Archive for the ‘Marketing’ Category

I’ve always been a super-achiever, or at least I’ve tried to be.

I earned more badges as a Girl Scout than fit on the front of my sash that I proudly wore. But I failed at one thing I was expected to do every year. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t sell those cookies! Eventually the frustration and shame I felt caused me to quit Girl Scouts.

Some people have the gift of being able to sell anything. They never lack for ideas and even have fun implementing them. I’m NOT one of them! But I’ve learned and am continuing to learn how to sell what I believe in.

Today being a good writer isn’t enough. Writers need to be equally good at marketing. Without that “platform” that causes most writers to cringe, landing a traditional publisher is likely not to happen. We can choose to go indie, but without a platform the sales record of far too many indie authors is dismal. Sadly, the message God has entrusted to them does not reach the audience that needs to read their book.

But there is hope!

Do you need proven methods to make your next book launch more successful? Then I want to tell you about a webinar I’m co-hosting with marketing guru, Thomas Umstattd Jr. In the webinar, you’ll learn proven principles and methods to help your next book launch go off with a bang. Then, at the end of the webinar, Thomas Umstattd Jr. and I will answer your book launch questions. 

Webinar Details

Topic: Book Launch Secrets

Hosted By: Marlene Bagnull and Thomas Umstattd Jr. 

When: Monday, March 28, 5 pm ET (4 CT, 3 MT, 2 PT)

Registration Link: Click here

Cost: Free!

Replay? Yes, but only if you register. 

I’ve known Thomas for many years and have been blessed to have him serve on the faculty of the Colorado Christian Writers Conference. Thomas has helped authors successfully launch books for over a decade. He hosts Novel Marketing, the longest-running book marketing podcast in the world.

I want to encourage you not to miss the March 28 seminar. If you can’t make it to the live seminar, you can watch the replay but, again, only if you register.

Father, thank You for Thomas. Thank You for gifting him to teach us the skills we need to effectively launch the books You have called us to write.

Book Launch Secrets with Thomas Umstaddt Jr.
March 28, 5 pm ET, 4 CT, 3 MT, 2 PT

And check out 
Book Launch Blueprint – 28 Days to a Custom Book Launch Plan.
Registration closes April 8 for this course that is offered only once a year.
Amanda Tero says, “My sales rose 542% after taking the course.”

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Thinking on my feet was never one of my strong points.

I remember my very first television interview for the book that accumulated 42 rejection slips over the six years I worked to find a home for it. When the invite came to be live on TBN, I was more panicked than excited. I made my list of ten interview questions as requested and tried to memorize my answers. I even did a practice interview with a friend.

I was beyond nervous when I arrived at the studio. Seeing the circular staircase I would need to walk down to get on the set didn’t help. PTL I didn’t fall down the stairs, but my mouth fell open and my mind went blank when I was asked:

Why did you write this book?

I remember my mind racing and my frantic prayer. “God, help! That wasn’t one of the questions!”

I don’t remember what I answered, but the next 30 minutes flew by. To my amazement I was asked to come back the next time I was on the west coast.

Why am I sharing this story? Because it’s critical that we know the why as well as the who, what, when, and why of what we’re writing.

Who is our audience. What need are we addressing. When and WHY nd where of what we are writing.

ho, what, when, and why I don’t want you to have the same experience Friday, June 25, during the Author’s Night at the Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference when Eric Sprinkle and Darcie Gudger ask you why you wrote your book – why people need to read it.

Eric will have the timer set on his iPhone, so you won’t have time to mentally rehearse what you want to say or to ramble as you think out loud.

So be prepared! It’s amazing how thinking ahead, and especially praying ahead, relieves anxiety. And the bottom line is I guarantee you will enjoy our Author’s Night. Hopefully you will also get orders for an autographed copy of your book.

We did a lot of thinking and praying about how to make it possible for you to sell your book at our VIRTUAL conference. PTL we’ve found a way to make it work. To find out what you need to do ASAP if you’re planning on coming to the conference and have a book to sell, go to “Selling Your Book” at https://philadelphia.writehisanswer.com.

