Blogger: Mary Keeley
“I must tell you that I think [my client] is a fabulous writer . . . [but] without a platform, we unfortunately will not be able to pursue this project.” Ugh! Is there anything more writers can do, in addition to the usual social media, newsletter, and blog activity, to overcome the platform hurdle? The answer is yes.
Adopt a cause.
Lately, much of the editor feedback we receive from Christian publishers sounds like that rejection I received last week. These responses aren’t only for debut authors but also mid-list authors with disappointing sales numbers. Recently, a client told me a potential publicist she interviewed recommended she take up a cause to grow her platform, so I did some research.
It all begins with knowing what your passion is. I’ve talked in the past about how important it is to focus on what is most important to you because that’s where your best writing will happen. That focus is also important for your brand and your platform growth. Double your effort to gain as much knowledge and experience as you can about the people, topic, time period—whatever it is that will be the constant thread in the books you write. Become an expert in your special area.
The cause you choose must connect with what you write. For example, bestselling author Steve Berry is passionate about preserving history. All of his books involve some historical location. Read his bio here to learn how he connected his passion and his books with his cause. You might not be able to start your own foundation like he did, but you can partner with an established cause after you’ve researched and are confident of its integrity. Offer to do speaking for the group. If you can connect your cause to a current cultural or newsworthy topic, doors may open for additional speaking opportunities.
Here are six tips for adopting a cause to grow your platform:
- Think strategically when choosing a cause. Some will attract people who aren’t necessarily readers of your genre—or readers at all. One client is writing a fiction series in which water shortage is one of the common threads. It would be a mistake to choose water issues as a cause because it is likely to attract scientists more than fiction readers.
- Be prepared with talking points. You never know what impromptu opportunities you might have to talk about your cause and your books with someone who will want you to speak to their group when they see your enthusiasm and passion.
- Don’t wait for media to come to you. Local radio and TV shows are always looking for interesting interviews. Contact the producers and share some of your expertise about what you write and the cause you are supporting. Your knowledge and the fact that you are a writer give you an air of authority.
- Dedicate an area on your website to the cause you support. Update it frequently with news and your speaking engagements for the cause.
- Talk about your cause on social media and your blog. It offers a subtle segue to talk about your books in an appealing way that doesn’t sound like a sales pitch.
- Seek out others who blog about your cause and suggest you guest post for each other. Agree ahead of time that you can also talk about the books you write. You and your books will reach a new group of readers who might not otherwise have known about or purchased your books.
Platform has been a major hurdle for nonfiction writers for a long time. Increasingly it is becoming an obstacle for novelists as well. Today, authors must be creative about expanding your platform. One way to accelerate its growth is to take up a cause, and you don’t have to wait until you have a book releasing to begin. In fact, you’ll have increased authenticity if you are associated with the cause before your first, or next, book is published.
Now let’s brainstorm together. Offer two or three possible causes you could adopt that align with what you write, and then let’s talk about which one has the greatest potential for gaining readers of your books.
What is your initial reaction to adopting a cause?
Six tips for authors who adopt a cause to grow their platform. Click to Tweet.
Authors, you can accelerate your platform growth when you adopt a cause via @marygkeeley. Click to Tweet.
Kristen Joy Wilks
Hmmm…I think it would have to be something I’m already interested in. My husband works at a small Bible camp. Maybe youth camping or Compassion International perhaps. I think I would feel goofy and fake if I just thought up a cause to go along with my writing, but perhaps if it was one of the organizations that our family already supports it wouldn’t be so bad.
I think you are so right, Kristen. It might appear sincere to others, but to really be aligned with a cause, it has to be real. You would feel like a fake and others would see that, too.
Your comments show that you are a genuine person – congrats! They are hard to find!
Jennifer Zarifeh Major
Ah, Compassion!! We sponsor a boy in El Salvador through Compassion. I’ve been to several Compassion projects in Bolivia and that organization is AMAZING!
