Tuesday, May 10, 2011

"Don't Break the Chain" - Marketing and the Rob Bell effect

Today's post is a round-about explanation of the new blog banner I'm flying. Check out the top of this page. The picture of me is gone and I've replaced it with an image of some of my books. Why? Go ahead and read this post. It's not too long, but I believe the discussion is important enough to follow all the way through.

Thanks - as always - for tuning in.
  • NOTE: Don't break the chain! Send this letter to 25 people you know and trust and instruct them to do the same. In a matter of mere hours you could potentially irritate 15,625 people! And it doesn't have to stop there... One man in Kansas broke the chain and 390,625 people didn't even notice! A women in Atlanta followed these instructions and was immediately "de-friended" on facebook by 9,765,625 people she never even knew. Why risk the aggravation? Three men in Nigeria each failed to receive an inheritance worth almost $10.2 million. This is not a real chain letter - but it could be....
Okay, one way I'm trying to manage all the various balls I have in the air is to acknowledge the obvious. The obvious is that I can hardly pull off the classic "simultaneously chew gum and walk" trick, let alone juggle. So it really has to be one thing at a time or else.

Getting organized is a tough discipline to pull off; but if I don't do something about task management then I'm going to crash and burn. So I really don't have a choice.

Consequently, even though I have deadlines looming, I've chosen to dedicate this morning to marketing. If you're an editor and you were hoping I'd work on your project today, then I'm sorry - you're just going to have to wait.

But what has marketing got to do with writing?
I'm glad you asked! And, as you're still reading along, this is also a great opportunity for you to help. But, first, here are the facts as I see them:
  1. Just being a good writer is not enough. "But wait," you say. "If you're good then your work is sure to get noticed. I mean, isn't it true that 'cream rises to the top'...?" Yes, but so does dross - and dross = scum! The unfortunate fact is that, recently, a great deal of painfully mediocre material has been selling off the shelves. Why? Simply because marketing works.
  2. If people don't read then I can't spend so much time writing. Rebekah once told me (by way of encouragement) that "We don't work in order to earn money, we earn money so we can do the work we're called to do." She is 100% correct; and it's a beautiful sentiment. However, even such a sound and articulate argument rests on the burden of at least minimal remuneration! 
  3. Research proves we always miss the obvious! I call this the "Gallon of milk in the fridge" phenomenon. We've all stood in front of the refrigerator with the door open yelling, "Who forget to go to the store for milk?" or "I can't believe people in this house use the last of the milk and don't get more!" Then someone (probably your wife), walks in and points to the huge container on the middle shelf, right in front of your eyes. What I'm talking about is the fact that people typically need to hear, and see, and feel a message 7-15 times before they get it. 
  4. More on the obvious. No, I'm not making this up. Someone at church recently said the following, "Didn't you tell me once you were going to write a book? Let me know if you ever do because I'd surely like a copy."
  5. If I don't make some noise, then who will? This is a hard one for me, because I still feel unsure regarding the etiquette of self-promotion. A couple of years ago I sent out an email reminding friends that my Christmas book was available (it still is, BTW!). Then someone I really respect upbraided me for stepping over the line in terms of good taste.... Really, I'm honestly still up in the air on this one; I vacillate, I second guess, and then I just don't know. Because - and with my publisher's advertising budget comparatively limited - it begs the question, "Really, who else is going to tell the story?"
The Rob Bell (Love Wins) effect:
Consequently (unless one of you is willing to start a "trash Derek's next new book" campaign, and the lucrative rumble of discontent goes viral and gets me guest spots on talk shows) then the marketing ball is going to remain firmly in my court.

So if you really want to help, pass this blog post on to your friends. Keep it going... Don't break the chain... Who knows...?

Finally, and at the risk of sounding self-promotional, I really do have a few good books I'd like to recommend. If, that is, you're interested. But I'm simply going to list them - tastefully - below my signature.

Grace and Peace - DEREK

All these titles are available via Upper Room Books, Amazon.com, or can be ordered through your favorite bookseller.
  • "The Unmaking of a Part-Time Christian" (Upper Room Books, 2009) - This is a very personal story about my journey as a pilgrim in progress
  • "In My Heart I Carry A Star: stories for Advent" (Upper Room Books, 2008) - A series of daily readings designed to take the reader from Thanksgiving to Christmas without loosing focus on Christ
  • "GET REAL: a spiritual journey for men" (Upper Room Books, 2007) - This book examines what it means to be a Christian man in the 21st Century
  • "Reaching Toward Easter: a devotional journey through Lent" (Upper Room Books, 2011) - coming this fall! 

No comments: