The Kindness Of God Extended Through The Kindness Of People

US_Navy_100211-N-3879H-006_U.S._Naval_Academy_midshipmen_lend_a_hand_by_shoveling_sidewalks_and_helping_stranded_motorists_in_the_streetsSometimes God’s qualities, such as His kindness, seem nebulous because . . . well, He isn’t digging us out of the snow when our car slips off the road, He isn’t bringing meals when our son is in the hospital and we’re stretched for time, He isn’t watering our plants when we go on vacation.

The thing is, God shows His kindness in a variety of ways, and one of those is through the kindness of people He sends to us at just the right time.

I’ve experienced this in any number of ways during my adventure in “self-publishing.” It’s really a joke to call it “self.”

I learned fairly soon during my first Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference that traditional publishing was a team effort. When I first heard it, I didn’t particularly like that idea, to be honest. I thought the real work was done by the author. I was schooled, however, to amend that opinion. There were editors and cover designers and layout people and printers, sales people, distribution teams, promotion and PR representatives. It was a team effort to get out a book.

“Self-publishing” at that time simply meant the author paid for all those things to be done.

Then along came the ebook revolution and Amazon’s Kindle Direct, and suddenly self-publishing really was self-publishing, wasn’t it?

PowerElements_of Story Structure finalIn my experience of publishing Power Elements Of Story Structure, I learned it’s still a team effort. I brain-stormed titles with my critique group and one, the talented Rachel Marks, volunteered to design the cover. Another member, the brilliant Merrie Destefano, conceived of a series, not just a stand alone, and made suggestions about a forward and endorsements.

So that entailed another group of people–those willing to read the book and write something to let others know what they thought. Those same people, writers themselves, also voluntarily worked as my proof readers, catching a number of errors that had gotten by me.

I still needed Amazon, of course, but to get to that point, I needed someone with technical know-how who could walk me through the publishing process. A friend from the Mount Hermon conference helped with that.

Once the book was about ready to go, people needed to know about it, so another group of friends rose to the occasion, posting the cover reveal and/or follow-up posts with the Amazon link once the book was available.

And still I need help. Reviewers. I hadn’t even thought about that until one writer friend volunteered to do a review as soon as he was free to read the book (in February, I think he said).

Happily, reviews have started coming in. How else will people know if other writers are finding the book helpful or not?

Here’s an excerpt from the first one (posted by someone I’ve not met, no less):

Power Elements of Story Structure is one of the most accessible books on writing that I’ve read . . . (I wish I had read this before I ever began writing, but I’m deeply appreciating how it’s helping me to see my current work.) If you’re interested in writing a novel, this is an EXCELLENT resource.

Well, honestly, I couldn’t have asked for a better first review, I don’t think.

I’m really amazed at all this. Each of these people is so kind. They’re giving of their time selflessly. I mean, what does a reviewer gain by taking time to write something on Amazon? But as I understand it, reviews are gold for books. The kindness of each reviewer translates to a boost for my book.

But more than that, the kindness of each person who has helped in any capacity is a demonstration of God’s kindness. He is extending His kindness through each of them. How cool that God has used this team of people to show me His kindness through a “self-published” project! 😉

Basketball And Publishing Fiction

Before I get started, I want to remind you I have two polls I’d love to have you take part in. The first is for the CSFF Top Tour Blogger Award (you’ll find links to the articles in the post), and the second is the What Do You Read poll. With this latter, I’d really appreciate it if you shared the link on Facebook, Twitter, or email. The larger the sampling, the more credible the results, so I want as many people beyond A Christian Worldview Of Fiction’s regular visitors as possible to be a part.

Basketball and fiction?

I’m a huge sports fan, but most of my teams haven’t done all that well recently. Except the Lakers who pretty much have owned the century up to this point. 😉

But in the current playoffs they’re having trouble with the number seven seed New Orleans Hornets, a team they swept during the regular season. Many people are stunned that a team which lost its leading scorer weeks before the play-offs, a team with the youngest coach in the league, a team that is clearly undersized could stay close to the two-time defending champs. It’s David and Goliath all over again.

But why should we be surprised? The Hornets are talented, prepared, disciplined, determined, and relaxed. Nobody expects them to do well, so they have no fear of letting anyone down. Consequently, every positive thing they accomplish — winning game one on the Lakers’ home court, tying the series at two apiece — is met with praise and wild excitement whereas every downturn is met with nonchalance.

And this relates to fiction, how?

