We were at a church picnic on Wednesday night. People were asking me about my new book (God Behaving Badly, in case you haven’t heard), when I kicked into what my sons call “Shameless Marketing” mode.
“Did you see Scot McKnight’s blog (Jesus Creed) posts?”
“Did I already tell you that Christianity Today will print an excerpt in July?”
“Have you been checking out my Amazon rankings?”
Then my son Noah (13) chimes in, “Dad even tried to sell copies of his book during my birthday party.” (I countered by noting that his friends seemed genuinely interested.)
Despite how it may appear, all of this shameless marketing does make me feel uncomfortable. My mother consistently modeled asking questions of others instead of talking about yourself. I fear that I’m losing a deeply held value of focusing on others.
But I rationalize that at least part of the reason that I’m shamelessly marketing is that I’m genuinely interested in the topic and I truly believe the book will help people. Ultimately, my goal in writing the book is to help people love God and love God’s word. And for that to happen I’ll need to sell a few books along the way.
What are your thoughts on “Shameless Marketing”? (Now that I’m asking questions again, I feel more comfortable.)
Shameless marketing…hm. You say:
“My mother consistently modeled asking questions of others instead of talking about yourself. I fear that I’m losing a deeply held value of focusing on others.”
Is there some way to combine the marketing with the asking questions? To get other people thinking and talking about the topic of how we (they) perceive God and how that actually fits with his portrayal in both testaments. So then if, when, you mention your book, it’s as a natural part of the conversation, not “Hey, have you heard about this book I just got published?”.
Of course, this is probably what you’ve already been trying to do, so I’ve been of no help at all. Aside from raising the number of comments on your blog.
Being enthusiastic about giving God good press and helping others to see God in fresh ways is a commendable trait. Sons ribbing dad about his enthusiastic book-directed outbursts is, of course, to be expected. The book is terrific and I hope a lot of people read it and that you get to speak to large crowds as a result. Lydia’s marketing strategy is a good one, but why beat around the bush? You could say something like “I wrote a book called God Behaving Badly and I’m hoping a bunch of my friends and acquaintances will read it and tell me a couple of things that they found out about God that they didn’t know before–good or bad.” Then you tell them that you’re writing a blog and using some of the feedback (anonymously, naturally). That way you’re following your mother’s advice by being interested in what they think after reading your book! Nothing shameless about that.
Good one Lydia! Shameless or Shameful? Of course, having a blog already convicts you. I should know…I’m including my blog link on your site.
Welcome Dave to the blogging world. And congratulations on a great book. It is worth the read!
Lydia: I’m trying to continue asking questions along the way, although it’s tough to find the balance. (You get the reward for posting the 1st comment. Thanks.)
Susan: I like the idea to include their feedback on future blogs. Thanks.
Phil: I’m following in your footsteps. Thanks for your wise counsel.
I’m ambivalent. I grew up with the same training–that it’s not good to talk about yourself–but if one wants to make a living by selling something one has made (especially a book or a work of art), one pretty much has to promote it one’s self in order to get other people to notice it in the first place.
I’d love it if people just found my stuff and bought it, but how are they to find it (especially among the numerous other options out there in this information-glutted age) if I don’t do the initial work of promoting it? No one else is going to just do it for me.
Mark: Yeah, it’s true. It’s just my sons really love to harass me about it. I tell them book sales will help pay for college (probably one textbook each). – Dave
I will always remember your mom showing great interest in other people. I’m sure SHE wouldn’t be engaged in shameless self promotion. David, David, David. (And how come my pre-ordered book STILL hasn’t arrived? Did you have IVP put me on the crackpot list?)
John: I warned IVP about you. Did you give them the right address? Just order another one (that will help my Amazon ranking from plummeting toward oblivion).
Advertise to your hearts content. It may help.
I might buy this book based solely on this post. very funny stuff. 🙂
Somebody’s got to sell those books! Better than hawking them out of the trunk of your car in some church parking lot! why the embarrassment? afraid that God might “smite” you for selling some books? I’m “pushing” your book myself, as you saw on FB (when my 1 Peter commentary finally gets done I’m going to do all I can to get folks to buy!). take care, bro.
It seems to me you were just proud of your work and trying to make a buck to support your family – kids eat like stallions these days!
yes, it was the ‘jim bump’. you’re welcome!
I was there while Dave talked about his book. Dave should be proud. Excitement is natural. If you didn’t care about how your book was doing, then I would be worried. As it is, carry on and do whatever possible to get people thinking about a topic they would never have otherwise.