Friday, December 17, 2010

Everyone Is Doing It

There seems to be a new trend in the publishing world. At first, I didn’t think it was much of a trend, but now I’m beginning to wonder. If Michael Hyatt does it, I’ll know for sure.

I first noticed it when Chip MacGregor did it. Of course, Rachelle Gardner has talked about doing it, but never has. But then Brandilyn Collins announced that she is doing it. Suddenly I feel like I’m in The Neverending Story fighting The Nothing. Could this be the forerunner of the end?

If I were to do it, few people would notice. I have a few people who follow my blog. I would hope they would notice—especially if I announced it, but the thing about blogs is that people only notice what you’re doing if you tell them about it. No, even my most faithful readers wouldn’t notice if I did it. That is sad, but true. Maybe that is why they have decided to do it.

Their decisions to do it gives us all reason to question whether we should do it. And I’m not sure I can give a good answer for why we shouldn’t. The prevailing wisdom seems to be that we shouldn’t, but some of that prevailing wisdom came from the people who are. It would make a difference if we had some kind of evidence that not doing it would help us sell more books, but what most of us have experienced hasn’t show that to be true. That does seem to be the case for some authors, but most of us put in a lot of effort only to see little in the way of results. Oddly enough, when Brandilyn Collins announced that she is doing it, her reason was that she wanted to be more effectively in contact with her readers at large.

It’s refreshing, in an odd sort of way. By doing it, people are admitting that what they thought to be true isn’t. But what gets you is that these are people for whom it should have worked. In many ways it looked like it was working. So why didn’t it?

When we look at why an author like Brandilyn Collins would quit blogging, I thing we notice is that she attracted writers, but not so many readers. I fear that is true for all of us. Blogging is a non-fiction medium. People find blogs when they are looking for something in particular. People find my blog when they are looking for information about publishing or about writing. What they aren’t looking for is a good novel to read, so it is hard to convince them they should purchase my books. I’ve literally offered to give my books away to my blog readers and have gotten a pitiful response.

Blogs are like speaking engagements. They only work to sell books if the topic of the blog is compatible with the topic of the book. I think people like Brandilyn Collins have an advantage because they have an established fan base, but for the most part, novel readers aren’t going to spend a lot of time reading out blogs. They might swing by after reading one of our books, just to learn a little more about us, but they won’t be hanging out to read every post.

I suppose that’s a good reason to implement a e-mail newsletter. I’ve avoided doing that because I don’t much care for being on a e-mail list, but as I write this I’m about to talk myself into it. It still requires a fan base, but with an e-mail newsletter a reader can learn about new releases when they come out without having to follow the blog. I’ll have to give that some thought. In the meantime, I’m not planning on following Chip MacGregor or Brandilyn Collins’ example anytime soon. I’ll keep on blogging for now, even though it won’t sell novels.

God Takes Checks

The other day I took some heat from a reader of this blog when I said that Christians ought to tithe. Obviously, I wouldn’t try to tell Christians they ought to tithe if Christians were giving more than 10% of their income. If a person gives 11%, what do we care if that person gave a tithe and added an offering on top of that or if he thinks of the whole thing as an offering. But I heard a statistic the other day. What I heard is that the average Christian gives 1.67% of his income. That’s not a question of whether a Christian should be tithing or not, that’s just wrong!

Think about this, if the average person makes $50,000 a year, 1.67% is a whopping $835 per person. Now consider that if you and your spouse dine out once a week and spend $25, you are spending $465 more on dining out each year than what the average Christian gives to God. I’m not saying that you have to quit dining out so you can give to God, but the fact is that that $835 isn’t very much.

But what if a Christian is tithing. That Christian making $50,000 would now be giving $5,000 a year to God. That’s still not all that much. It is less than $100 a week. I won’t say it’ll be easy for you to start giving at that level if you haven’t already been doing it, but Christians who have been tithing for a while don’t even miss it. In fact, they feel that they are more richly blessed.

God can accomplish his work without our money, but consider a church with 50 families, each averaging $50,000 a year. If they are giving at the 1.67% level, the church budget will be somewhere around $41,750. It would be hard to do much with that low of a budget. You could give to support a few things. The pastor would have to have job outside the church to support his family. But suppose each family tithes. Now the budget is around $250,000. With that kind of budget, you can pay multiple staff workers and still be able to maintain the building and support missions.

Now let’s get real. I mean come on. If you’re one of these people who thinks we should only give what God leads us to give, do you really think he will lead you to give less than 10%? I highly doubt that. He calls us to something greater. Why, if you start giving, he might bless you with enough that you can give 15%, 25%, 50%, who knows.

One more thought here. Have thought where that $835 comes from? Divide it out and what you’ll find is that it’s about $16 per week. That’s close to $20. Isn’t it odd that the average Christian feels God leading him to drop the amount of money in the offering plate each week that is the same size as one bill that comes out of the ATM? Knowing human nature the way we do, it wouldn’t surprise me if the average Christian isn’t listening what God has to say but is instead opening his wallet, pulling out a single bill and dropping it in the plate. It has nothing to do with the leadership of God at all, but it has to do with him not wanting someone to see him passing the plate without putting something in it. If that’s you, let me give you tip. God accepts checks.