Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Divine Distributor - Wright

What can we do when our best efforts to market a book fail to elicit much response? When Evangelical Press published my book, Revolutionary Forgiveness, I had high hopes that God would use its message widely.

I felt passionately about the importance of helping individuals, couples and churches to embrace a forgiving lifestyle. As a pastor and missionary I’d seen first hand the wounds bitterness and unresolved anger can inflict.

So I wrote an easy-to-read guidebook covering all aspects of forgiveness from a biblical perspective. I illustrated each point with examples from real life. I re-wrote and revised it umpteen times. My publisher accepted the manuscript with enthusiasm and produced it in a format conducive to small group study. They even linked it to an interactive web site. I felt sure this would become my most useful book. That was 2002.

With the limited resources at my disposal, I did everything I could to promote the book. It received great reviews and sold well in the first six months. A church or two used it for small groups. A few individuals responded to the web site. Then, interest tanked. Since 2003 sales have been dismal.

“Why, Lord?” I queried. “Is my motivation wrong: am I seeking to glorify myself rather than you?” It’s so difficult to discern one’s own motives. After all, being a writer—an author—can be quite flattering. I’m rarely sure whether pride lingers in some dark closet of my mind. Only the Holy Spirit is able to expose and root out that kind of ugliness.

Marketing gurus provide a multitude of reasons why some books sell and others don’t. In the case of Christian books, there is a special factor. Sometimes they either sell or don’t due to God’s inscrutable will. When they do sell, it may be due more to God’s gracious providence than anything else.

And so through the years I’ve tried to pray, “Lord may each book on forgiveness that does sell become a blessing. May it help to reconcile an alienated couple or unite a divided church or free a bitter individual from resentment and anger. And please keep reminding me that every book sold is important.”

Then came 2008. Imagine my astonishment when the publisher sent word that 2194 books sold in the last six months of 2007.

God loves to surprise us with examples of his uncaused grace. God’s surprises aren’t meant to get us to stop using all the means at our disposal. He expects us to work hard, hone our craft and use wisdom and integrity in marketing. But sometimes our mouths hang open as we sit back and watch God work.

Eric E. Wright


N. J. Lindquist said...

Great news, Eric! You just never know. :)

Linda Wegner said...

Rejoicing with you!!...and how encouraging for the rest of us.

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