By Bruce Barbour
As hard as you’ve heard it is to be published you are a keystroke away from billions of people who are desperately searching for meaning, clean entertainment, trustworthy information and above all, meaningful connection.
Now that we know the Means are, literally, at our fingertips, what is your Mission and the Media you must Master to share your Message.
Before exploring the process, let us first review a little history…
When God had a word to share with his children, what method did he use?
Right… A tablet!
A stone tablet that was portable that would keep His words for generations. Not unlike our “tablets” and digitized content that will last forever!
After creating the 10 Commandments and using stone as the means for delivering His content, what other means did God use to share His guidance for people to learn and follow? He entrusted His words to prophets, men and women who walked with Him and who He entrusted with His word to lead and guide hearers to be doers.
Over the years, these stories were written down on scrolls by trusted scribes and disciples for the next generations. And later letters from His apostles to churches. Finally, God called up writers like each of you and inspired them to write daily devotions, prayers, stories of His wonders and resources to strengthen, encourage and edify and affirm.
Each of you walks in these footsteps of Moses, Job, David, the prophets, apostles, and authors of ages past; called to listen for His still, small voice – sometimes just a whisper – and your MISSION is tell the stories God gives you.
So before we talk about Media, let us begin at the beginning. Each book you’ll ever write, column or blog you’ll post, tweet you’ll share, book or movie you’ll review, novel, poem or song you’ll write, first, God gives you a Message; let’s simply call it an “idea.”
Whether It happens in the shower, sitting in your favorite rocker on the porch, walking in a meadow, on the beach or alongside a creek and sometimes in your writing place, you know when God has set that flame you can’t quench and pick up your pen, pencil or keyboard to take down His notes.
And God’s ideas can be little (think Obadiah, Philemon, Practice in the Presence of God and Jabez) or really, really big (think Genesis, Job, the Psalms, Isaiah, the Gospels, Romans, Hebrews, Revelations, Pilgrim’s Progress, Mere Christianity, Purpose Driven Life, Jesus Calling). Little or small, God has a specific purpose and plan for each idea He entrusts to His good and faithful servants to speak, write and share. And He promises to equip you with everything you need to accomplish His purpose for the idea He gives you. But He also expects you to use the resources He provides, finetune your gifted skills and take very seriously your responsibilities because He will ask you someday, like the parable of the talents, “What did you do with the ideas I gave you?”
Properly humbled, challenged and perhaps feeling a bit like Moses, Isaiah and Jeremiah, who you’ll remember asked God if there wasn’t someone else He could use to tell His story and had lots of reasons and excuses they hoped God would understand, let’s review the Media to publish those ideas you can’t get out of your mind or heart, that fire in your belly that won’t go away until or unless you get on with obeying God’s call.
It is up to you to seek wise counsel on ways your idea, God’s idea, can be presented to the readers whose hearts are prepared to hear it.
Your idea can be communicated on one medium or in a variety of Media, including:
- Book (print, eBook, audiobook)
- Article (print, digital)
- Column (newspaper, magazine, newsletter)
- Greeting Card (digital, print)
- Post on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest,
- Merchandise (mug, apparel, artwork, home décor, mouse pad, stickers)
- Movie or Documentary
Sometimes, your idea that has appeared in one or variety of Media can be aggregated into a new product (stories, articles and columns combined into a book).
The point is, think BIGGER about how many ways your idea can be presented on as many Media platforms as possible. Then think bigger!
Next, let us talk about how you Master your gifting so you are best equipped to fulfill your Mission. Here are a few ways you can fine-tune your writing skills:
- Attending this conference, and other writers’ conferences, is an excellent way to expand your knowledge of the art of writing. And meeting editors, agents and publishers who are looking for content.
- Spending time with like-minded creatives in writing groups, book clubs, chat rooms, bookstores, and reading, reading, reading material in the category you are writing all help expand your understanding of how other practitioners work their craft.
- Invest in Michael Hyatt’s book, Platform, and visit his website (MichaelHyatt.com) to see all the author services and training he offers.
Since my world of experience and expertise is book publishing, I will turn to the specific options you need to master in your understanding of pros and cons, upsides and downsides and give you some realistic expectations.
If you feel that your idea is best presented in a book, then you need to Master your understanding of the book publishing options (traditional royalty, hybrid and self-publishing). Learning by “trial and error “is one expensive and needlessly frustrating way to learn the options. Instead, here are a few ways to approach having your idea published in book form:
- Traditional Royalty Publishing. You will need a Literary Agent to represent and present your idea to publishers, most of whom are not accepting proposals directly from authors. Small houses still do so research publishers who are doing your kind of book will help you decide what kind of agent you need and what publishers are most likely to accept your proposal. Check my website and the next newsletter for a proposal template you are welcome to use. The big upside to a traditional publishing model is that you do not pay them anything and may get a small advance. The downside is that it’s increasingly difficult to land a publishing agreement unless you have a huge marketing presence (social media, speaking or media platform, previous sales success) and you’ll still need to actively support their efforts with you own (website, blogs, social media).
- Hybrid Publishing Model. The downside of this model usually requires some cash investment which would be earned out by your own book sales and publisher payments on its sales to book trade channels. The Upsides of this model are two-fold: you get your book available to bookstores and receive royalties, like the traditional model, or share in profits after expenses are covered, and you can purchase your book at a very low price, which gives you a nice margin on your direct sales. If you can sell books to your audience and want books available to bookstores, this is a great option.
- Self-Publishing. The downside is the word, “SELF.” You do everything or pay a service like mine to help you with editing, design and printing. The upside is you are in charge. You title your book, decide what is in the book, own all the rights to the book and make all the money from the book