I hear from aspiring inspirational authors all the time wondering what it takes to transform their ideas into a published book.
It takes me back to this quote from a publishing executive at a Book Expo of America a few years back:
“Just because you have a computer, doesn’t make you a writer.”
Fact is, 81% of all Americans think they should write a book (according to Write & Publish magazine), and only two percent of that crowd ever actually complete a manuscript – and get it published.
Yes, computers have indeed made writing a book more accessible, and print-on-demand (POD) has made self-publishing a snap. But the problem is, there are about 150,000 new books a year, and they’re not all selling!
5 Things Inspirational Authors Must Know
If you’re stuck in that boat, here are some simple things to do to move you from book idea to manuscript to actual sales!
Learn about writing
Taking writing courses. You can go to the American Christian Writers website and get info on their American School of Christian Writing, The Writer’s Institute, and Writer’s Mini-Course. Also, subscribe to their newsletter (The Christian Communicator or The Advanced Christian Writer).
Take time to go to various writers’ conferences, where you’ll meet editors, publishers, and other authors. You may even find a mentor at some of these events.
Getting a writing mentor is so critical to your success – if you listen and heed their advice! There are tons of book coaches. Google “book coach” to begin.
Finally, read! Best-selling Christian fiction author, Victoria Christopher Murray, said on a recent Chocolate Pages Show, “To be a good writer, you have to read good writing.” I am so surprised when I talk to many Christian writers, and I ask if they have read any of the “best-sellers” – at least the Christian or spiritual books. They answer, “NO.”
Some have never even read “The Purpose Driven Life” (the best-selling book of all time), The Shack (a Christian publishing phenomenon in the book world), or The Secret (at least take cues how they have marketed the mega-star of a book).
Most inspirational authors don’t even take note of any of the top 10 New York Times or CBA best-sellers.
Ughh! You have to know what the market is buying and read it to see why the book is highly acclaimed. By doing a little homework, you can improve your writing. You have to move it from a hobby to a craft if you want a viable book.
Bonus: Books Every Inspirational Author Needs at Their Fingertips!
- On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction by William Knowlton Zinsser (Best book I’ve read on what, precisely, makes up a great piece of writing)
- The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr., E. B. White
- I also recommend subscribing to Writer’s Digest for invaluable information every month.
Learn about self-publishing and how the book industry works
I often have writers come to me and tell me their “publishing nightmare” stories. They talk about how printers or subsidy publishers took advantage of them.
Yes, some companies will swindle you. But, if you are well-informed, it will lessen the chances of someone ripping you off. Don’t rely on one source for all your information. Use Google and do some research! You must do your due diligence.
Know where to get an ISBN, how to get national distribution, where to find a cover designer, typesetter, printer, etc. Ask other self-published authors what they’ve done and how it has worked for them. Follow the leaders. Do what they did to achieve success.
Study what Kendra Norman Bellamy, Stephanie Perry Moore, Marilynn Griffith, or Kim Brooks have done. Most authors have their “publishing testimonial” on their website or offer publishing tips to new authors. Read their advice – you can learn from mistakes or from mentors. Mentors are cheaper.
Learn about marketing and publicity
Build a platform. No book will sell without telling others about it – over and over again. Not just once. Word of mouth is the best form of advertising. Creating “buzz” requires a strategy and a robust platform.
Once the book is published, a lot of authors believe it will sell by itself. Many inspirational authors sway the other way and are too humble to tell anyone about their book. They think if they put it up on Amazon or tell a few of their “yes buddies,” it will take off. NOT!
Just like any product sold for cold cash, it must be marketed and promoted to sell. It takes money to make money.
Learn about agents
Agents are not your “literary fairy God-mothers.” They are in business to make money. And they make money by selling “marketable” writers to publishing houses.
Besides having a great book, decent platform, an audience – you must also have a good book proposal. The proposal is what sells your book. Part of that proposal is the marketing plan. Again, it’s about the bottom line.
It took former Heart & Soul editor Stephanie Stokes Oliver 25 years to have her first book published. And she had a platform and was a professional writer. She had to find the right publishing house. She says she went through 10 agents and eventually got the divine connection and got three book deals.
Learn about Web 2.0
Podcasting, blogging, social networking. Each day, there seems to be a new platform you simply “must” join. (Did you see my post on Clubhouse and how it’s the new connection craze in 2021? Find it here)
Did you know you can blog on Amazon.com if you’re an author? You can even put up video reviews. How cool is that? You must embrace technology and keep up with what is moving books. The best way to move books is to get people talking – and the more they hear your passion and get curious about all the “buzz” they keep hearing from you online – the more you will attract customers.
So, “get out there” by joining Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Twitter. Do a Blogtalk Radio Show and get a Youtube channel. Post up your blogs in RSS feeds and even do some daring stuff like join a lot of “nings” or start one! Join the Chocolate Pages Network (a new social network for Christian Authors).
There are so many ways for an inspirational author to get exposure online – hey, you could even end up in Oprah’s book club!
More help for inspirational authors
Mentoring inspirational authors on building a platform and attracting significant media and publishing contracts is my superpower. If you want to learn more about how my services can help you, click here to take the next step.
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This article was published in 2012, but has been updated for 2021.
Ministry marketing pioneer and PR Coach Pam Perry helps African American Christian authors garner publicity and leverage online strategies. As a 20-year PR veteran, she is also the co-author of “Synergy Energy: How to Use the Power of Partnerships to Market Your Book, Grow Your Business and Brand Your Ministry.” She’s also the creator of the ChocolatePagesNetwork, a social network for Christian authors and the Chocolate Pages Show at Blogtalk radio