Who Is Your Sanballat ?

When Sanballat heard that we were building the wall of Jerusalem, he was very angry and upset. He started making fun of the Jews.  Sanballat talked with his friends and the army at Samaria and said, “What are these weak Jews doing? Do they think we will leave them alone? Maybe they think they can finish building in only one day. They cannot bring stones back to life from these piles of trash and dirt. These are just piles of ashes and dirt!”

This month I’m reading Nehemiah during my devotional time. On February 21, as I studied Nehemiah’s efforts to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem, I felt God prompting me to ask: “Lord, who is my Sanballat?”

We all have some adversary who tries to discourage us — a negative voice that seeks to destroy our work.  Many times our enemies gossip and slander in the shadows, working in stealth-mode.  I rarely pay attention to what others say about me or LPC.  As long as I’m doing God’s work, His opinion is the only one that matters.  But that February morning while I read how Nehemiah sought to rebuild the wall, I felt called to pray for insight into any unseen attacks lodged against our work.

Yesterday, as I prepared to leave the Florida Christian Writers Conference,  an individual sought me out to warn me that someone at the conference had told others: “Signing with LPC will kill your writing career.”  This Sanballat claimed that authors who signed with small publishers would never generate enough book sales to earn the respect and attention of a larger house.  Literary agents and large publishing houses DO look at sales numbers.  Your book’s sales and reviews are two indicators of how well your writing resonates with readers.

But if an author cannot succeed with a small press they probably will not succeed with a large house.  Jesus said as much when he shared the story of the talents.  Every “one talent” book contract is a chance to succeed.  Make the most of that opportunity and more chances will come your way.

A small press is a great place to learn how the publishing process works and what’s expected of the author.  Yes, it’s minor league ball, but you’re in the game.  You are learning what it takes to become a successful author.  If you are humble enough to start with a small press, odds are you will learn sooner rather than later how to control your ego, work with your editors, and treat your writing as a product you create, not an extension of yourself.

If you can afford to wait five years … ten years … longer … to land that three-book contract with one of the Big Five houses, God bless you.  That’s a noble goal and one I applaud.  Just know that the same hard work required to succeed with a small press is necessary with a large house.  In fact, the work and expectations are greater.

One final comment about the Sanballats in our lives: In chapter three of Nehemiah there is a verse that shows the corrosive influence of those who gossip and slander in secret.  “Their nobles did not lift a finger to help their supervisors.” – Nehemiah 3:5.  Notice how the nobles, those who believed themselves too good to get their hands dirty, refused to work.  This, too, is a consequence of listening to the Sanballats around us.  Not only do they seek to discourage those hard at work — they destroy the work ethic of others.

Refuse to listen to the Sanballats in your life.  They come only to steal and kill and destroy.  Work where you are, make the most of every opportunity, and leave the results to God.

 

Rise of the Hybrid Author

To Self Publish or Not

Not long ago, literary agents sold books to publishers, publishers sold books to booksellers, and booksellers sold books to the reading public. But as the book publishing industry continues to consolidate and contract, mid-list authors find it increasingly difficult to land contracts with their previous publisher. Enter the new hybrid author.

While the definition of hybrid author remains fluid, the term generally means a traditionally published author who occasionally self-publishes when the project is served best by taking full ownership.

When To Go Hybrid
First, make sure you have a platform to sell your books. Successful hybrid authors know their readers, have access to their reader’s contact information via newsletters, emails, fan mail, and usually have an extensive social media reach. If, as an author, you are doing the bulk of the marketing and moving the majority of the books, hybrid may be a good option for you. Here are three publishing options for hybrid authors.

Traditional Publisher

  • Large advance (any figure over $1000)
  • Heavily invested in bookstore distribution
  • Submits your work to prestigious review outlets
  • Physical location with salaried employees
  • Prints books offset press and stores them in distribution centers
  • Pay royalties on a quarter or semi-annual basis

Advantages of a Traditional Publisher
Traditional publishing remains the gold standard. Often you receive an advance, validation or your work (the house is paying you to write), and the prestige of reviews, bookstore distribution, and hope that your book will become a best seller. While the number of slots continues to dwindle, remaining loyal to a house (and waiting longer for a contract) may pay dividends later.

