Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Top Ten Books and People That Changed My Life in 2008

Success does not come by accident - you have to be deliberate, persistent, consistent and relentless. One of my favorite quotes from one of my mentors, Mike Murdock, is: “You will only succeed when you develop an obsession for your dream.”

You must also have the right resources and relationships. 2008 was indeed a year of change for me personally and professionally and many others! Change was hailed as the popular winning campaign slogan for our President Obama. For me, I fixed what wasn’t working in my personal life and professionally, I changed my business model.

How did I make these changes? Reading. Information does change the seasons of your life – and you can tell where a person is going by the books they AND read the people they hang around. Well, I read some terrific books in 2008 and connected with some great folks.

I’d like to share with you the books that made a real difference in my life this year and some people that had an impact on my business perspective.

Top 10 Books that made a difference in my life

1. Inspired to Succeed: Wit & Wisdom for Your Unlimited Success by Dr. Stacia Pierce
2. The Little Gold Book of YES! Attitude: How to Find, Build and Keep A YES! Attitude for a Lifetime of Success by Jeffrey Gitomer
3. Funky to Fabulous: Surefire Success Strategies for Savvy, Sassy and Swamped by Eli Davidson
4. 8 Steps to Create the Life You Want: The Anatomy of Successful Life by Dr. Creflo A. Dollar
5. Utmost Living: Creating and Savoring Your Best Life Now by Tim Storey
6. Caught Between a Dream and a Job: How to Leave the 9-to-5 Behind and Step into the Life You’ve Always Wanted by Delatorro McNeal
7. Get Real, Get Rich: Conquer the 7 Lies Blocking You From Success by Dr. Farrah Gray
8. Connect: Building Success Through People, Purpose and Performance by Keith Harrell and Hattie Hill
9. Relationship Networking: The Art of Turning Contacts into Connections by Sandra Yancy
10. From Entrepreneur to Infopreneur: Make Money with Books, Ebooks and Information Products by Stephanie Chandler

Now of course I read gads of ebooks & magazines, went to conferences, took tons of teleseminars but I also have had some great “coaches” who pushed me and stretched me – and I am better because I listened and followed their advices or watched their cues.

People that made an impact on my life in 2008

1. Andrew Morrison (
2. Sherese Duncan (
3. Connie Ragan Green (
4. Judy Cullins (
5. Fabience Fredickson (
6. Alex Mandossian (
7. Crystal and Anthony Obey (
8. Karen Taylor-Bass (
9. Andria Hall (
10. Dr. Teresa Hairston (

There are new influences in my life now – those relationships have come from my social networking sites such as linkedin, youtube, twitter, facebook and Chocolate Pages Network. Plus my favorite NINGS!

So, Where did all this lead to?:

1. My first book – “Synergy Energy: How to Use the Power of Partnerships to Market Your Book, Grow Your Business and Brand Your Ministry” written by me and Crystal/Anthony Obey (that’s real synergy!) (and a new talk show!)
2. My PR Boot Camp Teleclasses & coaching program – thanks to the vision spurred by Karen Taylor-Bass & the PR Distinction
3. The creation of new information products from the responses to the survey of Christian authors earlier this year (debuting CDs/MP3, Special Reports, Home Study Kits, Membership Programs, Teleclasses, Webinars, Videos and Ebooks in 2009) – I also want to make my coaches proud! ere
4. Exciting trips, speaking at fabulous conferences – some even out the country!
5. Awards! I got more awards this year than I have ever gotten my entire life – I got so many my husband was like, “We need another room for all your plaques.” 

I expect 2009 to be simply divine as well. Yeah, we know there is some major issues going on with the economy – but hey, if you keep the right perspective and expect the best – you’ll attract the best!

If you’d like a list of my 2009 books that are going to set the trail ablaze for YOU – shoot me an email to (I have 10 great ones that you MUST read!)

Pam Perry is a ministry marketing pioneer and expert in the African American Christian market. Her public relations career spans over two decades. She spent the first ten years working in ad agencies, media and has dedicated the past ten to ministry marketing and PR coaching authors. Her company, Ministry Marketing Solutions, Inc. has a roster of the most well-known publishers and Christian authors in the industry. She’s the creator of the, a social network for Christian authors. She is also the co-author of “Synergy Energy: How to Use the Power of Partnerships to Market Your Book, Grow Your Business and Brand Your Ministry.”

