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I received an extensive e-mail from my publisher explaining how the publishing process would proceed. The expected length of the process, nine months, reminded me of pregnancy. I had the due date for the birth of my second book.

My first book read like a Sunday school lesson with scriptures to back up my points. I designed the second book to explain Christian living with forty-four slices of life stories. Doing so gave the book a little broader appeal and a multiple purpose: read for personal enrichment or give to friends and family.

Stories of people finding salvation comprised the first third of the book. The next third detailed the benefits of Christian living. The final third dealt with the difficulties of accepting God’s call to ministry. In the last chapter, an atheist preached his gospel to me, and I compared the Christian gospel with his.

Tate publishing did everything they promised and did it in the time frames they gave me. A contextual edit was the first stop. The editor’s suggestions for improvement were insightful. The manuscript moved to the grammar edit, followed by proofreading during the formatting process. Unlike my first book, the interior of this one had few problems. I found eight typos, or misspellings that were missed, which the editors promptly corrected.

The graphic artist sent three quality designs for the book cover. I chose the one that stood out, then surveyed my friends without revealing my choice. Most of them picked the same picture.

Then I hit a bump on the road. I did not like any of Tate’s recommendations for a book title. They sent me a new list. The new list was worse. Most of the titles had something about a flood. I knew from my tour of Tate Publishing that a team of editors sat around a table to brainstorm title ideas. Clearly, the people making the lists had not read the book but had heard about the city of New Orleans being flooded by hurricane Katrina. They assumed I had written a book about people who survived the storm.

After the hurricane, Katrina books saturated the market. The last thing I wanted to do was write another one. Fortunately, I had the final say. My original title, Finding Faith in Sin City, was nixed when I learned Las Vegas is also called sin city. New Orleans had other nicknames: Big Easy, Crescent City, NOLA, and the City Care Forgot. I approved Finding Faith in the City Care Forgot, which proved to be a bad choice too. People looked at the title and the dark abandoned street on the front cover and immediately thought it was another Katrina book.

My experience paralleled the experience of the twenty Tate authors I had surveyed. The editing department offered a positive experience. Its team produced a quality, error free book that I could sell with a good conscience.

I had already anticipated the problems I encountered with the marketing department. Tate assigned a marketing representative to my book, primarily to sell my book to me, so I could sell it at retail cost. My cost gave a generous profit margin on each book sold. But finding places to sell the book proved difficult, and I never sold enough books to cover the cost of renting table space at public events.

The marketing department could do little more than make cold phone calls. They refused to call churches. Experience taught them pastors were wise enough to reject exposing their congregations to someone they did not know. That is why I wanted to use someone local who had built relationships with area pastors. My marketing rep sent me long lists of bookstores and the coffee houses they contacted with the results of each call. One bookstore agreed to review the book. I dropped off a copy and never heard from the store again.

Since the promise of a television commercial had not been put in writing, I expected the publisher to have a memory lapse about its production. I did not want to get into a “he said, she said” debate, so I made my own commercial that opened with a question. “What do these people have in common?” Photos of people in the book flashed at two-second intervals. The last frame showed a bookstore overlayed by the cover of my book, and the announcement that Finding Faith in the City Care Forgot was coming to “a bookstore near you.” I ran the commercial in the articles on NOLA’s faith blog, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

No one would have found a copy of my book on a bookstore shelf. But I knew bookstores could order copies. I hoped to create a demand before the release date. If enough people walked into a bookstore and asked for my book, bookstores would respond to the demand by putting copies on their shelves.

Much to my amazement, Tate produced a fifteen-second commercial. I did not have access to the Christian cable station they ran it on, but a friend who lived in Alabama did. She called me when she saw it.

The marketing department asked me to send details about events that I scheduled. They posted the details to Tate’s event page, to websites that accepted community information, and local newspapers. Their efforts produced sparse results. Most of my events came from relationships I had built with people when I drafted their stories.


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