I’d love to see you, and your book, June 24-26.
Now glory be to God,
who by his mighty power at work within us
is able to do far more than
we would ever dare to ask or even dream of—
infinitely beyond our highest prayers,
desires, thoughts, or hopes. 
Ephesians 3:20 TLB

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Ten Good Website Design Practices

Guest blog by Bruce Shank, Celebration Web Design

Note from Marlene: I strongly recommend Bruce and his team at SKWD Associates. They designed and have helped me maintain my three websites: https://writehisanswer.com, https://colorado.writehisanswer.com, and https://philadelphia.writehisanswer.com for the past 8-10 years. They are not just skilled professionals, they are committed Christians that I am blessed to have as friends and partners in ministry.

Not every website will be able to adhere to all of the good practices. Different websites have different purposes, but in general most of these practices should be present in every website design.

  1. Simple Is Best
    Simplicity usually works in an effective web page design. Be careful not to use too many elements on your landing page. This may lead to distracting visitors from the main purpose of your website. Clean and fresh design makes your website appealing and helps the user to navigate from one page to another seamlessly. Keep your design, including the navigation of your site, as simple and easy-to-use as possible.
  2. Website Purpose (Communication)
    The ultimate purpose of the visitors is to get information, and if your website can communicate with your visitors efficiently, most probably they would spend more time on your site. Organizing information by making good use of headlines and sub-headlines is a great way to display your information. Avoid long gusty sentences. Use shorter sentences and sometimes bullet points are effective.

    Your website needs to accommodate the needs of the user. Having a simple clear intention on all pages helps the user interact with what you have to offer. What is the main purpose of your website? What do you do? What do you want the user to do? Make these easy for the user to grasp.
  3. Content
    An effective website design has both great design and great content. Great content can attract and influence visitors. Readability is a key element in web design. Readability is the ease in which text can be read and understood. Make sure your copy is easy to read and easy to understand. Have at least 300 words of content on each appropriate page. There is a fine line between keeping it simple and having enough text on your site. Grammar and spelling are important. Flawless copy makes you look professional. Read and Reread your copy. High quality content is easy to read and suitable for scanning by Search Engines.
  4. Typography
    Font style and size play an important role on your website. They command attention and work as the visual interpretation of your brands voice. Typefaces should be legible, and you should use a maximum of 3 different fonts on the website. Since search engine crawlers are very familiar with this data, it becomes an integral part of SEO activities. Consider using fonts that are easy to read. Stick with your font choice throughout the website. Font size needs to be appropriate, not too large and not too small.  They need to be readable especially on handheld devices.
  5. Imagery
    Imagery includes still photography, illustration, video, and all forms of graphics. All imagery should be expressive and capture the spirit of you site. Most of the initial information we consume on websites is visual, and as a first impression, it is important that high quality images are used.  High quality images form an impression of professionalism and credibility. For faster loading, remember to optimize your image size. Celebration Web Designs EZ-CMS  management system helps with optimizing images.
  6. Color
    Color has the power to communicate messages and evoke emotional responses. Finding a color palette that fits your brand will allow you to influence your visitor’s behavior. Sometimes the colors which we like, might not be liked by others. There is often a tradeoff between colors we like and colors that are widely liked by others. It is important to make sure that the colors you choose are well-liked by others. Keep color choices to a minimum: too many colors are distracting. Keep the coloring scheme consistent throughout. Remember you are building your site for visitors, make sure your site is pleasing to look at.
  7. Formatting
    Eye tracking studies have shown that much of what people see is in the top and left area of the screen. The F’ shaped layout mimics our natural reading pattern in the West. An effective designed website will work with a reader’s natural pattern of scanning the page. Grids can help when structuring your design. They can help keep it clean and keep your content organized. The grid helps to align elements on the page. The grid-based layout arranges content into a clean rigid structure with columns, sections that line up and feel balanced impose order in an aesthetically pleasing website. Remember most peoples’ eyes will skip the banner before scanning the page. The banner can help set the tone of the website but don’t put critical content in it.
  8. Navigation
    Navigation is the way your visitors interact and find what they are looking for on your site. Website navigation is key to retaining visitors. If the websites navigation is confusing visitors will give up and find what they need elsewhere. Keeping navigation simple, intuitive, and consistent on every page is key. Studies show that visitors stay longer when websites are easy to navigate. Remember to follow the “three-click-rule” so visitors are able to obtain the information they need with as few clicks as possible. A max of three is a good rule to follow. Often repeating a link to your most important content is effective.The CWD teams often includes a menu item, text and button link from your home page for the most important items.
  9. Mobil Compatibility
    Keep in mind the ever-growing usage of smartphones and tablets. Web design must be efficient and effective for all of your pages. If your website is not responsive, and does not support all screen sizes, the chance is that you will lose visitors and certainly you will not be indexed well by search engines.
  10. Loading (Time)
    Waiting for a website to load can lead to losing visitors. Nearly half of web visitors expect a site to load in 2 or 3 seconds or less. In most cases they may not wait and will leave your site if loading time is greater than 2 or 3 seconds. Using good judgment and design elements when creating your site is essential. 

