their children. The Biblical figure, Hannah, also did this when she bore Samuel.

They first butchered the bull, then brought the child to Eli. Hannah said, “Excuse me, sir. Would you believe that I’m the very woman who was standing before you at this very spot, praying to God? I prayed for this child, and God gave me what I asked for. And now I have dedicated him to God. He’s dedicated to God for life. Then and there, they worshiped God.           (1 Samuel 1:25-26 Message)

Like Hannah, I prayed that God would help me write this book, and He gave me what I asked for. Dedicating it back to Him was just the right and spiritual thing to do. I did this by asking my Pastor and Elect Lady (Pastor’s wife) to say a special prayer over the book for its success at the launch party. As he prayed he held it in His hands. I believe that the prayers and the anointed touch of the man and woman of God have hugely impacted the success of my book. Instead of it being just another interesting read, it is actually changing mindsets and thus changing lives. That’s not because of me. It’s because of the anointing, and I don’t want anything I do to be void of God’s anointing. It makes all the difference in Heaven and on Earth.

2. Pray that God would touch the hearts of potential buyers. I’m not the best salesman there is. Sometimes it’s challenging to talk to people about a product in a way that will convince them to buy it. Add to the equation that it is your own product, and you’ve got an even bigger challenge because it’s almost like selling yourself. I admit that the ability to sell yourself is a good quality to have, but what has compensated for my lack of skills in that area is prayer. My prayer is that God would draw the buyers and supporters in and that the book would sell itself without any gimmicks. Although I have tried to use free giveaways to appeal to my audience, I’ve learned that if someone is going to invest in a meaningful product they will do it despite any additional add-ons because it’s in their heart to do so. How do I know that the Lord has the ability to influence the heart’s of men and women? Because He said so in His Word.

The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will. (Proverbs 21:1 KJV)

After all, it’s not about me as the messenger, it’s about the message, so whomever needs to hear it will hear it in God’s time and in His way.

3. Trust Him to provide opportunities. 

For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another. (Psalms 75:6 KJV)

Remembering that promotion comes from above has helped me to put things in the proper perspective. Being in business for yourself requires a lot of commitment and time. Time that in some cases I do not have with all of the other responsibilities on my plate like my job, ministry work, and my family. To keep from neglecting those responsibilities, I have to trust God to provide opportunities for me to promote my book. I could pursue each and every opportunity that I can find, but it would be at the cost of something else really important in many instances. If God is responsible for your promotion, then you don’t have to worry. He will NOT disappoint or fall short on His job. He will make every opportunity that you do take advantage of benefit you far more than the ones you pursue on your own while neglecting your other obligations in the process. Yeah, that means you may have to turn some events down when there’s a scheduling conflict in favor of things that are higher in priority, but this is a sign of your trust in God’s ability to put you in the right path, at the right time, with the right people. God’s opportunities are always golden opportunities!

For Those Who’ve Considered Publishing But Don’t Know Where to Start

Writing well is a learned skill and so is pubsharpen skillslishing well. Any one with a word processor and a high school diploma can write a book. And if one’s goal is merely to get a story down on paper or to simply say “I wrote a book” that’s fine. But if you really desire to make a mark in the writing and publishing industry one cannot stop there. Much more work needs to be involved.

Recently I was privileged to be a part of my county’s local author fair along with several other local authors. There were lots of people who came by to support the authors they knew personally or heard about, but there were also quite a few people there who came to pick our brains about our process in becoming authors, which is what any person seriously interested in writing and publishing should do. After having a few days to ponder and reflect on my experience in the years and months leading up to my official “coming out” as the author of an actual book, I’ve narrowed down my advice to four basic writing manners that matter. Enjoy and feel free to add more to the list.

1. Endeavor to perfect your craft. I’ve been writing ever since I can remember. My 4th grade teacher praised my writing abilities and told my mother to buy me a journal and encourage me to use it. I’ve also been a print journalist in the U.S. Army Reserves, writing articles about military life. I’ve worked as a middle school ELA teacher, modeling for students how to effectively express themselves through words. I’ve been a part of several writing workshops and have taken writing classes. I’ve written for my church newsletter. In 2011 I started an online blog at the suggestion of a friend. Needless to say, I’ve had numerous writing opportunities in my life, and they have all helped to make me a better writer. I truly believe that in order to become a better writer one must write, and write, and write some more. Writing practice helps you to refine and define your unique voice. So, take a writing class, start a blog, or buy a nice journal and write until you’ve got something worth sharing with the world.

