8 Things Every Christian Author Should Do
What do many successful speakers, entrepreneurs, and ministry leaders have in common? They consistently publish books that speak to their audience.
Publishing books is the best way to build authority and become the go-to expert in your field – and it’s one of the fastest ways to grow ministries and get clients consistently. By following the example of other Christian authors, you too can take the right steps to establish yourself as an expert in your field.
The following are 8 lessons we can learn from influential Christian authors, speakers, and leaders. Each lesson comes with a link to its own free training, so you might want to bookmark this page so you can come back to it as you work your way through the training.
1. Build Your Brand To Revolve Around Your Audience: The Story of Bishop T.D. Jakes
You probably know T.D. Jakes as the founder and senior pastor of a 30,000-member church located in Dallas, TX. But, impressive as all his accomplishments are, where he is now isn’t where he’s always been. His first congregation only had 10 people, and even his first megachurch started at 2,000 people – not 30,000.
Your Brand Doesn’t Revolve Around You
Jakes’s story is a testimony that a timeless, impactful brand doesn’t revolve around you. It’s a customer-centric brand, one that speaks to the wants, dreams, hopes, and fears of those you are called to serve. Yes, you may be the face of that brand, but never lose sight that it’s not about you – it’s about them.
Jakes published his widely beloved book, Woman, Thou Art Loosed, after he realized the message God had given him couldn’t be limited to a one-time sermon and needed to go further and wider than his congregation of (at that time) less than 500 members.
The power of Woman, Thou Art Loosed came from the way it spoke to a group of women who had been underserved. And Jakes’s commitment to putting those women first is a big part of what catapulted him to what we see and aspire to today.
Publish AND Profit
Like T.D. Jakes, by focusing on your audience and what they need, you too can achieve great success. But you have to start by doing more than just publishing books – you have to build an impactful brand.
You see, lots of people publish, but far fewer are profitable. That’s primarily because:
- There isn’t enough visibility (a.k.a. “Traffic” or “exposure”) for the published book. This is relatively easy to fix when you know what to do.
- The traffic the author does generate doesn’t convert. This generally means the book didn’t feel relevant enough to the reader’s situation and needs or make an emotional connection by speaking their language. It can only be fixed by publishing with your audience, not your agenda, in mind.
So yes, write the first – or the next – book, but make it about the people you are called to serve, not you. It must feel relevant to them and their needs – and you can only make that happen by spending time with your audience. To take that first step in publishing with your audience in mind, check out Part 1 of the free training.
2. Create a Winning Lead Magnet: The Story of Joyce Meyer
Today, Joyce Meyer shares openly and practically about her experiences of abuse, and helps millions of people find hope and restoration through Jesus Christ. But she didn’t start out with a wildly successful ministry. Instead, she did what she could with what she had – and relied on God to grant the increase.
There Must Be an Exchange of Value
Are you willing to spend time in obscurity while God is developing your character and assembling the right people and resources to bring about the success that you see in your mind? Are you truly sold out on the mission, or are you only willing to do it if it’s comfortable or convenient?
These are important questions to answer, because if you want your ministry or business to grow, it starts with building a loyal following. All organizations run on money, and there’s only one way that people part with their money: voluntarily. So to build a successful ministry or business, you need to create a value exchange.
In other words, when people give you something (money), they must also get something. And the thing they give you their money for has to be valuable to them before they’ll even consider giving you their money. The value you offer is a seed: if that seed is small and inconsistent, your harvest will be small and inconsistent.
Think about what your audience needs and how you can help them accomplish their goals. Then, start providing solutions that make a difference. When you do that, your followers will increase, and those followers will be more likely to stay for the long haul and tell other people – a.k.a. messenger multiplication – and your ministry will not only survive, but thrive.
Craft a Lead Magnet that Converts
One simple way to get started is to create a lead magnet. A lead magnet is something of value that you offer to potential customers in exchange for their contact information. In Joyce’s instance, her lead magnet was an audio series that her supporters received in exchange for a donation of any amount. Along with the series, supporters also received monthly letters with fresh content and opportunities to further support the ministry.