Kristen, if you can find a way to connect what you write with either of those causes, they would be good choices because you already have a natural passion for them.
This is such a helpful list for platform building.
I want people who come to my blog or interact with me online to feel like they’re having coffee with a friend.
That’s why the thought of having to become an “expert” for a cause exhausts me. I remember six or seven years ago when authors moaned about having to interact on Facebook! If they only knew those were the good old days! Ha!!
Thanks for keeping us current with the realities of publishing. 🙂
Jill, so much research is involved in writing a book that you could have more of a start at being an expert than you think. But you make a good point. A book’s success continues to be the author’s responsibility. Taking on a cause is one potential way to open doors to new readers.
I hadn’t even considered the thought of becoming linked with a cause. It makes sense that this would expand your influence. Honestly, the thought of doing this scares me because I’m not an expert in anything.
The causes that are closest to my heart are adoption and mothering well. Aspects of these tend to show up in my books. 🙂 I’ll have to think about how I might become more intentional and involved in these causes. Your steps are helpful, Mary.
Thanks for expanding my thinking. 🙂
Jeanne, that’s a great start. Do you think your passion for those causes will make the learning part easier and maybe even feed your passion? Authors don’t have to know all there is to know about a cause. That’s a full-time job for full-time workers in the cause. Authors who know enough to be able to speak about it with passion and enthusiasm, and whose books somehow connect with the cause, can be an asset as a hands-on expert for the cause. Both you and the cause benefit.
Thanks for these thoughts, Mary. Definitely pondering them. 🙂
Carol McAdams Moore
As an author and teacher, I am particularly interested in literacy. I am the co-chairman for a children’s literacy event at ICRS in Orlando, FL this summer. Our goals? We hope to take books (by Christian Authors Network members) to at risk children and their parents at the Orlando Children’s Church. We will use donated funds for this event to purchase CAN authored books from independent retailers in the Orlando area.
Carol, that’s a great example of connecting your books and passion to a cause. It’s a win-win arrangement for everyone involved especially for the children who will have access to books with a Christian message.
Jennifer Zarifeh Major
Oh my. This always makes me nervous. The only things I feel like I’m an authority on are:
-behaving poorly during a dull sermon, or even a good one, or just behaving poorly
-how to speak in sentences so complex that my Least Favourite SIL doesn’t have a clue what I’m saying
-speaking Spanish under my breath to respond to the legally stupid things my LFSIL says
-being Canadian in a room full of non-Canadians(which is a ‘default expertise’ thing)
-discussing the vast dichotomy that exists in North America between Anglo Evangelicals and Native American Evangelicals and the issues of the Church being responsible and somewhat un-contrite about the forced attendance of Native American children in residential schools and the resultng abuses suffered by those children.
The residual feelings of abandonment and betrayal felt by Native Americans over long avoided treaty points and the resulting discord amongst Native American and Aboriginal Canadian youth over cultural identity.
I have to chose WISELY because an Anglo-Canadian woman speaking on hot-button political topics in the US is a in VERY precarious place.
Sometimes I ask God why I couldn’t write about something *slightly* less incindiary. Like immigration reform or GMOs.
As always, Jennifer, God picked exactly the right person for the job.
Jennifer Zarifeh Major
Thank you, Shirlee!
Jennifer, as always with hot-button issues, the challenge is to speak in a way that attracts both sides of an issue and accelerates the cause of reconciliation. But your passion for those causes is apparent; the books you write connect with them on a deep level; and the research you’ve talked about here is exhaustive. You can support these causes as an author expert, and I’m sure you’re up to the task.
If God gives you a cause, by all means use your platform to highlight it. But picking a cause just to build the platform doesn’t ring true.
My husband is a Habitat for Humanity guy. The goal of my writing is building on the Rock. Prayer is my passion. I share Jeanne’s heart for adoption. Perhaps “Safe Shelter” is my cause. Time and prayer will tell.