Thought For Today

Standing Up For Your Faith

Excerpt taken from a Feb. 6, 1968, speech in Washington, D.C. 

“Cowardice asks the question, ‘Is it safe?’ Expediency asks the question, ‘Is it political?’ Vanity asks the question, ‘Is it popular?’ But conscience asks the question, ‘Is it right?’ And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular; but one must take it because it is right.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Where do we stand? Are we often afraid to say what is right, to say what we believe because it is not politically correct? The more we allow Jesus to control our lives, the more we are able to take a stand for what is right, whether it is politically correct, popular or safe. Let’s not worry about what our culture says we should say or do. Let’s pursue a lifestyle of obedience to the Lord and allow Him to control what we say and do.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.  Psalm 19:14 ESV

Bruce Shank

Bruce is a graduate of Philadelphia University and has been working in the IT world for over 35 years. His experience ranges from programmer to president of Finpac Corporation, a software design firm. He is currently president of Celebration Web Design by SKWD Associates, LLC. Celebration Web Design is dedicated to designing, developing and hosting websites for ministries, businesses and non-profit organizations. Bruce is always looking for the opportunity to partner with others seeking to further God’s Kingdom.

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With the Colorado and Greater Philly Christian Writers Conferences not happening this year, I’m still faced with ongoing expenses. Please help by purchasing books from the Write His Answer bookstore. I’ve just added seven more books and discounted all of them. It makes no sense (or cents) to have money tied up in books I purchased for the conferences especially when those same books can help you grow your writing and marketing skills.

Whether you are traditionally published or have self-published, most all the work of finding buyers for your book is your responsibility and challenge. I love Cheri Cowell and Michelle Booth’s approach in this book. Their heart is in the right place, and the info they provide is very helpful. Both have served on the faculty of CCWC and GPCWC. I highly recommend this book.

If you want to be traditionally published, a well-crafted book proposal is essential. Terry’s vast experience in publishing, including as an acquisition editor, makes this a must-read book. Even if you choose to go indie, you’ll find a lot of helpful info. Terry has served on the faculty of CCWC & GPCWC, and I highly recommend this book too.

Three helpful books for novelists:

The Crown of Excellence
for Book Marketing

by Susan G Mathis

Don’t we all want a marketing crown? One that lets us know we’re successful as an author with all the marketing efforts we do? I sure would. But how can we measure that, see that, know that?

Last year’s debut CAN Crown Awards did just that, and our winners showed us some wonderful results for their work. You can, too.

Measuring marketing excellence, especially as an author has been too elusive for too long. But the Christian Authors Network (CAN) has developed tangible, measurable marketing standards of excellence to help Christian authors know that their marketing for books, book series, or brand if effective. After all, that’s why CAN exists!

Authors are often unsure, fearful, or reticent to tout their marketing work. And every time there’s a new platform to learn, well, our marketing confidence can be shaken. Can you relate?

What if someone showed you what a successful marketing plan looked like and how to plan to succeed by example? What if being recognized for marketing excellence earned an award—a crown— that continued to gain marketing and media attention?

Welcome to the Christian Authors Network #CANCROWN AWARDS. These awards recognize, educate, and encourage excellence in marketing and promotion skills of Christian authors. 

Christian authors want to get their books, book series, and brands out to readers, retailers, and librarians. The messages in those books reflect the love and glory of God. But without an excellent marketing plan that very message may go unread. The #CANCrown Awards recognize authors for their excellence in marketing and media, and being a winner gives you continued credibility long after the contest.