2. Make the best presentation you possible can. We women and many men too will spend hundreds of dollars without even blinking an eye to make a good impression with their outer appearance. By the time we get our hair, nails, and makeup done and bought the perfect outfit and shoes, the bank is most likely broken. But if it is the right occasion, we don’t mind much. Well, publishing a book is a pretty special occasion. Actually, it’s an uber special occasion, and the time to go all out with to present your best product to the world. After all, your writing is a reflection of you, so don’t skimp on quality. Plus, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. This can determine if anyone will want to read anything else you publish in the future. Here’s where I think the most time should be spent after the piece has been written: revision and editing by a professional. It can be a little intimidating to have someone take a fine toothed comb to your writing, but don’t be afraid of the feedback. I would rather have someone pinch my feelings a little before the book comes out than to be slapped in the face by a bad review post printing. It is so worth the time and the money to have this step completed.

3. For goodness sake, READ. Just as writing more helps to improve writing, reading more does wonders. Reading what other good writers have written gives us access to lovely language, wonderful word usage, fancy phrasing, extraOrdinary organization ideas, and stylistic sentence structure (you get my point.) This is habit that I admit I need to increase. Contrary to what some may believe, reading more is not a waste of time. It is an absolute necessity for continued growth as a writer. So find something that you are interested in reading and read. As you read, pay attention to more than just how the writing makes you feel. Notice how the writer is creating this affect. It may help to put yourself in the writer’s shoes to really think about what strategies he or she is using. This can be a very complex skill, so taking a class or two in in close reading can also be beneficial.

4. Look for writing ideas everywhere. Now that I’ve published my first book I want to keep my writing momentum going so I’ve been writing more often than before. It is easy to run out of good things to write about when you write so often, which is why it is important to keep your eyes open (and read). I actually have “find a new writing topic” in my brain whenever I do anything now. So that means I’m constantly writing in my head and when something clicks I grab my phone to add the idea to my notes before I forget it. I may not end up using all of it, but at least I develop a bank of topics to pull from in the future. Eventually all of those scattered ideas may develop into a connecting of the dots experience. Before you know it, you’ve got enough material for a book.

5. Invest in your success. As the saying goes, to make money you have to spend money. I’m not suggesting that anyone spend an insane amount of money on publishing a book, but I am saying that a serious writer should be willing to make an investment that would yield a quality product. When I say quality product I’m referring to the look and feel of your book–in other words the very first thing that people see–the cover. If your cover is boring no one other than your close family, friends, and people who know of you and think it’s kind of cool to know a real author will want to read it. It’s cover appeal. I am convinced that though there are those who have lots of valuable content inside the book, some won’t get to engage with or benefit from that content if they are turned off by the cover. I’m not expert, but my suggestion would be to add an experienced graphic designer to your team. You’d be surprised at the quality you can get for not much more money than you’d pay doing it on your own or with the neighbor down the street who owns a digital camera. It’s okay to go cheaper on supplementary materials like book marks and other what nots, but not on your main product. Again, you want to showcase the best presentation of yourself and your work. You’ve worked too long and hard not to.

 

Miracles, Book Signings, and Wonders

waitongod-8679 (1)It was the perfect night for a book launch party. Hours before, the sun decided to come out for a visit, warming us with his presence after days of hiding behind dark dismal clouds and cold winter winds. The moon had now taken his place for the evening and was keeping the temperature at a crisp but comfortable 50 degrees.

I could feel the tension rising in me. I had tons more to do, more details to tend to, but only a smidgen of time to get them done–0.25 hours to be exact. In fifteen minutes I would need to get home from the beauty salon, take a shower, get dressed, beat my face, and drop off the decorations at the venue for the decorating crew to get everything ready for the crowd. It wasn’t going to happen. Then the phone rang.

waitongod-8626 (1)Tina, a close friend of mine had seen my text warning everyone that I would be late and saw my car at the beauty salon on her way to help decorate.

“I’m going to have to drop these things off and then go back home to get ready,” I said exasperated.

“I can take the decorations with me so you can go on home and get dressed,” Tina offered.

“I have a lot of stuff in my car, Tina. It’s going to take a while to unload and reload all of it.”

“We can just switch cars,” she offered.