Publishing is in a turmoil. In some respects you can divide publishing endeavors into the Lakers (traditional publishing) and the Hornets (independent ebook publishing). Oh, there are others in the game — the San Antonia Spurs, Memphis Grizzles, Dallas Mavericks and the like — but in this particular contest, we’re looking at two players.

Traditional publishing has history on their side. And size. And money. Ebooks are the young upstarts with no expectations. Along comes a phenomenal success like Amanda Hocking, and people begin to believe.

The champs can be dethroned. A new player is about to take over. Which means size and experience doesn’t matter.

Oh really?

In the article I linked to above, Amanda herself makes a sports analogy. She says that to claim traditional publishing is dead is like saying in the sixth inning of a baseball game in which you’re behind 8-2, that you’re the winner. Actually, no, the “winner” has yet to be determined, and just because you scored most recently is no reason to assume the outcome is a foregone conclusion.

In all of this publishing chaos, there’s really only one thing the writer can do — write well.

I’m a firm believer that God will take care of bringing audience and story together. Yes, the writer has responsibilities in the promotion of his work, but the best promotion can’t overcome so-so stories.

I might convince my ten best friends to buy my book, and they will because they care about me. But when each of them tells their ten best friends, will they buy my book?

That second level in the network isn’t going to spend money for my sake. They will do it, though, if they’re convinced by their friends that they’ll get a good product.

And when that second group tell their ten best friends, all they’re talking about is whether or not the book is good. The author, unless he’s an established writer with a recognizable name, will no longer have any sway over whether or not the third tier of friends buys the book. Purchases will be decided on the merits of the story.

Interestingly, that process is the same whether a writer publishes with a traditional press or whether he chooses the self-publishing ebook route. It all starts with story. And we writers would do well to put our primary emphasis there (she said to herself. 😉 )

CSFF Blog Tour – Marcher Lord Press, Day 2

Before I discuss Marcher Lord Press, I’m happy to announce the American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year Award winners:

First Place: The Restorer’s Son by Sharon Hinck (NavPress, Reagan Reed)
Second Place: Demon: A Memoir by Tosca Lee
Third Place: DragonFire by Donita Paul

Sharon is also a CSFF member and of course the CSFF tour has featured two of Donita’s books since our inception. Add to that the fact that I thought Demon: A Memoir was one of the best books I’ve read, and you can see, this was a great group. Congratulations to each of them.

And now, on to Marcher Lord Press. I thought it only logical to spell out what I like about Jeff Gerke‘s innovative publishing venture.

First, although MLP is a print-on-demand publisher, it is not a subsidy press, meaning that the writer is not paying to have his work printed. Why is that important? Maybe not so much. Like everything else in the writing business, “vanity” publishers are not all about vanity any more. In reality, they are simply another model, an option some writers choose, with the money at risk their own instead of the publishers’.

So why do I mention that I consider it a plus that MLP is going a different direction? For one thing, I think there are a number of good, established self-publishing organizations, and I’m not sure another one is needed. Secondly, despite the strides being made in self-publishing, some authors continue to be resistant to the “restrictions” of editing. Consequently, a higher number of self-published books than of traditionally-published books are poor quality. MLP books will dodge that stigma.

Add in one more fact. With a traditional publisher, a reader has at least one other person—the acquisitions editor—besides the author (and really a host of other people within the publishing house) to rely on when determining if they want to buy the book. After all, someone else had to believe in it enough to print it. So too with MLP. Authors must go through the same process of submitting work and meeting the MLP standards in order to be published. Especially since Jeff Gerke is an experienced editor, this acceptance/rejection process sets a higher bar.

There are other factors, but I’ll save those for tomorrow. Please take some time to see what others on the tour are saying about Marcher Lord Press.

Brandon Barr
Justin Boyer
Keanan Brand
Kathy Brasby
Jackie Castle
Valerie Comer
Karri Compton
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Janey DeMeo
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Karina Fabian
Kameron M. Franklin
Beth Goddard (not on the original list)
Andrea Graham
Todd Michael Greene
Katie Hart
Timothy Hicks
Joleen Howell
Jason Joyner
Tina Kulesa
Mike Lynch
Terri Main
Rachel Marks (not on the original list)
Shannon McNear
John W. Otte
Steve Rice
Ashley Rutherford
Hanna Sandvig
Mirtika or Mir’s Here
Greg Slade
James Somers
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Jason Waguespac
Laura Williams
Timothy Wise

“√” indicates I know a blog post is up.

Published in: on September 23, 2008 at 12:24 pm  Comments Off on CSFF Blog Tour – Marcher Lord Press, Day 2  
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