See too!
Also join me at! Thanks Dante Lee (you've been making an impact on me since I met you in 2005!)

Saturday, December 27, 2008

"Not Easily Broken" Interview with Morris Chestnut - host Pam Perry, Chocolate Pages

NOT EASILY BROKEN, a novel by bestselling author Bishop T.D. Jakes tells a powerful story of disappointment, temptation, pain and restoration. The book becomes a movie....starring Morris Chestnut!

The problems have been there for a long time. Dave and Clarice Johnson's marriage is slowly being wedged apart by misplaced independence and separate dreams. Dave has noticed Clarice pulling away emotionally and physically, but he doesn't know if it's because she feels that he hasn't been supportive enough of her career in real estate, or because she obviously disapproves of his choice to own and run a janitorial business.

Clarice's fierce independence threatens to drive them completely apart as she endures a hard recovery from a leg injury suffered in a car accident. Rather than let Dave support and take care of her, Clarice finds that she is more frustrated than ever with Dave, and with herself.

As Dave faces temptations from an unexpected source during Clarice’s darkest days, the couple eventually learns the importance of promises made and kept, and they find that God speaks to them in the most unlikely places.

The film based on NOT EASILY BROKEN is currently set for theatrical release in January 9, 2009.

Director Bill Duke steps behind the camera for this adaptation of the T.D. Jakes novel concerning a newly married couple that finds their union threatened by pressures involving faith, family, and finances. As the couple exchanges their vows, the minister lays a cord around them while uttering the blessing, "a threefold cord is not easily broken." Later, during their darkest hour, the minister's advice to always keep God at the center of their marriage could be the only thing that keeps this troubled pair together.

Jakes' writing is both challenging and encouraging, and reminds us that with God integrated into our lives—even a relationship on the rocks is not easily broken.

What You Should Know about Branding Relative to Marketing by Bob Ivory

“You know why Madison Avenue advertising has never done well in Harlem? We're the only ones who know what it means to be Brand X.” -Dick Gregory

To understand branding you must first understand what marketing is. It may seem like a simplistic answer but it is true nonetheless; simply stated, marketing is everything you do to place your product or service in the hands of potential customers. Anything that you can imagine from packaging to pricing is a part of the marketing process.

So what is a brand? Let’s first take the word and its literal meaning. For centuries iron symbols were crafted with the initials or emblem of the owner of property – often cattle and other livestock. The iron symbols were heated until red-hot then pressed against the hide of the beast. This was, and is, called branding which was done to identify ownership.

There is a lot of talk about what branding is. Some say your brand is what other people say about your product or service. I prefer to think of that as brand reinforcement. No one creates a product and says I’ll let the public tell me what I have created. They may give it a nickname, but the identity of a thing comes from its creator. The word brand has come to mean “The Big Idea.”

Some people confuse a logo with the brand. This is understandable since originally, for all intents and purposes the branding I spoke of earlier was done with a symbol, initials or letters. These are often the components that make up a logo.

However, brand, as we know it today is not a logo. A logo is the tangible identity of a company in the market. Logos can be emblems, signs or symbols designed to portray the image of a company. So you see a logo (which is essentially a piece of art) is not a brand. However, it is integral to the brand.

One of the best definitions I have heard that describes a brand was given at a seminar I was a part of a few years ago given by a colleague, Tina Polite. She said that a brand is a promise. I like it for its simplicity and its profundity. The image that represents the brand sends a message to you. The promise in the case of McDonald’s is this: no matter where you go, under these golden arches you will find the burgers – and all that comes with them will always have the same consistent quality. It is an assurance of integrity.

A brand is about trust. It’s about what people expect to experience when they come into contact with your brand. It’s a perceived notion. It’s what they count on when they buy into your program.

Instead of putting resources into a logo, how about creatively finding ways to communicate the message, mission and qualities of your business? Think fewer objects and graphics, and more conversations and experiences. Focus not so much on image – and more about reality.

Remember this: Excellence is unmistakable. The world of business is hugely competitive and is comprised of thousands of logos. Out of those thousands, only a few survive to become famous. There are certain factors that make a logo successful.

