I’ve been praying and thinking a lot lately about how best to spread the word about my book. I know I was called by God to write it, and I endeavored to write only the thoughts and words He gave me. After seeing the fruit of the message in people’s lives — I continue to hear testimony after testimony of renewed faith, re-kindled passion, and revitalized ministries — I feel a mandate from God to do all I can to get the book into as many hands as possible.
As I’ve looked at the wide, wonderful world of book marketing, one big question that continually pops up is: Do I want to focus my energies on the “traditional Christian” marketplace, or on reaching Christians through more mainstream avenues. I must say, I’m leaning toward the latter.
One problem with the “traditional Christian” marketplace is that first word: Traditional. The editors, media personalities, agents and other gatekeepers in this realm seem to believe they’ve seen it all and done it all. As a result, they have the entire theological world chopped up and categorized into pretty little boxes. If you fit into the “wrong” one, they want nothing to do with you. And if you are completely outside the box, it’s like you don’t exist to them at all.
Some are so quick to judge a book by its cover that they immediately try to wedge you into a box, and then they want to change everything that doesn’t fit into their pre-conceived notion of what the book is supposed to be about. You’d be surprised by the number of folks who have tried to get me to gut the main message of my book just to fit into the pretty little box of their liking! While I generally bite my tongue in these instances and just walk away, inside I’m burning to yell out, “If that’s the book you think should be written, then why don’t you write it yourself?”
We’ve got our whole book selling system so institutionalized that a book simply must fit neatly under the appropriate sign at the bookstore, have the right keywords, and be easy to market with bumper-stickers and sound bites — or none of the traditional players will touch it. That’s why most “Christian” books these days are so simiple, generic, and … lukewarm.
My question is, What about fresh revelation? What if our pop-theology has missed the mark? When I think about how radical, fresh, and outside the box many of the books of the Bible were back in the day, I’m convinced poor old Paul or John or Luke would have never been published if the gatekeepers of today were in charge back then!
Jesus said, “By your traditions, you render the word of God meaningless.” Yes, that applies to the traditions of churchianity. But it also applies to the Christian book marketplace, and anywhere else we’ve let smug, know-it-all gatekeepers sit in the way of the dissimenation of the fresh, inspired, outside-the-box, relevant Word of God.
Jesus compared the gatekeepers of His day to old wineskins, who were unable to accommodate His “new wine” teachings. You see, new wine expands, and if you put it in a stiff, old wineskin, the old wineskin will burst. The “Christian” idea marketplace of today fits this to a tee — it is an stiff, old wineskin.
Jesus said the gatekeepers of His day were unwilling to change because they believed the old wine tasted better. Same today. There’s money in the tired, old drivel — whether it be “self help,” “feel good about yourself,” “keys to prosperity,” “end times,” or any other warn-out genre of books. Heck, if someone wanted to open up a new category of teaching, they’d have to go through and put new buttons on websites and section signs in bookstores, and we can’t do that! And heaven forbid, if you write something counter to today’s pop theology, you might offend the rockstar writers who bring in so much money by plastering their smiling faces on the book-of-the-month!
This is the environment that led the writers of The Shack to self-publish. That book doesn’t fit into any pre-conceived, pretty little box, and so no gatekeeper would touch it. (You’d be surprised how many “Christian leaders” I know who badmouth that book, yet have never read it, all because someone told them it fit into the wrong box. I, for one, loved it, warts and all.) Thank God for today’s social networking technology, because that book has now sold upwards of 10 million copies!
I pray for an uprising in the Christian idea marketplace. The Spirit of God is all about the new wine, and will never fit inside any pretty little box! When the self-appointed religious gatekeepers in any given community rejected Paul’s new wine, he walked straight to the mainstream marketplace and started connecting directly with the people. While it got him beaten and stoned in many places, he accomplished his mission — and I think every Christian today is thankful for that.
I’m still stuck trying to figure out how to market my outside-the-box book, but I do have great hope!
So … what are your ideas? Feel free to email me or post them in the comment section below.
– You are the salt of the world. Stay salty, my friends!