These days, lead magnets are mostly electronic. Things like e-books, webinars, case studies, or anything else that your audience would find both interesting and useful. This is one of the most effective ways to create sales opportunities from your website and social media traffic.
But maybe you’ve tried to create lead magnets, and no one ever signs up. If that’s you – if your lead magnets are getting traffic, but not signups – then the problem is either with what you’re marketing or how you’re marketing it. It’s really that simple. Check out Part 2 of the free training for more guidance on creating a lead magnet that gets traffic AND signups.
3. Build a Branded Community: The Story of Steven Furtick
For many, Steven Furtick’s church offers an exciting, modern perspective on the 2,000-year-old Christian religion. Whether you’re a fan or a critic, there’s one thing we can all agree on: Steven Furtick is no ordinary leader. He possesses a unique ability to rally people, young and old, for a common purpose: to spread God’s love.
Success Isn’t Overnight
While Furtick has written numerous best-selling books throughout his ministry, he also understands that as powerful as books are, they’re not enough. Instead, he embraces the power of community. His churches offer people the ability to join not just an online service, but a virtual community, a group of real people who are doing life together.
And that community mindset extends beyond church to Furtick’s personal brand. His 167,000-member Facebook group provides both inspiration and supplemental content that complement his books. When it comes to creating a branded community that gets you and your message, no one does it better than Steven Furtick.
However, Steven Furtick’s success didn’t happen overnight. As a new convert, he had a vision for what his ministry would be one day, but “one day” didn’t mean “right away.” That’s an important reminder for all of us visionaries, because one of our biggest challenges is discerning God’s timing. We can’t afford to get ahead of ourselves – or God.
Invite Your Audience In
Furtick’s story also reminds us not to sleep on the importance of creating a community for your readers and audience. This can be done in a number of ways, from social media groups to online events. But by creating a community, you’re not only providing a place for your readers, supporters, and clients to connect with each other – you’re also giving them a way to connect with you.
Ultimately, your audience needs to buy into you before they buy your stuff. It’s all about the “know, like, trust factor”: you want people to know who you are, what you write, and what you offer, and why they should trust you.
By sharing your thoughts, ideas, and stories in a branded community you can help your audience connect with you on a personal and emotional level. When they feel like they know you and trust you, they’re more likely to buy your books and whatever else you have to offer.
Branded communities help build loyalty, and in the end, that’s what you need to be a successful authorpreneur. Ready to get started building a group that not only survives, but thrives? Check out Part 3 of the free training.
4. Nurture Your Audience with Content: The Story of Michael S. Hyatt
Michael S. Hyatt is one of the most successful leaders and entrepreneurs in the world. And yet, in 2021, after more than 40 years of leading, coaching, and growing his business, he chose to step back from the day-to-day operations of his company and turn over the reins to his daughter. Now, he can focus on creating compelling content and developing easy-to-follow frameworks that help his fans and followers get ahead in life and in business. In other words, he’s finally getting to focus on the fun stuff!
Don’t Give Up Too Soon
Many of us have been conditioned to believe that what Hyatt calls a “double win” – that is, success at work and happiness at home – is not possible. But Hyatt proves that this is a limiting belief. He’s committed to balancing work and family life, and it has certainly paid off.
However, Hyatt didn’t start out with the huge following he enjoys today. In fact, during the first four years of his blog, it seemed he was making no progress in gaining followers. Still, holding to a “by any God-honoring means necessary” mindset, he stayed consistent in blogging three times a week and got really active on social media. And in that fourth year, his blog exploded.
Hyatt’s story reminds us that we often give up too soon. Have you allowed discouragement to steal your joy and passion for what God has called you to do? If so, it’s time to fight to get it back! No matter what that voice tries to tell you, you will not be fulfilled until you move forward. You are called with a purpose, and there are people waiting and depending on you.
