Thursday, 30 November 2017

The People Read It

by Jeanette O'Hagan

The people read it and were glad for its encouraging message. Acts 15:31 (NIV)

 'Why do you write?'

I love words. Writing allows time to choose and shape my words without interruption. I love telling stories - anecdotes, family legends, funny happenings.  I love making up stirring tales about heroes and heroines, strange lands and epic adventures. I love to teach, to impart shared wisdom, acquired knowledge. I love the way poetry encapsulates emotion and beauty and wonder. Writing helps me process my thoughts, to discover meaning -  to understand myself, to commune with God and to communicate with others. Writing is a calling though it can never take the place of a living relationship my Lord.

There are a multitude of reasons to write.  I think most writers write because they love writing, because they have something to say, stories to tell. Those that write for fame or fortune are surely soon disillusioned.

Why do you write?

And who do you write for?

Do you write for yourself? For an audience of One? For your family or friends? Or for strangers? Perhaps, for those who haven't yet been born?

Or, to ask it another way. Why is it important to you to be published?

The reasons for writing and the reasons for (wanting/seeking/being) published are perhaps different. Maybe, we write because we must, it's a passion or a necessity. But, we seek publication so that our words and stories will be read  - not just by us, or a select group of friends and family - but by those we don't know and may never meet.

Words Unread

Words are powerful. Yet, unread words wait in silence, wait to uncoil and be unleashed in the mind of the reader.

Of course, as many have reminded us - we can't choose the impact of our words or the size of our audience. God is the God of the harvest and He directs the workers. Paul say (1 Cor), one sows, another waters. We write - as well as live - by faith and by God's grace. This is true whether we write Christian fiction or for the general market, if we write  to shine a light or to entertain, to challenge (or all of the above).

At no time is our worth or our standing with God predicated on the state of our manuscript or our publication status or the size of our social following.

There is a balance - between resting in and on God and doing the good He has planned for us. Grace is not an excuse to be idle when we could be working, though there are fallow seasons, there are times when God calls us into the wilderness, times when He passes the mantle onto others - and then there are times of planting and harvest.

For me, and probably for you, writing is also about finding and connecting with readers - not only my friends and family, and not only other writers (though I love you all and I appreciate everyone who buys and reads (and reviews ;) ) my books and the books of other writers). I think its wonderful and necessary that we support each other  - but just as the Church needs to extend into the workday week and connect with the community beyond her doors to be effective, we also need connect with general readers.

In some ways, I think that is actually the hardest part of being a writer. And, it does require some effort and lateral thinking.

Here are some of ideas how we do this - not in any particular order or importance:

  • Readers in our existing networks - family, friends, work colleagues etc.
  • Being an expert or at least interesting in a related subject
  • Social media - being interactive not pushy
  • Blogging 
  • Readers groups and book clubs
  • Reviews, reviews, reviews
  • Cross-promotions with other authors
  • Blog tours, interviews, character cameos
  • Anthologies and book bundles 
  • Newsletters and events
  • Launches
  • Book signings & bookshop events
  • Author talks, School & Library visits
  • Study notes
  • Different formats
  • Donating books
  • Promotions and ads
  • Quirky promotions
  • Leaving books in mystery locations
  • Markets
  • Conventions and Book Fairs
  • Begging (joking, don't beg, pray instead)

Not that we can necessarily do it all and certainly not all of the time.  We do what we can - and rest in the Lord of the Harvest.

What ideas or experiences of connecting with readers have you had?

New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Jeanette started spinning tales in the world of Nardva at the age of eight or nine. She enjoys writing secondary world fiction, poetry, blogging and editing. Her Nardvan stories span continents, time and cultures. They involve a mixture of courtly intrigue, adventure, romance and/or shapeshifters and magic users.

She has published stories and poems in over a dozen anthologies, including Glimpses of Light, Futurevision, Tales From the Underground, and Quantum Soul. She recently released her debut novel Akrad's Children - the first in the Akrad's Legacy series.

Find her at her Facebook Page or at Goodreads or on Amazon or on her websites or Jeanette O'Hagan Writes . if you want to stay up-to-date with latest publications and developments, sign up to Jeanette O'Hagan Writes e-mail newsletter.


  1. Great post Jenny. Thank you. I do like the questions you've posed as headings. They are good questions to reflect on from time to time, so we writers get our priorities right. I do like this comment: "At no time is our worth or our standing with God predicted on the state of our manuscript or our publication status or the size of our social following." That is certainly something to think about.

