Here are some things I see quite frequently when people bring me books to review, etc.
(1) The whole book is "their story" or testimony. You can tell your story, but intertwine in throughout a book that has a topic. I receive a lot of books from people sharing their "chronic illness" story. It gets exhausting to read pages and pages about lab tests, MRIs, doctor errors, etc. Your book should have a TOPIC, and then use your story (and other people's stories) as examples. Your story doesn't need to be told in chronological order.
(2) Scripture is quoted so heavily there is no room for any other content. Don't quote scripture over and over and use it as an excuse to not have to write, or to write sloppy. A lot of books are packed full of scripture as the answer for everything. Dig deeper into scripture, put it into your own words sometimes, use different versions of the Bible to explore beyond just quoting it. And don't slack off on your own writing.
(3) A cover that looks self-published, is bland, is weird, or basically doesn't "fit in." If you are reviewing a cover you've had designed or you are doing your own, print it out, put it over a book of the same thickness and put it on your bookshelf and even see how the spine looks. It should "stand out" among other books and yet, "blend in" at the same time. You need to have a GOOD cover and a GOOD title. Hire John Kremer to review it! I see many good books with horrible covers and titles. Since I sell books over the internet through our store people often want me to carry their books. But if the cover and title won't make people buy it, I can't carry it in our store. Sorry.
(4) The belief that marketing one's book is evil -- or at least, not needed because "God will just take care of selling the book for me." A lot of Christians believe their gift is in writing the book and if God wants it to sell, He will take care of it. It's true that the bigger opportunities I have had have often times just seen to come from NOTHING I did. It was just God's work! But remember, if God gave you this message that you cared enough to sweat over and actually write, you should care enough to get it into the hands of people. You aren't out to trick people into buying your book, so don't feel guilty about marketing it. If God showed you where a need was and you wrote a book to help fulfill that need, you should find joy in getting it into the hands of people who need it.
I remember hearing Paula Dean once say, "I worked like a dog and God blessed everything I did." You may spend months trying to get your book into a mail order catalog and then God may bless you with an order so large you will actually make money off your book.
(5) Refusal to get involved in online marketing. Regardless of your age or area of expertise, you need to know some of the basic lingo and have a web site. You don't have to write in Facebook every day. You don't have to Twitter from your phone, but you should know what people are talking about when they mention these things. If you are over 50 it can seem like a foreign language, but you can learn a few "words." Even my mom has figured out how to log on to Blog Talk Radio to listen to my weekly program. Software like wordpress can make it easy for you to have a web site and update it. Know what is worth spending your time learning and what is not and stick with what comes naturally. Hire your granddaughter to set up a blog for you and teach you how to post and then let her do the major updates every few months.
Also, it's important for you to have an overview of what online marketing opportunities may be a good fit when you are writing book proposals. When I have coached people on marketing tips for their book proposals, it's often brainstorming with women over 50, letting them know what to look for online, what to mention in their proposals, etc. Publishers want authors that at least know what a blog is, what a book trailer is, etc. If they mention giving you a virtual blog tour, you need to know to be excited!
My worst problem is that I really don't know very many people, so I have not much of a start. Probably only half of the people I know have any interest in Christian books. Fewer than that want Christian non-fiction. I almost throw in the towel before I start. To try to get myself going, I plan to attend a conference sponsored by Experts in Focus here in Baltimore April 17-18. If anybody else is interested, here is the link..
Right now, I have a website, a blog, a twitter account with almost 200 followers, and a growing list of articles at . I know that I really should blog every weekday, but I don't get it done because I think I worry over it too much. I try to write quality articles that are true to my understanding of the Bible and the life of faith. That means research and double-checking things. I am not willing to simply fling something out. I have run into technical problems withe the website and the blog, so I have to spend some of my precious writing time getting up to speed with my web presence. Of course, I have a book in progress, a class curriculum in development (which I think will be a book later), and a book I have decided to self-publish on Blurb.
My biggest problem is establishing the right focus for each day. I know good and well that I don't have a handle on the marketing, and I put all my energy into my study and writing projects. How do I get off dead center?
My name is Chris and I have written a book that I considered to be a Christian book. It's my self-help memoir dealing with chronic illness and its effect on relationships. No matter the topic of our books, I am right there with you when it comes to issues around trying to market a book when you don't have enough knowledge regarding how to create a web site, how to optimize that web site, should I pay for these things, meta tags, online scams are also a concern.
Then you mentioned your biggest problem being where to put your focus each day and I felt somewhat redeemed knowing that I'm not the only one that has this problem every single day, LOL. Especially because, like yourself I am working on another project. How can one write another book when every time we log onto the computer we see that there is another place or site where we could be promoting and marketing our book. I guess that's just life.
I was a pharmaceutical chemist for 10 years before becoming an occupational safety and health coordinator for a fortune 100 company. However, in 1993 I had to stop working because I have multiple sclerosis. I was actually diagnosed when I was 18 when I was in college, but I did not become disabled for 13 years. It's my cross to bear, but the Bible says we are to be joyous in our sufferings. I would have said yeah sure before inviting Jesus into my heart in 1993, but it's true. Trust in him and he's there with us always. So now I'm writing and speaking for audiences who want to know how to better or more positively deal with stress put on the relationship as a result of life being interrupted by a chronic illness or disability. Thanks for your insight. I hope that you're having a great day.
God has given you a special gift, an opportunity to help others with your story of how Jesus changed your life, not only with your illness, but with your unique ability to help others understand that any adversity, challenge, or hardship can be overcome if we trust in Him.
It is all a gift, and opportunity to realize just how strong your faith really is!
As for marketing and promoting your book. You must ask God to guide you toward what it is that he wants you to to with the life he has given you. Pray often for what it is that you want from Him, and he will indeed answer all of your prayers. I have written two faith-based, spiritual books, and it was through the will of God that I was able to do so. My first book titled "Light Beyond The Storm: Overcoming LIfe's Tragedies Through Faith, was an autobiographical account of how God helped guide me through some of the most tragic and horrific experiences that one could imagine. Writing the book could have only been achieved through God's grace. The second book called "What Shall We Do With This Life?-God Has The Answer..." was another miracle that God revealed to me, and he is now helping me to get His Holy Word out to all who will listen to the truth of His glory.
My advice to you is to start promoting your book in your local community. Contact your local paper and tell them your story. Self-publish your book, print a small amount of books to get started, set up your own website to let others know what you're doing and how you're trying to make a difference in the lives of others, and most importantly, ask God to send the power of the Holy Spirit down upon you to inspire you to bring honor, glory, and praise to Him. And, then sit back and watch the miracles unfold.
If you need any advice on self-publishing your book or setting up your own website, I may be able to assist you. I've sent you a link to my website. You can visit it if you wish and learn more about my faith journey.
Good luck and May God Bless You for your faith in Him.
I think that what all fledgling writers, including those who are in touch with spreading the Good News must understand, is that if it's God's will that we succeed in our writing mission, and getting the message out, then it shall be done.
Along those same lines, if we pray for the Holy Spirit to enlighten us with all that we do with our work and other aspects of our lives, we shall be given all that we ask for. However, we must be patient, we must not be discouraged, and we must keep the light of Christ shining bright within us, and look for that light each and every day as we tell others of his greatness.
I will pray for the success of all those who seek Him first and attempt through faith, to make this world a better place for all mankind.