On July 22 of 2019, my first book, Trading with God: Seven Steps to Integrate Your Faith into Your Work, was published by Wipf and Stock. I finished the preliminary manuscript the previous August, then sent book proposals to publishers and literary agents. I wasn’t a best-selling author, nor did I have a website with thousands of followers. I was a private citizen who did not feel comfortable with social media. My friends, family, and business associates could reach me because I gave them my cell phone number and/or email address. While working for Shell, my Shell colleagues could contact me because I was listed in the Shell directory. When I wrote my book, I did not have a clue that social media was a prerequisite.
I grew up without the internet or social media. I liked my privacy and social media like Facebook frightened me, especially after seeing The Social Network movie. Given the recent privacy breaches, I felt justified to remain relatively private. But my privacy hurt me as a new author. Publishing is a business that sells books to make profits. Publishers needs to sell books to cover their expenses and new authors, like me, are riskier business ventures than published authors. Authors with an existing audience before publishing lower the publisher’s risk. This usually means that most new authors have a very difficult time getting published, especially new non-fiction writers. People often asked me when I was writing my book: “Do you have a publisher?” After sending out publication proposals, I understood why this question was asked.
After several months of submitting book proposals, I took a break and sent my manuscript to friends for feedback. I decided that my book project was a calling and if it was God’s will, it would happen.
We departed in January for a six-week trip to Africa. Midway through our travels, I was contacted by two publishers who were interested in publishing my book. I contracted with Wipf and Stock while in Africa and upon our return to Austin, I worked until early May revising and editing my book per the publisher’s standards and readers’ feedback. The publishing process made me a better author and I grew from the experience. It was worth the journey.
I worked with a website designer and went live in July. Readers expect an author to have a website, and after some hesitation, I took the social media plunge. I now look forward to blogging on my website which gives me a voice in the marketplace and improves my writing skills. Last week, I sent out a photo of my book cover to my LinkedIn connections. This was my first LinkedIn posting since I retired.
What surprised me is that I heard back from people whom I have not seen or heard from in many years. Their encouraging words and this ability to reconnect exhibited the positive power of social media. Perhaps I am a bit too old-fashioned? I still feel uncomfortable marketing my book since Christians are taught to exhibit humility. But Christians are also taught to spread the Gospel and uplift their community. My book hopefully does both, yet my associated actions must be sprinkled with humility. The Spirit moves in our modern world and I need to follow in obedience.