It’s hard to dive into the world of self-publishing and, despite your best intentions, not get obsessed with making money. Even for long-time believers, like me.
Yes, I confess: I’ve gotten sucked into the money-is-number-one trap. I’ve heard and read about how so many Indie authors, often with fewer novels published than I, make well above the average household income, and become frustrated. And therefore, I’ve taken my eyes off the Ultimate Prize that comes from doing the will of my Father.
And therefore, tried to figure out how “everybody else” is making good money, and begun to try to emulate that.
On the right track, then a wrong detour
I was on the right track for most of the novels in my “Texas Hearts” series. I was on the right track for my “Choices and Chances” series, as well as my latest series, “Pine Mountain Estates.” But when I finished proofing the latest book in that series, Pine Mountain Christmas, I took a detour.
I started to write a novel for the sole purpose of increasing my income.
After the Lord had specifically spoken something to me about my fiction writing.
Write to inspire
I’ve learned not to be too quick to say, “The Lord told me…,” because in the past, many times when I’d believe the Spirit of God was speaking, it was actually my own spirit. Or, worse, my soul.
But I’ve also learned that if I “hear” something in my spirit that flows into my mind, and it’s not an answer I’ve been trying to conjure, and it goes against the lust of my flesh, I can be 99% certain that God has spoken.
And a couple of months ago, I heard something deep within that fit those criteria exactly: Write to inspire, not to make money.
Of course, being the mature believer that I am, my reaction was to yell inside my spirit, “What’s the point of writing, then?!”
You might not be shocked to hear that I hit a brick wall after about three chapters into the clean romance novel I recently began. It just. Wouldn’t. Go. Any. Farther.
What’s the point, indeed?
Here’s what I’ve figured out. The Lord wasn’t telling me not to write in the popular genres. He wasn’t telling me to give all my books away for free. He wasn’t telling me to write obscure, literary works that wouldn’t sell.
He was telling me that my primary motive for writing and publishing a story should be to inspire. And to trust Him for the results.
I may be able to salvage this new novel. The storyline – I think, anyway – is interesting and intriguing. Worth putting out there for my readers to enjoy. But it can’t be your run-of-the-mill clean romantic comedy-suspense. I have to write it with an angle to inspire.
Which brings me to my current dilemma:
How do I want to inspire my readers?
I was going to brainstorm a list of ways that I want to inspire my readers via my stories on a piece of paper. But then I thought, it’s time for a new blog post. How about I share it on my blog?
That said, I want to inspire my readers to:
#1. First and foremost, live in the freedom that God’s grace has provided. Religion has created a lot of rules and ideas about how to please God. Do this, don’t do that. But people who preach these same rules and ideas define grace as God’s unmerited favor.
Talk about talking out of both sides of your mouth! If God’s grace is unmerited, there is absolutely nothing we can do to earn it. He’s already provided it; we accept it by faith. And when we do, we have true freedom, because then we have access to all the healing and spiritual growth and wisdom we need.
We don’t have to follow rules, but God’s leading.
#2. Struggle through trials until they get to the other side. A lot of people give up halfway through a struggle with obstacles, burdens, or pain. But it’s in those very struggles that we grow into the potential that God placed inside us. And when we reach the other side, our faith grows, as well as our strength and confidence to triumph over the next time of trial.
#3. Forgive. Unforgiveness is unhealthy in every way. The worst way is that it cuts us off from the grace I just talked about. We have to forgive others, or God won’t forgive us [Matthew 6:14]. This makes God sound mean and cruel, but think about it: when you refuse to forgive somebody, you’re judging them. When you judge others, you’re making yourself like God. You are being prideful and stubborn, not to mention spiritually blind.
You are, in essence, acting like Satan himself.
#4. Discover, and walk in, their calling. I’ve already said my piece about purpose here, and calling here. In essence: if you are doing what the Father has called you to do, you will find fulfillment and help the world to become a better place. Even if only a small part of the world, in small ways.
Every little bit helps.
And obedience is better than trying to live up to the world’s definition of success.
#5. Trust God. This goes along with my second way I want to inspire readers, about struggling through trials. How can a person get to the other side of a trial without faith and trust? But it’s possible to not trust God in a situation that doesn’t feel like a trial, a situation where you have the ability to manipulate things to go your way. Believe me, if ever you read one of my novels in which a character is struggling with trusting God – especially where they’re trying to manipulate their circumstances – know that I’m writing from my own experience!
#6. Be healthy, as much as possible, in every area of life. It’s hard to care about your calling when you have zero energy and/or are experiencing uncomfortable physical symptoms. It’s hard to obey the command to not worry when your finances are in a mess. And so on.
#7. Make communing with God a daily and ongoing habit. [Note before I continue: I don’t mean to put this one as a low priority. I was just jotting down ideas as they came, in no particular order except for the first one.] Many believers, though they’ve accepted God’s grace through Yeshua’s sacrifice, relegate God to church services, morning devotions, and times of crisis. I want to inspire my readers to communicate with their Father often, throughout every day. He’s always right there, waiting for a “thank You,” “help me,” or “I love You.”
Along the way, I’ll probably come up with more ways to inspire my readers. But I could probably write an endless number of stories based on those seven alone! Now I just need to tweak my latest novel by figuring out which angle of inspiration to add.
If you have any ideas you’d like to share, feel free to leave them in the comments below. 🙂