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Month: May 2011

WHERE HAVE I FELT CLOSEST TO GOD? MY ANSWER MIGHT SURPRISE YOU: Devotional by Lorilyn Roberts

 

 

Question: Where have you felt closest to God?

Lorilyn Roberts: I have scuba dived all over the world-the Red Sea, the Great Barrier Reef, and the Caribbean. Thirty minutes from my home in sunny Central Florida, dozens of cold, clear, springs bubble up and lure divers from all over the country to dive into the caves.

On many of these dives, particularly in the Red Sea, away from the noise and distractions of a busy life, I have been overcome with the immense beauty and vastness of the world beneath the ocean. On one particular night dive in the Florida Keys many years ago, my dive buddy and I were at about seventy-five feet, which is rather deep for a night dive.  We were diving off a shipwreck, and when I shone my underwater light on the rustic red side of a sunken boat, I discovered a brown caterpillar-like creature with tons of legs. He was edging his way along at a rather slow pace. I probably stunned him by the intrusion of my bright light in what was otherwise total blackness.

As I floated beside the ship and examined the peculiar worm, I wondered why, in the middle of the vast Atlanta Ocean, I would stumble upon this rather ugly creature.

Asking questions of seeming insignificance can lead to discussions with latent deeper meaning. Why did God create me? Are the things we stumble upon in life purely by chance?

I am convinced I am here for such a time as this (and so are you). The books we write bear witness to the lives God has given us, from comedy to romance to tragedy. We feel God’s pleasure in the stories that touch us deeply, whether written by us or others. On that night dive way back long ago, when I was much younger and fitter, it is not surprising that God used a worm to reveal something about His nature-I have never forgotten it some twenty years later.

There is also a story in the Bible about a worm that God used in a powerful way. In the book of Jonah in the Old Testament, God sent Jonah to warn the people of the city of Nineveh to repent of their ways. After being eaten by the whale, Jonah traveled to the wicked city and did as God had asked him. But when God didn’t destroy the city and spared the inhabitants, Jonah brooded over God’s mercy to Israel’s enemies. Then God supplied a plant to give Jonah shade as he sat angrily in the hot noonday sun. The next day, however, God provided a worm to eat the plant.

Sometimes life seems like that. I can’t figure it out. But diving into the depths of the ocean for me is like diving into the depths of God’s love. I see His creativity in the world of worms, garden eels, and sea urchins; manta rays that glide over the sea wall, nurse sharks that hide under rocky ledges, and barracuda that amass in the hundreds. God’s underwater paradise gives me hope that harmony with the world through Him is possible. I may not understand it all, but I don’t have to. Perhaps God just wants me to enjoy the journey more and channel His creativity that I so much love into my soul.

As my kids get older, I look forward to once again putting on the weight belt, BC, tank, and octopus. I always enjoyed spitting into my face mask to clean it (after all, how many times in life is that acceptable behavior); and, of course, getting that last strand of hair out of the mask so as not to burn my eyes with seeping saltwater. I can’t wait to push that regulator button and hear the compressed air spew out (pretty important down there to be able to breathe) and I will waddle like a duck in all my gear to the back of the boat and wait my turn (imagining I look better than I feel with the cumbersome tank on my back).

I will make sure I remember all those hand signals (the out-of-air one might come in handy) and, hopefully, heave off the back of the boat in a spectacular somersault. The rising bubbles as I sink and the sound of the regulator imitating my breathing will bring me back to my favorite pastime. I will be wooed once more to enjoy God’s presence in a fabulous world of unparalleled beauty. And for a brief moment, nothing else will matter.
                                          

 

 

 

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BOOK MARKETING: ROACHES THAT EAT YOUR BEST-SELLER BOOK MARKETING DREAMS, by Lorilyn Roberts

Many years ago my ex-husband and I drove to Gainesville, Florida, from Augusta, Georgia, when he was finishing medical school and applying to residency programs. We had brought along our dog, Shelley, and it was dusk after the long eight-hour drive before we arrived at the motel.

As I headed into the bathroom exhausted, I was aghast to discover the ugliest creepy crawler I had ever seen-a huge, brown roach with antlers (okay, they were feelers, but they looked like antlers), crawling around on spiny, hairy legs, and the worst part-he turned his head and stared at me with dark beady eyes.

