Dare I? Of course, I don’t!

By Joan CampbellBack cover Joan Campbell

Fear has many facets, and recently I discovered an unexpected one, which has taken a sneaky hold of my life. I’m not quite sure how to shake it, but naming it may be a good start, so here goes.

Not too long ago, I was reading an article on the psychology of procrastination. I should have been writing a blog, re-writing some edits, or collating my short-story collection, but no— I was reading articles about procrastination. It’s something I’ve been struggling with the last few weeks. I don’t feel like writing blogs. I don’t feel like composing tweets. I don’t feel like…well you get the picture!

Procrastination, the article asserts, is rooted in fear. This fear has two sides. Firstly, there is the fear of failure. Before we start something, we think of all the things that could go wrong. We want to do things so perfectly, that the thought of trying and failing makes us too anxious to start. I could relate to this, but it wasn’t a big surprise to me.

However, the second fear the article mentions, was very surprising. It was the fear of success. “For some the fear of success is a real trauma. If they succeed, they may feel exposed and people may expect more from them in the future, leading them to wonder: what if I can’t always deliver?”

It all made sense. My stretch of writer’s block follows from a small, but significant breakthrough in the publishing process. Being slightly closer to my dream of finding a publisher sent me into—what I now understand was—a slight tail spin. How strange that something I want with all my heart is also something I fear.

Once again, I am like Peter walking on the waves. All is wonderful until I think, “I shouldn’t be here—this isn’t going to end well.” Instead of looking at the One who made the wave walking possible, I start to look at the waves. Faith gives way to fear. Success ends in sinking. And I hear Jesus whispering, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”

Madeleine L’Engle talks about the courage we require. To create. To love. To live.

“In moments of decision, we are to try to make what seems to be the most loving, the most creative decision. We are not to play safe, to draw back out of fear. We are to…fall through the window, journey through the looking glass, return to the imaginative courage of the child. Dare I? Of course I don’t. But I’m going to anyhow because I have no choice.” (L’Engle, Walking on Water)

So, I named it, and you may have noticed that you are reading the first blog in close to a month, which means I might just be shaking it too! No more procrastination. No more holding back. I am moving ahead, fear or no fear!

What is holding you back?

Encounters CoverJoan Campbell lives in Johannesburg, South Africa, with her husband and two teenage daughters. Her first book, Encounters, is due to be released later this year. She is currently writing a young adult fantasy trilogy and devotionals for various publications, including Scripture Union and The Upper Room. She is a trainer for MAI in South Africa.


Ideas to Promote Your Own Books: Interview with Nigerian author Pusonnam Yiri

Nigerian author Pusonnam Yiri discusses his journey as a writer and Pusonnam Yirihow authors can promote their own books in this interview with MAI staff intern Nicki Consoli. Pusonnam and Kenyan author Jennifer Karina will share valuable tips in our August 19 webinar, “Author Promotion on a Low Budget.” Register online now.

Q: What factors led you to become a writer?
While I was in seminary, a few ministers who loved my illustrations in preaching/speaking asked me to document them. I wrote my first published book mostly to meet that need.

Many of our elders are dying with their values undocumented. I don’t want that to happen in my time. If we don’t write good books now, many of the books our children read will be written by false ministers. When Jesus was tempted by Satan, He referred to a written document. Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone” (Luke 4:4 NIV). Our children should be able to say, it is written when they face temptations.

Q: Why did you decide to publish your own books?
I did not have a structured reason when I started. I only wanted my books to reach an audience. Later, as I began to train writers, I discovered the need for a publishing platform for my books and other potential writers. Recently, ACTS, a major publisher in Nigeria, accepted my books for publishing and distribution. This will take the books to another level.

Q: What are the best ways to promote your own books?
I have an approach that I call the “Triple P Concept”: Promote the book through the stages of Pre-Production, Production and Post-Production. People should know about a potential book even before it is released.

A lasting, effective promotion is achieved only when a book is good. A book that is a solution to the problem of the target audience will be promoted by its beneficiaries. I often say, “If a book is a drug, there are patients who will need it.”

Every writer should be a thematic writer so that he or she will become an expert in his or her subject area. This will eventually lead to speaking. A speaking platform is a very good channel for promotion.

Q: How have you seen God’s providence in your promotion efforts?
A literature professor in a secular university in Nigeria used my book, Blindness of the Mind, as a textbook with his students. He told me that two of his students received Jesus as Lord as a result of the book.

