I sell a lot when I speak, but increasingly I'm noticing that it's not necessarily books. Last week one of my big sellers was a "Retreat to Go" package I've created, with a DVD of a conference I gave, and then a whole kit on how to host a women's retreat, with all the planning checklists, dramas, ice breaker ideas, and more that you will need.
I think people want information, but they don't necessarily want it in books. They want to listen to it as they commute. They want to experience it with others on DVD. They want to reflect on devotions every day, or something else like that. But the time to read a book? Not necessarily.
Perhaps it's different for fiction; I have a feeling it is. But nonfiction? I'm not sure. It's still selling well, according to booksellers, but I sense that people crave information, just in different ways.
So for the last few months I've spent a ton of time uploading videos of myself onto YouTube, and blogging, and starting a podcast. It's a lot of work! But I'm starting to see more and more people learn about me who had no idea what I had to say before.
I read a great blog post a few months ago on why not to write a book. Here's a little bit of what she said:
1. People who have a lot of ideas need a blog, not a book.A blog is more immediate, so you’ll get better feedback. And getting feedback as you go is much more intellectually rigorous than printing a final compendium of your ideas and getting feedback from the public only when it's too late to change anything.
Many people think they have a ton of ideas and they are brimming with book possibilities when in fact, most of us have very few new ideas. If you have so many ideas, prove it to the world and start blogging. There is nothing like a blog to help you realize you have nothing new to say. And, if you do end up having an amazing blog that focuses on one, big grand idea with great writing to boot, then you can get a book deal from your blog.
Another of her points is that books lead to speaking careers, and speaking careers go nowhere, and they're very stressful. I'd second that! But I still love speaking, because I think it's a gift God has given me.And that's the difference between us as Christian writers and the rest of the world. We don't just write to get rich and famous (because we probably wouldn't, anyway!), we write because we feel called to it. So are you called only to write? Or are you called to communicate?
Deborah Gyapong and Denyse O'Leary both have awesome blogs, and I'm sure more people have read their blogs than their books, though they're likely upset about that. I've been trying to blog for a different niche audience (Christian moms), and I'm having fun with it. But being able to talk about what's on your mind in a daily basis does solidify your thoughts, and give you some authority, too.
Books are still needed, but they're not all that is needed. And if someone is thinking, "I have this great story to tell; I really should write a book!", maybe they're on the wrong track. Maybe they should blog. Or speak. Or write articles. All three would probably reach a bigger audience.
So I will keep writing books, because that's something I'm gifted in. But it's not all I'm going to do. I'm also going to make more CDs of my talks. And DVDs. And I'll blog. And all of that is a lot of work. But it's how we reach people today, and I guess we just all have to adjust!
Sheila is the author of four books, including To Love, Honor and Vacuum: When you feel more like a maid than a wife and a mother. She speaks around the country to women's groups and at marriage conferences. You can find her at www.SheilaWrayGregoire.com, or at her To Love, Honor and Vacuum blog.