She was such a life saver. I had already had a million things on my mind like what if more people showed up than I was expecting? What if I couldn’t feed or seat them all? All of these worries stemmed from the fact that I over invited. Three hundred plus invites sent on Facebook and an ad in the newspaper to notify all of Sumter County for a building that only held 108. What was I thinking? Well at least getting the decorations there on time was one thing could be crossed off my list of what ifs. Next I had to go home and try to make sure I didn’t get my freshly done curls wet in the shower. That would be a challenge.

After some time I did mwaitongod-8741anage to keep my hair dry, beat my face, and jump into the slinky, plum-colored dress I had finally chosen as my coming out look. I was finally ready but still in a panic. I felt like it was my wedding day all over again. People would be waiting for me, the author of the hour, to arrive. Everything needed to be perfect.

And it was in all the ways that really mattered. In my haste I forgot the power cord for my laptop, which I needed in order to play a slideshow I created especially for the event. It had a picture of my grandma on it that I wanted to show in memory of her, but I still got a chance to talk about her in my acknowledgements. I wanted to have certain moments during the event videotaped with my handheld video recorder, but I forgot the batteries. Then low and behold I noticed one of my covenant partners who happens to be a professional videographer, pointing a video camera at me. He was shooting video of the entire party, and I didn’t even ask him to do it.

waitongod-8827Needless to say all was well. I should have known it would be. I had prayed about it, my Pastor had told me not to worry, and in times past God had worked things out in my favor before. This night was no different. God worked a miracle and turned all my worries into wonders. The crowd–perfect; the food–perfect; the venue–perfect; the outfit–perfect; the book dedication ceremony–perfect; the book sales–perfect. My husband’s introduction of me even though I forgot to bring his glasses so he could read the very small printout of my bio–perfect. I wouldn’t change a thing about any of it. Now on to more books, more signings, and more wonders!

***The “Wait on God” book signing and launch party was a huge success thanks to my Enon covenant partners, family members and friends both new and old. You all helped to make it great, and I love you for it. Be blessed with God’s best.

If you would like a copy of “Wait on God” visit http://www.BrianaGWhitaker.com.

Moving Into the New

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To all of you who have stopped by my page to like a post, leave a comment, and follow my blog I want to say a BIG THANK YOU! Thank you for the love, support, and encouragement during my new blogging experience. I have enjoyed reading your writing as well and being a part of a community of writers. With the new year upon us and new things on the horizon, I would also like to ask you to consider following me again to my new writing website http://www.BrianaGWhitaker.com. You can find me there where I will continue to blog and promote my book “Wait on God”. Your presence on the new site will be a blessing. Have a happy and prosperous new year full of more blessings than you have room enough to receive!

If You Want It, Say It

confessionEvery woman desires for her man to claim her as his. I’m not talking about owning her as if she is his possession, but owning up to being in a relationship with her and being proud of it. I remember the first time Russell introduced me to one of his associates after a few months of dating. “This is my lady Briana,” he said with boldness. I was relieved, as the question of the title he would give me in front of others had been on my mind. Any hesitation or unwillingness to claim me would not only be an  insult but also an indication of doubt about my place in his life. Then I would have been left feeling confused about just where I stood in the relationship equation. This dynamic works the same way when we are waiting on God to fulfill His promises, no matter what they are, in our lives. Here’s what I mean.

The basis of the Christian faith is, well faith–faith in what is not seen with the natural eye or felt with the five senses. The believer lives by faith–period. That is the only way to please God (Hebrews 11:6). One way to express our belief is by what we say or confess out of our mouths. That is how you and I received salvation.

“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Romans 10:9 KJV).

Salvation did not require jumping through any hoops or performing any grueling rituals. All that was required was a belief in your heart on Jesus Christ and a confession from your mouth stating that belief. Your belief together with your spoken words, which is a work of faith, equal your active working faith.

 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works” (James 2:17-18).

And that is what yields results. This is not to say that everything in your life will go as you expect or that you will live a trial free life of ease because of your faith confessions. Jesus said that in this life we’d experience persecution for the cause of Christ and that trials would come, but those trials don’t have to defeat you. It’s according to what you say and believe. I know because it has worked for me. A few years ago after an annual doctor’s appointment I received a abnormal lab result which indicated the presence of abnormal cells that if not corrected could develop into cancer. My doctor said that she would need to do a biopsy to make sure the cells weren’t cancerous and I’d come back in a few weeks for the results.

