With the publication of my second novel, Jacob’s Dream: The Final Battle, I guess one could wonder what is next for this Christian fiction author. A mystical allegory filled with adventure and battles true and noble? Children’s stories of friendship and faith? Devotionals with heartfelt wisdom and practical ideas for everyday living? Well, perhaps, but I find that the battle must continue! Not the battle of the characters in the novel, but the battle for exposure, promotion and that all-important “name recognition” writers search for with all their being.
It’s more than a jungle out there; it is a battle – with weapons to gather, a plan to formulate, followers to cultivate, walls to breach, and territory to establish. So where does this POD writer go from here? Well, here is my “battle story” and where it has taken me.
One needs to use the weapons one knows best. My two greatest weapons are my creativity and my depth. When I put together materials and send out a proposal or flyer, I put a lot of me into it. Two important pieces in my arsenal are my press kit and my website. They borrow from one another, so that the prospective bookstore or traditional publisher is hit with the same ideas and graphics more than once. It themes my work and helps it to stick in people’s minds.
In the press kit, I include covers from both of my novels, a synopsis and chapter summaries for each and a brief bio and “mission statement” to let people know that my stories and my life have a focus that goes beyond mere writing. And I throw in nice little business card and an eye-catching bookmark for good measure.
The website includes this same information about my novels (with a similar look), but adds other areas of expertise and ideas I’m willing to share. For example, I work as a Host/Board Operator for a Christian radio station and have produced a number of radio specials and programs, including audio versions of both novels. This allows me to include a “secret weapon” of sorts in my press kit – a collection of audio excerpts on CD, which helps those who receive the kit to see yet another direction in which I have taken my writing.
On both the website and in the press kit I include other materials, including testimonials from those who have read and heard my work, and a listing of past and present events connected with my writing. This lets people know how my work is reaching others and what methods I’m using to get the word out, both of which will impress publishers and bookstores.
Formulating a Plan
My battle plan is based on two important strategies: “saturation” and “ground gaining.” By these I mean that I look to many avenues to get my work and name out to others and then add each new writing or radio success to my portfolio as I take on my next target. For example, I used my work at the radio station, and book interviews to add punch to my “writing resume.” My audio novels brought in more testimonials from listeners to add to my press kit, and I then used all of this when I approached bookstores. I have begun writing freelance articles to allow me to get my byline and web address out on the Internet, and then include links on my website to the places where my articles have been published.
My radio work has led to voice work with other radio programs and that has led to actually producing programs for others. This helps others to see that I am more than a writer and that my writing may be worth a second look. They are small steps but the sum of them is much greater than the whole.
Here, there is no magic. The key to this is the quality of my work and my realness and approachability. Too many times I’ve gone to other authors looking to network and offer and receive support, only to find myself being treated like a telephone solicitor at dinnertime. Those kinds of experiences taught me two things: never alienate my supporters and never forget where I came from, because the truth is, growth doesn’t make me better. Humility is important. I realize my writing came from something outside
myself. The simple truth is, without readers, my work sits idly by on shelves and in boxes. My work is for them, given to inspire and to heal and to help them to fight the battles in their lives with conviction and courage!
By walls, I mean those areas where common sense and skeptics say I cannot go. “Oh it’s too hard to make it big as a writer!” or “It’s not what you know; it’s who you know!” or even “You can’t get to a publisher without an agent!” are phrases I don’t hold on to. Being a man of faith, I know the value of thinking big, of trusting in something more than myself, and of pressing on against the odds to get to where I need to go.
Three years ago, I would never have thought I’d have two novels in print, book signings and speaking engagements, or my own radio show and several radio specials. I got through those walls by hard work, perseverance and most of all, faith. And I look forward with eagerness to the walls I will break down in the months to come!
My battle plan is both realistic and far-reaching. The small ground I have gained over the years I will fight to keep. I won’t give up the fight and go back. I’ll look for new ways to capture new territory and use what has worked to continue to move forward, while taking newer and more exciting risks when the time is right. Now, there’s one important distinction I want to make here. The territory I gain is my territory; it doesn’t take away from anyone else or enlarge itself at another’s expense. I look at my writing and my plan as part of a whole – something only I can accomplish and something I was meant to do to fulfill my purpose as a writer. I try to look from the outside and from the end of the battle so that I can see the victory that is in store for me each day and at the end of the day as well!
I hope this simple but practical approach will help you to rally around your writing and take your battle to the next level. Never stop writing and never stop using the successes you’ve gained to take more ground and to get that message out there to others. If I can be an encouragement or help to you, please visit me at jacobsdreamministries.com and drop me a line. Take care and blessings to you!
Mark C. McCann is an author, part-time Christian radio host and full-time husband and dad. He has been called to be a “man of words” to bring healing to those who have forgotten their dream, and to bring honor to the One who has given him his dream.
Mark’s books can be found on Booklocker.com:
Jacob’s Dream Part I: The Vision
An End Times epic and a parable about redemption.
Jacob’s Dream – Part II: The Final Battle
An End Times Epic sequel about the Battle of Armageddon.