I ran out of the hotel room screaming at my husband, “I saw a roach.”  After calming me down, we went back in so he could murder the invader. But the roach had scampered away. Of course, I insisted that we find him. As we examined the room in minute detail, we started seeing roaches everywhere-on the walls, on the floor, in the bathroom, crawling on the bed-I stood there and cried, “I can’t stay here.”                               
It was a football weekend, and if you know anything about Florida Gator football, you know that means almost every motel is full. We went from motel to motel for hours after driving all day to find one that had a vacancy that would accept dogs.

While my husband was contemplating an important interview for his residency, I was facing the horror of sleeping in a roach-infested hotel room. It was many years after that experience before I could stay in a hotel and not do the standard “roach check” – inside the bed sheets, under the bed, the dark bathroom, the closet-I would turn out the lights after I got into bed and then five minutes later turn them back on again to make sure one hadn’t come out of hiding.


As I learned later, because my husband did accept that position at the University of Florida, there are many species of roaches besides those big ones. There are little ones, ones that fly, ones that hide in dark places, and ones that fall into the water while you take a bath (I would know).


What does a roach-infested hotel have to do with book marketing? When my husband finished medical school, I had huge hopes and dreams. I had spent the first five years of our marriage supporting him while he was in medical school in a job which was less than satisfying. I couldn’t wait to take the next step toward my dream of earning that elusive college degree, which didn’t include meeting a roach upon arrival.


The roaches of life have a way of catching us off-guard. They appear out of nowhere when we least expect them, and usually at the worst opportune time. Recently I had my one-another group over for prayer and put out a nice spread of food. While enjoying the sweet fellowship of Christian believers, one of my guests pointed out a large handsome roach crawling across the floor toward the table of food. That pang of embarrassment at an unexpected moment, we have all been there. I ran and fetched the roach spray. Such is life in Florida for those folks who live in Canada and the hinterlands.


As authors, we hope that story we have been mulling around in our heads becomes the next best-seller. But what about those marketing roaches? Have you met one? They are those “horrid things” that threaten to make an even bigger mess of your best-seller dreams. They rob you of sleep, steal your money, destroy relationships, and take away your peace of mind, filling you with worry, apprehension, and doubt.


I encountered my first roach in marketing when I went to a writer’s conference in the Southeast. “No one reads memoirs” several people commented. Many attendees ignored me when they found I wasn’t a VIP-an editor, agent, or well-known author. Others sounded judgmental with comments like, “Did anyone edit your book?


I came home and wanted to crawl back into my little cubbyhole and forget all about marketing. The experience squelched my creativity and motivation in one fell swoop. Even the proposal that I spent several days working on that an agent asked me to send him following the conference was never looked at.

I’ve learned there are a lot of roaches in the publishing business, and I have by no means met them all. On the book marketing forum, some of my fellow authors have shared some of their experiences with other kinds of roaches that I didn’t even know existed.  


My first step to a healthier mindset was to quit focusing on all the things I couldn’t do or control and figure out what I could do. I found I could do a lot more than I thought if I just took the time to learn how and wasn’t so impatient. Your roaches are probably different from mine, but whatever they are, they will handicap you more than you realize unless you deal with them. You will be able to do more than you think if you have a teachable spirit, a positive attitude, and invest some time in helping others. When you help others, you are really helping yourself.  How? I don’t know how, except it’s one of the laws of nature that seems to work itself into equations that have eternal value. God sees it all and rewards us in ways we least expect it.


I had to go back to my faith and recommit my dreams. There is nothing anybody can do to prevent God’s perfect will from being accomplished. No one has any power over my mental state except if I willingly relinquish that power to them. In the process of adversity and difficulties, God makes us strong. Nothing is ever wasted without serving a useful purpose.


Nevertheless, it’s important to be aware of the more common kinds of roaches in marketing. A couple of months after my book was published, I bought two pricey email blast services-the kind where companies send out book announcements to their email lists, including subscribers, libraries and bookstores. Beware-these pricey roaches in the end were worthless. I sure wish I had that $600 back.


There are some other not-so-subtle roaches in marketing-laziness. If you are not willing or you don’t want to work hard at marketing, I hope you have some influential contacts. You’ve probably heard this before but it’s worth repeating: Nobody cares about your book. Your job is to make other people care. How do you do that? Through building relationships (I won’t say anymore about this for now, but will address this again in the sixth article).