Thank you, Mary, for directing my meditation down an intriguing path.
Safe Shelter is a great idea, Shirlee. I love how you’ve pulled your interests together under one significant title. Yay!
So true, Shirlee. Picking a cause only for the purpose of growing a platform isn’t authentic and won’t work. The lack of natural passion and enthusiasm will be apparent eventually, and the author will end up losing respect and readers. “Safe Shelter” is a good example of a cause that is broad enough to cover a variety of stories or topics that will attract all kinds of readers.
Wonderful topic this morning, Mary. I couldn’t wait to chime in!
Way back before “adopting a cause” became the popular thing to do, I’d already adopted one. Not intentionally. Unfortunately, it kind of fell into my lap when I became mom to a youngster who developed a disease my husband and I had never heard of: ulcerative colitis.
I quickly learned and became acquainted with additional new words like: bleed out, J-Pouch procedure, ileoanal anastomosis, stoma, and endless others. For years I put my writing on hold as our lives revolved around IV infusion treatments, surgeries, medications, hospitalizations, and on and on.
Helping our son survive became my “new normal.” It would forever be part of the fabric of who I was, and it would influence my writing style unbeknownst to me at the time. I took on the role of encourager, cheerleader, minister, comforter, nurse.
Fast-forward to a new day. A new dawn. Praise God, our family is in a new place, but I will forever remember that time because it intrinsically changed me.
UC is one of the causes I speak about. In fact, it’s something I have in a small area on my site. Though it’s not the focus of my Heartfelt Homespun Fiction, I find encouragement and “cause” is at the heart of my writing. I want eternal hope to always take center stage. An example:http://authorcynthiaherron.com/hope-in-the-hard-stuff
Folks have often asked if my son would be willing to join me in addressing their group. Yikes! (As you know–public speaking isn’t my fave. But get me wound up for a cause and I’m very impassioned. And I know the Lord is the source of my strength.)
One other thing–to demonstrate how people are drawn to those with a cause and the potential influence of their words. There was once a young woman whose sister was having a heart transplant. This young woman, a writer, conveyed to her readers that she would be placing her writing on hold for a time, as she nursed her sister back to recovery.
I felt an immediate connection to this beautiful soul. Didn’t know her, but loved her immediately, and I believe I either left a blog comment or message introducing myself.
I knew she would touch others for Jesus through her words one day. I wanted to encourage her.
How far-reaching is a cause? Well, that young woman? We were to become agent-mates a year or so later.
I see God’s thumbprint all over her life today.
And I would just like to add–we all have SOMETHING. Something that makes our heart beat a little faster, a “cause” that rallies us ’round the flag, so to speak. It’s just a matter of tapping into the core of what matters to us, refining it, and weaving it seamlessly into what we’re about. Christian writers with a cause–spreading the love of Jesus through the vehicle he’s gifted us with–our words. For a cause. HIS, ultimately, but with His individual plan and purpose in mind.
Thank you, Mary. Now–Rah! Rah! Rah! Go, friends, go! You CAN do it! 🙂
Cynthia, thank you for sharing your story and for your encouragement. I agree that we all that heart-fluttering something. I think some of us just take longer to identify it or to see how that something can be best used. And sometimes that something changes into a new something.
I very much appreciated your comment. Thank you!
Cynthia, you have added the heart and soul to this blog post. Wiping a tear and thanking you for your motivating and ultra-encouraging contribution today.
“It’s just a matter of tapping into the core of what matters to us, refining it, and weaving it seamlessly into what we’re about.”
That’s all true, but then there’s the seamless part. (I might have just started to sweat a bit). I’m thankful to have time to better define this pre-publication.
So glad Mary broached the topic today.
