by Narelle Atkins
In recent weeks I’ve been thinking and praying about the direction of my writing journey and how I perceive my writing. I write in three different genres: nonfiction Bible studies, inspirational romance and sweet romance.
I definitely view my sweet romance writing as more of a business than a ministry. I’m seeking traditional publishing opportunities and I’m striving to write high quality stories that will appeal to a specific market. These stories have underlying Christian values and potentially a subtle spiritual theme because I’m writing from a Christian world view.
My inspirational romances have a stronger ministry focus. These stories are the ones that I feel have put on my heart for a reason and, like my sweet romance stories, I’ve sought out traditional publishing opportunities.
I’ve come to the conclusion that if we’re considering traditional publishing opportunities then we have no choice but to think about our writing as a business. Traditional publishers are bearing all the financial risk when they contract a book. The staff and owners of publishing companies need to sell books to pay for their salaries and feed their families. An author may not receive a new contract or the next book in their publishing deal may be cancelled if they have poor book sales. And the publisher will go out of business if they aren’t selling enough books to ensure their business is financially viable.
I know authors do struggle with all the marketing and promotion that is expected of them compared to the ‘old days’. The eBook revolution and the flood of cheap self-published books hitting the marketplace have changed the publishing landscape. Traditional publishers have lost some of their ability to dominate the market because the main book buying channel is no longer limited to print books sold either in a book store or online. Traditional publishers, large and small, have to work hard to get their books noticed by readers, and authors are expected to be partners in this endeavour.
In contrast, I perceive my Bible studies to be a ministry rather than a business. We set up the 30 Minute Bible Studies website six years ago and we provide free Bible study questions that we had previously written for our small group. This year the ‘ducks lined up’, so to speak, and we have added a blog to the website and started publishing eBook leader’s guides on Smashwords. Six years ago I had a vision to sell affordable leader’s guides in eBook format but the timing wasn’t right and the necessary resources didn’t exist.
We’re releasing an eBook per month and writing articles on the blog that relate to the Bible studies. I chose to self publish the leader’s guide precisely because our primary goal isn’t to sell bucket loads of eBooks. We hope to encourage people to join a group that studies the Bible and we provide free or affordable Bible study resources that they may find helpful. The leader’s guides are an optional extra that we are charging a small amount for to potentially compensate for the time and effort it takes to put together the information.
How do you perceive your writing? Is it a ministry or a business or both? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
NARELLE ATKINS writes contemporary inspirational romance. She resides in Canberra, Australia with her husband and children. She can also be found at the International Christian Fiction Writers blog.