Book Promoting & Christian Integrity
You’ve finished writing your novel, your bestseller, and had it published. So now what? How do you market your book, or promote it?
You understand the need to bring it to the attention of the book buying public – your readers. But how? What lengths would you go to in order for your book to become the subject that everyone is talking about? What would you give to have journalists falling over themselves to write about your book and its author? How low would you stoop?
I ask because of news about the novelist Philip Pullman, whose latest book, The Good Man Jesus And The Scoundrel Christ, is about to be released. It appears, from a report in The Sunday Times that he is in danger of abuse from Christians. Abuse which requires the protection of bodyguards!
Whilst I have no intention of casting doubt on the integrity of either Philip Pullman or The Sunday Times, I do wonder whether this is sheer opportunism. Are the author’s PR people, or indeed the newspaper which is hosting the launch of his book, simply taking advantage of a situation that has arisen? Or have they engineered it in the first place, inviting controversy because controversy sells?
As George Pitcher, Anglican priest and sometime-columnist for The Daily Telegraph, points out, this is not the first time that an author has courted infamy in order to promote his book. Salman Rushdie did so with his book, The Satanic Verses; and Jeffrey Archer with The Gospel According To Judas. The title and content of each are deliberately controversial. They have one purpose, that of igniting passion in those who espouse the implied religious ideals - and those who do not.
What all these book promotions have in common is that they have taken the sacred and linked it with the profane. Like Jerry Springer: The Opera, or the photographer who created erotic images in a church, it is the juxtaposition of holiness with depravity which makes it so controversial – and thus newsworthy.
SHOULD ART BE CHALLENGING, OR UPLIFTING?
It seems to me that there are several challenges underlying this sort of marketing, where spiritual belief becomes the object of derision.
- Do you, as an author or reader, feel that any sort of attack on religious faith is ‘fair game’ when it comes to selling a product?
- Is human life elevated by a belief in itself (and its products) rather than in a higher authority: God?
- What effect does it have on the human race when the goal is to tear down and destroy any belief system beyond its immediate experience?
- What effect does it have on humanity when art, literature and the media cater to its baser elements?
A WASTE OF ENERGY
I’m not going to attempt to answer those questions, except to say this: to my mind, the strangest thing about our generation is the amount of time and effort put in by so many people on:
- trying to disprove the existence of God.
- maligning the character of Someone they profess not to believe in.
- criticising and pouring scorn on those who do believe in what they deny.
- inciting the wrath of those who believe, in order to use that wrath to further their own ends.
All that energy would, surely, be better spent in a positive manner?
But if that is true of authors, composers, artists and photographers whose intention it is to show faith in God in an unfavourable light, how much more true is it of believers? As George Pitcher points out, bully-boy tactics by Christians who seek to heckle, write poison pen letters and generally make life unpleasant for unbelievers, are hardly representative of the church at large. Nor of the one they profess to follow. Nor are they a good use of energy.
As I’ve often said, it is utterly beyond human capability to stamp out darkness.
CHRISTIAN INTEGRITY: A BEAM OF LIGHT
There is only one way in which darkness can be dispelled. And most of us, I like to think, want to illuminate the darkness of unbelief by bringing in the Light. Not - ironically for authors - with words! And especially not with words of the poison pen variety. Nor with the words of derision with which our critics bombard us.
So if not with words, then how?
Shining a light involves deeds. The good deeds that our faith demands! The deeds of secret kindnesses, care and support that are the hallmark of the one we follow. And that, surely, is what should motivate not only the title and content of the books that we author, but also the manner in which we market and promote them. What do you think?
Author of a number of books, one a Sunday Times No 4 Bestseller, Mel Menzies is also an experienced Speaker at live events, as well as on Radio and TV. Book her here for your event.
All Royalties from Mel’s latest novel, A Painful Post Mortem, are for charities benefiting children worldwide. Buy a copy here and help raise cash for children like Rachel, who, at 13 is mother to 6 kids orphaned by AIDS, or this project, drug-proofing teenagers in the UK
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