By highlighting stellar examples and recognizing marketing and media expertise, the #CANCrown Awards helps all of us as authors. There are three categories for books, book series, and author brands:

• Visual Media

• Broadcasting

• Web Presence 

These three categories evaluate the author’s physical materials, social media, major media, websites, blogs, and newsletters respectively. Therefore, the purpose of CAN Crown Awards is: To recognize, educate, and encourage excellence in marketing and promotion skills of all Christian authors.

The CAN Crown Awards Celebrate Excellence
in Christian Media and Marketing by Authors.

The CAN Crown Awards

Time is limited; the CAN Crown Awards close August 31, 2020.

Judges are independent professionals with knowledge in marketing and media. Finalists will be announced and will receive finalist logos/badges for their websites and materials.

The Christian Authors Network will announce the finalists in advance of the Crown Award Celebration. The virtual Crown Awards will be presented in November. Winners (Gold, Silver, and Bronze) will be awarded at the virtual Crown Awards. Presentations will include an overview of each winners’ campaign to an audience of filmmakers, publishing industry, and then out into the public to reach readers, retailers, and librarians.

The Christian Authors Network will also partner with authors to share finalist and winning entries to bring attention to these excellent author marketing plans. We’ll promote the winners through the many  #CANCrown Awards channels of influence—all for the price of entry.

Award design and entry pages are on the CAN website. 

Cost per entry: $40 CAN Members/$80 non-members.

Access the entry forms on our CAN Website: https://christianauthorsnetwork.com/can-crown-awards/


What’s CAN? Christian Authors Network. Check us out here: https://christianauthorsnetwork.com 

Hurry! Time’s ticking. We’ll be watching for your entry and will enjoy connecting with you.

Susan G Mathis, Christian Authors Network vice president

About Susan:

Susan G Mathis is an award-winning, multi-published author of stories set in the beautiful Thousand Islands, her childhood stomping ground in upstate NY. Her first two books of The Thousand Islands Gilded Age series, Devyn’s Dilemma and Katelyn’s Choice are available now, and she’s working on book three. The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy, Christmas Charity, and Sara’s Surprise are also available. Visit www.SusanGMathis.com for more.

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Guest Blog by Karen Bouchard, Coach at Word Ninjas and Acquisitions Editor at Illumify Media

You love writing.

Marketing? Branding? Tribe-building? Not so much.

So how in the world do you get ahead in your writing career?

I’m going to give you three tips in just a moment. First, though, I want you to consider signing up for two resources that are going to help you tremendously. I promise to explain more about these resources at the end of this post, but here they are:

Register for a FREE webinar Wednesday, May 13, at 6:30pm MT

and then…

Sign-up for a FREE 2-week trial in a platform-building coaching group  

Now back to our dilemma.

Last week a writer approached me with this very problem. She wrote, “In order to move forward in my writing, it seems like I’m going to have leave my strengths (writing) and move into my weaknesses (marketing, branding). How should I handle this?”

Now, unless you consider yourself a “marketer” first and a “writer” second, you may be asking this question, too.


As we’ve all experienced, the changes in book publishing over the past decade have been significant. The responsibility for connecting with potential readers has fallen squarely on the shoulders of authors, and it doesn’t matter what publishing avenue—traditional, hybrid, or self-publishing—we pursue.

While the shift in book publishing has created a lot of amazing and unprecedented opportunities, we are also in danger of losing the voices of less marketing-minded writers with equally important messages.

So what’s a writer to do? Especially if you don’t consider “building a platform” or “growing a tribe” to be one of your key strengths?

I have three suggestions for you, and here they are:

1. Reframe how you think of marketing.

If we define “marketing” as trying to convince someone to help us (by subscribing to our email list, following us on Facebook, buying our books), it feels yucky. For them and for us, too.

And if we think of building a platform—or growing a following—in terms of amassing numbers, well, that doesn’t feel great either.

No wonder we want to run screaming from the room.

But when we reframe our motivation for building our platforms—and become driven by love—we may discover that the process is not distasteful at all. In fact, it can become life-giving, to us as well as to our readers.

When we stop asking “How do I get people to sign up?”—and start asking “How can I help, serve, and love people to whom my message will bring life and hope?”—everything changes.

Of course, you will still need to learn some time-proven platform-building strategies—and some of those strategies function similarly whether you’re looking for numbers to help yourself, or whether you’re looking to serve others.