Jennifer raises an excellent question about hot button political topics. How careful do we need to be, Mary? I feel strongly about the freedom to homeschool and the multiple benefits therein and am becoming more involved in my state homeschooling organization, but I’m not a crusader out to convince everyone else that they should homeschool. Unfortunately, many see this as a hot button topic in our politically charged, opinion-based society. I have book ideas that involve homeschooling or homeschooled characters (write what you know!), but I’ve hesitated because of the politics surrounding education. On the up side, though, homeschoolers make loyal book-buyers.
Thank you for the informative post. I look forward to the discussion!
Meghan, despite the fact that homeschooling is a hot button topic, you’re making an impact and creating a safe place on your blog for like minded parents to build community. Your humble stand in that space is a blessing to them.
Thank you, Jenni! I appreciate your encouragement today.
Meghan, if homeschooling is your passion and what you know, it’s a natural cause for you to speak on and write about. Controversy sells books. That said, you mentioned two important facets involved: freedom and the multiple benefits. Both of these can inspire stories that will attract rather than divide readers, freedom being a tension and the many benefits for children, parents, and families providing the story ideas. The trick is to be realistic while also showing the benefits and ultimate outcomes for everyone. Many homeschooling families are Christian, but not all. You can write your stories with a Christian worldview without a sense of preachiness if that would make them more influential with powers-that-be.
Thank you, Mary, for your words of wisdom and affirmation.
Wanted to add–Andrew, your friends are praying for you! (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)
Praying for you, Andrew.
Amen and amen.
Jennifer Zarifeh Major
He said to thank everyone for the prayers.
Thanks, Cynthia. Yes, Andrew, we are praying.
I’m echoing Jeanne: “This scares me because I’m not an expert on anything.” I also find this frustrating. It’s not that I don’t want a cause. In fact, it’s something I’ve been praying about. But that this now needs to be part of who I am as a writer, as part of a platform, is overwhelming.
I appreciate the offer to brainstorm the best causes for our readers. Just wish I had a starting point for mine.
My next books, a series of contemporary romances, take place in central Ohio where I grew up. (But I now live in Tennessee so I don’t think talks on Ohio history will be of interest to the locals.) The Underground Railroad and Civil War history provide a tiny backdrop for the first but not so much for the other two. But family legacy (blessings and burdens) are a common theme.
A vivid redbird is hopping around outside my kitchen window. It’s so cute. (Just had to share that “rabbit trail” moment.)
I love your rabbit trail! 🙂
Johnnie, your mention of family legacy got my squeaky wheels turning. What about a connection to genealogy or family trees, family heritage, family of origin, etc. I’ll keep thinking on it.
Jenni, it seems so obvious, doesn’t it? There are none so blind… 🙂
Johnnie, if you have a passion for family legacy, it’s a choice that would cover many story ideas. I believe family legacy is a lost value in our current culture. You could be an influence to reignite it through your books and connecting with a group supporting that cause.
Mary, thank you for today’s post. I confess my initial response was a strong desire to crawl back into bed and pull the covers over my head. But the discussions and ideas have been so much fun.
I just never thought of family legacy, as important as it is to me, as a cause. But you and Jenni are right. It is. I’m rejuvenated! (LOL)
Since I’ve written/reported on missions for years now, I feel that topic has naturally become my cause. Missions is so wide and varied … local, international … and that is a good thing. It doesn’t narrow me down. But I can narrow myself down.
But I’ve also dealt with infertility, adoption, my daughter having cancer … those are all hardships … so I’ve settled into “hardships” being my cause. Surviving them, through Christ. When I speak, that’s my cause. Missions definitely fits into that category, too.
Last year, right before I spoke at a ladies’ retreat, my appendix had to be removed. Less than three weeks after my surgery, I spoke. I was so weak. It was a bit comical though … speaking on hardships. Maybe I needed a fresh reminder. A friend told me I should start speaking on making money … 🙂 See where that gets me. 🙂
I feel like others … we have to be true to ourselves.
