What Christian Writers Need

by Sarah Tun

Christian writers need income, relationship, and a sense of fulfilment. I suspect all writers need these things, but for Christians, the fulfillment comes through building relationships that bring with them a sense of purpose and usefulness to the Kingdom of GOD, a need that all of us who have Jesus within us share.

Writing is an isolated profession

How many hours a day do we who write as professionals spend alone at our manuscripts? If we take ourselves seriously as writers, we spend our working hours in relative solitude. Sometimes we may, for a change of scenery, go to a cafe to write, or to a library to do research. But nowadays, almost everything can be researched, written, edited and even published from our homes.

Sometimes we may take a stroll to get the idea juices going, but if we’re contemplating our work, the stroll will be alone.

We humans are built for relationship. As followers of Jesus, we are only one part of the body (1 Corinthians 12) and need engagement with others to be spiritually complete.

Personal Fulfillment as a Christian Writer

We also need to fulfill our calling and purpose. Presumably a part of that Call is writing. But writing is not really enough for us, because it is natural that we want what we write to actually be read by others. That means we want our books and articles to have a profile, to be purchased, to be digested by other people. We write with a purpose, but while our purpose may be noble and our content might impact the world if only it were read, there is a practical element too, which is that we need our words to be purchased if we are going to earn a living from our Calling.

The Practicality of Income

The world in which we live is designed in such a way that all people need an income of some sort to survive. This includes the Body of Believers, this includes writers in the Body.

Book sales are not the only way to earn an income. We can have several income streams which spring from our skills as a writer. Trevor Newport, a brother in the LORD, has written a book of that title (not yet available on line, but soon).

I recently had a chat with a colleague who was feeling a bit low about her current lack of book sales. We’ve all been there! That’s why we need to bandy together, support one another in prayer and fellowship, and learn to share what we have with others, so the Body will be strengthened.

Success is using our Talents: being who we’re meant to be, doing the work we’re called to do

We who are called to write need a livelihood. Some of us may find it directly, through book sales. But most of us will not. So, whether book sales are high or we find other ways, GOD is ultimately in charge and will provide. Whether we supplement our income using our gifts to teach, coach or in some other way help others, let us not assume our income must come from book sales. We are writing to an audience of one, in a way, and He will direct our steps to fulfillment as we follow His assignments trusting His ways are the ways we must go.

Having a purpose that influences the world around us in a positive way is key to our well-being. So how do those of us who have been called to write make the most of our calling? It is through fellowship, building real relationships with fellow Christians as well as others, and using our expertise to help those who are seeking to grow as writers.

As for Our Audience

The message we write should and will be discovered by those who need to receive it. Of course it is frustrating if we are not able to “get the word out” about our books, stories, poetry and posts. But keeping things in perspective, the Bible is the most important book in the universe and many with access to it, who need it for life, don’t read it. There’s that old saying, “You can lead a horse to water but you cannot make him drink.”

As frustrating as it may be for us who write not to be read, we can trust that the Master enjoys our words and that in itself is a blessing.


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23 thoughts on “What Christian Writers Need”

  1. Excellent and clarifying questions! For me, measuring results is killer. I believe my purpose is to tell of God’s works and sing His praises, doing both as honestly as I possibly can, including all the warts — and all (!) I am neither a best-selling author nor a celebrity singer, but my professional career has been writing and singing, so go figure. Now that I am retired, I am simply reaching out to find the people for whom I write and sing. My voice and pen are apparently purposed to encourage “getting real” with God, with ourselves, and with each other, so I am gratified albeit not rich. Somebody recently posted a meme that said, “Some people are so poor, all they have is money.” I love that, and you, too, Sarah Tun. Thanks for an edifying post!

    1. Glad you’re encouraged, Whitney. Your reply is equally uplifting.
      I’m finding in my walk, as I focus on the work of the LORD, trust and know He wants me to write, the ego thing is overcome, the worry about who’s reading is not a worry. As for finances, I trust He’ll continue to take care of me.
      I’m letting go and entrusting I’m simply doing the job He has for me and as His Word says, “A Workman is worthy of his wage.”

  2. I am retired and now can teach to an audience who does not crave recess. It has been fun to be in the classrooms of the extended education classes at local colleges, book clubs and women’s groups. Even historical/geneology groups as I speak on the orphan train and Dust Bowl. My books are not best sellers, but have been enjoyed by people who find hope and comfort from the story lines. The one thing that I do is blog, hoping that it will reach out to those who need inspiration. These last few years have been up and down, but always a surprise for me. It is a chance to share the good news of hope.

    1. Cleo, I’ve always said that where there is breath, there is hope, and where there is hope, there is life. I can’t imagine any kind of living without hope. Thank you so much for sharing!! I’ve read several books about the orphan trains and that organization. I’d love to sit in on one of your talks 🙂

    2. Cleo: This sounds very interesting. I remember reading about the orphan trains several years ago. My son and I were talking about something when he was home this past weekend and I referred to the Dust Bowl. Thank you for sharing your passion with us.

