Wow, awesome comments, people! Thank you. All this input has really given me more food for thought, so to speak. I even received some great comments from some fellow ACFWers privately.
I’d like to clarify, though, that the question is not whether or not to market ourselves. That’s something I’ve long accepted and quit resisting. We may not like it, but we see the necessity. It’s part of the whole shebang.
The question is, HOW?
The more I consider what I myself will have to do down the road for promotion, the more I question what I see out there. Let’s look at just one, say the author newsletter. This can be a very effective tool. Coming from an advertising background, I’ve designed and implemented my fair share of institutional newsletters. When they are targeted at the right audience, the results are great. So there’s the rub. Are they really effective for us as writers? Who are they being sent to? Or are they just adding to the marketing bandwagon everyone’s jumping on? (Any commentss from pubbed authors out there who can shed light in this area are greatly welcomed.)
I heard DiAnn Mills once say in reference to websites that they shouldn’t be just about the writer. They should give something back. Those aren’t her exact words, just my interpretation, but they have stuck with me for months. The message is pretty clear though.
The very mission we serve in writing our stories should carry over into our marketing strategies and tools.
So, for now, here are my conclusions thus far in the marketing dilemma:
Be Prayerful. Enter any marketing idea prayerfully. No matter how great an idea may be, if God doesn’t like it, he will stop it cold. God has given us a mission. The Great Commission in Print, I call it. If we take this mission and turn it into self-glorification, then we’ve missed the mark.
Be Intentional. Carefully consider what we do. Let’s not just throw our stuff out there without being sure it’s the right method and above all, the right timing. The Jesus Films are an excellent example of that. Bill Bright had the idea in the 1950s. Did he do it then? No. The timing wasn’t right. Twenty years later it was. Now these films have reached millions. (Our Journey has a great article about that featured today.)
Be Considerate. Keep in mind the people who will be exposed to your plan. Will it just clutter their boxes and their time? Or will it help, inspire, and/or direct? Again, I think this comes back to motivation. Why are we doing it?
If these people don’t mind, I want to use two as an example of effective marketing while helping other writers. Gina Holmes has an awesome blog. Author interviews are some of the most educational, inspirational and encouraging methods I’ve seen, and she does a great job with the information she putting out there. Another is Forensics & Faith. Brandilyn’s blog is truly a writer’s educational tool. Lots of pertinent information and lots of purpose.
To conclude, I think Ron and Robin are both right to the extremes. Yes, we are called to write and yes, all these other activities will make us better writers. But if you leave God out of the equation, you’re just left with an overwhelming mess.
What do you think?