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As this new year begins, we writers assess the coming year and plan our strategies. We pencil the outline of our year’s work into our calendars. We have manuscripts to hone and promos to plan, design, and carry out. We have novels to pass to editors and designers to consult. We have queries to draft and pitches to perfect. We have hopes and dreams.
If we’ve been at this for a while, we’ve seen the Christian publishing world shrink as indie and small publishing houses expand. As a result, we’ve toyed with new strategies, maybe even utilizing them to pursue our writing dreams. For some of us, everything will change this year, and our first books will be published. For others, we’re plotting the production of our next novels.
All of us are building our mailing lists, expanding our platforms, and learning marketing strategies and skills, tactics that weren’t even necessary a mere ten years ago. Now we must begin this work before our first books are even published. We all must market, because there are millions of books on Amazon.
Rather than growing overwhelmed by the difficulty of being seen in this mass of online literature or by the daunting tasks we must learn in order to market, let’s instead remember that we work for the God of the universe.
Christian writers produce stories of faith and inspiration that glorify God. We seek to influence by proclaiming the Good News. We weave it into our stories. We write it into our characters’ tragedies and their outcomes. We illustrate in fiction the true-life working of God. Our stories, while entertaining, are not mere entertainment.
We are the modern-day tellers of parables. We walk in Jesus’ footsteps.
The Lord already knows the audience He intends for our work, and He knows how our writing will impact our readers. He uses our words, as well as the work of other writers, to bring growth in their lives. We are not to fear the “competition” of other Christian writers, who are our co-laborers in a common cause. Rather, we are to link arms. As Paul wrote:
“I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor” (1 Corinthians 3:6-8 NIV).
God already knows the audience we will impact with our work—our combined efforts as well as individually. He will see that this outcome is achieved—His outcome, not necessarily our own. Like the disciples of old, our tasks are to obey Jesus, to walk in His footsteps, to exert ourselves in the work He has given, and to trust Him with the outcome. Only He can produce the fruit. Only He can cause our readers to grow.
We are responsible to use our gifts. He is responsible for the results.
The Lord has whispered this truth to me since I first began writing fiction. I often must remind myself, lest I be swept into frantic effort out of fear that my planting and my watering will be lost in the Amazon pile.
We must remember that God is still God. He is even sovereign over the publishing industry and the Amazon algorithms. He will get the words He has given us to the audience He intends, and He will use us all in our readers’ lives.
Now is the time to recommit our work to Him and to trust Him anew.