Q: How does your newest book, Understanding Purpose: Everyone has a role in God’s masterplan, speak to the needs of people in Nigeria?
Many people are frustrated for two main reasons: Some don’t know what to do in life, while others have discovered what to do, but they don’t know how to do it. The book helps people overcome frustration by understanding the purpose of life and how to achieve it. People will know that no one is useless in God’s master plan.

Q: What advice would you offer writers regarding promoting their books?
When you send someone to somewhere with a message, it is your responsibility to sponsor the trip. Similarly, God will support any message that is from Him. A writer should first of all ensure that God is the Sender.

Pusonnam Yiri and Kenyan author Jennifer Karina will share valuable tips in our August 19 webinar, “Author Promotion on a Low Budget.” Register online now.

Email Pusonnam at [email protected]

Proven Ideas for Generating Book Sales

By Ramon Rocha, director of publisher development

Are you wondering how to improve books sales? You’re not alone! Take heart and glean ramon rochainspiration from these ideas generated by publishers around the globe.

  1. Publish Christian fiction for public schools.
    Step Publishers in Ghana has published compelling fiction books with Christian themes for young people and has submitted them to the Ministry of Education for inclusion in the school curriculum. These titles were approved not only by the Education Ministry but by Senior High Schools, the Non-Formal Education Ministry, and the Ghana Book Trust. Step Publishers has been selling Grief Child written by Lawrence Darmani, and his other youth fiction titles, by the tens of thousands. Lawrence is now working to have his books approved for school curriculum in other African countries.
  2. Publish more local authors than translations.
    VISI Publishing in Indonesia has shifted its publishing program from translating Western books to publishing local Indonesian authors. Their total sales have grown in double digits over the last 3 years.
  3. Use ‘out-of-the-box’ distribution.
    Mundo Cristao in Brazil has sold thousands and thousands of books through the Avon catalogue. Now housewives and mothers order Christian books in addition to make-up, perfume and brassieres.
  4. Distribute through general bookstores.
    Kanok Bannasan accepted the terms of general bookstores in Thailand, thus paving the way for their titles to be displayed in 300-plus stores nationwide. Sales of their books through the general market have increased over the last year.
  5. Source printing elsewhere.
    Publishers in Africa are now having their books printed either in China or India. Printing costs have dropped by half the price of local printing, including shipping costs.
  6. Bring your books to your readers.
    Ezdra Publishers, in partnership with Bus4Life ministry of Operation Mobilization, travels around the Ukraine to sell books. Owner Andrey Kravchenko says, “Every year we go around the Ukraine several times, visiting hundreds of towns and churches, to deliver and sell our books. This is a great opportunity to meet with our readers, to learn their opinion about our publications, and to know their wishes.”

What other strategies are working for you? Share with us.

MAI provides training for global Christian publishers with two goals:  1) to help them become financially self-sustaining and 2) to encourage them to find and publish more local authors.

Do you have what it takes to lead?

By Ramon Rocha, director of publisher development

Do you have what it takes to be an effective publishing leader? Test yourself against this ramon rochalist. Fear not if you don’t measure up; this is an ideal. Each of us have growth areas. Consider setting goals for yourself with God’s help and your team’s. Try holding yourself accountable with these qualities of a publishing leader:

1.     A genuine disciple of Jesus Christ: a strong, reputable and mature believer

2.     A deep sense of calling to lead an indigenous Christian publishing house

3.     A firm believer of the written word’s strategic role in drawing people to God

4.     A good understanding and grasp of the needs of the reading public, and an ability to identify, develop and encourage local writers to write books addressing these needs

5.     Possesses adequate business and management skills

6.     A lover of books and an advocate for reading

7.     A pursuer of excellence

8.     A people person

9.     Humble and teachable

10.   A visionary and a big picture person

11.   Has the ability to form and build a team that sets common goals, formulates strategies and measures results

12.   Knowledgeable of the context and realities in the economy and society

13.  Articulate and a good communicator

14.   Able to inspire, train, motivate staff

15.    Able to have fun and to put people at ease

16.    A leader by example

Do you have anything to add? Tell us here.

MAI provides training for global Christian publishers with two goals:  1) to help them become financially self-sustaining and 2) to encourage them to find and publish more local authors.