I didn’t waste any time. I knew what the Bible had to say about calling on the elders of the church to pray for the healing of the sick so I asked my pastor and his wife to pray for me about that situation. But I didn’t leave it at that. I found a book of confessions on healing and tailored it specifically for the condition my doctor discussed with me, and every day from the day I received prayer until the day I returned to the doctor for the results I repeated it.

“I call every cell of my body to be normal in Jesus’ name. Cancer cannot live in my body. I speak and I say that my body is well from the crown of my head to the soles of my feet in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ” I would say aloud and with authority. I said it until I believed it. When I went in that doctor’s office I knew without a shadow of a doubt that all was well, and it was. The biopsy came back negative for cancer, and the next year when I returned for my annual checkup there were no signs of abnormal cells at all. Some people might think this strange or preposterous but it works. It’s the process of faith, and it is how the world was formed. God spoke and everything came into existence.

“Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear” (Hebrews 11:3).

Now if I had done the opposite by accepting the doctor’s information as truth and either confessed the worst outcome or said nothing at all to combat the attack against me, things may have turned out differently. That was a chance I was not willing to take. I am convinced this process will work for anything you are believing God to do in your life if it is according to His will and in line with His Word. By anything I do mean anything, including a suitable spouse if that is what you desire. Find a confession or create your own loaded with scriptural promises concerning what it is you desire in a relationship and in a mate (I included some relationship-specific confessions in “Wait on God”). Confess it until it manifests. Confess it at all times just like a man should confess his love for his woman at all times, not just when it is convenient or easy. Confess it with power and authority to let God and the devil know where you stand–on God’s Word. You don’t have to let everyone in on your work of faith either because not everyone will understand or agree, but that doesn’t matter. All that matters is that your words agree with God’s words. Keep in mind that you are not speaking your words. You are speaking God’s words, and God’s words have power!

So just as my husband claimed me that day and just as I claimed my healing, claim what you desire God to do for you. If it is a godly husband, claim him. If it is peace of mind until he arrives, claim it. If it is to live a holy and sanctified single life, claim that too. And do not hesitate or waver because hesitation is a sign of unbelief, which makes it impossible to receive from God.

“But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord” (James 1:6-7).

I encourage you to make a daily habit to say what God says, and watch Him honor your faith by working on your behalf to bring you what you desire.

Based on Chapter 5 of “Wait on God:What Every Single Woman Should Know to Receive God’s Best!”

Get Busy With Purpose

office_workerI was in the mall today when I ran into a classmate from high school who was working in one of the retail stores. We talked for a few minutes to catch up and then we said goodbye. About an hour later, I pulled up to the gas station and saw her again, but this time she was dressed in a restaurant uniform.

“You’re working two jobs, girl?” I asked out of my car window.

“I actually work three jobs” she said, with a giggle.

“Why are you working so much?” I knew she was single with no children or family to support so I couldn’t understand the need to work so hard. “I’m not trying to give you a hard time or anything, but that’s got to be tiresome.”

“I am tired she said, and my sister fusses at me all the time about working so hard, but ever since my mom died I needed something to keep my mind busy” she admitted.

I was right. It wasn’t about the money. She just needed a distraction from the pain and emptiness she was feeling inside. Knowing that what she actually needed was the healing that only a true relationship with Christ can bring, I asked her what church she attended. As I suspected, she wasn’t regularly attending church because of all her jobs. No wonder she felt empty. Without a continual feeding of the Word of God and time spent in His presence, emptiness will occur in any of us. And what do empty people do? Try to find something, anything to fill their void. Some people use relationships, some people use shopping, some people use illegal substances, and some people use jobs like this young lady. But why not use God.

No, I don’t mean use God in a negative sense, but I mean engaging in the activities that He’s provided for us that give our lives purpose and meaning, like church and ministry service. While I do agree that we need to have a level of productive activity in our lives to keep us from being idle and yes, to keep our minds from dwelling on negative things, I do believe that it should be something purposeful. Instead of giving all of your valuable time and energy to a job that has no eternal reward attached to it, why not invest that time into something that does affect you (and those around you whose lives you were sent here to touch) now and for eternity? Only what you do for Christ shall last. I don’t care how good you are at your natural job, God has an even greater plan for your life beyond what you could think or imagine. And many times that plan is discovered during your service in kingdom through the local church. Most of the things I am gifted at doing were discovered and/or cultivated as a result of working in my church: singing, writing, speaking, teaching, working with children, and even taking pictures. Had I not been connected to my ministry I’m not sure that I would have had the opportunity to grow in so many areas.

