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They Want YOU, the Author!

- 04/07/09  

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Trainer Network | MAI


April-June 09

In This Issue:
They Want YOU, the Author!
Lebanon: Fresh Minds Writer Workshop Update
New Online Publishing Resources

Strategies to Facilitate Discussions
LittWorld 2009: Hot Incentives to Register Now
Win a Scholarship

Hi, !

The new world of marketing is extremely personal, writes our featured author. But relationships are time-intensive. So, how do you take the plunge to connect directly with your readers and still have time to write your next book and go to your day job? Learn this and more below.

In order to better serve you, as of this issue, Trainer Network is switching from a semi-monthly to a quarterly publication. Don't forget, you can access past issues in our online archive.

-Dawn Herzog Jewell, editor

They Want YOU, the Author! 
Connect to your audience via digital tools
By Jon Hirst

Marketing your book today isn’t about broadcasting a message to one million people and expecting them to run to bookstores. Ideas swirl around us at high speed and most people can only grab and engage meaningfully with a few.

Increasingly, marketing is about telling the right 10,000 people and building a community. The most critical skill in sharing your ideas is building a disciplined relationship with your audience that enables you to meet their needs.

The new world of marketing is extremely personal. People are searching for authenticity and community around your idea. They don’t want the marketing staffer at your publishing house – they want YOU!

So, how do you venture into this new world and still have time to write your next book or go to your day job? Consider these ideas:

1. Identify those people to whom your idea will make the most difference. Create a page or two description of “Joe and Jane” reader. Keep this visible at your desk.


2. Define the top 3-4 needs that Joe and Jane have related to your book. Then look actively for ways to meet those needs.


3. Find out where your Joe and Jane live, work, play and spend free time. Then enter that world. For example, if you are writing about how to raise toddlers, then investigate toddler- related programs in three to four churches closest to you. How can you get involved?

4. Decide which tool you will use to enable your audience to connect. Some authors use digital tools and others connect in the real world via churches or other groups.


5. If you choose to go digital, consider these options:
a. Your content: A key way to develop a relationship is to provide new and changing content related to your book’s theme. Creating a blog will allow you to write and publish with minimal setup or work. Two popular blog hosts are Blogger and WordPress. The blog enables you to offer in-depth content that fewer people will see, but it provides more meaning and impact.

b. Your community: Once people read your blog, they will be excited about what you have to say. But how do you get them there? Social networking sites can help you develop a following. Whether you use Plaxo, MySpace, LinkedIn, or Facebook, these tools allow you to build a group of people who care about your topic. Then you can send messages to your community when you place content on your blog.


c. Your sound bites: Twitter is a service that allows you to send a quick, engaging sentence to cell phones or the web profiles of a group of people interested in your book. Your message could also include a link to a blog or website. Here’s a recent “tweet” I shared: “What would it be like to die on a normal day? Read on: 4:09 PM Jan 4th from web.”

You could also use Twitter to send a message from your phone or computer when you do an event or book signing. It could inform your followers of your location and invite them to join you. 

6. Invest a little time each day in your community. For example, I spend at least 20 minutes on most days on a different marketing activity .  Here is a sample schedule: 

  • Monday: Post your weekly blog entry
  • Tuesday: Respond to emails from readers/community members
  • Wednesday: Make new connects with people in your audience via phone or in person
  • Thursday: Update tools such as Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, and your website with links to content and ideas
  • Friday: Respond to emails from readers/community members
  • Saturday: Research your next blog posting
  • Sunday: Rest

I’ve used these online marketing tools to promote my book Innovation in Mission: a blog, Facebook group, and Twitter.

The new reality in publishing can seem overwhelming. Feeling insecure is common when you are at the mercy of your audience. However, I have learned that your influence is huge when you can personally and directly speak to their needs.

Jon Hirst is an MAI board member and serves with HCJB Global as Executive Director of Strategic Communication. Jon and his wife Mindy run a think tank called Generous Mind that helps people to share their ideas with the world.


Lebanon: Fresh Minds Writer Workshop   

In March, 16 men and women gathered for MAI’s writer workshop in Beirut, Lebanon. The workshop was led by MAI President John Maust and author Anne de Graaf and hosted by Fresh Minds, a culture magazine for the whole family published in Arabic. Participants included a television announcer, a former interviewer from MTV, a woman’s radio program host, two Baptist publishing staff and an Armenian poet, among others. 

Workshop participants will gather for a reunion meal in April, and they have requested more specialized and intensive, workshops in the future. 

Please pray:
-for the follow-up gathering in April, that friendships would continue to deepen
-for the planning of future writer trainings in Beirut
-that the training effort of Fresh Minds magazine will draw increasing numbers of participants
and make an impact on Lebanese society

Read more about Lebanon and the workshop on Anne de Graaf's blog.


Strategies to Facilitate Discussions

A good facilitator creates an open, relaxed and—most important—interactive environment. If you are asked to facilitate a meeting or discussion, rely on these strategies.

Strike the right tone. Make clear upfront exactly what the group goal for the session will be. Say it early and say it often to eliminate confusion and hidden agendas.

Understand the “who” and the “why”. Who is in the room, and why is each person present. Gain that knowledge before you begin the session. Then, when you ask a question, direct it toward a specific reason. Do not lob a generic question at the group and then wonder why you are failing to spark dialogue.

Pick up on others’ cues. If someone says something particularly provocative or controversial, ask someone else to comment on it. Your goal should be to create honest, meaningful dialogue about important topics that participants sometimes hesitate to address openly. Let them see that you will not shy away from straight talk; they will start to feel more comfortable too.

Keep your mouth shut as much as possible. Stay out of the spotlight. Your goal is not to deliver answers, but to enable others to find solutions themselves. Your job is to draw them out. So you should listen more than you talk. When you speak, ask open-ended but very direct questions. Examples: “How would you respond to…?” and “What is your first reaction to that proposal?”

Pull the plug when it’s time. If one participant has hijacked the conversation, move closer to that person. Your position in the room will deliver a hint that it is time to move on. If the person ignores the hint, be more direct. Say, “Chris, we appreciate your points, but how do they connect to the problem/issue we are here to discuss?” You will remind attendees that they are there to solve a problem and move forward.

-Adapted from Make the Connection: Improve Your Communication at Work and at Home, Steve Adubato, Rivergate Books. Reprinted from Communication Briefings; December 2008; phone: 570-567-1982.


LittWorld 2009: Hot Incentives to Register Now

Kenya's coffee and tea rank among the world's finest brews. You can savor your own steaming mug of either one if you register by  April 30. We'll give you a free bag of JavaHouse, Kenya's gourmet coffee or tea, upon your arrival at LittWorld. (Only paid registrants are eligible.)

Win a Scholarship– 
It's not too late!

Tell your friends how they can win a scholarship to LittWorld. Submit an original, true story that demonstrates the power of reconciliation through the Gospel in 1,500 words or less. Entries in English or French must be received via email by the new extended deadline, April 30.*

Read the complete guidelines.

If you submitted an entry but have not heard back from MAI, please contact

New Online
Publishing Resources

We’ve recently added new articles to our online publishing resources.You’ll find articles by experts who offer practical, pertinent advice and encouragement. Topics include professional development and leadership, with titles such as “10 Keys to Building Strong Relationships with Your Authors,” “12 Things I Learned as a Publisher,” and Ghislain Canteih Yao’s personal story of God’s faithfulness, titled “Up From the Ashes.”


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