Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as if working for the Lord and not human masters. Colossians 3:23
This book promotion stuff is consuming my life!!!
Don’t get me wrong—I didn’t expect my first, book (self-published, no less) to hit #1 on all the bestsellers’ lists without some sweat and sleepless nights, but marketing Straining Forward has turned into more than a job-and-a-half. It has taken over my thoughts, my time, and my money.
Every day I send emails—to friends asking them to consider writing a review, to various publications requesting that they consider toutingStraining Forward to their readers, to online sources asking them to consider promoting the book on their site, and to independent bookstores asking them to consider selling the book in-house. I reach out to Christian organizations, groups that deal with refugees, Vietnam-oriented bloggers, and agencies that address abuse. I voraciously read what established authors have to say on how to market a book and sign up for newsletters that might offer a new and creative tip. I send One-Sheets (also known as a sell sheets) to various book reviewers and buyers and literary agents. I make follow-up phone calls, send reminder texts, mail books, and write thank-you notes. I purchase FaceBook ads and enter literary drawings. My dreams are littered with accolades and rejections, imagined interviews and missed meetings. I keep a note pad on my nightstand to jot down ideas that keep me up at night and add these items to my to-do lists in the morning.
Writing the book took five years, but promoting it demands my attention 24-hours a day.
My husband and I threw a little party last night for about 20 friends. (Little? you might ask. Believe me, that was “little” for the Rahal household!) With all the preparation that went into preparing a gourmet burger bar, I was unable to get to my computer. As our guests started to arrive, I felt a pang of guilt for not investing any time in book promotion that day. Nonetheless, several guests commented on Straining Forward, which made me feel much better. At least the book was not forgotten. Friends expressed their shock and sadness; some said they were still processing what they had read; and one woman thanked me for not sensationalizing the harrowing events of Minh’s life. Toward the end of the evening, one person asked, “Do you plan to write another book?” I answered, “I think I’d like to.”
My response caused my husband, Greg, to roll his eyes while feigning a look of horror. Everyone laughed—even me, but I had to wonder if my current vocation was taking its toll on him. Perhaps my late nights at the computer in my office, my middle of the night note-taking from our bed, and my early morning to-do lists plastered across the kitchen were too much for him to endure long-term. Was it time for me to go back to a 40-hour a week job that I didn’t bring home?
“Greg,” I asked cautiously as we crawled into bed that night, “do you have a problem with me writing another book?”
He gave me one of his “you-ask-the-weirdest-questions” look and said, “Do whatever God calls you to do.”
And that’s why I love him. He recognizes that God will lead me to my next assignment in the same way He led me to write Straining Forward. Maybe He’ll ask me to bag groceries or stock shelves. Whatever He calls me to next, I must respond with “Yes.”
So where does that leave me in the midst of book promotion? Has God called me to push this hard to make Straining Forward and its message known to others? Has He called me to have restless nights plotting my next move? I doubt it. But as God’s handiwork, I do think He wants me to work hard at whatever task He prepared in advance for me to do.
THE SONG THAT COMES TO MIND IS I Want To Be a Worker for the Lord, written in 1880 by Isaiah Baltzell.
Lyrics: “I will work, I will pray. I will labor every day in the vineyard of the Lord.”