Consistency Is Everything
Second, Hyatt reminds us that daily decisions determine destiny. Despite sometimes feeling like throwing in the towel because blogging didn’t seem to be working, he pressed through those feelings and kept showing up day after day. And that daily decision changed everything.
Last but not least, Hyatt teaches us that developing a way to nurture our audience is key. Nurturing is the process of engaging, supporting, and building genuine relationships with your prospective customers at every stage of the journey. This means providing them with meaningful content that meets their needs and keeps them coming back for more.
When it comes to building a thriving platform, Hyatt emphasizes quality and consistency – or, as he says, “aim for awesome.” Hyatt understands that prospective readers and clients have choices, and it’s our job to position ourselves as the best choice.
Did you know there are four stages your content must guide a reader through before they make the decision to purchase from you? Check out Part 4 of the free training to learn more!
5. Sell Through Storytelling: The Story of Priscilla Shirer
Priscilla Shirer thought she was headed for a career as a television news anchor. But after interning with a Christian radio station and getting flooded with invitations to speak, she started to realize that God had other plans. That’s how her speaking ministry began: as an 18-year-old freshman sharing simple truths about God that had been revealed in her alone time with Him.
The Power of Storytelling
One of the big reasons for Shirer’s successes is her ability to draw people in with her voice and her words. She’s a master storyteller, not just in her books or movies, but even in how she talks about the mission that God has her on. You see, Shirer believes the greatest adventures in our lives happen when we step outside the comfort zone of what we think we’re gifted in. Even through simple interviews, Shirer inspires us to “do it afraid,” to step outside of the box, and to trust God with our journey.
The cool thing about Shirer’s story is that God gave her the desire of her heart – but in a different way. Instead of her becoming a news anchor, the Lord incorporated her love of television into her minsity by enabling her to publish video-based Bible studies and even to become, in her own words, an “accidental actress” in the film War Room.
Like Shirer, we have to learn to surrender our dreams and to trust that God has a better plan, even if we don’t understand what He’s doing. So if you are somewhere you never thought you’d be, know that you are not alone and that there are still more chapters in your book. God is not through with your story yet, and maybe – just maybe – the best is yet to come.
Do You Have What It Takes?
Another striking lesson we can glean from Shirer is her willingness to “lean in” and grab hold of opportunities without hesitation – even when it scared her. Are you willing to do the same? For example, you may love writing and hate marketing, but you can’t have one without the other. You can’t make an impact without being willing to do what it takes to ensure your message gets out there.
As we can see from Shirer’s life, one of the greatest marketing and sales tools of all time is storytelling. Storytelling is all about one thing: being able to reflect on and identify the teachable moments that your ideal audience would be interested in. Shirer always knows her audience, and that’s what allows her to consistently deliver.
Really, that’s all marketing is: developing the ability to focus on the customer and their needs more than we focus on ourselves and our needs. To learn more about the secret to selling with storytelling, check out Part 5 of the free training.
6. Be Open to Change: The Story of Tony Dungy
Tony Dungy is the coach that has done it all, but his story is as full of setbacks and losses as it is victories. Through it all, he has remained an inspiring example of leadership, integrity, and perseverance. Though he never saw authorship coming, Dungy has since remarked that he enjoyed more satisfaction from his success as an author than he did from his famous Super Bowl win. Why? Because of the impact it has had on people.
Delays, Detours, & Challenges Precede Success
Most NFL players probably don’t expect their football careers to be ending after just three years. Instead, they expect to enjoy a long, illustrious career – but that just wasn’t in God’s plan for Dungy. When things fell apart, he had to pick up the pieces and move on. And sometimes, that’s one of the best things that could ever happen.
Dungy’s story teaches us that success isn’t always a linear journey, and that sometimes it requires a shift in perspective – or a change in course altogether. To experience sustained success, we often need to let go of what is comfortable and familiar and embrace new opportunities and challenges.