For those who have day jobs, kids, school, and major commitments outside of writing, I feel your pain. And this is where my concept of “process” comes in. I must focus on what I can do and leave the outcome in God’s hands.  


The roach of discouragement: Quit complaining and ask God to help you. The John 3:16 Marketing Network is all about encouragement and lifting each other up. If you are hoping that “best-seller” status will bring you happiness, it won’t. There is truly nothing “out there” that will fulfill you. Only your relationship with God, family, and friends can bring you happiness. 

Now that we have dealt with some major roaches in marketing, let’s look at some things you can do to start marketing effectively. Before we begin a best-seller program, we need to look at what goes into launching a book, focusing on Amazon.

What you must do-long before you approach anyone to help you. We’ve had authors come into the network who did not have these things in place. Without fixing them, their book launch was doomed to failure.

  1. Make sure your book has been edited completely-no ifs, ands, or buts. In addition to a professional editor, ask twenty people to read your book and look for things that are wrong, unclear, or misleading-from grammatical errors to content issues to structural problems. I guarantee you, honest people will find the problems-even though your mother will tell you it’s wonderful the way it is. All the networking and promoting in the world won’t salvage a poorly written book.
  2. Make sure your book is not overpriced. Nobody will buy a book that is too expensive. There are unscrupulous companies out there that will overprice your book-roaches feeding on your desire to get published that care nothing about making your book salable. They will take your money up front and offer empty promises. Don’t fall for it. Be wise. Remember the Proverb, “A fool and his money are soon parted.” Go to Amazon and compare your book with others of similar content and length. Make your book cheaper if it’s possible (and some publishing companies do listen. I asked that the price of one of my books be reduced and they did it).
  3. In my opinion, e-books are the wave of the future. Price e-books lower and you will sell more copies. Remember, you must be competitive to sell books. Not only publish your book on Kindle, but in other e-formats as well, including Nook and Sony. Smashwords is an excellent service for publishing all types of e-books.
  4. Get as many reviews of your book as possible. If you are an unknown author, you should have at least 5 four/five-star reviews before asking others to help you. We ask for two reviews on the John 3:16 Marketing Network now, but we will probably increase it to five soon.  
  5. Here is a screen shot of my reviews for Children of Dreams. Reviews are important-both good ones and bad ones. My worst review was one three-star review. Why?  The reviewer thought I had too much Bible content. I thought it was actually a good review-after all, it’s an accurate assessment of my book for someone who is thinking about reading it. The reader will know what he is getting before he buys it. That’s what reviews are for.

 

  1. Take advantage of all the functionalities of Amazon to market your book; i.e., the inside-the-book program. It allows others to sample your writing before buying your book.
  2. Upload a nice photograph of yourself for your Avatar. While I love those goofy animal shots, I am not so sure if they pass the screen test for promoting oneself as a professional.
  3. You will notice on Amazon all of the author names are hyperlinked to something called an Author Page. These are set up through the Amazon Author Central portion of Amazon. The Author Page will show your profile, bibliography, published books, a book trailer if you upload one, and a link to the Amazon Associates Program. The Amazon Associates Program will allow you to sell Amazon books on your website or blog.  All these things can sound very intimidating at first and overwhelming, but if you take it one step at a time, anyone can learn how to use these tools effortlessly. Because they are technical in nature rather than creative, all an author has to do is switch to the other side of his brain, which is where most adults spend their life anyway. Again, I repeat, anybody can do these things.  


Make sure you list your book correctly in the subcategories on Amazon, going from the largest category to the smallest. It is more difficult to reach best-seller status in a huge category like fiction than in the subcategory Christian Romance Fiction. The biggest roach-killer for the John 3:16 Marketing Network authors has been not optimizing the best-seller categories to enhance the probability of reaching best-seller status on book launches. 

  1. Again, don’t let the laziness roach eat at you. Persistence pays off.
  2. Don’t let the discouragement roach take away your dreams. As long as there is life in you, give it your best shot. Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you will land among the stars.
  3. Start a blog and post to it as often as you can. To be a member of the John 3:16 Marketing Network, you must have an active blog. Write about what stirs you, interview other authors on your blog, review books, and post your reviews on your blog, Good Reads, Amazon, and other social networking sites.
  4. Build up your Facebook contacts, Twitter followers, and create a Fan Page on Facebook.
  5. Seek out positive people to interact with on the Internet. Avoid roach people-those who are self-centered, negative, bitter, or judgmental. They will pull you down into a funk you may never get out of.
  6. Enjoy the journey. If you feel overwhelmed, pull out the roach spray. What do you need to kill? Examine what you are doing and consider what isn’t working. Know yourself, your limitations, and your strengths. Focus on process, not on outcome, and ask God to give you wisdom.
  7. Finally, don’t give up. Join with like-minded authors  experience the blessing of sharing your marketing journey with others.