    3. Whenever someone tells me they’ve read and benefitted from my blog or book, I’m so delighted. It’s as though the LORD is saying, “I read what you did and I honour you.”
      It’s so great, isn’t it!
      Thanks, Cleo for your input. Iron sharpens iron, and love exchanged is His grace in operation.
      God bless.

  3. I feel as if I am swimming in a huge body of water. I got swamped last year with less than desirable results from book signings. I sold more books to friends. I planned to take the winter off and think of other ways of getting my book out to people. There are several festival venues in our area. However, each of them had a vendor fee that was way expensive for me. Here it is June, and I have not really found a way to continue.

    1. Cecelia, I know that there is a lot of need for devotion books. You might try selling one or two to a journal (there’s a list in the forum) and see if that helps spur some recognition and sales. Perhaps a periodical, even if you don’t sell one, would give you some exposure. Also, make sure there is a link to your book in your bio on Studylight.org so people reading your column there can find your book.

        1. Cecilia and I both write columns for LiveAsIf.org, which is a sister site to Studylight.org. Incidentally, if anyone would like to apply to write for LiveAsIf.org, email me and we’ll chat about it.

    2. For whatever it’s worth, Cecelia, here’s where I am “at” in trying to sell my book. It took years for me to realize that I can’t just keep going anywhere, everywhere, and anywhere, because doing that was simply not moving things forward. I now see that my book is not for everyone — maybe even most. It’s for people who have reached the end of their “cope” and also (!) are willing to make serious changes in their life. Multitudes are not saying, “I can’t, but they tell me God can, so I’m listening.” It’s probably few. But those few are my readers, and it’s up to me to reach them. I am unabashedly proclaiming that I have a book of evidence that God can and will help if invited and allowed. For me, at least, God has a fabulous track record!

      1. Whitney, that is soooooooooo true!

        I have discovered that with my non-fiction books, I make way more money at speaking engagements rather than at Amazon. Use your circle of influence to set those engagements up… family, friends, etc. Local library, local churches. As for what to talk about… Anything that pertains to content in your book. Once you speak at a particular venue, ask people for other places to speak. The key is not to be preachy, but to speak from the heart–what got you to the point where you just had to write your book? Personal testimony, stories of others at the same place you were at. Offer some solutions. Use Scripture,

        Is it scary? You betcha. Is it worth it? You betcha. It was important enough for you to spend the time and energy to write and publish, it is important enough to share in face to face situations/speaking engagements.

        1. Thank you, Gina, for the encouragement about speaking engagements. I have been considering trying that but I have a limited area of influence. I will continue to pray about this avenue of marketing.

          1. Super! Think about all your friends. Choose 2 or 3 and invite them over for tea. Tell them what you want to do and ask them to help you figure out where to start in lining up speaking engagements. That’s 3 circles of influence you can draw from. 🙂 Plus it always helps and is more fun when doing things with friends 😉

            1. This is a great idea, Gina. The question on my heart is the need to feed Amazon’s algorithms. Any book I sell privately does not feed that beast. Do you see my conundrum?

              1. Yes. I do.

                One way to do this with Amazon is to pick a day and urge everyone to purchase your book on that day. That can boost your Amazon rank. However, if your main goal is to make money AND spread the word about your book, then do the speaking engagements. I’ve never been in the hole over expenses. I’ve always made enough to cover expenses and then some. Plus, after a speaking engagement, I still sold several books on Amazon.

                The problem is being in the non-fiction category. Non-fiction books do not sell well unless you are a big name and have a lot of recognition such as Beth Moore or Kay Arthur or Joyce Meyer. That is where speaking engagements will help give you regional recognition, credibility, and people will know that you aren’t really selling off-beat theology. Frankly, word of mouth is the absolute best sales marketing you can implement. You buy things on recommendation from people you trust when you have a need for that specific thing. People trust their friends and family far more than they do a 5-star review from a stranger.

      2. Your book sounds very encouraging and inspiring, Whitney. And not for the faint-hearted. I still have to pinch myself sometimes, when I come across a blessed sister or brother who is so content in where they are, they’re not eager to move forward. But, I guess there are more people like that than those who travel “the Road less travelled” even amongst Jesus’ followers.
        All the best for your book. It sounds important and valuable.

    3. Hi Cecelia,
      Discouragement is the result of hard work that goes unrewarded. I’m so sorry for your frustration.
      I’m not a huge seller so I won’t tout solutions, but I do know that as you trust the writing to Him, He’ll show you who, when and where the people are who need to find it.
      I bless you and hope things turn around for you soon, and if the income isn’t to come from the books, that the LORD will provide in other ways. For me, I aim to keep open-minded, but not work too hard at trying to get sales, but rather to walk ready to sow where He leads. That gives me His peace.

      1. Cecelia Lester

        Sarah, Thank you for the encouragement and your transparency. I have friends when I was in a writing group. One has given up writing entirely and the other one has all but given up. The one who has almost given up had a hard time promoting her books. I can’t look at it as they did. God gave me this gift and He expects me to use it.

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