Archive for the ‘Publishing’ Category

My Little Reader

Even before Reid was born and I saw that precious little face, I wanted desperately for him to share my love of books. My nightly ritual was to go in his room, sit in his rocking chair, and read out loud to him from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

Soon after he was born, we started branching out, trying out all the books on our shelves. If he patted them or smiled (or tried to eat them, truth be told), they went into the “he likes these books” pile. If he wasn’t so interested, we put them in the “save for a few months and try again” pile.

It wasn’t long before he would sit in the floor with a book, turning the pages. And now, at 14 months old, books are second only to playing outside. Sometimes he comes with one book in hand and we read it . . . over . . . and over . . . and over. Other times, he brings one after another from his shelf and holds each one out with a big grin and points to his chest as if to say “Now this one, please.”

One of his favorites is Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb. We’ve read it so many times I don’t even need to look at the pages anymore. (Hand, hand, fingers, thumb, one thumb, one thumb drumming on a drum. One hand, two hands drumming on a drum. Dum ditty, dum ditty, dum dum dum.) You can tell how much he loves it because he holds one finger in the air and shakes it in time with the dum ditty, dum ditty, dum dum dums and dances in a circle. And then there’s his You’re My Little Love Bug book. My mom found it for him, and not only does it include a place for his picture on the last page, but it lights up and plays music when you open it up to read it. He likes to points to himself as you read You’re my lovey dovey, my stinker winker bear.

My hope is that books will always hold such interest for him and that in a few years we’ll move to chapter books and then in a few more years I’ll start sharing young adult novels from some authors I know personally. But whether he likes Mommy’s books best or really prefers nonfiction like Daddy does, Reid confirms for me that reading is not a declining pastime and that printed books themselves are not dead. There will always be a place for great stories and for great storytellers. Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb, after all, was first published in 1969.

*What books stand the test of time for you?

*What gives those books their longevity and appeal? What can we as a publishing team learn from them? 




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This week I had one of those delicious publisher/editor/agent/author check-in phone calls with the inevitable scary question, “OK, now that this series is coming to an end, do you have any thoughts about What’s Next?” Inevitable because I have two more books to fulfill on my contract (believe me, I’m grateful to have work a while longer!), scary because I’ve come to the END of two series … and I have no idea What’s Next!

But I’ve been praying. Oh, how I’ve been praying. God! I need a story idea! And I’ve been so aware of the God-process in the two series I’ve been writing (more about that later), I know that without a Spirit-inspired idea, I’m dead. Or, to be precise, the book will be dead.

So in this phone call we talked about What Readers Want and tossed around a few ideas … and something clicked. An Idea. An Idea that might work. An Idea I could get excited about.

I went to bed that night still thinking about that Idea—and dreamed all night about it. Dreamed a strange scene that stayed with me when I woke up and trucked to the bathroom, then back to bed and fell asleep again. Same scene, wrestling with it. I finally woke up enough to grab the pen and paper I keep by the bed and wrote something down in the dark. Finally fell asleep.

In the morning I told my husband and laughed about it. “Listen to this!” and I read what I’d written in the middle of the night (barely legible). “Guess that sounds kind of silly now.”

My husband looked at me soberly. “Doesn’t sound silly to me. I think the Holy Spirit was talking to you.”

Well …

But if so, why should I be surprised? I’ve been praying, right? And to tell the truth, I’ve actually been mulling a lot lately about prayer and listening to the Holy Spirit and how it has impacted my writing journey. Early on, when I began to get reader letters that said, “Your novel helped me through a difficult bout with cancer” … or, “Your stories have revolutionized my prayer life” … or “After reading how your characters learned to pray, we’ve started our own prayer group.” These responses knocked my socks off! Only the Holy Spirit knew what those readers needed and brought my novels to their hands. Scared me, too. I began to realize how important it was to pray my way through each book I wrote, how critical it was to be listening to the Holy Spirit for the ideas and story, to be conscious that God was bringing His work to my work.

The whole thing felt bigger than me. So I asked some sister prayer warriors if they’d be my prayer team. (Bless these women who have prayed me through writer’s blocks, through sickness and surgery and family crises, who pray for readers who write me asking for prayer! That I ever even finish a book I’m sure is due to the prayers of these prayer warriors, bless them all!)

