STAKE IN THE GROUND—
I’ve been doing a lot of reading, thinking and praying about book publicity, promotion, and marketing over the past few weeks. It’s mind boggling to consider all of the possible book marketing and publicity activities that one can do. And then, there are no guarantees of success when you do those things. One authoritative book on publishing said, “in publishing there are no rules, no formulas for success.” A recent article in a national publication stated that “publishing is more like visiting a casino than running a business.” One publisher even remarked that PR is “a waste of money” for most authors.
This is clearly not a “good report” in the biblical sense. To dwell on these comments would result only in frustration and disillusionment. If these things were true, then how could any emerging author make their message heard? Why publish at all?
But today, I heard another voice—and I put a stake in the ground. After sharing my concerns with my wife, Kathy, she simply asked, “Where is God in all that activity?” Then I heard the Holy Spirit echo, “Where is the transcendent power of God in all that activity?” Suddenly the cloud lifted! I was filled with hope that God’s favor and direction COULD make an immeasurable difference in the results we see from these activities—if…
If we put the emphasis on ministry and not selling books! Why should you do radio and TV interviews if they don’t result in large bumps in book sales? Because it’s an opportunity to share life with others—perhaps someone that you’d never get to meet face-to-face. Why do book signings, distribute press releases, send emails, talk on the phone, visit stores, write columns or blogs, etc., etc., etc.? Because something you wrote in your book—be it a chapter, paragraph, or even just a single sentence—could change a person’s life for eternity. Unless you help place that book in their hands, they may never have the chance to read that sentence.
How many souls is an interview worth? One hundred? Ten? One? If your book helps to snatch just one soul from the grip of destruction, would it have been worth it? How many restored marriages is a book signing worth? Would you send ten emails to turn a person away from bitterness to forgiveness? Fifty emails? A hundred?
No amount of activity can bear fruit if God’s favor is not on it. I believe that God will bless our efforts if our motives are right—and if we make an effort to begin with. How can he bless our inactivity? If we’re out there trying with a pure heart, he’ll give us fruit even if we’re doing publicity wrong! I used to make my living doing advertising, before God led me into book publishing. So, it’s not easy for me to admit this.
It’s easy to get caught up in one of two extremes: either working night and day, thinking it’s all up to us…or, giving up and doing nothing. Today, I saw a better way: keep doing the things that we know to do—in moderation, but not putting our trust in those activities. Keep doing the speaking, the interviews, the book signings, and other activities, asking God to make them opportunities for ministry (not marketing). Keep doing these things and asking God for favor—and fruit.
I can almost hear someone objecting: What about the bills? His answer: “Seek first….” I don’t say this idly. Last Sunday at church, I visualized spreading all my bills and debt before God on an altar step. I told the guy next to me, “Sorry, you’ll have to pick another step, this one is full!” In our 25+ years in business, we’ve almost gone broke a few times. But God’s provision has always been there when we really needed it most.
This year has brought tremendous favor from the Lord—but also tremendous opposition from the enemy. Doors are opening that no one can shut. For example, one of our books was chosen to be a featured alternate selection with Crossings book club. Publishers of our size just don’t get that kind of exposure—unless God graciously provides it. So, we cannot boast in our great sales prowess. We CAN boast in God’s graciousness for our sake and the author’s wonderful writing gift. And what a faithful servant of God she is! She set aside her writing aspirations to raise her family—and now the time is right for her to bloom.
I’ve asked God to help us make the most of the opportunities He’s placed before us. I—along with our loyal staff—have asked for God’s favor and direction for publishing. We’re looking at the possibility of a new author publicity program that could provide additional platforms and exposure for their message. Pray with us that we’ll know how to put that program together. Also pray for God’s protection and provision to meet the opportunities in the days ahead.
Thank you—and God bless you!
In His Love, Brian Banashak, founder of Evergreen Press (This article was originally published in 2007.)
“And let us not grow weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we do not lose heart.” Gal. 6:9