 

 

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BOOK MARKETING: ”What It Takes to Have a Winning Team,” by Lorilyn Roberts

 

Everyone knows who Lebron James is—at least they should know. Many consider him the best basketball player currently playing the game. He can do it all—shoot from the perimeter, make free throws from the foul line, dunk the ball with great charisma, pass it through arms and legs, muscle his way through guards, and practically defy the laws of probability on a good night.

He didn’t just start doing that. He’s been doing it since he was young. In fact, he entered the NBA at eighteen, right out of high school, bypassing a college career completely.

I remember the naysayers—he’s not good enough, he’s not old enough, he doesn’t have enough experience, in the NBA he will have lots more competition, he’s not that good. I remember all those comments because I wrote them. I do closed-captioning for television, and commentators love to beat up on famous people. Actually, maybe it’s not so much beating up on people, but I cringe at times when I hear what ruthless so-called experts say, thinking how I would feel if they were saying that about me.

Marketing is really a game. It’s a big game made up of players, managers, owners, referees, commentators, and the “crowds” that watch, whether it’s in a stadium, in the galley, in the stands, or in a gymnasium. Somewhere everybody fits. Those that don’t enjoy sports, well, I guess you just miss the game.

But let’s pretend you are a sports fan even if you aren’t. I use Lebron James as an example because he is a marvelously successful basketball player. He has done it all—except one thing that he wants more than anything else. He wants to win an NBA championship.

Why hasn’t he done that yet?  After all, he’s been a professional basketball player now for years. Were all the naysayers right?

Even the best basketball player in the world can’t win a championship all on his own shoulders. When Lebron James was with the Cleveland Cavaliers, he tried. He did everything in his power to make it happen. He came close, but in the end he failed.

As I am writing this, the Miami Heat is playing the Chicago Bulls for a bid at the championship. I don’t know who will win—I am pulling for Miami for Lebron’s sake, even though I really like Joakim Noah for the Bulls (He showed up at my daughter’s nine-year-old birthday party and surprised us all.

Games are not meant in large part to be solitary sports (except for a few like tennis). To win, it takes cooperation, commitment, hard work, perseverance, and team participation by everyone.

I have captioned hundreds of games in various sports, and afterwards, the reporter usually interviews the most valuable player and the coach. He will also interview the losing coach and one of the best-losing players if time permits. It’s always interesting to hear what each coach says, and I especially love to hear the players’ thoughts.

After the game, all the reporters from the various sports news agencies will gather in a press room, and the star players and coaches will sit at a long table. The press conference often includes a bunch of “stupid” questions. Usually, with grace, the players and coaches will endure the battery, probably remembering that paycheck (in the pros), and those in college get a taste of the limelight.

But for those teams who are successful, it goes so much deeper than that final winning shot. It goes back to hours of practice and sacrifice; learning to play together as a team, the quirks of fellow teammates, what makes them tick and what ticks them off; and encouraging each other on how to make the other person’s game better. It’s about “dying to self” and embracing the concept deep down that it’s not “all about me.” And sometimes you have those phenomenal athletes like Tim Tebow who openly give the glory to God for their success.

How does this tie into the John 3:16 Marketing Network? Each author who has joined the network will admit to the dream of wanting to be a best-selling author. And in the John 3:16 Marketing Network, this is achievable for an unknown author in subcategories. It has happened on Amazon several times in the eight months we have been in existence.

But I want to remind the reader that the ultimate goal of the network is to bring glory to God through promoting a Christian worldview in the best-seller categories on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or the New York Times. If we remember the ultimate goal is to glorify God, we can have a “winning team.”

That means we rejoice when someone else wins an award, snags a contract, receives a glowing review, or achieves something for the first time he or she never thought possible. We die to ourselves, not wishing it was us instead. God has a path for each one of us.