So what does it mean to be listening to the Holy Spirit while I write? Secular writers get “Ah-ha!” ideas too. Maybe for me—and you—it’s something as simple as acknowledging on a daily basis that our creativity, our ideas, that perfect concept to drop into the story, that sermon in church or something someone said on the radio just articulated the very thought you needed in your next chapter … that it all comes from the Spirit of God. To say, “Thank you, Lord!” Or even before that, “Help me, Lord!”

After all, the Spirit inspired the Word of God—why not our writing? No, no, no, I’m not suggesting my novels, or yours, have the weight or authority of Holy Writ! Please don’t misunderstand! I only mean that the Spirit of God is obviously in the business of using the written word (among other things) to reach and teach and comfort and convict readers. What you and I do as novelists reaches thousands of readers. Therefore we better be praying! And we better be listening to the still small voice of the Holy Spirit—which sometimes comes as a swift kick in the pants, too.

And then, we need to be thankful when God answers. Thankful for every idea that God knits together from “Once upon a time …” to “The End.” Thankful when we hear from a reader who, unknown to us, needed what God gave us to say.

Don’t know about you, but it leaves me breathless. Drives me to my knees. Gives me the courage to sit down at the computer one more time and write, “Chapter One.”


Neta Jackson

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In this weeks’ post, I want to offer some well-deserved encouragement and talk about quieting the voices that say “do more”.

I’ve been thinking about you, the Nelson Fiction authors.  I’ve been thinking about the stories you share with the world.  The sense of community you bring to our team.  The glory God gets through your novels.  And I know All of it matters.  The time you spend sitting at a desk or typing at the kitchen table.  The schedule you must manage to fit in the things we ask of you.  So today, I want to lift you up and tell you how much we value who you are and what you do. Thank you for being a part of our team.

In the last few weeks, I’ve had calls with several of you.  Often, the discussion is about things you can/should be doing to promote your books, ways to do social media better, etc.  And what you’ve been hearing from us more recently is that there is no “one size fits all” program that’s going to work for everyone.  Rather than us say that you need to “blog, tweet, update Facebook, and face North for three minutes each Monday”, what’s better is to personalize it.  Do you love to blog? If yes, then you’ll be passionate about updating your posts and sharing that content with others.  If you’re better at engaging with people through twitter or Facebook, then those are the places where you will shine.  And if you like to face North for no reason…well, I can’t help you 🙂

I could make this a longer post, but it’s not needed.  We’re partners with you on this journey, and being partners means we help wherever needed.  Do you need someone to help you manage your social media?  If so, let’s talk.  If you need help setting something up or just need to talk through what’s Not working, let’s talk.  And if you want to brainstorm ideas together, let’s meet in the Bahamas.  With all the comments you hear from the industry, friends, and consumers, we want to be the place you head when life gets noisy.

Smiling about you,


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In this season of giving thanks, I’d like to offer a “giving back” program for our family of Thomas Nelson Fiction authors.

It’s totally optional…so no pressure at all. But I think many of you will really enjoy this opportunity!

Here’s the idea in a nutshell – we’re making a new program available where you can experience the fun of introducing your fans to another Thomas Nelson Fiction author you enjoy reading. We’re calling it “You’ve Got to Read This!”. It’s a new optional feature that would go in the back of your novel (if you wish) where you interview another Thomas Nelson Fiction author of your choosing and share why you enjoy that author’s writing.

It’s 100% voluntary program. If you’re not interested, then it would not appear in the back matter of your novel. But if you are, the Q&A would appear in the back of one of your future novels. The interview would be 5 – 10 questions that reveals some interesting insights into that author, their work(s) and why you enjoy their writing. The choice of if AND which Thomas Nelson author you interview – as well as the questions – are totally up to you. Only requirement – the author you’re interviewing needs to be an “active” Thomas Nelson Fiction author with current or new novels being written.