Here are some tips on developing a logo:
· It must be legible.
· The color combination should be suitable for the company.
· It must be unique.
· It should project the image of the company.
· The logo should not be complicated or cluttered.
· It Must be cost effective and as simple as possible.
· The logo should be effective regardless of size.
· It should not contain any complicated images or photography.

Branding is another word for integrated marketing and the logo is part of that overall marketing campaign that builds a brand.

Branding is all about saying the same thing and communicating the same key message, over and over again – until it’s “branded” in someone’s brain.

The key thing about a logo – it doesn’t change. It can be repositioned or “updated” – but never changed. That would kill the equity you built in marketing the logo as part of your brand. When you create a new logo (or new tag line) you are starting over again.

It takes a long time build up substantial “brand equity” – don’t destroy it because you have a new idea. Stick with your logo, tagline and other elements you have set in place. You want to get to the point with your brand so that it is embedded into the subconscious minds of your audience.

When it is in the psyche of consumers, they will automatically connect a phrase or photo with you. When you hear a name – you get a mental picture or think of a quality. If I say, TD Jakes or Oprah – you have an idea of what to expect from those “brand names.” They are famous, true, but they are also a brand. And a brand translates in business into dollars. That’s the bottom line.

A good example is Nike’s “Just do it” campaign. That phrase and “swoosh” logo are their brand. Whether their shoes are better than others – well, that’s how you see it. But regardless, you’ll pay a premium price for their shoes because they’ve branded themselves that way.

Branding in business is about building an empire. What does your brand say about you? You can gage by checking sales figures. That is a good indication of how well your brand is doing.

I hope I have inspired you to step up your brand. In addition to gaining fame, recognition, stature and money – a good brand can make an impact and change lives. By having a good brand (or reputation), you can be a great influence in society. So take your brand seriously – it’s part of your purpose. It is your God-given assignment to get it right.

Bob Ivory is a brand strategist, graphic designer, conference speaker and media consultant. He is a strategic partner of Ministry Marketing Solutions and Pam Perry. For more information visit or contact Bob at

From the upcoming book--- Synergy Energy: How to Use the Power of Partnerships to Market Your Book, Grow Your Business and Brand Your Ministry by Pam Perry, Crystal & Anthony Obey (2009)

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Q&A with PR Pro Sandy Diaz - Author Expectations & Publicity Today!

Publicity Questions - answers from another industry professional! Authors ask me a lot of questions, and I wanted to provide them with some answers from another colleague. So, just don't take my word for it. :) These are some GREAT answers and authors need to take these to heart. Learn as much as you can so your book will be a success. Thanks Sandy!

Here's the interview:
• Publicists don’t want to crush anyone’s dreams but in your opinion what does the “newbie” author really not understand about the book biz?

New authors are wonderful to work with because they often have the most excitement and passion about their project.
New authors need patience. It takes time to build awareness about a new author and book, especially when reaching magazines. Editors are often working on articles that will be printed two to six months in the future.

Here is a real example from one of my Smith Publicity clients: I pitched the client to an editor in April. She contacted me in May. I sent her the client’s press kit. I followed up and she interviewed the client in June. The story ended up on the cover of Parade Magazine at the end of October.

Any sales from coverage are then reported weeks or months after the article is published. So, an action we begin may not result in coverage, and then book sales, for up to six to eight months. Fortunately, radio, newspaper, television and Internet media often work faster!

Another point about patience: smaller media opportunities are important. We recommend authors say yes to every media opportunity they can. While we work on the “home run” opportunities, baseball games are won by singles and doubles. An article in a local newspaper or an interview on small market radio show often opens the door for larger opportunities. We’ve seen strategy work many times!

• How many books will a typical new author (with no platform) realistically sell in a year?

This is a great question—and the answer is as different as is each author and book. The formula depends largely on the book's target market, quality of the book, credentials of the author, timing with current events, distribution (where the book is available for sale) and coverage in the media about the author and title.

Here is an example, we worked on a book this year with a self-published author and even though he only had his book available for sale through Amazon, he was able to sell thousands and thousands of books during his first months with Smith Publicity. This was because his book was topical (a highly controversial political book), the timing was right with the elections leading the news, he was a PhD in his area of expertise, and we were able to tap into his core audience (conservatives) mainly through radio and national television interviews. This was a “perfect storm” scenario.

