One Day at a Time with John Stange (Re-Air)
How do you build an author platform that attracts major publishers? Is it actually possible to get traditionally published after choosing the self-publishing route? And what if you keep trying to make your author dreams come true, but you just aren’t seeing results?
While building your author platform does take work, this week’s Publishing Secrets guest, John Stange, found that it’s much simpler than you might expect. In fact, John never intended to build the big, multifaceted platform he has now. Listen and let John’s story inspire you not to give up if you don’t see results right away – because you might be surprised at how the pieces finally fall into place.
In this episode, you’ll also hear:
- How John’s background as a radio announcer, pastor, and writer prepared him for the platform he would eventually build online
- Why a major publisher took note of John’s online presence
- Why John says writing a good book is only the first half of an author’s work
- What John discovered about his own internal dialogue that inspired both a book and supplemental materials
- John’s advice for the writer who feels like giving up for lack of visible results
Experience as a Training Ground
From pastor and church planter to author to podcaster, John Stange wears many creative, ministry-related hats. Many of those pursuits, however, didn’t start out as branches of his ministry. Instead, they trace back to his childhood dream of becoming a radio announcer.
His first full-time pastoring position was located near a Christian radio station, so when John learned that the station was hiring, he applied despite not being experienced in the field. He was hired, and even received on-the-job training to develop skills in speaking, broadcasting, and editing digital content – all things he could later use as a podcaster, speaker, and more.
“I really didn’t see the long thread of how the Lord was going to use that,” John says in retrospect. “But it definitely factored into some of the things that I’m doing now.”
John’s story is an important reminder of how God can use our present experiences as a training ground for things to come. We can only see what’s right in front of us, so we must learn to trust that God is a good Father, and that His ultimate plans and purposes for us are good – even when we don’t understand them.
Like his dream of becoming a radio announcer, John’s desire to write a book had been around for a while by the time he actually put one together and self-published it. Even then, it was several more years before he started self-publishing more content and building an audience. Between self-publishing and voiceover work – something else he learned at the radio station – John was able to support his family through financially difficult seasons of church planting.
As John’s online platform and audience continued to grow, he eventually started up a website to house his various creative endeavors.
“That’s what ultimately caught the attention of a major publisher, when they saw that this was multifaceted,” he explains. “But this developed over the course of many years, and I had no idea that this would result in a traditional publishing deal. As I felt led to work on one particular thing, I worked on it. And then I added the next piece as I felt led to do it. And then, before I knew it, I could step back and look, and there’s a whole kind of system here in place, almost like its own media channel.”
Marketing = Relationships
As John has learned, cultivating a relationship with your audience is crucial. In fact, marketing is more similar to everyday relationships than you might think! It doesn’t happen overnight, but when you put in the work to build relationships and consistently put out valuable content, eventually all those pieces come together.
“A lot of times people think that the work of an author is just to write a good book,” John says. “And that’s the first half. And then the second half is actually letting people know that the book exists. Because you could write good content, but if no one knows about it, no one’s going to read it.”
Like many aspiring authors, John says he used to hate the idea of marketing. He didn’t want to annoy people or push them away. But over time he learned that marketing – when done well – isn’t annoying. It’s an opportunity to share the message you’re passionate about.
When you truly care about your message and the difference it can make in people’s lives, and when you’ve taken the time to cultivate relationships with the audience who needs to hear that message, marketing becomes less of a chore and more of simply being excited to tell people about the message God has given you.
Preach to Your Own Heart
One message John is passionate about can be found in his book Dwell on These Things, which is all about managing one’s mindset to line up with what God says instead of the negative things we tend to tell ourselves.
John says the inspiration for this book came from his own experience in ministry. As a pastor, he noticed a gap between what he was preaching to his congregation and what he was preaching to his own heart.
“From the pulpit, I would encourage my congregation to understand who they are in Christ and find their sense of identity in Christ. And then a lot of times, after I’d preach a message, I would be very critical of myself,” he says. “When I look at Scripture, it tells us that Satan is the accuser of the brethren. And I thought, ‘Wow, my internal dialogue sounds a lot like accusation.’”
As John worked on aligning his self-talk with the truth of God’s word, he realized that he wasn’t the only person who could benefit from this message. So he started writing. He also shared his idea with an agent, and ultimately the book was picked up by a major publishing house.
And, in addition to the book, this publisher helped John develop a companion product: a set of inspiration cards summarizing the book’s key ideas. More than just a second product to sell alongside the book, these cards make it easy for people to grasp the message and apply it to their daily life.
Stick With It
John’s story is a powerful reminder that achieving our dreams is a journey. It does not happen overnight – often, we have to take baby steps all along the way. But eventually, if we keep at it, we’ll end up exactly where God wants us to be.
That’s why, if you’re frustrated with where you are on your journey right now, John advises you to persevere. After all, God uses all sorts of people to accomplish His purposes – so why shouldn’t you be one of them?
Instead of comparing your progress to someone else’s, remember that success takes time and consistency. When John started his podcast, he only received about 10 downloads – but today that number has multiplied to several million!
So don’t give up if you don’t see results right away. You might have to keep at it for a few years, but eventually you will start to see the results of your efforts. “Stick with it one day at a time,” John says in closing. “Be faithful to the tasks the Lord has given to you, and do it for a period of years. And then step back and look at where He brings you. I think He’ll surprise you.”
John is a follower of Jesus, husband to Andrea, and father to four great kids. He holds degrees in Bible, Education, and Counseling, is a certified speaker, trainer and coach with the John Maxwell Team, and serves as the Lead Pastor of Core Creek Community Church in Langhorne, PA. John is an adjunct professor at Cairn University, where he teaches courses on church planting, theology, and counseling. He also serves as the Director of the National Mission Board which is a ministry that is focused on church planting and church health.
John hosts three podcasts, “The Chapter-A-Day Audio Bible,” “Daily Devotions with Pastor John,” and “Dwell on These Things.” At present, his shows have been downloaded over 5.5 million times by listeners throughout the world.
John’s books are focused on spiritual growth, leadership, marriage and the practical and applicational aspects of following Jesus. He recently signed with Penguin Random House to publish his latest book “Dwell on These Things” which is a 31-day-challenge to talk to yourself like God talks to you.