But don’t let that fool you. When you stop being driven by dread—and start being led by love—your experience, the experience of your audience, and the connections you forge and nurture will be far more amazing and fulfilling than straight-up “marketing” will ever be.

2. Connect with your audience in ways that resonate with your personality.

When we think of “building a platform” or “growing a tribe” we tend to think in terms of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. These are great tools, and I encourage you to explore all the possibilities these platforms present.

That said, don’t limit yourself. In addition to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, there are myriad ways to connect with your audience both online and offline.

You don’t have to do everything I’ve listed below (in fact, please don’t even try!). But do identify two or three avenues you find enjoyable to serve your audience, and use those avenues regularly to engage with your peeps.

Here are a few Facebook-free ways to find and grow your audience:

  • Events: Book clubs. Book signings. Expos. Meet-up groups. School Visits. Workshops. Church and community events. (In fact, take a clipboard to collect email addresses and grow your email list while you are at it).
  • Media and PR: Become an expert in your field and seek opportunities as a guest blogger, or a guest on podcasts or local radio. Submit articles to newspapers and magazines.
  • Start a podcast or YouTube channel.
  • Offer great content to someone who uses social media to connect with folks in your target audience. People who use social media a lot are always on the lookout for helpful resources they can share with their audiences. Create that kind of content and allow other people to bless their audiences with it. You’ll be blessed in return.

3. Hire help.

You can’t do and learn everything. Besides, time is money, right? So focus on what you love, and hire out what you don’t:

  • Hire a virtual (or non-virtual) assistant for a few hours each week.
  • Hire help creating and managing your social media presence.
  • Trade services, such as offering editing or writing services to someone who can help you with your website.
  • Hire someone to produce and publish your book while you invest your time and energy into connecting with future readers.  

The point is, don’t learn “all the things” yourself. I love learning, so I struggle with this. But if you and I want to have time to function in our strengths and passions, we have to learn how to free ourselves (at least a little) from the tyranny of tasks we don’t know how to do, and/or don’t particularly like.

I’m not saying never learn anything new. We are writers, after all. We are curious by nature, and learning keeps the brain young, right?

But pick and choose. Spend time learning how to do things that interest you, not things you hate (but will tolerate to save a buck).

By picking and choosing what you invest time learning, you might spend dollars but save sanity.

To keep yourself from getting lost in the weeds, stop asking “How” questions and start asking “Who” questions. In other words, instead of asking “How can I learn how to edit videos / use Photoshop / compose the opening music for my podcast / typeset my own book,” start asking, “Who can I hire who knows how to edit videos / use Photoshop / compose the opening music for my podcast / typeset my book.”

Where can you find modestly-priced help? Learn how to evaluate and hire freelancers on sites like www.fiverr.com. You might be surprised how reasonable some services can be.


Illumify Media and Word Ninjas are hosting a six-week FREE webinar series for writers. The webinar taking place on Wednesday, May 13th is on “Navigating Today’s 3 Best Publishing Options.”

Here are the other webinars in the series:

1. How to Create Your e-Newsletter in MailChimp
2. How to Create Lead Magnets to Grow Your Email List
3. How to Get Your Book into Bookstores
4. The Internet Has Changed How People Read–Here’s What You Need to Know (and Do)
5. How to Navigate Today’s Three Best Publishing Options
6. Bonus: “Ask Me Anything” Session (with Writing/Publishing/Marketing Pros)

When you register for even one of the webinars, after the series is over you’ll receive an email with links to all six recorded webinars. It’s a power-packed series of FREE trainings for writers that will help you no matter where you are in your publishing/writing/platform-building journey.

To register for the May 13th webinar, click on the link below:

Register for a FREE webinar Wednesday, May 13, at 6:30pm MT

And if you’re reading this after the series is over—and would like to receive links to all six trainings absolutely free—click here.


There’s one last platform-building resource I want to make available to you.

Word Ninjas is an online coaching community where I help writers improve their writing and learn tools and strategies to build their platforms. To learn more about how Word Ninjas can help you—and try it out for two weeks completely free—click on the link:

Sign-up for a FREE 2-week trial in a platform-building coaching group  

The bad news is successful writers need to nurture relationships with current and future readers. The good news is that successful writers get to nurture relationships with current and future readers—and it can be a lot more enjoyable than you might think.