As a Body of Authors, we can help each other to achieve success on whatever path God sets before us. For some, that might mean selling only a few hundred books. For others, that might mean selling thousands. The outcome is not ours to control. We unselfishly commit our way to be part of a winning team, not counting the costs in personal sacrifice, but the ultimate cost of winning souls. That is the real game in Christian marketing.

It’s not always the outcome that matters, but the process through which we achieve it. If we focus on the outcome and disregard relationships as we strive for that elusive finish line, we probably won’t succeed. It’s just too hard. Winners have learned they need others’ help to succeed. This is the philosophy behind the John 3:16 Network.

Recently, an author complained to me, “I feel like I have given out so much and gotten so little in return.” She cited some examples and I could relate to her sentiments about being slighted. We have all experienced it. None of us are immune because it’s not in our nature to ignore the hurtful things people do to us—even when it’s unintentional.

My email back to her was this:

God will return tenfold what you give out if you don’t keep score. He doesn’t forget. Think about all the people who have helped you and you weren’t in a position to return the favor.

Believe me, you will receive it back in miraculous ways, and it’s always better than what you expected, perhaps from a different source. But you need to have a short memory to allow God to have a long one.

The John 3:16 Marketing Network is about a lot more than selling books. It’s about being a winner – dying to self, caring about others, and encouraging each other in the journey. With the right attitude and the gifts God has given us, I have no doubt that many in the John 3:16 Marketing Network will achieve great success as far as book sales.

But there are also other kinds of success not measured in dollars and cents—in relationships, networking, and gaining knowledge and skills.

I don’t want to walk away from the marketing game because it’s too hard. I don’t want to sit in the stands watching others sell their books while I languish because I don’t know how. I don’t want to be stuck on the bench because I am injured—whether it’s my hurt feelings or pride that has tainted my attitude and made me selfish. And I don’t want to be a commentator finding fault with everything someone else has done wrong. I don’t want to be a referee—I just want to play. And those commentators out there—I can hear it from the naysayers. They probably think I am just a little crazy. Well, guess what? My kids would probably agree with you (but they love me anyway).

Here we are all winners. We have taken that first step in successful marketing—networking.

Author’s Note: Although the John 3:16 Marketing Network is no longer active, the steps we took and the strategies we implemented still apply today in 2022. Create your own networking with other like-minded authors, help each other on book launches, and you can achieve great things; but remember, it is God who we serve. Give Him all the glory for your success and learn from your mistakes. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Happy Marketing!

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BOOK MARKETING: “What is a Book Launch Anyway—and Slowly, Please, I Am New at All of This,” by Lorilyn Roberts




A few years ago at the Florida Christian Writers Conference, I took Randy Ingermanson’s marketing class. If you ever have an opportunity to do so, take advantage of it because he is thorough, honest, and entertaining. Now that’s not something you can say about most physicists! At the time he was working on one of his many books and made the comment that his goal was to hit number one on Amazon when it was released.

Of course, being the newbie that I was, I didn’t know exactly what he meant, but it sure sounded impressive. I had no idea how one would even begin to accomplish such a feat.

I have found many authors are pretty much like me when I took that marketing class. And while they may be on Facebook, they don’t know how to use it very well (or how to make a fan page). Most groan when you mention Twitter, struggle with uploading a .jpeg, don’t know how to resize one (you’ve seen those monstrosities that take up a whole blog page), don’t know how to use widgets—the first time I heard the word, I thought it was a wizard—or make a video, use an URL shortener, or follow someone’s blog (where is the button), or the importance of even having followers.

Authors know how to do one thing—they know how to write. That is what they are passionate about. I would also rather write than do marketing. I would pay someone to do it—except I am too poor. But I don’t want to take my baby (my book) that I gave birth to and present it to another writer’s conference and have no one look at it.

When an agent and an editor told me to “Come back and see me when you have a thousand on your opt-in list (I had twenty-six at the time), my thought was, you just wait. I was challenged to do something that two people at the conference made me feel like I couldn’t do, and I wanted to prove them wrong.

I set about doing all the things writers do to begin marketing when they don’t know what they are doing—except I had just taken Randy’s marketing class, which ran for four days, and I learned A LOT.

And then the reality set in. Have you ever tried to get a thousand followers on an email opt-in list? Even though it’s easier now than before with the growth of Facebook and Twitter, it still takes time and effort.