Small Press

  • None or a very small advance ($50 to $200)
  • Very little bookstore and library exposure
  • Few salaried employees
  • Virtual staff
  • Ability to adjust or adapt a title after its release
  • Agile marketing
  • Treat imprints as consumer brands
  • Use print–on-demand
  • Heavily promotes ebooks
  • Higher royalty percentages than with traditional houses

Advantages of a Small Press
Small press publishing gives debut and mid-list authors the chance to write and sell more books – provided their titles sell a reasonable number of copies. With a lower overhead, a small press doesn’t need to sell as many copies to recoup its investment. Many mid-list authors find that a small press is the best option since the author does not pay for the book’s production yet still retains some input in the book’s title, cover, and marketing.

Self Publishing

You pay for the production of your book, marketing services, and / or may be required to purchase a certain number of books.

According to Bowker, the number of self-published titles in 2013 “increased to more than 458,564, up 17 percent over 2012 and 437 percent over 2008.” Bowker’s data is based on ISBNs issued. It’s widely acknowledged that self-published authors frequently avoid buying an ISBN, so the number of titles is certainly larger.

Advantages of a Self Publishing
Self-publishing give authors the most control over their books. Authors can often buy books for much lower than what a small press might offer. This is important if you are a speaker and expect to move most of your books at the back of the room. Many self-pub firms offer extensive marketing for a fee. With self-pub, you risk your money but have more control and receive a greater share of the profits. Below are several self publishing firms.

(Note: The listing of these links does not represent our endorsement of these companies. We define self publishing as any firm that requires you to spend money in order to have your book published.)

An Open Letter From Your Publisher

An open letter from your publisherI remember your book. I recall when you pitched the idea and how excited you where when you emailed to announce you signed your contract. I often reflect upon the difficulty we had matching the cover and title to your pre-conceived ideas of how the book should look, the struggles with editing, proofing, and those way-to-many corrections.

I remember your book.

Daily.

In the past few months I’ve come to live by the words of Pastor Mark Batterson: “Pray as if your success depends on God and work as if it depends on you.”

Each day I review our marketing and production strategy and look for ways to improve both. Each day I seek God’s blessing for your book.  I will not give up on its success.

Ever.

Some question whether LPC publishes too many books. We know our staff is stretched thin, ill-equipped to handle the workload, and quite frankly, not always as professional as we should be. We do the best we can but that’s no excuse for shoddy work.

And so I pray for your book and ask God to look past my flaws and bless your words.

My ministry partner, Cindy Sproles, and I started Christian Devotions Ministries because we believed certain authors deserve “the chance” to see their words in print. As the book publishing industry continues to consolidate and shrink, we still feel called to advance – called to publish more books, take greater risks, and expand our boundaries with great faith.

Launching your book was an act of faith.

This is why LPC seeks authors who are eager for “a chance” to do all they can to make their book a success.

LPC works hard to give authors as many tools as possible for the promotion of their book. We study market trends, take classes at writers’ conferences, connect with vendors, and recommend what we believe are the best marketing practices within the industry. But at the end of each day I know I haven’t done enough. Did all I could, but it’s never enough.

This is why we depend on you.

We need you to believe in your book as much as we do. We need you to pray for your book’s success the way we do. We need you to promote other LPC authors and their books the way they promote your book.

You have heard me say before that silo-platform-building (me, me, me promotion) is at odds with the message of Christ. Jesus did not say, “Do for yourself, as you wish others would do for you.” He calls us to help our neighbor, serve others, and fan the flame of encouragement in our brothers and sisters. In short, we’re to tweet, post, pin, and write reviews for others with the same enthusiasms we use to promote our own book.

I don’t know why you signed with LPC, I really don’t. I do know you took a leap of faith. And for that I am grateful.

I am now asking you to take another step of faith. I am asking you to believe in your book and believe that God is at work in LPC, spreading His Message through a variety of voices.

If you will do that, reply in the affirmative to this email and I will add you to a new Pay If Forward email list of LPC authors committed to supporting and praying for one another.

Thanks for listening.

And thanks for believing in the work of LPC and CDM.

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(All typos are my own. Feel free to borrow and include in your next book.)

Below are a few of the books we’ve published this summer.

Paul's Letters To The Early Church Living Like Lions perf5.000x8.000.indd Chapel Springs Revival

Daddy, Can You Make Me Pancakes? America's Star-Spangled Story - Celebrating 200 years of the National Anthem Enduring Faith - An 8-Week Devotional Study of the Book of Hebrews Messiah to the Messed Up - Because I'm a mess, you're a mess, and we all need a Messiah