I’ve seen successful contemporary romance writers who don’t have one particular cause, per say … but in each book, they tend to address an issue that people face. I like that, too. And it gives you a glimpse into those folks lives, helps to understand their issues.
I think if we look back at the last years of our lives, walking along with God, we’ll tend to see where He’s been leading and using us. Sometimes we just have to be intentional to look and see where the pieces are fitting together.
Hmmm, Shelli, I like how you took the theme from things you’ve dealt with and made that a cause you can speak on. We all deal with hardship. Having some tips to get through them well? What a great idea. 🙂
Thank you, Jeanne … every time I’ve spoken, I’ve been so blessed to listen to stories of what others are enduring. I’ll always remember their sweet faces and stories.
Shelli, your last paragraph especially resonated with me. You’re so right! I think I’m emerging from a season of cocooning but also I’m excited about what adventures may lie ahead.
Johnnie, I loved the last post I read by you. I think you have a treasure chest to open and share … and people need to hear.
Shelli, you do encourage me. Thank you.
Shelli, yours is a perfect example for authors to reflect back and see how God has been preparing, leading, and implanting a particular passion for how he wants to use them. Good advice for writers who are trying to identify their core passion.
Jennifer Zarifeh Major
Andrew asked that I post his thoughts on causes:
-gang member rehabilitation
-care of unwanted dogs
-strengthening Christian marriages
I’ve been passionate about history for years, specifically Minnesota history. I’m eager to preserve history–but more importantly, to teach people about the history of their communities and family trees.
I think we are better stewards of our lives when we understand who came before us to fight for what we have. For instance, I love sharing my local history with anyone who will listen. It’s one of my greatest pleasures to see their eyes light up in a whole new way when they realize how rich our history is. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone say: “THAT happened HERE?” I think it gives them a whole new appreciation and love for their town. I hope it encourages them to take pride and get involved.
Another example is when I’ve told my family about our ancestors, and all they did to bring our family to America and fight for their religious freedoms (I had an ancestor burned at the stake in 1555, and another died on the prairie in pursuit of religious freedom, and another was literally exiled from Massachusetts to Rhode Island because of their religious beliefs). It’s amazing to see the pride and sense of worth that comes to my family when they hear these stories.
One of the reasons I write historical fiction is to educate (as well as entertain). I’m a member of the Minnesota Historical Society, and I often blog about Minnesota history–but I know I could step up the pace and do more hands-on volunteering. I could also offer to speak to organizations about our local history, and write articles for the paper.
Thank you for the great ideas, Mary. My mind is spinning with possibilities!
I love the example you set for your kids by embracing your family history. Your passion is evident through what you shared here.
Gabrielle, no doubt what your passion is, and for all the right reasons. You explained many compelling motivations, which would be great talking points for a broader cause for history as well. Your experience leading tours and speaking has prepared you to step up your efforts. Have fun spinning the possibilities.
Sarah Sundin and Deeanne Gist have areas on their websites and Pinterest boards where they post about the research they have been doing for their novels. Sarah will have On This Day In History posts on her blog, but her Pinterest boards have everything from WWII posters to vintage dresses; soldier, sailor, and nurse pictures and more. I’m sure all those things have drawn in WWII buffs and 1940’s vintage clothing admirers who may not usually read CBA books. Deeanne Gist recently has started giving us tidbits of her research in preparation for her new book coming out in a few months. We’re seeing photographs from that era, learning about the kinds of jobs women could have, and get to see vintage clothing. All of these things whet our appetite for the new novel coming. I like that we can see this stuff early and not the week of release and in the middle of all the blog tours. This might be considered a platform.
I think if an author has a cause that’s unrelated to their novels, then they need to have a separate blog for that. Every once in awhile the novels might show up in a post on the cause blog and Vice Versa.
Sylvia, you’re right. Pinterest can be an important part of an author’s platform when the author has a significant following there and when the author is able to maximize its use, like Sara and Deeanne have done.
