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Monday, October 24, 2011

A New Way to Sample Christian Books

A New Way to Sample Christian Books
By Lorilyn Roberts

The following blurb in italics is quoted from Nathan Bransford’s blog, dated September 29, 2011.

“There is so much talk about self-published books in the writing-o-sphere. But have you actually read one?
Poll below -
·                   Yes
·                   No

Total Votes: 1,773
Also, your further thoughts requested in the comments section. Did you like the self-published book you read? Would you read another? Do you only read traditionally published books? Etc.”

The poll was under way when the comments were posted so it’s interesting to look back at the final results. I read most of the voluminous 285 responses. If you would like to peruse them, here is the link:

While it’s hard to generalize from such a wide variety of responses, some things are clear: 

1. There is still a lingering prejudice toward print-on-demand/self-published books.
2. Many readers do not think print-on-demand/self-published books are on par with industry-published books.
3. A sizable portion of readers have not read print-on-demand/self-published books.
4. Many who haven’t read print-on-demand/self-published books would if they could sample them for free.

Out of the menagerie of comments shared in this blog post, after much reflection, I came up with an idea which I will share in a moment. But first, I want to give my own thoughts about the findings from this survey. I have said this for a long time, although most traditionally-published authors won’t agree with me:  Readers don’t care how a book is published. They might think they care because of preconceived notions that self-published books are in the category of “vanity” publishing, and therefore, inferior. In reality, however, when you dig deeper into those who are not biased, you will find what readers really care about is content. Content is king.

My American roots go deep. Some of my ancestors arrived with the Mayflower, and in the decades of colorful history since then, dreamers have made us a great nation. The key factors that made that possible: Freedom and a capitalist system where hard work, creativity, and perseverance rewarded those who didn’t give up.
Do we really need gatekeepers to tell the world whether something is good?  Do we need a hundred authors with unread manuscripts returned because the overworked acquisitions editor was two months behind opening her mail? In the past, because of the financial investment, book publishers decided which books would see the light of day. Most never did, making it very difficult for promising authors to get discovered.

Put ten people in a room and I guarantee you, they won’t agree on everything. Chances are they will have different tastes on what they like to eat, where they want to go on vacation, and yes, certainly on what books are worth reading. The traditional way of publishing books squelches creativity. I have spent far too much time trying to understand what an acquisitions editor or agent wanted, where he wanted my manuscript sent, and then he lost my manuscript anyway. That wasted time could have been better spent procuring an editor, improving my writing, and publishing and marketing my book myself. That is exactly what I did eventually. My point, though, is that the readers didn’t care how my book was published. They did care that it was worth reading.

I believe the days of mailing a book to one hundred publishers over five years hoping to find a “taker” are gone. Why would anyone want to do that? Authors can publish their own books now—faster and more efficiently. It doesn’t mean that the traditional way won’t exist into the future. It does mean ALL publishing companies will be vying for supremacy in a rapidly changing environment where the old ways of doing things won’t work as well. Competition raises the standard and forces downward the cost of publishing. The reader benefits from more choices in books and the result is a brighter future for new authors who are gifted with an entrepreneurial mindset. The only requirement—write the best book.

While the John 3:16 Marketing Network is for Christian authors, I envision our paradigm being adopted for mainstream authors, though it may not be free. The hard work in the John 3:16 Marketing Network is borne by many who have a passion to serve. Opportunities abound to provide books to readers all over the world, not only through industry-published books, self-published and print-on-demand books, but e-books as well. I envision e-books becoming popular in countries where the shipment of p-books is not practical or affordable. We are on the cusp of a revolution in publishing, and the John 3:16 Marketing Network is at the forefront of marketing innovation. Readers want diversity, options, and choices. The John 3:16 Marketing Network is poised to experiment with new ideas and introduce readers to new ways to sample books. Again, I want to emphasize, let the reader have more choices and make it easier for him to sample.

Not only is it important for authors to provide readers with the best possible product, why not give book lovers “more flavors”?  With the end of the year approaching, I have exciting news.
First, we will have a short Christmas membership drive to allow newcomers (authors and bloggers) to join without a referral (must believe in John 3:16).

Second, to celebrate our first full year of launching best-seller books on Amazon, we will be offering a free e-book, Fifty First Chapters From Christian Authors, a New Way to Sample Christian Books.  