Not every author is this fortunate. Book sales are impossible to predict, but selling several hundred or even two to three thousand is considered a success by many, especially for a first time author. I just read a statistic that only 10% of traditionally published (not self-published) books sell more than 1,000 copies. These numbers may help the new author put their statistics in perspective.

• How much would you say an author thinks they should spend on marketing & promoting their book in a year? What is realistic?

If an author does not have support from their publisher for publicity and marketing, authors can spend between $1,000 to $100,000 on promotion activities. Most of our clients spend between $3,000 and $12,000. The reality is: If an author doesn’t invest in promotion – either by doing it themselves or hiring a pro – one thing is certain … no one will know the book exists.
Realistically, a budget from $5,000 to $12,000 should be sufficient. A website about the book and the author is a must.

• Do you see more authors coming to market with unrealistic expectations because they watch Oprah and say, “I can do that”? How easy is it to get on major talk show like that?

We often joke that Oprah has made the job of publicists much harder … and it’s true. The odds of getting on Oprah are long; literally thousands of authors or publicists pitch her producers every week. However, the only way to get on the show is to try.

• How often does an author say, “Wow, this is harder than I thought?” or “Wow, this is easy! I’m going to be rich and famous!” What is said more often and when do they say comments like this in the process?

We most often hear “this is harder than I thought.” For authors who say this, it’s usually a few months in, when they realize that book publicity really is more marathon than sprint.

• How can industry pros temper their ideals with reality without busting their bubble or being the "Grinch" that stole their Christmas?

At Smith Publicity, we are honest and straightforward, without being negative. Just because the reality is that thousands of books are released each month doesn’t mean your book can’t be successful. We also encourage our clients to enjoy the ride, and savor the wonderful things that can happen in a campaign – from the thrill of a TV interview to a glowing book review.

• What should an author do to prepare for a realistic book launch? How far in advance?

This depends on how the book is published, but generally, authors should prepare for a book release one to two months in advance; making sure everything – i.e. website, publicity, distribution, details and book’s cover on Amazon, etc. -- is in place for launch time.

An author should prepare an “elevator” pitch about their book. If they only had 20 to 30 seconds to tell someone about their book, what would they say? What do they want people to remember? Polishing this will be a good exercise, especially if the author is planning on interviews.

Sandy Diaz is the Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Smith Publicity.
Since 1997, Smith Publicity has worked with hundreds of authors, publishers, businesses, and personalities from around the world create awareness for their projects. Smith Publicity has offices in New Jersey, New York City and London.
Sandy welcomes authors to contact her about their projects and will happily discuss publicity options.

Synergy Energy! Use it!

See too!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

101 Ideas for Internet Marketing - How to do It Effectively! A Great PR Tool

If you want to know how to really leverage the internet to market your book, brand your ministry or grow your business, read this slideshow:

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Don't Wait Until Black History Month to Shop the Black book Section

Blacks folks have a lot of passion. We love tons of things. We love what we can touch, feel, smell, hear and taste. We’re an exciting group of people with a lot of soul. But what’s inside our hearts? What’s really driving us?

READ A BOOK BY AN AFRICAN AMERICAN AND FIND OUT! :) (Not a classic or a book by Barack Obama - but a contemporary Christian Author like Stacy Hawkins Adams, Bill Winston, Ken Brown, Dr. Suzan Johnson Cook or Andre Butler)

See too!

My first Online Writer's conference. I was Spotlighted as One of "Best" Literary Pros

It's great to be recognized by your peers and it's good to be in good company with people who know and understand you. People you respect and love! The Sistaz!

But I couldn't actually "hear" anyone...but in real time (if they were present at their computer or PDA) we could converse. If not, we could read each other's posts! How cool is that? I just love the internet. Such energy and focus - and wow, I meet some really cool folks! Literary people love to exchange ideas!

In addition to industry professionals panels, they are also spotlighting some of the best literary professionals on the net. Join me in welcoming: Marlive Harris (MsGRITS) of Literary Services, Pam Perry of Ministry Marketing Solutions, Ella Curry of EDC Creations, Sylvia Hubbard of Motown Writers Network, LaShaunda Hoffman of SORMAG, 3 Chicks on Lit (Nakea, Tiffany & TuShonda).