Recently I went into the hospital to have an outpatient procedure done (one of those rites of passage when you turn fifty). The pre-op stuff was a lot less fun than the actual procedure itself, but unless I did the pre-op, the doctor wouldn’t have been able to see what he was looking for. It’s the same with a book launch. You must do all the steps I have talked about up to this point in order to have a successful launch.

One of my goals with the John 3:16 Marketing Network has been to help authors who come into the network who can’t do the above things. I am surprised at the number of authors who join who are still using a 54K dial-up modem. An author will be at a huge disadvantage if she doesn’t upgrade to something faster. I can’t imagine being handicapped to that degree and being successful at marketing, though anything is possible. But I would recommend a person have a cable modem or a fast connection, much faster than dial-up.

I was told when I took a class, “How to Launch a Best-Seller,” that people would be more than willing to help. That has not been true for me. Most people never respond to my emails unless they know me personally. Getting reviews is not always easy (many don’t know how when you ask them or are too intimidated to post anything on Amazon). Getting someone to read my book is hard (authors who like to read books and write reviews are already overcommitted, including myself). I have sent several copies of my book to people and never heard back from them. Sometimes I think those are the books that show up later on Amazon for a bargain price that you don’t get a cut of. I found it to be a lot harder to get partners than I ever thought it would be.

That is when the idea of the John 3:16 Marketing Network was born. If we had authors who were willing to come together and help each other, who understood the process and cared about others in the network, it would be a dream come true not only for me but for others as well. There are far too many authors like me with good books waiting to be read and no way to effectively market them.

Out of my need for a way, God laid it on my heart to form the John 3:16 Marketing Network for Christian authors. I thought about what impact we could have, changing the landscape of book marketing and publishing with sheer numbers and personal commitment, pushing Christian books higher in sales to best-seller status, and impacting what kids and adults read with a Christian worldview.

That leads to the question, “What is a book launch anyway?” A book launch is a 24-hour event. You tell everybody in your little world (or big world) about your incredible, awesome, one-of-a-kind book, and then you get all of those people to tell everybody in their little world (or big world) about your incredible, awesome, one-of-a-kind book—and, as a result of the amazing world of mass media, everybody will hear about your book, and able to receive all the unique, one-time free e-gifts that will be offered if  he buys your book on “launch day.” The other key factor is all the sales must go to one specific location; i.e., Amazon. The book sales over that period will surge, enabling you to hit best-seller status in one or more categories. Again, to incentivize people to buy your book on your launch day, you offer free e-gifts that are immediately downloadable; but only on launch day. Then the e-gifts go away.

We have over 125 authors as of this writing in the John 3:16 Marketing Network. (Please note: the John 3:16 Network is no longer active). Some are beginners and some are pros, but we are all Christians. We are individuals blessed with the passion for writing.  We help each other with book launches, blog postings, book reviews, following each other on social networking sites, and on and on.

I am reminded of Hebrews 12:1 from the New Testament in the Bible: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the AUTHOR and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

When the big day arrives, what happens? Your partners will send out Facebook and Twitter announcements. Those with big opt-in lists will announce your book to their subscribers. Some of your partners (friends) will feature you on their blog, host an interview by you or post some of your articles. Hopefully glowing reviews on Amazon and other sites will entice the public to push that “buy” button; and, you will have some fabulous bonus gifts for your buyers—free downloadable e-gifts available right after the buyer receives his confirmation email—available nowhere else!

What is a good launch? At the John 3:16 Marketing Network, we look at rankings. If we hit best-seller status in a category, we are thrilled. If our rankings get pretty low in terms of book sales, we are happy.

It’s important to note. Whether you reach best-seller status or not, you are gaining exposure. Others are tweeting, Facebooking, and sharing your book with their social networking contacts. It’s all about exposure. Oftentimes, people have to hear a name many times before it starts to register, “I need to watch that movie,” or “I need to buy that book.” We tell our authors not to get discouraged if you don’t sell as many books as you had hoped. Remember, it’s all about process, not outcome.
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BOOK MARKETING: “Are There Secret Formulas or Short Cuts for Making the Best-Seller List on Amazon?” by Lorilyn Roberts



Are There Secret Formulas or Short Cuts for Making the Best-Seller List on Amazon?
John 3:16 Marketing Network
Part One of Six

If I knew of a secret formula, I would be a millionaire—and so would you, because secrets promising success don’t remain secrets for long.