So much food for thought!
My project addresses a genetic family illness called Huntington’s Disease which most people have never heard of. HD flies under the radar for two reasons – it’s rare, and the families that suffer from this genetic condition are so shattered that everyone is afraid to talk about it publicly.
I might see about working with the HD Society of America, or even with other groups whose research will benefit HD.
Adelle, the HD Society of America sounds like a perfect cause to connect with. It could be a big boost to your author platform. Hopefully, connecting with this cause will provide opportunities to speak to families about the cause and your book, where you can attract readers as you offer comfort, encouragement, and advice from your personal experience and knowledge.
Sister Adelle, my kindred spirit! My grandfather had Huntington’s, as did five of his nine children. My father wasn’t one of them. We all feared it long before we had a name for it. God hasn’t called me to make HD my cause, but bless you for carrying the banner! More power to you, and I mean that in every godly sense.
Shirlee, thank you for taking the time to tell me about your family, and visit my blog. I’m sure you have quite the story of your own so many family members who have been affected by this disease. It’s nice to run into another kindred spirit!
I enjoy military history and something that I’ve started doing on my social media is sharing more pro-military/patriotism type posts. Even though I never actually served, I have a big affection and loyalty to our nation’s protectors and I recently wrote to the Wounded Warrior Project asking them how I could become involved. Soon, they should be forwarding a list of activities they say I could participate in and write about.
Something else that helps in building a platform is knowing the right people.
I recently had dinner with another writer who admitted she’s shy about promoting her books, yet they’ve sold well. Her secret: a relative is her publicist who’s been able to book TV interviews, book signings, etc. therefore letting me know that having a platform can also involve knowing the right people who can place you in high visibility stages.
Thank you for sharing this article. I enjoyed reading it!
Randy, that’s a great strategy. I share your interest in military history and the desire to highlight the honor of our nation’s protectors. America needs that reminder and a dose of patriotism. And you’re right that connecting with the right people can accelerate an author platform. Perhaps your connection with the Wounded Warrior organization will provide that benefit for you also.
Mary, what a thought-provoking post. Thanks!
I write historical suspense where the house (skeletons in closet included)really becomes a character of sorts. I’ve had a life long passion for houses, floor plans, and ghost towns. On another note, my parents provided a place of shelter and peace for me to grow up in (they still live in my childhood home).
With all this in mind, I began to blog recently around the theme of the home in history, art, literature, imagination and memory. I love the boundaries of this theme, and yet there’s a myriad of topics I can explore under that umbrella. All kinds of ideas swarm my brain. My family just nods as I dance around the living room and ask, “What if…?” 🙂
Tie-in causes might be Habitat for Humanity (friends of ours just moved into a home renovated for them by Habitat), historic house museums locally and nationwide (I’ve been a docent at a few of these), or even Main Street revitalization programs. I value your insight!
I adore the posts you do about houses, both on your blog and on FB, Jenni. Seeing inside a house provides such an intimate glance at someone, or at least it seems that way. Some of my most memorable sights to see have been houses — President Benjamin Harrison’s house here in Indianapolis, Monticello, Mount Vernon. Would love to see Laura Ingalls Wilder’s houses in Missouri and South Dakota, Orchard House, and bunches of others.
Thanks for being a sounding board for my initial blog idea, friend. 😉
My first post was on Orchard House.
Jenni, this is a fantastic idea! I love floor plans, too. I pore over them like they’re treasure maps. I guess in a way they are 🙂
A house I lived in during my high school years is practically a character in my upcoming novel.
I love your theme–“the home in history, art, literature, imagination and memory.” Fabulous idea.
Johnnie, thanks for your encouraging words. I hope to invite guests to my blog to take us on a tour through a home or neighborhood that is significant to them or the characters in their novel.
That kind of tour would be so fun. It’s an unusual way to talk about a story. Love it!