This was all organized by Tee C. Royal ( She rocks!

Sharing Literary Resources

by Tee C. Royal,

I will be sharing literary resources, but don’t feel slighted if you’re not listed. Instead, share your information (or any other links) you recommend in the comments section.


Guide To Book Publishers, Editors & Literary Agents, 2006: Who they are! What they want! How to win them over! by Jeff Herman

Kirsch’s Guide to the Book Contract : For Authors, Publishers, Editors and Agents by Jonathan Kirsch

Negotiating a Book Contract: A Guide for Authors, Agents and Lawyers by Mark L. Levine

On Writing by Stephen King

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself Into Print by Renni Browne

The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr.

The First Five Pages: A Writer’s Guide to Staying Out of the Rejection Pile by Noah Lukeman

The Shortest Distance Between You and a Finished Book by Susan Page

Woe Is I: The Grammarphobe’s Guide to Better English in Plain English by Patricia T. O’Connor

Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook: Hands-On Help for Making Your Novel Stand Out and Succeed by Donald Maass

Writing the Fiction Synopsis - A Step by Step Approach by Pam McCutcheon



A Book Lover’s Diary by Shelagh Wallace

A Passion for Books: A Book Lover’s Treasury of Stories, Essays, Humor, Lore, and Lists on Collecting, Reading, Borrowing, Lending, Caring for, and Appreciating Books by Harold Rabinowitz

Booknotes: The Booklover’s Organizer by Marilyn McDonald

How to Read a Book by Mortimer J. Adler

Only in Books: Writers, Readers & Bibliophiles on Their Passion by J. Kevin Graffagnino

So Many Books, So Little Time by Sara Nelson


American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW)
American Society of Journalists and Authors
Black Caucus of the American Library Association
Divine Literary Tour
International Black Writers Association (IBWA)
Romance in Color
Romance Writers of America (RWA)
Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA)
Self-Employed Writers and Artists Network (SWAN)
Urban-Reviews (Urban/Street Fiction)
Women Who Write
Motown Writers


C & B Book Distribution
Mosaic Books
Pages in Black
RAWSISTAZ Literary Group
The Black Book Network
The Black Library
The Nubian Chronicles


Black Issues Book Review
Romantic Times BOOK Reviews
Quarterly Black Review (QBR)
Poets & Writers
Publishers Weekly
Writers Digest
Written Magazine
PhotobucketSomebody tell Oprah what's going on here!
We got the best, brightest and beautiful authors on RawSistaz! She'd better recognize!

See too!

Monday, December 08, 2008

Self-Publishing Tales from the Front Lines

"Do You Have a Book Burning Inside You?"

This is from my colleague's blog: Diane Eble. She can help you get published! Her site: will help you! She is a great BOOK coach! So, we're like a team. She will give you information about how to write - and I'll give you info on how to promote it and sell. If you're a Christian writer, you need this information. Yes, you hear from God - now do your homework so you will be prepared to be a success!

On her blog, She writes:

Publishing is so confusing these days! So many options … and new publishers are springing up all the time, with various kinds of new programs.

There’s a discussion on Book Marketng Ning that I started, asking people for their experiences with self-publishing. Most recently, Joanna Penn shared her experience:

“I am a huge fan of self-publishing because I love speed and control! I wrote my book and wanted it out there so I self-published on so the book is for sale worldwide. It is print-on-demand in the US and I am in Australia so the costs would be prohibitive any other way. I market it and it sells from there or from my website here in Australia

“The fantastic thing is that I had control and did it all myself for very little cost and people can still reach it in the same forum as traditionally published books. I had it on Amazon a month after finishing the manuscript. Traditional publishers currently cannot move that fast. So my experience is overwhelmingly positive so far, and I intend to self-publish my next book too.”

I’m glad Joanna had such a good experience. I think self-publishing can be very good for authors who want/need control, need their book out quickly, and will take responsibility for promoting and marketing their book. (Which is of course the mindset all successful authors adopt.)

