I was struck recently by the concept of imagination. Why did God give us an imagination? One reason, perhaps, is to fuel our creativity. To allow us to think more broadly and give us a chance to consider things we might not have considered if we were to think logically all the time. The gifts of faith, imagination and creativity God has given us to inspire and inform our writing can also help get our books to the readers for whom He intended them. God has called us to write and He will also equip us to fulfill our calling. “For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13, ESV). He has given us as writers these gifts to produce the work He has called us to. That work is not completed until the book is in the hands of its intended reader.
Our faith, imagination and creativity come into play once again in the marketing phase. This should begin as the book develops as it is very time-consuming and requires much prayer and thought but no matter when marketing begins, it is as important as the writing itself. The pandemic of 2020 interrupted the natural flow of many things, including marketing for authors but it also presented us with a great opportunity to exercise faith and creativity.
My first book, Embers, came out in January of 2020 and I was blessed to have a book launch and a signing. Those events came about primarily because I approached my local library, museum and bookstore and asked the managers if they would be interested in hosting. Without exception, they were interested and I believe those face-to-face discussions are the best way to introduce yourself as a writer in your community. I viewed each of these places as potential business partners where we might have a mutually beneficial relationship. They would place my books in their businesses and I would increase their visibility by advertising my events and thanking them with posts on social media.
The global events of that spring changed many things including the way we can market and sent many writers scrambling for ideas. Thankfully, the pandemic didn’t change the gifts that God has given us as Christians. Imagination and creativity in marketing became more important perhaps than before. In April, my family sat around the kitchen table and packaged up forty copies of Embers to be sent to ministries across Canada with a simple note of introduction. We didn’t personally know most of the people who received the books and were forced to trust that God would bless our efforts.
I noticed many authors had websites but I am not technically minded. My husband reminded me that our friend’s son worked in website design and programming and we contacted him. He was happy to set up a simple website and remains a valuable resource. As well as writing about the books and how to get them, I developed several free downloadable resources including the Bible study that went along with the books. This meant that if an individual or group wanted to, they could download the study and use it without purchasing anything. I have also posted a chapter so that readers can get an idea of the book before making the commitment to buy it.
God inspired me to use the website to bless others and I contacted other Christian authors whose writing advice had blessed me with an offer to guest post. Those posts led to the beginning of a network of authors helping each other with everything from beta reading to leaving reviews on websites to advertising each other’s books on their social media platforms, newsletters and websites.
Creativity is endless. Since our Father is creative, we as His children are as well. Through prayer, God will direct us to do things that might be new or different but when we are assured that He is directing, we have the confidence to move forward. In our small town, and in many across the country, there are free libraries where people can take a book and/or leave one. I have left copies of my books and trust that God gets them into the hands of those who will be blessed by them.
With access to the internet, I have found many ways to promote my books and network with other authors. I have found that by focusing my attention on the social media platform that feels most natural and beneficial to me, I am able to market my books to untold numbers of people. It has been a challenge to keep up with trends and be true to myself and some days I am more successful than others. Social media can also be a comparison trap and it is up to us to guard our hearts but used wisely, it can be a good tool in marketing. Pexels and Canva are two examples of free websites that can aid in creating beautiful posts to market our books.
When my children’s book Letters in the Woods was published, a former co-worker saw a post about it and contacted me about purchasing a bulk order. She had moved on from our former employer and now works with an agency whose mandate includes preschool programming. Through that contact, I was able to partner with the agency and lead a walk for children and parents at a local park where pictures from the book were posted and we read each one as we came to it. This activity met all the requirements of the restrictions that were in place at the time and still allowed us to enjoy the book together as well as a most beautiful fall day in the woods.
Along with faith, imagination and creativity, God grants wisdom to those who ask and we as writers must exercise caution as we navigate marketing as with anything else. Aligning ourselves with publishers, authors and businesses that support our faith is crucial. Avoiding the world’s idea of success and keeping our heavenly perspective will help us maintain our focus. Therefore, prayer must be a priority in our lives. As we seek the One who inspires us to write, He will be faithful to direct us in our efforts. As it is for His glory that we do all things, we can avoid the temptations of the world to lure us in with false promises of success, be it in the form of contracts or sponsorships or fame. When we keep our eyes on our Creator, we will find our own creativity is used in ways that will bless us even as it also blesses others.
This post is part of a series first published on https://wordalivepress.ca/blogs