The Baby Steps of Your Book Ministry

What saints are on your writer's advisory board? Art by ACJ1, Flickr Creative Commons.
What saints are on your writer’s advisory board? Art by ACJ1, Flickr Creative Commons.

by John C. Connell

With the release of each new book, (I’m preparing my fourth) I am often asked how I do it all. My reply almost always is, “with baby steps.”

What does that mean? It means trying make all my ideas a reality on a shoestring budget in small increments of time, that are squeezed out of already hectic days of family and day-job responsibilities. I feel confident that almost all of us in the Indie Catholic Authors group have this in common. Fortunately for us, we are blessed to live in the internet age where baby steps can be used to complete long journeys.

Not having enough resources is no excuse for failure.  Hannibal (247-183/2 B.C.) famously said, “We’ll either find a way or make one.”  I ponder that quote a lot because I have to ‘find a way’.  As a virtual no-body in the book business, I do not have an agent, a publicist, a marketing team, consultants or even an intern to help get this dream off the ground. Some days I really identify with St. John the Baptist, as one of those lone voices in the wilderness.

And about the books, my titles are more ministry than merchandise.  Starting in 2009, I embarked on a 100 yr. plan to impact corporate cultures and careers with those messages.

So I think.  I plan. I pray.  I hope. I then take another baby step towards finding my target audience to get my content into their hands, their eReaders and minds.  If that means I have to personally track down every Catholic professional (my audience) and hand them one of my books, so be it.

There are many resources on the web these days, to help us authorpreneurs out in running our businesses and promoting our merchandise. Connie Rossini herself delivered an outstanding webinar last month on the topic. So whatever you decide to do with your books, if it works, please share with the group.

What I’m sharing with you now are four steps to “managing your ministry”, always keeping in mind our journeys are marathons, not sprints.

Step #1 Be patient – nothing worthwhile was built in a day.  Creating the “100 yr. Plan” for my books focuses my thoughts on the horizon, instead of today’s Twitter stats.  It reminds me to ‘plan my work and work my plan’, to act on-purpose.  It tells me to just handle what I can control and leave the rest to God.

Step #2 Profile, or flesh-out, your target audience.  I think I’ve got a good handle on my audience, because I’m one-of-them!  These people are who I write for, they are my mission.  I love them and pray for them. Every title, article and tweet begins and ends with them in mind.

Step #3 Figure out price vs. value in your go-to-market strategy.  Price isn’t about money!  I’m not trying to get rich off these books (otherwise I’d write about something that sells like weight loss, sex, vikings or zombies).  Price is about the reader’s perception of value.  My books can change the course of someone’s career, life and afterlife.  Some would say there’s tremendous value in that.  But as an unknown in the publishing world, how do I price to communicate ‘value’?  Or do I price at all – what does FREE really say to people these days?  I’m not just interested in distributing my work, I’m looking to make an impact.  I have found no silver bullet here. I will continue to experiment.

Step #4 Model your Advisory Board of Saints.  What’s an Advisory Board of Saints?  You mean you don’t have one?  Well I urge you to get your own.  They cost nothing other than a little patience, and can help guide you to the promised land!

My trusted Board consists of Saints that have fascinated, intrigued and inspired me.  They are real people I wish to know better and through reading and prayer, hope to commune with and learn from.  So far, St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist, St. Joseph, St. Maximilian Kolbe, St. Giles, St. Homobonus, St. Pope John Paul II, St. John XXIII and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton are all members and St. Nicholas is my Chairman!  Soon to be Saint, Blessed Teresa of Calcutta will also be included, and I anticipate the list of spiritual confidants and consultants will continue to grow.

What they all have in common is their fearlessness at evangelizing, their persistence and their generosity!  Starting with St. Nicholas, who’s charity ultimately changed the way the world celebrates Christmas, I hope to learn how to “give until it hurts”, with joy.

Whether that giving is of my time, talent or treasure, I’m all in, and excited to see where this ministry takes me.

***

John C. Connell wrote the non-fiction titles: Catholics Mean Business & Catholics Have Courage, and the Novella – Eyewitness!

As a practising Catholic concerned with building bridges, not walls, with people from all walks of life, speaker, business grad from the school of hard knocks and book lover, he uses his outlook and experience to reach, encourage, motivate and nurture the soul at work.  His readers are his mission. Find him here.

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2 thoughts on “The Baby Steps of Your Book Ministry”

  1. Good advice, John. I particularly like your Advisory Board of Saints (mine includes Ss. Augustine of Hippo, Katherine of Alexandria, Frances Xavier Cabrini, Elizabeth Anne Seton, John Cantius, Teresa of Avila, Therese of Lisieux, and (soon-to-be saint, D.V.) John Henry Cardinal Newman. I’d also like to recommend for any indie authors the wonderful book by A. G. Sertillanges, O.P., The Intellectual Life: Its Spirit, Conditions, Methods, published by CUA Press. (He includes creative work in the “intellectual” life). This book is a classic for anyone trying to find time to use their talents to write and publish.

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