Looking for Followers in All the Wrong Places

Book marketing is challenging. In order to get our words read by others, we have to not only make them aware of our works but convince them to read it. That is necessary from a sales perspective. Christian fiction authors also bear the responsibility of getting their words read as we write to promote God’s kingdom. Yet often authors shun marketing.sara-kurfess-1416213-unsplash

I get it. Marketing is hard and not exciting and just not fun, but we have to put at least as much effort into marketing our books as creating them. I know that from firsthand experience. I did zero promotion for my first two novels (beyond a few lame tweets and mention on a dusty website). And I was surprised and saddened at my anemic sales! So much I had to learn (and still have to learn).

An author’s platform is, in my view, their online presence and following. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, blog, website, and so on make up the online presence. Constant activity in all channels is necessary, though it’s not necessary to choose all channels. Followers are also necessary, because who will care about or even read tweets to a dozen followers? Sure, hashtags ensure more visibility, but it’s a very large Twitter universe out there.

Currently in the #WritingCommunity there are numerous activities to promote increasing Twitter followers. I admit that I began to participate in these follies, essentially variations of the “I’ll follow you if you follow me.” Why am I negative about them? Because these do not result in quality followers. I could build up 14,000 followers easily but if they are all mainly authors struggling for recognition like myself, what good is that. No, we need to focus on quality not quantity with our social media engagements, else isn’t it a waste of time?

I’ve adopted a better strategy. Write well. Interact with communities I want to reach as an author, not echo chambers. I’d rather have 100 followers passionate about my works than 20,000 who don’t care about my content, just my follow back. Focusing on a quality platform is the only way I can fulfill God’s call for me as a Christian writer.

Photo by Sara Kurfeß on Unsplash

Warning Signs

An extension to situational awareness is to recognize warning signs when that awareness makes you aware of potential danger. How we react to those warning signs can have profound effects on our life, whether it be with our writing, our relationships or even with our health.frequency-309372_1280

About a year and a half ago I developed a dull pain in my left upper chest, right below the collarbone. I thought that at first I had possibly slept on it wrong, but after a month I realized this was something else. Still, I’d go days when I wouldn’t feel the dull pain, only to have it return a week or more later.

This went on for a couple of months before I decided to investigate the issue (first mistake: if concerned about health, get it checked immediately). My primary care physician diagnosed it as a “trigger point” and suggested I do a door frame stretching exercise. That really didn’t help much, both the diagnosis and the exercise. I needed to know what it was, or at least what it wasn’t.

Google searching brought up a couple of potentially serious causes. I could have bone cancer or a cardiac issue. A trip to the clinic ruled out bone cancer, though the X-ray showed some arthritis in my neck (I’m 51 so that’s to be expected). The EKG, on the other hand, informed the clinic physician of a serious heart issue and that I needed to go to the ER immediately.

I felt fine, had no history of hear issues, and considered myself to be in decent health, and so I explained that to her and asked her to provide more details. She showed me the EKG printout, circling one peak or valley, stating it wasn’t normal. Again, I felt fine, and asked for verification that the leads had been inserted in the correct sensors (I’ve that happened before, resulting in alarming readings). She verified and also pointed out my heart rate was too low – 42 beats per minute.

At that point I was pretty much sure her diagnosis was incorrect. I’m a runner so it’s not uncommon for my resting heart rate to be in the low 40s or even upper 30s. I protested and managed partial success. I didn’t need to go to the ER but I had to see a cardiologist the next day.

The cardiologist took one look at my EKG and asked me why I was there. I shrugged my shoulder and replied because the clinic told me to come. A few more questions followed with an apology for wasting my time and that I was perfectly healthy, more healthy than the majority of the 51 year males he’s seen.

Eventually working with a chiropractor produced the results I desired, a reduction of the annoying pain, but I would have been fine living with it if I had to. I did not ignore the warning signs and addressed them head on instead of ignoring and hoping the issue would go away.

What do we do when we see warning signs in our spiritual lives? Today I pray, but before I probably did a lot of things that were counterproductive. As a Christian author, I hope that the words I type somehow help others find their spiritual weaknesses and help to find a path out of the darkness.