Dungy’s story also teaches us that with God all things are possible, but possible doesn’t always mean easy. Though Tony finally realized his dream of becoming head coach, the dream was riddled with complexities, bringing him both amazing victories and disheartening defeats.
The journey to success in writing seems straightforward on the surface: write a great book, get it published, and enjoy fame and fortune. However, nothing could be further from the truth! Publishing is a complex industry, and whether you go the traditional route or self-publish, the competition for the public’s attention is fierce. If you want to make it as an author, you need to be prepared for the long haul. And as you journey on that long road, expect challenges and blessings along the way.
Multiply Your Audience
Lastly, Dungy reminds us that saying “yes” to the call to write could be life-changing, both for those we are called to serve and for us. It may be hard to believe that one “yes” could open up the possibility of becoming the voice for others, sharing our stories, and finding our own voice. But when we say “yes” to becoming an author, we are saying “yes” to the chance to make a difference in the world. And that one “yes” has opened many doors for Dungy to speak at events and on podcasts.
You see, Dungy gets it. He knows that every day, people tune into podcasts to get a dose of inspiration, escape daily life, and educate themselves on topics that they are interested in or unsure about. When you’re a podcast guest, you have the opportunity to get your name and your message in front of an audience that is loyal to the influencer they are following. So all you have to do is find podcasts where your ideal audience is similar to the host.
Not sure where to begin growing your audience through podcasts and other speaking opportunities? Check out Part 6 of the free training.
7. Don’t Underestimate the Power of Backlinks: The Story of Sarah Young
Life as a missionary can be isolating and full of challenges, and Sarah Young’s story is no different. But living in one of the most isolated metropolitan areas in the world – Perth, Australia – wasn’t the only challenge that Young had to partner with God to navigate. Despite battling chronic illnesses, Young has an amazing perspective. She sees her God-given assignment as providing a lifeline to people who feel they are sinking in hopelessness.
It’s Not Over Yet
Much as Young would have loved to have been healthy, she believes her illnesses have taught her how to rely on Christ’s sufficiency, and helped her to work collaboratively with Him. She says her awareness of her weakness left her with no choice but to depend on God, and helped her relate better to the women she had been mentoring.
Young’s now-famous devotional journal, Jesus Calling, was a surprise hit, to say the least. During its first three years, it sold just 59,000 copies, despite backing from a major publishing house. But then sales started to explode, and nine years after publication, it sold more copies in 2013 than the much buzzed-about titles of that year.
Since then, Jesus Calling has become more than a book – it’s become a brand that continues to enjoy widespread success. Though some may question her intentions, Young is connecting with her audience, and she firmly believes she is making a difference God’s way.
One lesson Young’s story teaches us can be summed up in three words: “Not so fast.” We can easily put a period where God has simply placed a comma, to think something is over when it’s really just an intermission. But the Second Act that God has in store just might be greater than we could ever imagine.
Backlinks: Your New Secret Weapon
Young’s story also reminds us never to underestimate the power of partnership and backlinks. Commonly known as inbound links or external links in the world of search engine optimization (SEO), backlinks are links that point from a page on one website to another.
For example, imagine you write a featured blog on Sarah Young’s website, and it links back to your own website. Young gets additional content that helps continue to nurture her Jesus Calling audience, and you get the benefit of association with Sarah Young. Then people coming to visit her site might stumble upon that article and go to your website and social media to learn more about your work. Can you imagine what that would do in terms of opportunity for you?
And not only do backlinks allow us to “borrow” credibility from someone who may be a little further along than we are, but – because these external links point to your website – Google thinks you’re more credible and ranks you higher.
To learn more about leveraging the power of backlinks, check out Part 7 of the free training.
8. Become a Thought Leader: The Story of John C. Maxwell
John C. Maxwell’s first call was to follow in his father’s footsteps into ministry. But then, years later, he received another call. Maxwell felt a constant tug between ministry and business, and what he eventually found was that it’s possible to be successful in both without compromising either space or denying either’s importance and potential impact in Christian communities.