Ooh, interesting, Jenni. You surely must be able to speak with authority about the home from your lifelong passion for the topic. The theme of the home in history, art, literature, imagination and memory offers a broad spectrum for stories with “the home” being a constant theme. A good indicator of its ability to attract readers is the response you have been receiving to your recent blogs. Writing those blogs is a good strategy because the feedback and comments provide valuable insights from potential readers.
Habitat for Humanity is a worthwhile cause to adopt. You can speak to the importance of the sense of home in people’s lives.
Janet Ann Collins
People with Special Needs seem to pop into my books even if I don’t plan for them to be there. I’ve cared about Special Needs since I was a kid and was sent to a convalescent home for a few weeks where I met lots of kids with disabilities. I worked at the California School for the Deaf for years, raised three Deaf foster sons with various Special Needs, and was an aide and substitute teacher in lots of Special Ed classes. I guess I should add that to the topics I blog about and mention it on my website.
Janet Ann, it sounds like you pinpointed an area of passion an expertise as you talked it out here. Awesome! 🙂
Janet Ann Collins
Thank you, Jenni.
Janet, I agree with Jenni. I think you pinpointed your passion here, and you have a wealth of expertise from a variety of sources. You surely have the foundation to develop characters who have special needs with sensitivity and understanding. You have much to offer readers.
Janet Ann Collins
Thank you. Now if only I can figure out how to use it for marketing without being selfish.
My work is science fiction and fantasy, but even I have a cause – when I earn from my work, I tithe, and then an equal amount or more goes to victims of human trafficking. Last year I donated to the A21 Campaign and IJM, and this year I want to sponsor a girl out of prostitution through Blythe Crow’s She Has a Name. My “Penance Copper” story deals with girls being trafficked off-planet, and my other stories all have some element of finding a safe haven and building a family.
Paula, it sounds like you have created a tie between your books and your cause. Can you partner with A21 and IJM and offer to do speaking for them? You’re sure to attract new readers through that involvement.
Hi Mary! I only just saw this – I had a convention this past weekend. Thank you for your advice. I’ll have to look into what sort of speaking opportunities they have. I know I could at least make a topic out of how to turn even oddball passions to a good cause 😉
My passions are food, travel and preserving historic structures. As a member of a community group that encourages homeowners to open their historic homes for viewing, I’m able to grow public awareness of the importance of retaining these treasures. But I don’t belong to the town historic society, and that would be another step I could take. My series is based on an historic mansion, and I can see the tie-in for that, but the third book is based in Hawaii—Help! 🙂
Heidi, joining the town historic society is a good idea. Maybe you can offer to give some tours and then talk about your books. If there is a historic mansion in your third book, your common theme is maintained.
Thanks, Mary, for the wise advice. I’ve been a member of the tour committee for years and of course, guided tours, but the thought of speaking after a tour never occurred to me. And why didn’t I think of inserting an historic mansion in book three? I’m so glad I met you! 🙂
I’m another who stumbled upon a cause. Had been speaking about various Christian traits that don’t “feel” Christian for several years, God opened doors to an agent, and good comments back from publishers as well – but not a platform.
A couple years ago, on my way to another conference workshop, I was praying… ok, complaining is a better word, about the lack of platform when I sensed God saying in my heart, “What about the movies, idiot?” (It’s ok, He said it in a loving way)
We’d been promoting Christian films in our region, with great encouragement from directors and producers. But this was an eye opening moment to consider that our efforts might be of interest elsewhere – and out of that we wrote “Regional Movie Ministries: Kingdom Building through Networking, Faith, & Film.”
Our prayer is for 10 RMM’s per state – 500 total – who are ready to quit complaining about the lack of Christian films in their town and start building an audience for them.
There is a natural tie back to the book effort – because who can name a good film that did not have some combination of Risk, Greatness, Boldness, Conflict, Courage or Passion?
