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!

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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.

It’s So Close I Can Taste It!

3D_reduced image Wait on GodAll praises to the most high God, for He has done marvelous things! The moment that I’ve been waiting for has arrived. The cover to my book, “Wait on God: What Every Single Woman Should Know to Receive God’s Best!” is complete and will be published within the next 30 days. After three years of working on this project, I can finally see the finish line.

Thank you to everyone who has supported this dream thus far. And please continue to be on the lookout for more information on how you can obtain your copy of this God-inspired book. It is my sincere prayer that it blesses and encourages some woman of God to trust Him for His best. Waiting on God truly pays off! #beyondhumbled