Will People Want to Read the Christian Book You Write?
Will people want to read the Christian book you write? Or will you just hope they will want to read it?
Most Christians have a point they want to make. Since they believe their message is from God, they automatically assume others want to read what they want to say.
But the craft of writing is about more than stringing words together. It’s about connecting with your readers.
Reaching Readers is a Spiritual Transaction
The best way to connect with your readers is by realizing that writing is a spiritual transaction.
Someone, somewhere is asking God for an answer to a problem. God may not speak directly to the person. He may intend to speak through you.
That’s why you must be listening to people, not merely thinking up ideas. People share common problems and God may want you to write a book that offers a solution for all of them.
In that sense, you gain insight into the needs of people by being a listening ear. Interestingly, that’s the heart of the kind of market research you want to do before you start writing. Having an idea for a book is not enough. You want to meet an existing need.
Listen to the concerns of people. Give them a reply in your book that will bring them blessings.
A Big Mistake
I have been encouraging Christian writers for decades. I have told this story of one of my early errors before.
A man came to me with a commentary on the Book of Revelation. It was more than a commentary; it was filled with his opinions about End Times.
I told him kindly that I wasn’t interested in editing it or helping him market it.
Nearly a year later I was in my local Christian bookstore. His book was on display. It had been published by a major Christian publishing company and it was featured prominently in the store because it had received rave reviews in many Christian publications.
What was my big mistake? I made a wild guess about whether the book was marketable. I didn’t like it for several sound theological reasons, but it found a huge audience and was helpful to many people.
Today, I do at least some rudimentary market research both for my own books and client books.
The Stewardship of Market Research
Doing basic market research keeps you from squandering your time. It’s good Christian stewardship.
Too many Christian writers think, “God told me to write this book and so the readers be damned.” They back that up by making reference to some “miracle book” that was written that way. They totally ignore the hundreds of thousands, or perhaps millions of Christian books, that died because they had no audience.
Such books were written to satisfy the writer’s ego, not to glorify the Lord. “Ego” said, “Everyone will be interested in my book.” But God did not say that.
Market research is a lot like Gideon putting out a fleece in Judges 6:36-38. In fact, he even used what marketers today call a “double-blind test” (v 39).
The Lord will use market research to confirm that people will want to read what you write.
Basic Steps to Confirm Your Idea
Here are some of the basics every Christian writer should do to confirm that God has prepared an audience for your book.
Think about a problem you can solve. People are looking for solutions and the Lord can meet their need whatever it may be. Your job is to show them how.
You may think this only applies to nonfiction, but it’s true of fiction too. In nonfiction you lay out practical principles. In fiction, you model those principles in the lives of your characters.
Verify that people have an existing need to be met. You can do that best by going to Amazon.com and seeing if there are other books on the topic you want to write about. Also, search for blog posts about your topic.
It’s a positive sign if you see other similar books or blog posts. Why? Well, as it says in Ecclesiastes 1:9, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” People have faced the same problems since the dawn of humanity. Your role is to bring your unique perspective to the solution.
If you don’t see books or blog posts similar to what you have in mind to write about, the Lord may be telling you to pick a new topic. It takes a huge amount of time and money to gather support for a book that you care about but is a concern that few others share.
Do a survey. If your research is not as conclusive as you wish, do a survey. You can either do one online though a tool like SurveyMonkey or you can do it in person.
Remember, the more objective your survey is , the better it is. You’re not looking for approval. You already want to write the book, so you don’t need that. What you are looking for are some opinions about the worthiness of your writing project from unbiased people. You need to confirm you are meeting a genuine need that people have, not embarking on a flight of fancy.
In conclusion, remember that not all ideas come from God. Some come from our own ego, others come from the Evil One who would like to distract us by putting us to work on a book that no one will read. It honors the Lord to confirm that people will want to read your book before you write it.