I would add here that Lulu’s had mixed reviews from what others tell me. One issue I have with Lulu (and many POD publishers) is that the price structure is problematic. Joanna’s book is between $21 and $25, depending on the format. True, she has a guarantee, but she’s also competing against best-selling books (say on amazon) that are much less. POD-published authors can’t get the bookstore distribution (for a variety of reasons, one of the main ones being no returns, which bookstores insist upon). But for those who don’t care about those things, Lulu and other POD programs work well.

Again I would refer you to the Virtual Book Tour I did with Mark Levine on The Fine Print of Self-Publishing. We covered a lot of aspects to think about before self-publishing, and Mark’s book is a terrific resource.

Publishing is changing very fast! I’m seeing the traditional publishers floundering, while those with a different business model, such as Morgan James Publishing, are prospering. I suspect traditional publishers will move more toward a self-publishing model eventually. They almost have to. It will be interesting to see what happens with the retail in that case.
Diane Eble
Your Book Publishing Coach

See too!

Friday, December 05, 2008

African-American Market Comes of Age says Publishers Weekly

Patricia W. blog's talks about the recent Publishers Weekly article on Christian fiction. The question she brings up is "how edgy do you want YOUR Christian fiction" to be? I like Christian fiction - nonfiction Christian books too for that matter - because of the message.

I want to hear the spiritual elements of story and how GOD showed up in the character's lives. Now, if the Christian fiction is like an episode of "Desperate House Wives" and at the end they receive Jesus - that's not Christian fiction.

That's baiscally some smut and the last page they clean it up. NOT! I don't want my mind flooded with foolishness - like I always say, "garbage in, garbage out."

Christian fiction is to edify and uplift - not suggest the vulgar side of life. Don't we have enough of that already! And you can see the mess the world is in - it's wacked out and confused about basic beliefs and morals. What exactly is Christian fiction? Is it a novel written by a Christian or does it have to just be "clean" literature that includes God? What do you think?

Here's what Patricia W. wrote in her blog called Readin N Writin (in part):
African-American Market Comes of Age (by the way yours truly was quoted in the article)
So says Publisher's Weekly, about the African-American Christian publishing market, in an article here.

Not so fast, I say, and I believe some of the quoted subjects would agree with me.

The African-American Christian market hasn't come of age. It's always been there and has been eager, even dying, for good content. By that I mean, stories in its language, from its perspective, by its authors, with its flavor.

"What most people don't know is that we're dealing with a 200-year-old tradition, with the writing and publishing of religious materials within the African-American church,” says (Tony) Rose. “Frederick Douglass and other writers used the church as a vehicle to sell their books and pamphlets, and they self-published through their churches. African-Americans always wrote, always read—we had to write about our plight, whether it was slavery or Jim Crow or some demeaning situation. What we're seeing now is an extraordinary re-emergence of this self-publishing movement, whether it's urban literature, Christian literature, fiction—and religion is leading the pack."

What has come of age is the industry's acknowledgement and recognition of this market.

Authors like Kendra Norman-Bellamy, Tia McCollors, Angela Benson, and Felicia Mason along with more recent faces, like Dwan Abrams, Sherri Lewis, Mikasenoja, Shauna Burton and Sheila Lipsey, have brought fresh voices to the market.

And, I may add: KIM BROOKS!

See too!

Monday, December 01, 2008

Five Things Christian Writers Should Know

Five Things Christian Writers Should Know by Pam Perry

“Just because you have a computer, doesn’t make you a writer,” said a publishing executive at a recent Book Expo of America.

Fact is 81% of all Americans think they should write a book (according to Write & Publish magazine) and only two percent of that crowd ever actually complete a manuscript – and get it published.

True computers have made writing a book easier and print-on-demand (POD) has made publishing a snap.

Problem is there are about 150,000 new books a year and they’re not all selling!

So here are some simple things to do to move you from book idea, manuscript to real sales!

1. Learn about writing. Taking writing courses. Go to and get info on their American School of Christian Writing, The Writer’s Institute and/or Writer’s Mini Course. Also subscribe to their newsletter (The Christian Communicator or The Advanced Christian Writer). Take time to go to various writers’ conferences where you’ll meet editors, publishers and other authors. You may even find a mentor at some of these events.

Getting a writing mentor is so critical to your success – if you listen and heed their advice! There are tons of book coaches.

