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Never in my life did I ever want to have anything to do with XLS files. My idea of an Excel spreadsheet was entirely aesthetic. I liked the neat and tidy rows of information. I had no idea of the inner workings, calculations, possible glitches, or formatting.

Little did I know, but the XLS file would become part of my life as an author. Had I known this beforehand, I might have bailed.

There are numerous people training us how to market as indie authors, or how to more effectively market alongside our publishers. The steps are the same. We promote our books, often teaming up with other authors for more impact in a joint promo. In some of these, we receive back a list of people who have either downloaded our freebie, signed up for our newsletter, or some other combination.

In short, we’ve gained a “subscriber.”

We now have a list of people to inform of our next release or other great deals. We must also protect and guard them from spam. I’m so paranoid about spamming my list that I absolutely do not communicate unless it’s a tremendous deal that simply can’t be missed.

When I started my blog in 2011, I didn’t want anything to do with this sort of thing. I would write, and, because I’m a good writer, people would flock to read my quiet little blog. Go ahead and snicker. I’m now snickering at my naiveté, too.

Instead, a torrential flood of writers also started writing blogs. No one has time for that! Additionally, unedited rough drafts were slapped onto Amazon posing as novels. Millions of books. Not even Amazon knows how many. The pile teetered at 12,000,000 in recent years, but then they quit reporting anything over a million.

On top of this, writers now have to do something else, too, rather than merely writing. Currently there’s a podcast craze. Also, we must sell our course about how we write or how we market and you can, too, etc., etc., ad nauseum.

The clamor is never ending. Most of us hate this. We want to be left alone, so we can write fiction. We want to leave our readers alone. To maintain our sense of self in this maelstrom, we each set our own careful limits. But, within those limits, we must incorporate marketing. This is the price of doing business, and writing is a business.

Dickens knew this. He pounded the pavement. He begged, cajoled, and pled. He finagled the system, so he could be paid by the word. Ah! You now understand his tangents. He lived on the edge. The man had ten children. He had to be paid.

I think of Dickens when I approach the dreaded XLS file after a promotion. I have gained more subscribers, but getting that file into my MailChimp list the first time resulted in tears and assaults on my sanity. Why was I torturing myself, so?

Here is why: God has given me stories to tell. He has an audience for those stories, but like Jonah I have to get off the boat going the opposite direction or pray from the pit of the fish’s stomach at ocean bottom, so that I can be vomited onto the beach to do my job. Like Jeremiah, I may need to spend time in a muddy cistern dangling by a rope digging into my armpits to keep me from getting sucked under entirely.

Proclaiming the Good News always comes at great cost, even when it’s encased within a story. As followers of Jesus and readers of the Bible, we should know this. We remember it as our guts clench when we see the attached Excel spreadsheet arriving from Ryan Zee. Broadcasting the Good News came at great cost to Jesus and to all His disciples. Why would it be any different for us?

Therefore, pray for strength, dear writers, and step into the fray.