Leaving Darkness is available at https://www.amazon.com/Leaving-Darkness-Greg-Schaffer/dp/1973644118/

Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay

Breakthrough

I had the opportunity to attend a preview of the upcoming movie Breakthrough a few weeks ago. From the movie’s web site at https://www.breakthroughtickets.com/synopsis/:

BREAKTHROUGH is based on the inspirational true story of one mother’s unfaltering love in the face of impossible odds. When Joyce Smith’s adopted son John falls through an icy Missouri lake, all hope seems lost. But as John lies lifeless, Joyce refuses to give up. Her steadfast belief inspires those around her to continue to pray for John’s recovery, even in the face of every case history and scientific prediction.

Sometimes Christian movies, fiction and as in this case based on factual events, can be, simone-viani-1152774-unsplashwell, sugary for lack of a better word. Being a Christian is not easy. Life in time doesn’t become sunshine and roses upon professing faith. That is the beginning of a long, dedicated walk with Jesus, one that sometimes is more difficult to traverse than others as we struggle with issues in our lives here. Sometimes he carries us (as in the famous “Footprints” poem).

Breakthrough isn’t one of those overly sentimental, sweet movies. It is a well-crafted story of pure faith, hope, and the supernatural potential of prayer. It is not without its heart-wrenching moments, and you will shed a tear (or several). But it tackles a very dark and disturbing subject quite well and leaves the viewer with powerful lessons in prayer and community.

The tie-in to Christian fiction, for me, is that this is the type of impact I hope to have with my works. I suppose it would be easier to tackle feel-good subjects that are quite popular now, such as Christian romance novels, but that’s not my calling. I have absolutely nothing against romance novels, but most often the conflict revolves around human relationships by design. I’m delving into conflicts of relationships with God.

I encourage everyone to see Breakthrough whether you’re Christian or not. Breakthrough comes out April 17, 2019. Note that I have absolutely zero connection with the movie beyond the impact it had on me as a viewer. I’m guessing you’ll have a similar experience.

Photo by Simone Viani on Unsplash

 

Choir

I serve in my church choir. We don’t sing every weekend, but usually about every three weeks. When we do sing it’s usually for all four services, two Saturday and two Sunday. We have a weekly rehearsal on Tuesdays and have to learn anywhere from one to five new songs per singing weekend. Then there is Easter and Christmas where we have an extra service usually and more preparation than a choir-840987_1920“normal” singing weekend. Add that my wife and I live 45 minutes from the church, and it should be plain to see that serving in the choir is a significant commitment.

Singing in the choir was my wife’s idea. I had performed some pretty unremarkable covers and original songs during my music learning phase 20-plus years ago and had the grand experience of having been in chorus (and glee club!) in elementary school, but that was the extent of my experience. Still, it eclipsed hers, yet she was enthusiastic about joining. I agreed because we had served in a church ministry prior (making coffee) and wanted to do it with her to support her. Besides, it’d likely only be for a semester (we run on a two-semester schedule with the summer off) as surely her interest would pass.

That was spring of 2016, and we’re still singing with the choir.

We are a worship choir, not a performance choir, though of course we strive for excellence. We help lead people to become more complete and devoted followers of Jesus Christ. I saw this my first time on the stage risers in January 2016 (after I got over my stage unease). That keeps us engaged and willful servants. What a privilege!

And so it is with writing. Three indie novels in to my writing experience, I have learned much, but nothing more significant than understanding my mission is to write for the Lord. I am not a performance writer, though I strive for excellence. I have found my current calling to create Christian Fiction novels that tackle difficult subjects, with the goal that perhaps those tales can bring encouragement and direction to Christ in peoples’ lives.

Does that mean that I will always write Christian fiction? I don’t know, just as I don’t know if I will always sing in the choir. But I will always remain open to God’s call for what He wants me to do to help advance His kingdom.

Photo: https://pixabay.com/photos/choir-church-choir-light-shadow-840987/