    Loved the idea of leaving books in mystery locations. You've given me something new to pursue! :) Thank you Jenny. In answer to your question, I do enjoy it when readers I don't know write to let me know they have enjoyed my book - it happens rarely but it's a special joy to be savoured and makes my writing more than worthwhile.

    Well done on all your writing in recent years and all your publications! You've done very well indeed!

    1. Thanks, Ansuha. I agree, it is a special thrill when someone we don't know enjoys our work & when the words God has given us touches someone's heart. And for everyone that takes the time to tell us, there are probably several who don't (perhaps not realising how encouraging their simple words might be to the writer). I do know that you have encouraged and inspired a great many, probably more than you can imagine.

  2. Thanks for that, Jenny. I've been reminded lately of how God's view of success and failure are different to the world's view. If we're faithful to what He's called us to, we're successful in His eyes regardless of what sales figures say. But as you note, that doesn't mean we sit around doing nothing either. If we feel God's given us a message to share, we also need to show faith in getting it out there. You've made some great suggestions. Thanks for sharing :)

    1. Thanks, Nola. Yes, getting the balance between trust and action is sometimes like walking a tightrope (were we really do need to trust and avoid being frantic, but keep moving forward, lol). It is not a matter of one or the other, but both together.

  3. Thanks Jenny. I love the reasons you write and really relate to them. The writing is the best bit ... getting the books into the hands of the readers is a lot harder. I don't know why I need to keep coming back to these truths you've expressed. I find it so easy to become discouraged. I am really not good at marketing. Some of it is a confidence thing and not wanting to be pushy. Living in a small country town doesn't help - there are not many people to connect with, and many of them are farmers who don't have time to read. I had a bookstall at our local market with hundreds of Aussie books. I sold 3 books, and only after I put everything at half price. But like Anusha, that idea of leaving books in mystery locations really appealed to me. May God guide us so that we get the books into the hands of the readers He wants us to connect with!

    1. Yes! The writing is the best part for me too. The other parts have their moments of fun, but like you, talking to other people about my books pushes my comfort zone in a big way. And often there may be only a few avid readers (and even fewer of our genre) in our normal circles-- we can't just stick with the people we know. Glad you like the idea of mystery location and pray that God that your beautiful books will reach a growing number of readers.

  4. Thank you Jeanette for "There is a balance - between resting in and on God and doing the good He has planned for us. Grace is not an excuse to be idle when we could be working, though there are fallow seasons, there are times when God calls us into the wilderness, times when He passes the mantle onto others - and then there are times of planting and harvest."This spoke more powerfully to me than you will ever know! It was the Word of the Lord to me and it wasn't comfortable. I struggle with 'fallow times' & 'wilderness' - not because I reject the truth of them or the need for them, but for the fact of them at my time of life. Life seems so short!

    1. Hi Rhonda. It is always a privilege to be the conduit for God's words, so thank you. Praying that, even though hard, they will be a blessing and a comfort. I dislike the fallow times and the wilderness times too, though I hope next time I will trust God more, as He prepares and enriches the ground for a glorious harvest. God bless you and be with you. May He walk beside, behind and in front of you and in you - wherever He leads.

    2. Thank you, Jeanette, for understanding. :)

  5. P.S. I love the pic of Ruth reading Blood Crystal. I feel as if I was there :)

    1. :) Pleasant memories - and thank you, Ruth, for being such a good sport to not only read and review my novellas - but also to let me snap a photo or two of you doing it.

  6. Thanks, Jeanette, for such a practical and encouraging blog. You raise some great questions about the 'why' of writing, which I think is an important thing to regularly reflect on. In schedules or disappointments, or the frenetic busyness of juggling writing with the other aspects of life, it can be easy to slip into 'doing mode' and forgot to take pause to consider the greater purpose of out creative creations. Selah? :) (And thanks for the visual 'shout out' for Replicate. :) )

    1. Thanks, Adele. As you say, great to pause and reflect now and then. I was stoked to find your books in our local library :)

  7. Thanks for the encouragement Jeanette. It is so true that God delights in us, not in our social following or other common misconceptions of "success". He delights in our obedience as well as in the joy we experience in the writing. Sometimes I imagine him smiling as I thrash out another chapter or find the perfect way to finish a sentence. He genuinely enjoys our enjoyment!

    1. Thanks Steph - that's a great way to put it :)