Who Are You Called To Help Right Now?
As a thought leadership expert, Maxwell has received countless honors, awards, and accolades. He attributes much of this success to taking things one step at a time and committing to his Rule of 5 – that is, taking 5 specific actions every single day (including holidays!) to move toward his goals.
Maxwell teaches us that it’s important to discern who we are called to help – and how – right now, in this season. While he loved his first calling as senior pastor to a local church, he later realized that it wasn’t his forever calling. You see, while God is limitless, we are not. And as Maxwell learned by trying to hold onto that first calling a little too long, pushing beyond our limitations can actually limit our effectiveness.
Next, Maxwell’s story reminds us that if we want to change the world, it can’t be about us. Leadership has to be about adding value to others. To be an effective leader, we have to learn how to serve others and develop our own personal influence. That’s why Maxwell’s Rule of 5 is so powerful: because the leadership he teaches starts with leading himself.
Thought Leader or Expert?
Last but not least, Maxwell teaches us the importance of becoming a thought leader. That means being a source of fresh ideas and quick wins that distinguish ourselves from the competition. More than just being experts in their fields, thought leaders are also great communicators. People choose to listen to them because they have something valuable to say.
If you want to be successful as an author, it’s essential that you become a thought leader in your niche. When you do that, it will help you sell more books and increase your influence. You will have the ability to directly impact the thoughts and beliefs of millions of people all over the world.
Becoming a thought leader can multiply your value, so you can monetize your message through several different streams, countries, and programs. To learn more about maximizing your impact and income in a way that honors God, check out Part 8 of the free training.
Bonus: Obey the Call
In addition to the above lessons from eight influential leaders, there are a few other pieces of advice that every Christian author should keep in mind.
You Don’t Have To Choose Between Ministry and Business
Take the life of Thom S. Rainer for example. Rainer started out in finance and later transitioned into ministry, but ultimately found success in both avenues. At the end of the day, your success in this industry depends on both your ability to write great books and to build a thriving business. So if you want to make it as an authorpreneur with maximum impact, it is essential that you focus on ministry and business skills.
Demonstrate Your Credibility
Talking about your book or business will only go so far. At some point, you need to start showing your audience that you have what it takes to help them achieve their goals. If you’re not doing this, you’re not fully utilizing your platform to spread God’s message, and you’re leaving money on the table.
The most important thing you have to do for your audience is build trust, and demonstrating your credibility and adding value upfront helps to do that. By giving away something of value, you build trust and credibility with potential buyers. Once they know that you are an authority in your field, they’ll be more likely to buy from you when the time comes.
Spend Time in God’s Presence
God wants us to spend time in His presence, not just work for Him. Take, for example, the story of Tara-Leigh Cobble. Despite a successful career as a Christian singer-songwriter, Cobble admits she based the early years of her relationship with God on second hand knowledge from others. Eventually, however, she began seeking Him on her own terms, and that changed everything.
In today’s society, it’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday life – and even of ministry. We’re constantly bombarded with messages telling us we need to be productive and be achieving something at all times. This can often lead us to neglect spending time in God’s presence. Instead, we must slow down and take time out of our busy schedules to simply be present with the Lord. When we do, we open ourselves up to experiencing His peace and joy.
You Don’t Have To Have It All Figured Out To Get Started
Sometimes we feel like we need to have everything figured out before we can take the first step on our writing and publishing journey. But that simply isn’t true. In fact, it’s often better to not overthink things – you simply have to be obedient.
Maybe, just maybe the only way to get the answers you seek is to get going in the direction that God is calling you to. God honors obedience, so if you’re feeling stuck, you don’t have to have it all figured out, just be obedient. Just take that first step, and trust that He will lead you where you need to go.
You are not alone. God designed you for community, and when we journey together, we can support and encourage each other in ways that we could never accomplish alone. We want to walk alongside you in your journey – join us in the Christian Authors Network community for encouragement, advice, companionship, and accountability in the stage of your journey as a Christian author.