The Good News Christian Writers have been in ministry at some vendor events this spring. After one of the shows, award winning author Stacy Lee Flury shared her thoughts about knowing and meeting the needs of her readers in a Spirit-led way:
In my travels marketing my book as a vendor, I have come across three types of people that will consider buying my book--or your book, perhaps. Let’s take a closer look at these customers.
#1: The person buys the book for a friend or family member in need.
This customer will often make a statement at the beginning of their discussion with you about how their best friend Cathy or cousin Rodney would enjoy your book and get a lot out of it because of the theme of your book. They happily purchase your book--or two--and go on their merry way.
#2: The person buys the book as a gift.
This customer starts off the conversation saying they are purchasing it as a gift for someone in the family or a friend due to a birthday, holiday, theme, or need. They are not there long enough and express no desire to engage more personally with you. They make their purchase--with your autograph, of course--and continue on their way.
#3: The person buys the book for themselves for personal need or enjoyment.
This customer seems to have a magnet--perhaps the pull of the Holy Spirit--that makes it hard for them to leave your table. They may sense that your book can meet their inner need in some way. They may linger at the table, thumb through the contents section, read the back of the book, walk past your vendor table only to return and ask questions, or perhaps listen in as you converse with someone else that appears to have a common interest.
No matter what type of person considers the purchase your book, you can be sure that they will ask themselves a number of questions before they pull out the purse. These are just a few things your customer will mull over before a purchase:
But, there is one other type of customer I want to bring to your attention: the reluctant and anxious customer.
Customers exhibiting this behavior seem to gravitate to my table and when they do so, the Holy Spirit nudges me to listen carefully--to them and to Him.
For example, at a recent vendor event, I met a lovely lady from a different nationality and culture. I watched as she slowly walked past my table and noticably glanced at my book. She stopped, lingered for a bit, then continued on, only to make a full circle and repeat her actions again--stop, linger, continue on.
After finally picking up my book, she thumbed through the pages, looked at the contents, viewed the back of the book, and repeated the same pattern. At this point, I knew it was time for me to pull a little information out of her to learn how I might encourage her to buy the book.
Now, I had some understanding of her culture and knew that buying my book could lead to issues with her husband and other family members. I cautioned myself to proceed with care. She was clearly a hurting and broken mom, trapped and alone in a culture that would not allow for her to seek help outside of her family. Though always unspoken, it was taboo to do so.
In my heart I KNEW this dear woman NEEDED the powerful message in my book. I could see how weary she was as I looked into her eyes--tired of feeling alone with no one to help her in her family crisis.
Nervously, she stroked the cover of the book and looked anxiously around, her eyes unfocused, deep in thought and clearly torn as to the purchase of the book.
In that moment, the ministry side of me stepped in and closed the marketing door. This wasn’t about making book sales anymore. This was about reaching out to comfort a woman in desperate need.
I never remember what I actually say to women like her who drop by my table at vendor events. But, when I allow the Holy Spirit to lead, the right words come out and the gates of relationship open wide for conversation.
Listening closely, responding compassionately, her walls broke down and tears dropped onto her cheeks. She allowed herself to be vulnerable in order for me to help her. After some time, I offered to pray with her and she gratefully accepted. I gave her a hug and let her know that she was not alone in her journey. God was with her.
She didn’t purchase a book that day.
I gave it away.
I knew she would not be able to get help outside of her home. But she certainly could get a lot of help inside, curled up in a chair somewhere with a book striking to the heart of her need. I sent her off in God’s hands, well tooled with the words I birthed onto the printed page in the wake of my own journey so similar to hers. God would continue the mission He started through me.
Marketing our books is important and we should find creative ways to expand the reach of our words to a growing customer base. However, we must never allow the exchange of cash for goods to supersede a Divine encounter set up by the Lord. When we allow ministry to be our focus, we position ourselves to be used as vessels to do His work on earth as it is in Heaven. Book sales happen and will be more blessed when we hold to it loosely and defer, on occasion, to ministry moments, free of charge, led by the Holy Spirit.
When you are ready for your first or next marketing event, pray and ask God to give you wisdom and discernment for each of your customers so that in its moment, you will know to open the marketing or ministry door.
"Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back."
Stacy Lee Flury is the award winning author of Turning the Tide of Emotional Turbulence: Devotions for Parents with Teens in Crisis, a publication of Pageant Wagon Publishing. She is faculty and staff with the Good News Christian Writers and part of the ministry team for our annual Retreat and Workshops for Christian Writers and Speakers.
Visit Stacy at her ministry website: Hope for the Broken Family
Meet Stacy and all the Good News Christian Writers at our 2023 Retreat and Workshop: Pioneers with Pens, this October 27 and 28, at Restoration Family Farm. REGISTER TODAY!
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