The benefits are numerous:
1) It’s freeing to give back with something extra in your novel that is “other” focused. A nice gift to yourself.
2) You’ll be introducing your fans to what may become one of their other favorite authors. A nice gift to readers.
3) You’ll also help another author gain more traction outside of their current circle of fans. A nice gift to authors.
4) Through your questions and your referral, your fans will gain fun insights into you as well.
5) We can then direct them to that author’s website for a free download of several chapters from the novel you’re talking about.

What if there’s limited space in the back of your novel and if you do the Q&A there may be no room for your own book ads or excerpt? Not to worry. The interview would only take a few pages – and, if necessary, we’ll add an extra signature to your novel for space. But rest assured, you won’t lose space in the back of your novel to promote your other titles.

And just because an author interviews you – there’s no pressure to interview them back. In fact, it really would work best if you interview someone different to add variety to the process and not feel like an “I scratch your back, you scratch mine” process.

And hey, you could interview someone new in every novel for the next few years…or just try it once. Again – your decision.

Interested? If so, let your editor know which author you’d like to interview and they can coordinate which of your future novels the Q&A can appear.

It’ll be fun to see what happens when we give back in this way by inviting readers to discover other stories we’ve enjoyed.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Intro from Allen Arnold


Countless people dream of being a writer when they grow up. Of crafting the great American novel. Of having their words become flesh.

Few ever realize the dream.

But you’ve done it. Though it may not feel like it every day, you’re living that rare dream.

The Thomas Nelson Fiction team has a dream too.

We seek to reach the broadest possible audience with the best possible stories – always told from a Christian worldview. And you are a significant part of that vision becoming reality. In fact, you were hand-picked among hundreds of voices because of our deep belief in you and your stories.

More than that, you’re family. And family always has special places they like to gather and catch up.

Our outpost is here – on the back porch.

I invite you to join us for some candid conversation about the world of Fiction. We’ve saved a chair for you as well as some words to inspire, encourage, stretch and refresh you.

So have a seat. Let’s share some stories and some encouragement here on the back porch.

-Allen Arnold
Senior VP & Publisher, Fiction

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email-headerThe Importance of Building Your Platform
Last Friday, I spoke at the Music City Media Mixer, a luncheon sponsored by George Uribe and Ebie McFarland. I spoke on the topic of “The Importance of Building an Author Platform.” While my talk focused primarily on authors, the principles I shared apply to anyone trying to sell anything in today’s environment.

Building an author platform has never been more important. This is because of three realities author’s face today:

More books are being published than ever before. More than 408,000 new books were published in the U.S. in 2007. That number grew 38% to 561,000 new titles in 2008.
Meanwhile, retail shelf space remained relatively constant. The small growth in chain stores was offset by the number of independent booksellers going out of business.
Worse, other forms of media compete for the public’s attention. Whether you are a clerk in a story or president of a corporation, you only have 24 hours in a day. Everyone, it seems, wants a piece of your attention.
So how do you break through the clutter and get your message out? I would suggest four ways:

1. Write a truly remarkable book. I often get asked by bloggers how to increase their traffic. I usually reply, “Start by writing something that people want to read and will recommend to their friends.” This is true of books, too.
2. Take responsibility for your own success. Publishers are not in business to make you famous. They have a lot on their plate, too. Most don’t have the resources to build your platform from scratch. They expect to get a head start when they sign you.
3. Don’t rely on traditional, interruption-based marketing. You know the kind of talking about—where someone thinks that if they shout loudly or frequently enough, they can coerce you into buying their product. In our over-connected, media-rich world, this has never been less effective.
4. Build a tribe of your own. Tribes are no longer about geography, ethnicity, or a common culture. According to Seth Godin in his landmark book, Tribes, they are about people with a shared passion. All they lack is leadership and a means of communication. This communication must occur on four levels:
o Tribe leader to tribe member;
o Tribe member to tribe leader;
o Tribe member to tribe member; and
o Tribe member to outsider.
If you build a tribe in the manner Seth suggests, you gain access to the most precious resource on the planet: other people’s attention. While this process is not easy, it is easier than ever before. With the right leadership and use of social media tools, virtually anyone can build a platform today.

Imagine what this could mean to you as an author. If you can bring to the table, not only great content, but an established platform, you will have agents and publishers lined up to sign you.

Question: What are you doing to build your platform?

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