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It’s now been almost four weeks since our daughter insisted that we not go out in public, even to church. As a physician, she saw the potential for the coronavirus to become a deadly pandemic. I thought she was over-reacting, but I’m so glad I listened.

The past month has not been easy for anyone, and it’s likely to become even more difficult in the weeks ahead. Despite the thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours I invested, I was forced to cancel the May 12-15 Colorado Christian Writers Conference. (It would have been our 24th conference!) I do not yet know if the 37th July 22-25 Greater Philly conference will happen. But compared to those who have lost loved ones to covid-19 or are on the front lines of trying to save lives, I am grateful to be safe at home.

With our daily routines drastically altered, we can no longer use the excuse that we’re “too busy” to write. Now, more than ever, “People Need the Lord.” He is calling me, and calling you, to “get the Word out” that He is with us.

Click here for a more readable PDF of the above Bible study that I’ve given several times as a keynote. In addition to asking Him what new writing He wants youhttp://categories to do, you may already have manuscripts looking for a home or books in print that would make a difference in the lives of readers if they knew they were available. I do!

little over a year ago I republished my testimony of God’s faithfulness during the five years we raised my half sister who was sexually abused by her father, my step-father. Sadly, I’ve done a pathetic job marketing #MyFamilyToo! – How Our Family Coped with Childhood Sexual Abuse.

Click here for the website.

If you have a book in print that needs to reach a wider audience, I want to encourage you to join me in studying Secrets to Effective Author Marketing – It’s More than “Buy My Book” by Maggie McVay Lynch. From the back cover of this 365-page book:

Have you put your book out there and been disappointed in your sales? Perhaps you’ve tried a variety of marketing tactics to boost discoverability: blog posts, social media, book tours, paid ads in a variety of venues. But nothing is working. This book provides specific techniques to exploit the value of your book without resorting to the typical overexposure in social media and newsletters with “Buy My Book” sales messaging.

I have only five copies available and am happy to sell them first come at my price of $11.89 plus $4 shipping. Please email me at mbagnull@aol.com and I’ll invoice you if I’m not sold out.

If you have a book that has not yet been published or stories, articles, devotionals, or poems, you need the 2020 Christian Writers Market Guide. I still have copies available at my price of $15.24 (retail $24.99) plus $4 shipping (or $6 shipping if you order both books). Again, please email me.

If you order one or both of these books, I’ll be glad to include a free CD of my “Get the Word Out” keynote.

Father, the needs are so great. Please help us to write and to live Your answer!

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Guest Blogger
Patricia Durgin
Marketers with a Mission

Your greatest gift to your audience is your message. God entrusted you with a vision of what your audience’s life can be like, and He planted that vision within your message. Think of it as a roadmap.

They need you to be their guide. You know the hidden trails not shown on the map. The secret passageways. How to escape the Scary Forest.

You know the way because you once faced the same peril or challenge your audience faces today, and Christ—who is THE Map—guided you to safety. Then He invited you to share His Good News through your message, which is really His message in yours.

You accepted, and you’ve written a book, or you have one in mind. How will it reach your audience? You must take it to them, for they won’t come to you for it. How could they? They don’t yet know that yours is the message they seek.

Would you sacrifice your comfort to reach your target market for Jesus?

I invite you to consider public speaking as the single most effective tool to reach your audience in real life. To gather them round you and assure them that yes, there is hope, and its name is Jesus. That’s Christian communication at its best!

This hope is shaped surprisingly like your audience’s needs. Perhaps they’re in an unhealthy relationship and you’ve been delivered from one. Or their children have special needs and you’re able to maneuver through the insurance maze. Maybe they long to travel and you’ve ridden across the country on a motorcycle.

Whatever their challenge, you know the path that can lead them from where they are to where they want to be, because God first led you down that same trail, and then invited you to turn back and lead others into His light. What a privilege! What a responsibility!

But your message will never reach beyond your local circle of friends and family if you don’t step into the unknown. Your audience is waiting for YOU to find THEM.

Perhaps you’re working to reach your audience online. Great idea! I specialize in online marketing, so I love it.

But online marketing is the long game. Does your audience—and your writing career—have time to wait?

Public speaking is the short game. Create an event. Deliver your life-giving message. Return home and repeat as desired.