There is one sure road to the best-seller list, provided you have a good book, and that is hard work and networking. I don’t know of any other way to do it. What I have discovered, however, is many authors spend a lot of time and money in less productive ways, thus coming away feeling discouraged and defeated.

Examples of comments I have heard include: “I can’t get anyone to review my book,” “my sales are non-existent,” “I don’t know where to begin,” “I spent money doing ‘this thing’ and got no results.”

You also have heard this if you have been marketing for a while. I could tell some fabulous tales of “drain holes” I thought would work and didn’t.

One of the reasons I made becoming a member of the John 3:16 Marketing Network free is so people would not feel like they paid for something and got less than their money’s worth, and most authors don’t have a lot of extra money (like me). 

I also didn’t start the John 3:16 Marketing Network to become a marketing guru. God gave me the vision, but He gave me the passion to write. But without a way to promote my writing, I knew nobody would read my books because nobody would know they existed.



I will share a short story about my first book, The Donkey and the King, which I published using a Print on Demand publishing company. When my book arrived, I was ecstatic. I could at last say I was an “author.”

But, sadly, I didn’t know any other authors to share my excitement with and I did nothing to market it. I made no announcement and told nobody about my new book, except my closest friends and family. I did nothing to promote it, not even with people in my church. ZILCH! NADA!

I am sure you are wondering how many copies I sold—maybe ten copies. Yep, I probably made the Guinness Book of World Records for the “worst-selling” book that year. Why didn’t I do something to promote it?  First, I didn’t know how; and second, I was too shy to talk about my own book.

A couple of years later, I went on Amazon to see if The Donkey and the King was listed since I had never checked. Sure enough, it was there. I had one review by someone I didn’t know with a rating of five stars. That was the first time it occurred to me that somebody out there might like to read my book beside my closest friends and family.


I have gone from that day to this—because God put it in my heart to start the John 3:16 Marketing Network.



The John 3:16 Marketing Network is based on John 3:16 from the New Testament in the Bible: “For God so love the world that He gave His only begotten Son, so that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

To become a member of the John 3:16 Marketing Network requires only two things:

  1. You believe in John 3:16.
  2. You have an active blog/website.
     
Over the next six days, several of our John 3:16 Marketing Network authors are hosting a guest blog of different authors as part of our twice a year membership launch. Each day I will share a marketing article, and the guest author for that day will share something about herself and her writing career.

Before we are authors, we are people uniquely gifted and loved by God. Once we look beyond what someone does and see him as we see ourselves—a human being with needs, wants, struggles, hopes, and dreams, we can relate to him better and discover things we have in common.


That brings me back to the question and the title of this piece, Are There Secret Formulas or Short Cuts for Making the Best-Seller List on Amazon?

The short answer is no, there are no secret formulas, but yes, there are shortcuts to make marketing easier. Please check out my book How to Launch a Best-Selling Christian Book on Amazon.

Author Note: The John 3:16 Marketing Network is no longer active, but the ideas presented in the book still apply in 2022.
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LORILYN ROBERTS BOOK REVIEW: “Completely Whole” – New Book by Paulette Harper

Oftentimes, many people try to seek fulfillment from money, relationships, accomplishments, or material things. Others choose to cope with difficult problems by using drugs or alcohol, but they often come up short and soon have to realize that such things do not bring true happiness and fulfillment in life. How then can we successfully solve the problems that we face and find true happiness and peace in our lives? Well, author, Paulette Harper, in her latest book, Completely Whole, shows readers how to overcome suffering caused by alcoholism, substance abuse, poverty, and other obstacles blocking the path to a life of wholeness in spirit, soul, and body.

In her well-written, resource-filled guide, Harper provides readers with practical and biblically-based solutions to overcome everyday problems.

Completely Whole features prayers, meditations, and powerful scripture passages to allow readers to interact with the text and to apply it to their own lives. Harper uses personal experiences and biblical principles to place readers on a path to be in connection with God. This life-changing book will help readers to transform their spirit, soul, and body through Jesus Christ, so they can live a life of peace, joy, and fulfillment.


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“…AND MY DAUGHTERS FROM THE ENDS OF THE EARTH” – A MOTHER’S DAY CELEBRATION: Devotional by Lorilyn Roberts

I gazed through the broken window admiring the grandeur of the Himalayan Mountains twenty miles west of China. I felt like I was starring in a movie as I sat nervously waiting in the dusty, dingy office of the Chief District Officer of Dolakha, Nepal. The room was mostly dark, lit with only one uncovered light bulb. Old wooden chairs lined the bare walls and scraped the concrete floor. A dark-haired, three-year-old little girl named Manisha sat beside me.

