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Life Happens

by Melinda Inman

I didn’t want this gig. I didn’t want to write about how life is messy and complicated as we pursue our publishing dreams. Rather, I wanted to write about how the sun shone, the birds sang, the flowers bloomed, and all was right with the world.

But life happened. Cancer, hospice, death, Epstein Barr, and now Chronic Fatigue tempered the launch of my first novel.

For a while I thought it was only me, but I read this blog and others. There I see “life happening” to practically everyone. I’m not the single somber refrain amidst a mountain of publishing success and unparalleled sunshiny happiness.

Many of us are writing about slogging through this transitional publishing world. As we slog, we are often beset by unexpected, hope-deflating trials. It’s a tough time to pen unique stories, a rough haul with many confusing and tantalizing options. None of us thought we’d ever consider self-publishing, but now look at us. We’re thinking about it.

So what do we do?

First, we must know (in this order) why we’re writing, what our readers want, and what strategies we’ll employ.

If we write for family and friends only, self-publishing to our small circle might be the logical solution. But if we feel called to write captivating stories that present the truth about God and a relationship with him in a non-preachy way, free of Christianese, AND if we want to find a wide market, then we have websites, platforms, distribution, and other decisions before us.

With so many viable options, what would the Lord have us do?

For Refuge, my first and a “crossover” novel, I accepted the offer of a small traditional open-market publisher: Koehler Books. I love my publisher, but there are three books in my Biblical fiction series, and nothing is certain. The publisher’s investment must be earned back before I see any profit or publish the next. This is not a cakewalk.

Then there’s question #2: What do our readers want?

Do they want to buy books in the price ranges our publishers are asking? Or do they prefer the lower prices of self-published books? Do our readers want to help us promote, as is now expected?

When readers like a book, it doesn’t necessarily mean they yearn to join a marketing team. Usually, readers enjoy a book, tell others, pass it around, and then move on to their next story. How will this shape our publishing decisions for our readers?

And finally, we have this reality. We have ticked off the enemy.

When we pen fiction that changes lives and shares God’s love, spiritual warfare will beset us. There will be trials, setbacks, illness, and discouragement. Crises will occur. We must learn to rely on the Lord like never before. Why are we surprised?

We are blessed to be writing during this mini-revolution of the printed word. Powered by e-books and print-on-demand technology, perhaps the middleman (a.k.a. publishing house) will soon be obsolete. The world as we know it is changing.

But God has us right here at this time for a reason.

We must embrace change. We must be savvy. We must answer those questions. And then, we must adapt. If the Lord has given us this writing and publishing task at this time in history, he will get our words to the audience he intends. The difficulty of the task doesn’t mean we should give up. In fact, the opposite. It generally shows we’re right on target. We’re making a difference, so persevere.

Pray for wisdom. Trust the Lord. Act.

God is still sovereign.

RefugeMelinda Viergever Inman is a writer, speaker, broken person, and prodigal. She authors fiction illustrating God’s love for wounded people, making beauty of ashes. Refuge (2014, Koehler Books) is her first novel, available at http://amzn.to/1CGjz2S. Melinda shepherds women in church and prison ministry. She writes inspirational blogs at http://melindainman.com.

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