Third, we will be introducing a new John 3:16 Marketing Network Membership for readers. If you are interested, all you have to do is sign up to receive our e-zine. You will NOT be bombarded with emails because I don’t have time to write them. My goal is to provide access to the best undiscovered Christian literature in the world. In the future, we will serialize e-books; and offer coupons for free e-books, shorts stories, and anthologies by John 3:16 authors. Tell us what you want; we would love to hear your ideas.

Our first e-book, Fifty First Chapters From Christian Authors, a New Way to Sample Christian Books, will be released on December 15 (or sooner). To receive your free copy, all you need to do is sign up to receive our e-zine. Enjoy reading the first chapter of fifty books by fifty authors AT NO COST. Nothing like beginning a new book that whets your appetite for more. You won’t have to travel to a book store or surf the web to find the kind of book you want. We have made it easy for you to sample a large assortment of all kinds of books while drinking your latte at Starbucks, at home curled up on the sofa, or during your lunch break at work.

Our John 3:16 Marketing Network authors are known and unknown, young and old, first-time published and multi-published, standard-industry published, self-published, and print-on-demand published. Our goal is to glorify God in our writings and help each other to promote books with a Christian worldview. If you are interested, please sign up for our mailing list. On December 15 (maybe earlier), you will be emailed a coupon to get your free copy. We will also be posting previews of chapters ahead of the launch at More information will be forthcoming.



  1. What a super idea! I can't wait to read the 50 first chapters. I'll get a good start on my Christmas shopping list.

  2. Totally awesome, Lorilyn. You continue to amaze and bless me.

  3. God has inspired you once again with creativity and a servant's heart for the John 3:16 members. Great idea Lorilyn!

  4. Love the idea, Lorilyn! I'm right when I say joining the J316 Network has been one of the best decisions I've made. I'm so glad to be a part of this family!

  5. Great idea. Thanks for all you do with the network.

  6. Awesome idea! Thanks for all you do Lorilyn.

  7. What a fantastic idea! Your dedication and commitment inspire me toto do better with it myself. Time to start FB'ing and Tweeting to spread the word. :-)

  8. Wonderful idea! Thank you for your faithfulness and servant's heart. :) My prayers are with you.

  9. Lorilyn, you're becoming quite the visionary. I think this is an idea that will take off and probably will be adopted by others. I, for one, would love to read a sample chapter for dozens of books. It will be a great way to find new authors - plus it will help me to support our authors who write in genres I would enjoy.

  10. Great idea, Lorilyn. The support I'm getting from you and the group is super. It was definitely a 'God thing' when I found about the John 3:16 Marketing Network. Thanks for the help in building my author platform.


    Tom Blubaugh
    The Night of the Cossack

  11. Lorilyn - This idea is tremendous. It fits right in with my dream to promote John 3:16 writers' work to participants in my Writing for the Spirit workshops, and potentially to use some books as resources as well. With the sample chapters, TOC and promo pieces, I can select the works appropriate for ministry and personal use. What a wonderful way to provide all potential readers with the tools they need to choose the book they want to read next or gift to a friend.

  12. Thanks for everyone's feedback. It is exciting to see the possibilities. I even have an idea if we ever wanted to p-publish it -- a way to do it for free. But we have to prove first the need and the desire of people to read it -- that what we are doing will impact readers and make a difference in the world of publishing.

    Keep praying for God's guidance. I expect continued spiritual warfare.

    I need to contact Constant Contact and get the options clarified before getting people to subscribe. More to come:)

  13. Great idea. Thanks for sharing it.

  14. I love when people think outside of the box! We serve a BIG God with unlimited ideas/revelations on how to reach the masses with the message of John 3:16. Trusting and believing He will be glorified in our efforts to tell everyone the Good News via our inspired words

  15. I know I already said it, but it bears repeating--GREAT IDEA!!

  16. It is hard enough to reveal God's message to those who don't want to hear it. Writing good, clean adventure books seems to be one way to pass on Biblical information to those who might resist a face to face testimonial.

  17. This is going to be great. I am so glad to be a part of this book and be associated with these great authors. Blessings, Deborah

  18. This is a very creative idea! It will be helpful to both authors and readers. Looking forward to finding some great reading.