This Friday, November 1st, the Speakers QuickStart online course will open for enrollment. It’s designed to help Christian writers and speakers without any / many followers build their audience in real life, via live events.

As your audience grows offline, invite them to join you online, too, thus growing your online platform (which publishers require).   

Instead of waiting to be “discovered” and invited to speak elsewhere, help your audience “discover” you…by hosting your own events. We’ll show you how inside the course.

(Note this is not for those who already have a large following, but rather for those who enjoy intimate get-togethers or small group settings and would like to grow from there.) 

With each presentation, your message will become tighter, more effective. You’ll be acknowledged as an expert. And as your offline followers join you online, your platform will finally gain traction. More of your books will sell in both arenas.

All because you stepped out of your comfort zone to serve your audience as God’s representative.

If you’d like to find out more about how speaking can help you reach your writing goals, I invite you to join the Speakers QuickStart 14-Day Challenge private Facebook group for Christian writers and speakers.

Join the group to learn more about the course. Stay to learn more about marketing (our main focus).

Compassion for hurting people drives us to serve in ways and in places we normally wouldn’t consider. Will you dare to step out of your comfort zone by hosting small gatherings so your audience can hear God’s Good News?

Join us now in the Facebook group: https://marketersonamission.com/challenge/

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I confess! I hate research. As a result, almost all of my 1,000 plus sales to Christian periodicals are based on personal experience. You’ll rarely find me including statistics or quoting a bunch of “experts.”

Well, I hate most kinds of research, but I love digging deep into God’s Word to “write His answer.”

Study GOD and his strength, seek his presence day and night.

1 Chronicles 16:11 MSG

Early on in the 46 years I’ve written for publication I discovered the importance of studying (researching) the markets. I took seriously what an editor said at one of the first writers’ conferences I attended. I don’t remember her name, but I’ve never forgotten what she said: “An incorrectly targeted article is nothing but a source of irritation to a busy editor.”

Each edition of the Christian Writers Market Guide that Sally Stuart compiled for 24  years was well-worn and much appreciated. From it, and the guidelines for writers that I always requested from publishers, I developed Market Analysis Charts. As part of my Ministry/Marketing Packet that I sold for many years they were used by well over 1,000 writers.

Barb Haley apr 2016 croppedToday I’m so grateful for my dear friend, Barb Haley, who serves as the registrar and appointment coordinator for both the Colorado and Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference.

The charts of agent interests, editorial needs, and areas of expertise that she prepares for both conferences are an incredibly valuable research tool and a huge amount of work.

Below  is the chart of nonfiction editorial needs for the 22 editors at the May 15-18, 2019, Colorado Christian Writers Conference. There are also charts for fiction, children/YA & Other for our editors, 5 agents, 7 other professionals, and 19 authors.


In addition, with the bio for each of our 53 faculty members you’ll find the chart they completed (see sample below). Click on Editors, Agents & Other Professionals, and Authors.


Father, thank You for Barbie and for Steve Laube who is continuing the work Sally Stuart began with the Christian Writers Market Guide. Thank You for the Internet that puts information at our fingertips. Help us not to be lazy when it comes to obtaining info we need. And especially, Father, remind us daily to study Your Word. Help us to do in-depth research so that we can effectively share Your answer.

Know what his Word says and means.

2 Timothy 2:15

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Question Mark Key Shows Doubt And Help

Years ago, I sold a packet of “Ministry and Marketing” resources for Christian writers. One side of the twin pocket folder had Bible studies as well as articles from my column in The Christian Writer that later were compiled into my book, Write His Answer – A Bible Study for Christian Writers(It’s now in its third edition and has been in print for 28 years!) The other side had how-to articles on writing and, yes, on selling our writing. My “Market Analysis Charts” helped many get their work in print.

I’m certain my kids and husband were happy when I stopped selling the packet and they no longer had the job of collating the 50-plus pages and pasting on the front and back cover.

Much has changed since I started writing for publication in 1972 after our second child was born. Wannabe writers and those already published now are able to access a huge amount of how-to information on the Internet. Writers’ conferences, seminars, podcasts, webinars, and coaches provide exciting opportunities to become better wordsmiths and marketers. And, of course, there are more how-to books than any of us will ever have time to read.

