Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Discomfort Zone - Is Self-Promotion A Christian Concept?

I'm participating in a Blog Chain this month, with a topic called 'The Discomfort Zone.'

If you look in the sidebar you'll find many other posts in this blog chain. I think you'll find many challenging and informative posts about this Discomfort Zone writers enter into as they work toward publication.

For me, one of the most difficult things I'm having to do during this new chapter of my life (The pursuit of writing novels, I mean) is self-promotion.

Not that I don't like me. I think I'm pretty good! That is, until I look at Him. Now, He's a mark I'll never hit. While Ephesians 5:1 says that we are to be imitators of Christ, I am too often finding mud on my white robes. I sometimes look a whole lot like the world...

Yet, in the publishing industry, one of the most important things a new author has to learn is that they are expected to market their book, or books, and take a very active role in marketing... ahem... themselves.

This means, putting your face on book flyers, getting to know thousands of people, going to book signings, getting in front of people, blogging, gettings onto Twitter and Facebook, Shoutlife and MySpace, and so many other venues online that scream for your attention as you scream for the attention of others...

...and all the time, in the back of your mind, you wonder if this is what God meant when He wanted you to write?

Did He want us to sell ourselves to the public?

And that's the question I struggle with, the Discomfort I face. You see, just like so many of you, I really want people to like me, and I want people to think that the work I do is fantastic. That it amounts to something. That it's a 'good read', a page turner. Something that spoke to you. I could eat that up like Lasagna.

The truth of the matter is that God called all of us to point the way to Him. If I remember that, as His child, I'm a new creation and the work I do, when it's the absolute best I can do through HIS strength and HIS leading, well, it's not bad stuff.

And if I can be an imitator of Christ, if I can be more Christlike through HIS power and HIS grace, then when people look at me, while it looks like I'm busy promoting myself, instead, I'll do my best to promote... Him.


  1. The mere thought of having to promote myself and my books (when they're published) sends shivers up my spine. My whole writing journey have been a series of God pushing me further and further out of my comfort zone, but I think marketing will be the worst of them all. Yet it is a part of the writing journey. God has led me through every aspect of my writing journey so far, so I have not reason to believe that He will leave me on my own for the marketing. I just need to cling to Him even tighter as He takes me through this step.

  2. Excellent post, Chris. In fact, it's the prospect of eventually promoting my books and myself that intimidates me most at this stage of the game. However, I'm not going to let it stop me from doing what God is calling me to do.

    And with that in mind, could you pretty please add me and my post to the blog chain list in your sidebar? My post is at


  3. @Suzanne - Thanks for your comment! Yeah, He promised, didn't He, that He would NEVER leave us nor forsake us? He'll be there with you every step.

    @Traci - Oops! You caught me before I updated it - I had to go to Adam's post to get a more updated list. It's corrected now, at least as complete as he had. Let me know if the link no workie...

    I can no longer get to the Google documents site, I think... work has it blocked.
    I think the self-promotion scares all of us a bit, and we question WWJD? But Jesus didn't tell His disciples to sit in a church and hope somebody wouldn't call them prideful - He sent them out to tell everyone. And even though our work isn't scripture, I believe He wants us to market it, in His time, as we listen to His voice, and as He opens doors.

  4. Great post. Left to my own devices I'd be a hermit with an internet connection. We definitely walk a thin line trying to be in the world, but not of the world. Marketing is definitely harder and more time consuming than the writing part.
    We must never forget that our words can change lives whether we know about it or not, and be content to let the Lord use our work as he sees fit.
    Peace and Blessings

  5. Nice one. Putting ourselves out there can certainly be uncomfortable for most of us, but you have got the right perspective on it. Paul Colman Trio sang a song called 'The Sun, The Moon and the Stars." Paul sings about how he doesn't want to be the star, but like the moon reflecting the sun, he wants to reflect the Son.

  6. Great post, Chris - definitely a subject I try not to think too much about at this point. Just the thought of all the stuff that goes into self-promotion sends my head spinning. I find myself just asking God, "Can you just be the Agent please? Do all the marketing? Promoting? Please, Daddy?" Knowing all the while He probably is just shaking His head and smiling tenderly while responding, "We can do it together - one step at a time."

    I loved your post! Thanks!

  7. That promoting stuff means we have to believe in our stuff--and in the One who led us and helped us create it. All about focus, I guess. Keeping our eyes on Him, reflecting Him, walking with Him step by step.

  8. Writers have to do so much self-promotion today and it is very intimidating! This song started playing in my mind as I was reading this--
    Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord
    And He will lift you up.

    Good job on pointing that out!

  9. The Discomfort of self promotion seems to be a theme that is appearing over and over in this chain. It really is a 'biggy' and one that most of us seem to be struggling with. Good post!

  10. I don't promote myself but rather what I write in obedience to glorify God. That mindset brings me peace. Still, the work of promotion is discomforting...

  11. Thanks, everyone, for your comments!

    Seems I'm not the Lone Ranger in this - I guess we all have to deal with it as we get out there and develop a readership.

    Interesting, the post reminded several of you of songs. It reminded me of a Todd Agnew song, I wonder if anybody knows that song I linked above. Probably would have been good if I could have linked a full-play rather than a teaser, but that song struck me so hard when I first heard it.

  12. LOL! I'm with EG...I'd be a hermit also! I'm the one hiding in the closet, peeking out at everyone else! I really do not like this promotional stuff. This writing thing was God's idea and I'm just along for the ride. As Janalyn said, it's what I write in obedience to glorify the Lord that gets promoted. Great post, Chris! I loved it! Blessings to you!

  13. I think we're all in agreement. The hardest part about a writing career has nothing to do with writing! Self-promotion is a killer, isn't it? But if He's given us a word to get out, it's our job to do it--and He's with us even during the self-promotion.

    Good post, Chris!

  14. This is a topic with which I struggle. I have the skills and education to market effectively, but sometimes I wonder if those skills are gifts from God to be used toward the purpose of publication--of getting the inspiration He's breathed out upon the page "out there" to change a heart toward him-- or if the pursuit of publication itself is based in a prideful need to be "noticed." I guess it comes down to: he placed a call upon me to write. He's changed me through what He's had my write. Don't hide His light under a bushel (to misquote a preschool VBS song) get it out there! This is how the industry works. If you weren't doing it yourself you would be depending upon someone else to do it for your and... is there really a difference?

    This was my first visit to your blog. I'm intrigued. I clicked over here from Tracy Krauss's place. It's nice to see honesty and vulnerablity from other writers!

  15. Welcome, S.R. Van Ness!

    I think we all struggle with it a bit, especially as Christians. We're called to be humble, however, we need to get the word out about what God is doing through our writing.

    A good example of this was Jeremiah. He was just a kid, but God's spirit empowered him mightily to call out conviction and judgement for the sins of Israel, and to warn a country that wasn't listening about the coming disaster.

    Tough place to be in, especially as a kid. He had every reason to 'duck and cover' but God called him to confront the king.

    I think in some ways our promotion of our work (not really our selves) is along that vein. If God's hand is in the stories we write, then we should promote it to glorify Him. And minister to others through that work.

    I buzzed over to your blog. We have the Blue Sword too - my wife read it and thoroughly enjoyed it.