Here’s a few I’d recommend: Minister Mary Edwards ( and Judy Cullins ( and Sophronia Scott ( They will help you get the book out of your head and on the page!

Finally, read! Best-selling Christian fiction author, Victoria Christopher Murray, said on a recent Chocolate Pages Show, “In order to be a good writer, you have to read good writing.” I am so surprised when I talk to many Christian writers and I ask if they have read any of the “best-sellers” - as least the Christian or spiritual books. They answer, “NO.”

Some have never even read “The Purpose Driven Life” (the best selling book of all time), The Shack (a Christian publishing phenomenon in the book world) or The Secret (at least take cues how they have marketed the mega-star of a book). Most Christian authors don’t even take note of any of the top ten New York Times or CBA best-sellers.

Ughh! You have to know what the market is buying and read it to see why the book is highly acclaimed. By doing a little homework, you can improve your writing. You have to move it from a hobby to a craft if you want a viable book.

Books Every Writer Needs at Their Fingertips!

A. On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction by William Knowlton Zinsser (Paperback - April 1998)

Best book I've read on what, specifically, makes up a great piece of writing.

B. The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr., E. B. White, Charles Osgood (Afterword), Roger Angell--

Do you ever wonder where those punctuation marks go? Well, I do, too! And when I get confused, I reach for my little Elements of Style. It's short and sweet and handy as a pocket on a shirt.

C. Also subscribe to Writer’s Digest. Invaluable information every month! Also see all these links:

2. Learn about self-publishing and how the book industry works. I have had writers come to me and tell me their “publishing nightmare” stories. They talk about how printers or subsidy publishers took advantage of them.

Yes, there are companies who will swindle you. But, if you are well-informed, it will lessen the chances of someone ripping you off. Don’t rely on one source for all your information. Use Google and do some research! You must do your due diligence.

Take this test and see how if you are a good candidate to self-publish. (

Know where to get an ISBN, how to get national distribution, where to find a cover designer, typesetter, printer, etc. Ask other self-published authors what they’ve done and how it has worked for them. Follow the leaders. Do what they did to achieve success.

Study what Kendra Norman Bellamy, Stephanie Perry Moore, Marilynn Griffith or Kim Brooks have done. Most authors have their “publishing testimonial” on their website or offer publishing tips to new authors. Read their advice – you can learn from mistakes or from mentors. Mentors are cheaper.

3. Learn about marketing and publicity. Build a platform. No book will sell without telling others about it – over and over again. Not just once. Word of mouth is the best form of advertising. Creating “buzz” requires a strategy and a strong platform. (Click to hear this Podcast show where I talk about how to promote your book)

Once the book is published a lot of authors believe it will sell by itself. Many Christians sway the other way and are too humble to tell anyone about their book. They believe if they put it up on Amazon or tell a few of their “yes buddies” it will take off. NOT! Just like any product that is sold for cold cash, it must be marketed and promoted in order to sell. It takes money to make money.

4. Learn about agents. Agents are not your “literary fairy God-mothers.” They are in business to make money. And they make money by selling “marketable” writers to publishing houses. Besides having a great book, decent platform, an audience – you must also have a good book proposal. The proposal is what sells your book. Part of that proposal is the marketing plan. Again, it’s about the bottom line.

It took former Heart and Soul editor Stephanie Stokes Oliver 25 years to have her first book published. And she had a platform and was a professional writer. She had to find the right publishing house. She says she went through 10 agents and eventually got the divine connection and got three book deals.

5. Learn about Web 2.0, podcasting, blogging, social networking.
Did you know you can blog on if you’re an author? You can even put up video reviews. How cool is that? You must embrace technology and keep up with what is moving books. Obviously the best way to move books is to get people talking – and the more they hear your passion and get curious about all the “buzz” they keep hearing from you online – the more you will attract customers.

So, “get out” by joining Facebook, Linkedin, Myspace and Twitter. Do a Blogtalk Radio Show and get a Youtube channel. Post up your blogs in RSS feeds and even do some daring stuff like join a lot of “nings” or start one! Join the Chocolate Pages Network (a new social network for Christian Authors). There is so many ways for an author to get exposure online – hey, it may even up on Oprah as part of her “Book Club.” Cha-Ching!

See too!