The C.D.O., a man in his early 30’s, sat at an oversized desk with my papers before him. Wielding incredible power over my future, I needed his approval to adopt Manisha. It was hard for me to fathom how I had put myself into this situation, except that I knew God was leading me. My thoughts flashed momentarily back to my failed marriage of eight years.

“I don’t love you anymore,” my husband told me one night after I confronted him with evidence that he was seeing another woman.

I replayed scenes of the long hours I worked as a court reporter putting him through medical school. I remembered the wine bottles and cheese that I uncovered in the garbage upon returning home after visiting my family in Atlanta. I recalled the night he contacted the police after I confronted him in his office at the hospital. Two weeks after our divorce was final, the other woman gave birth to his child. I was devastated and hurt. Only a loving God could help me to start over and begin a new life.



A few years after my divorce, I received a letter from World Vision, an evangelical organization that sponsors children in Third World countries. The beginning of the letter, dated February 13, 1993, read: “Over 150 million children worldwide are trapped by hunger, sickness, poverty, and neglect.” I took the letter and put it on my refrigerator and thought, someday I am going to adopt a child from another country. The letter ended with a quote from Proverbs 13:12 (LB), “Hope deferred makes the heart sick; but when dreams come true at last, there is life and joy.”

Now, eight years later, after much forgiveness, prayer, and healing, God lead me to Nepal. I looked at Manisha, and with piercing, dark brown eyes focused on me, she spoke softly in very clear English, “I love you.”

I responded back, “I love you, too.”


I did not know how she could have uttered those words because she could not speak English. It gave me the assurance I needed over the next few days that God was in control. The C.D.O. poured over my documents and after a while looked up and asked, “You’re not 40?”


“No,” I said, “but I’m almost 40.”


“It’s the law you must be 40.” He gave a cursory glance through the rest of my documents. He and Silas, my facilitator, exchanged a flurry of words in Nepali. Some elderly Nepali men sitting in the room stared at me. I had the feeling that Silas was talking about my infertility. I felt exposed that such personal information was being bantered about. I saw worry in Silas’s eyes and knew my hopes of becoming a mother were precariously in limbo.


“We can go back to Kathmandu and try to get special permission from the Home Minister for you to adopt, but there is nothing more we can do here.”



I pondered in my heart what Manisha said to me, “I love you.” I had to trust God.

The next morning I heard a knock at my hotel door. I opened it and there was Manisha. She looked beautiful in her new pink dress and checkered blue top, smiling and laughing. My heart was full of both worry and hope.


Before we left the hotel to meet with the Home Minister, I called my Mom and asked for prayer. Isaiah 43:5-6* came to mind, “Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east…and my daughters from the ends of the earth.”


“O, Dear God,” I prayed,  “Please let this be Your will. Manisha needs a forever family, hope, and You.”


The sun shone brightly and it was a beautiful day as we arrived at the courthouse.


“They don’t like me at the legal office,” said Silas, “because I refuse to give them money. In America, it’s called bribery, but in Nepal, it happens all the time.”



Nobody wanted to help us. Silas spoke in Nepali to a male secretary and he motioned us into another room. An errand boy, after an extended discussion with Silas, went into the Home Minister’s office. We waited for what seemed like an eternity. Finally, he reappeared speaking in Nepali to Silas.


Silas breathed a sigh of relief and anticipation.

“The Home Minister has granted his permission for you to adopt Manisha.”

My eyes filled with tears as I remembered Manisha’s softly-spoken words in the Himalayan Mountains, “I love you.” It was as if God had said to me, “I love you.”


Yes, Manisha, I love you, too.



Just as God loved us so much that He gave us His Son and adopted us into His family, God had given me the first of two daughters to love from the ends of the earth.


*NIV Translation

The full story can be read in Children of Dreams, available at Amazon and other bookstores. The medical mystery uncovered in the book was featured in Animal Planet’s “Monsters Inside Me,” Episode 210, “Shape Shifters.”
You can watch the episode by clicking on this link.

Manisha arrived home on Mother’s Day, May 8, 1994. I dedicate this story to all mothers for Mother’s Day!

https://lorilynroberts.com/

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