But sadly, the tension between ministry and marketing still exists. In fact, I think it’s grown more intense. Yes, we want to get the message we believe God has entrusted to us into print and into the hands of readers, but all too easily we can get caught up in doing things the world’s way.  We can spend lots of dollars and hours on building our “platform” and push God into a corner of our busy lives. In the process, it can become all about us and not about Him.

For the past 35 years as the director of the Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference and 22 years as the director of the Colorado Christian Writers Conference I have sought to find the balance God wants us to have between ministry and marketing. Of course, I offer workshops to help writers find a publisher for their manuscripts and readers for their books. But hopefully our “Write His Answer” theme keeps the focus clearly on the Lord and on writing as a ministry to point readers to Him and not to ourselves.

Father, please help me and Your people, Your scribes, to seek You and Your plans for our writing. Give us wisdom to know what learning and platform-building opportunities You want us to invest in. Help us to be realistic and not to focus on what we hope to gain but rather on what You would have us give.

How do you deal with the tension between ministry and marketing?

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So be truly glad! There is wonderful joy ahead, even though the going is rough for a while down here. These trials are only to test your faith, to see whether or not it is strong and pure. It is being tested as fire tests gold and purifies it—and your faith is far more precious to God than mere gold; so if your faith remains strong after being tried in the test tube of fiery trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day of his return.
1 Peter 1:6-7 TLB

Thanks so much for your prayers and sharing with me the obstacles you’re facing. Father, we look to You for Your answers and thank You that You are able to work all things together for good.

The Geek Squad tech was amazing. The files had not been deleted. They had been moved to a different account. (I didn’t know I had more than one account.) He also did a temporary fix for Quicken, and my MS Office programs appear to be running MUCH better. He removed a program that he said was notorious for introducing Malware. I’m am so relieved and thankful.

Sheri Schofield, a friend who comes to the Colorado Christian Writers Conference, faced a HUGE obstacle this year. She indie published her children’s picture book, The Prince and the Plan, but by mistake 2,000 copies were printed in black and white. She was given the option to purchase them for $4,180 (that she didn’t have) or they would be destroyed. Praise God He has provided and is using them in Ephesians 3:20 ways. With her permission, here is the email she recently sent me – proof that God is not limited by the size of our author platform and that He does answer prayer!

PrinceandPlan_coverThe Lord has given me a team of people here in Montana to reach the Native Americans and the poor with my book The Prince And The Plan! When I was first debating what to do with the black & white misprints, the Lord gave me this verse: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent Me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and release from darkness to the prisoners” (Isaiah 61:1). Then He told me to give them to the Native Americans in Montana, where unemployment is 80%.

I’d been able to reach the Salish & Kootenai, the Crow, the Blackfeet, and the Assiniboine & Gros Ventra tribes, but hadn’t been able to reach the Chippewa Cree at Rocky Boy reservation nor the Sioux in the northern part of the state. I asked the Lord to provide a way to reach them. Rocky Boy is VERY closed. At a book signing at the local Christian bookstore, a pastor’s wife from Set Free Ministries came and bought 10 full-color copies for the families at their church. She asked if I had a way to give discounts for books in bulk for use among the Native Americans. I asked her which ones, she said “Rocky Boy and Havre”, which are the very ones I’d been praying about! Today she and her husband picked up 300 books for them. AND her husband committed to helping me reach more poor and Native children around the state! I’ve got a team now to help me! Praise God!

Twenty-one years ago, the Lord gave me a vision of a work He would do here in Helena that would flow to the rest of the state, then to the nation. I had no idea it had anything to do with me, but I now understand that it very well may! He said a river of life would spring up here.

Marlene, I’m NOT following the usual way of marketing this book. I’m doing only what the Lord tells me to do, for this is a ministry, not a career. I’m going through the doors the Lord opens, and trusting Him to provide the financing to get the gospel into the hands of children. I know — it is really different! But once before, the Lord told me to fight a battle for Him, and I did it HIS way — and I beat the U. S. military. So, having that example of how God leads behind me, I’m comfortable with doing this book His way, too. So far, God provided all the money needed to independently publish the book, to give away 2000 black & white copies, and has provided a team to help me get it into the hands of the poor, of which there are many here in Montana. I’m rejoicing!

[Click here for Sheri’s latest newsletter and contact info.]


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