Thursday, August 03, 2006

Writing Doesn't Just Mean Books

In the three years since I became involved with Christian writing, I've learned some interesting things. I suspect that we all start out wanting to write the next Left Behind series or Purpose-Driven Life. Actually, the odds against our ever getting a book published are pretty long. But for those of us who've succeeded, it's sobering to see sales figures (when you can get them).

Terry Whalin, the author and editor, in his extremely useful blog (, had a recent posting about the average sales numbers of books. In 2004, more than 90% of the books published sold fewer than 100 copies. An average sales figure for a book was 500 copies. I'd encourage you to go to that blog and read the whole post. What the figures amounted to is that, aside from the very small minority that constitutes the blockbuster books of the day, most books sell in the hundreds, or low thousands. I recall reading that most books are read by three persons (which is discouraging, if you're looking for a royalty check). Randy Ingermansen, who's a pretty successful author of Christian fiction, told me about sitting in a partially filled stadium for a football game, and thinking, "This is about as many people as my books will ever reach."

I've heard from so many editors that Christian authors shouldn't confine themselves to book-writing, especially if they're trying to break into the field. "Publish in periodicals," they say--"get some name recognition." That's certainly true, but there's an added benefit. Take the example of getting a meditation accepted for publication in The Upper Room. That short piece is going to be read by millions of people, around the world. You'll reach more people with that 250 word piece than you could hope to reach with an average Christian book, either fiction or non-fiction. And, if we're honest with ourselves, we write as a ministry, not to see ourselves glorified. Or at least, I hope we do.

Lately, I've begun doing more writing of articles and meditations. It keeps the writing muscles toned, and is a welcome break from my fiction. Watch for my work in The Upper Room and InTouch Magazine. And I'll watch for yours.


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