A couple of weeks ago I set out to write a series of posts on tensions that I’ve felt as an author. I continued it last week when I talked on the dilemma I feel with the word platform, and I am almost done with a post on the tension I feel with the Christian celebrity culture. I’m planning to finish that up and publish it tomorrow.
But alas, time seems to be moving at warp speed, and suddenly I find myself within a week of the release of “10:10”! I have been working for some time with Baker and our social media strategist Tim Schraeder on a marketing plan for the release of the book, and that kicks into full gear today! So I thought I’d take a moment to share some thoughts with you about that (which have tensions in their own right!) and ask for your help with it as well.
As you probably know, the publishing world has changed quite a bit over the past decade (some would say its changed more over this period of time than any other). I had my first book project when I was 24, and I can’t believe how much the landscape has changed. Back then blogs weren’t mainstream, the Internet was not yet the primary source of information, and books were still paperish things that you held in your hands.
The maturation of the Internet has changed all of that. We now have access to SO much information, and most of it is free. A curious reader can pick a topic, and instantly find hundreds of voices that claim to be experts on the subject matter. How does one sort through all of that?
And then there is the rise of bloggers. It’s hard to remember a world without them (us), but in the span of just a few years they have rapidly established themselves as a dominant force. It’s hard to pinpoint an agreed upon number to measure the number of active bloggers. But to give a sense of how large the community consider WordPress, who is just one of a dozen hosting services. They boast 409 million people viewing 14 billion pages each month. That’s pretty incredible.
This technological shift has had a big impact on how the publishing industry thinks about marketing as well. In the olden days (as in just a decade ago), the secret to a successful marketing campaign was getting the right publisher. They were the ones who had the powerful network of trade relationships, and they held the keys to the distributors. Since Christians used to purchase their books almost exclusively at religious bookstores, getting a prominent place there was the whole ballgame.
That means very little now. Christian bookstores are nearly extinct (who doesn’t buy their books on Amazon?), and the correlation between a successful book and a big name publisher is smaller than its ever been. The truth is that you can strategize about marketing as much as you want, but it now always comes down to just one thing: word-of-mouth.
Isn’t that true for you? How have you chosen the last 10 books that you purchased? I’ll bet that 9 out of 10 came because you heard a friend tell you about it. Right?
So, with that all being the case, I am faced once again with the primary tension I’ve carried ever since I embarked on this project to write and publish 10:10: the discomfort of having to self-promote. I prefer to never refer to what I do as self-promotion, because it feels like such a dirty word. But if i’m being honest, every time I talk about the project I am self-promoting to some level.
What I’ve had to come to terms with is that self-promotion is a necessity, at least at some level. What’s the alternative? To buy into some wishful thinking that word about the book will just magically get out to people? That doesn’t seem very realistic.
So what I’m trying to do is find a middle ground. I’m trying to acknowledge the need for a little bit of self promotion, but I’m hoping to do that with transparency, integrity, humility… if even a little bit of honest hesitation.
At the end of the day, I did not write 10:10 to make a name for myself or to draw attention to anything I’m doing. I I believe in what it stands for with all of my heart. 10:10 comes out of a lifetime journey of trying to understand who Jesus Christ really is, and to comprehend what it means to follow him fully. It is a reflection of mentorship from dozens of amazing women and men of God, from multiple traditions and station of life. It is the book that I wished I had when I was growing in my faith and asking all of these big questions. It is, in all honesty, something that I hope lots of people read and interact with.
So, here is what I am asking of YOU:
Will you consider working alongside of me to get the word out about this?
Starting today, you’ll see a steady series of promotional materials come out via social media. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram – each of these will be utilized over the next week to get the message of 10:10 out to a variety of audiences. Images like this will be posted twice a day:
My hope is that you, my blog community, will help circulate these images and ideas. I won’t try to tell you how – each of you is plenty creative and capable. But if you would partner with me to get the concepts behind 10:10 out in the public square, I would be eternally indebted!
Thanks again for being on this journey with me! I can’t tell you how much it has meant to get words of encouragement, inspiration, and support at each step of the way. I am truly honored and excited to play a small part in this much bigger story that is happening.
Much love to each of you!