I remain confident that “Forgotten Fruit of the Spirit: When Following Christ Doesn’t Feel Christian” will be published, but will take the steps He leads each day, and week, trusting that faithfulness in those steps will lead to a better path than my own impatience and stubbornness.
Thanks for sharing how he pieces are falling into place in your experience, Rich. Listening for God’s guidance and relying on him to open doors as we follow his lead is the best possible path. Your book’s title is intriguing, and I can see how it ties in with your movie ministry.
I didn’t even have to think about my cause, it popped right into my head even though I’ve never thought in terms of it being a “cause.” I am passionate about marriages and I write often about marriage on my blog. Issues in marriage always come up on my novels. This post made me realize I can be more intentional about that part of my ministry.
Angela, I’m glad our brainstorming has been helpful.
I’ve been doing this to some extent already. My first novel release was a modern-day retelling of Beauty and the Beast about a war vet amputee with PTSD. I give 10%+ of author earnings for that book to CruMilitary. I worked with a woman there for a blog series and gave her a free book. I don’t know who she told about it, but it did nicely among readers who chose books about disabled vets (on Amazon). My current release is about a Christian at a very secular university. I give 10 percent of that one to Campus Cru at UMCP. They have invited me to attend a prayer journey next month. I’m very excited about doing that with others who are concerned about college campuses … whether or not it helps books. Either way, it can only help an author (sales or sense of purpose!)
Connie, thanks for sharing how your experience of supporting causes is returning benefits for you, including the invitation you received.
Ah! I love Beauty and the Beast retellings!
Thanks for the great topic Mary. I’ve felt God’s leading recently to make connections with those advocating for and suffering from pulmonary fibrosis. I developed this terminal disease last year as a result of chemotherapy and radiation for breast cancer.
As you can imagine, those with this disease have little to no hope. I’m hoping to provide hope and encouragement to others and point them to hope and light in Christ. I write about self-compassion and have a book coming out in July. I’ve started a blog to help others to treat themselves with compassion during tough times.
Kim, congratulations on your book’s imminent release! So many people become angry with God and withdraw from life when under difficult circumstances. It will be exciting to see how God multiplies your platform through your healthy example and your message of self-compassion. You are an inspiration.
All my novels are dual time and focus on international locations and history intertwined with it. Could something linked to travel be my cause as in encouraging people to expand their horizons through travel and reading?
I already have a blog centered around travel, reading and writing and others share their travel stories, etc. It’s a community for travelers, readers and writers. Would this be enough of a cause direction or would I need a more specific one (a organization or something)? I’m trying to soak all this info and comments in. It’s all great discussion! I’d appreciate any advice given! thanks! 🙂
Morgan, the cause you adopt doesn’t need to be specific to travel. Travel isn’t an option for everyone. Think in terms of reaching a broad spectrum of readers. You seem equally passionate about “encouraging people to expand their horizons.” Perhaps you can find a cause that promotes “learning by experiencing” that you could adopt. What you’ve learned through your travel experiences can inspire audiences with the joy of experiencing new things. And then you could talk about your books.
Thank you so much for this insight, Mary! It is much appreciated!! And I really like your idea!
What a fascinating discussion, though I’m a bit late to the party. 🙂 It makes a lot of sense to connect our writing to a cause we’re passionate about–as long as it’s genuine, as you all have noted. In that case, it really is just a way of expanding our writing into even more of a ministry, not just of expanding our platform, isn’t it?
For me, what comes to mind is learning about Native American (and other oft-overlooked parts of) history, racial reconciliation, and just a general love for history also–these are causes connected to my writing that I already pursue, as they’ve naturally gone hand in hand in learning and researching and growing myself. For the general history part, I’ve recently gotten to volunteer a couple of times with the living history program at the fort where my current WIP is set–that’s been an unexpected serendipity, but the interpretive staff are pretty excited I’m writing about “them”! 🙂
Thanks so much Mary!