Some non-church goers might argue that church attendance and membership is not necessary. I disagree, but don’t take my word for it. God’s word says  “Not forsaking or neglecting to assemble together [as believers], as is the habit of some people, but admonishing (warning, urging, and encouraging) one another, and all the more faithfully as you see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25 AMP). A benefit to believers is the encouragement we provide to one another–something my classmate could sure use to help her through this difficult time in her life. Another benefit is in discovering God’s purpose for our lives. You could be doing some real good in your daily life, but that doesn’t mean that it is what God preordained and called you to do. A good thing doesn’t equal a God thing. Think about the sons of Sceva in Acts 19:14. They took it upon themselves to do what they saw the apostle Paul doing–casting out evil spirits. Was it a good thing to do? Sure. Paul did it. But was it God’s thing for them to do? Apparently not because at their promptings for the evil spirits to come out of a man, those spirits said “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?” (Acts 19:15 KJV) Then they leaped on them, overcame them, and beat them naked. I’d say knowing your specific purpose is paramount.

One purpose that we all share is to win souls for Christ. Doesn’t it makes sense that more souls can be reached through the local church body than through one person working at it alone? The resources of each member pooled together can go much further and have a greater impact on the kingdom of God. You are needed to fulfill God’s will in the earth both as an individual and as a supportive contributor to the local church. So don’t just get busy. Get busy with purpose by being busy about your Father’s business.

 

Based on Chapter 7 of “Wait on God: What Every Single Woman Should Know to Receive God’s Best!” Order your copy at http://www.BrianaGWhitaker.com.

The Blessing of Rejection

I remember when I was a teenager I had a huge crush on this guy. And while he took me out on dates, called me on the phone, and said all the right things, it was obvious to me that he wasn’t as “into” me as I was “into” him. I could tell because for some reason he did not want to give me what I wanted most–the title of his girlfriend. No matter what I did or said to try and figure out why he didn’t want to commit to me, I could never get an answer that satisfied me. I wasted so much time wondering what was wrong with me. Why am I good enough to act like his girlfriend, but not good enough to actually be his girlfriend. It wasn’t until years later that I realized what the problem was. It was a problem that I obsessed over this for YEARS. It was a problem that I obsessed over him for YEARS. Why? Because he was NOT the man that God intended for me and it was NOT the time for me to even be considering this level of commitment. God had so much more for me to do that He needed my undivided attention to accomplish and at the same time He was preparing my husband and I for each other. Talk about an all-knowing and all-powerful God! He turned what I thought was rejection into my blessing.

Let’s consider two examples of rejection in the Bible. Cain, Adam and Eve’s son, took rejection the wrong way and things turned out miserably for him. He and his brother Abel both offered sacrifices to God out of what they had. Abel offered the best part of his flock and Cain offered a part of his produce. There’s a clear difference here in the level of commitment and love for God behind both offerings. Because Cain didn’t put much effort at all into his sacrifice, God rejected it. That really offended Cain, so much so that he began to hate his brother, whose offering was pleasing to God. You know what happened after that. He went from being his brother enemy to being his brother murderer. All because of rejection. Now what Cain should have done was use that as an opportunity to improve. I’m quite sure that if he had asked, God would have told him how to get his offering accepted the next time and he too would be a recipient of God’s blessing.

Jesus, on the other hand, took crown of rejection made out of thorns and made it into a crown of glory. From his very birth, the His own people rejected him. They denied that He was the Christ. They denied the miracles He performed. They crucified Him despite His innocence. And even today, there are those who still reject His salvation. But Jesus endured it all because He knew the joy and the glory set before Him. He also knew the greater purpose ahead, which was the redemption of us all–our eternal blessing.

“Trust His open and His closed doors, regardless of what they are.” Heather Lindsey, founder of Pinky Promise

I challenge you to change your viewpoint from rejection focused to blessing focused. See the situation for what it truly is meant to be–God working on your behalf to bring you to the place He has predestined you to be. What could be better and more fulfilling than that?!

Based on Chapter 1 of “Wait on God: What Every Single Woman Should Know to Receive God’s Best!”

 

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