It’s more than a little scary when God calls us to do a job that’s bigger than we are. I feel that gallop in my heart each time I begin the first sentence of a new book or have to propose new projects to my publisher.
How about you? Are there things in your life that feel overwhelming? Projects or responsibilities that you simply couldn’t do unless God provided His strength, wisdom, courage—or maybe someone to come alongside you to share their gifts and talents?
There’s an Old Testament character that illustrates this example beautifully. In the early days of his reign, Saul—Israel’s first king—realized he couldn’t do the job without God’s intervention and the help of other godly men.
“Saul also went to his home in Gibeah, accompanied by valiant men whose hearts God had touched.” – 1 Samuel 10:26
During the month of September, my blog is dedicated to a very special team of valiant folks who God has touched. They have surrounded me during the past year with encouragement, wisdom, and prayer—as well as some very practical help!
Today, you’ll meet Tina Chen, who’ll share tips on personal blogging. If you have a blog, maybe you can use it valiantly, as Tina has used her blog to bless my writing ministry.
Hi, I’m Tina, and I have been a part of Mesu’s BFF team since its beginning. One of the primary ways I work to promote Mesu’s books is through my blog Mommynificent.com. I actually met Mesu through my blog. I first came across her books by finding Love Amid the Ashes on a free books for Kindle site. I read it, then read Love’s Sacred Song, loved them both, and blogged about it. When Mesu actually came and commented on my post, I almost had a heart attack. You would have thought a rock star came and visited my house, I was so excited!
Mesu has asked me to share a little about how I’ve used my blog to promote her books and other biblical novels and specifically about my blogging experience with The Pharaoh’s Daughter.
There are three specific ways I’ve used my blog to promote Mesu’s books – through book reviews, weekly reading reports, and in relevant other posts.
Book reviews are probably the most obvious way to use a personal blog to promote books. Because I host Booknificent Thursdays, an all-things-books link-up, every week and comment on every single post that gets linked up, I read at least 30 book reviews every week. After reading more than 3,000 book reviews in the last two years, I have come to believe that there is a good way, a better way, and a best way to do book reviews on a blog.
- The good way is to share just the specs on the book – the author, publisher, date, book cover, and book blurb. This is often called a book blast. It gets the book “out there” so to speak.
- The better way is to do everything listed above and add a few of your own thoughts about the book. Many reviewers choose to add their own summary, but what sets this one apart is that the reviewer shares things they liked and didn’t like about the book. This not only lets the reader learn more about the book but allows them to begin to know the reviewer, and the better they feel they know the reviewer, the more trust they will have in the review.
- The best way is to do everything listed in the better way, but in addition to sharing things they liked and didn’t like, the blogger will share how reading this book impacted their life or how it affected their personal journey. This doesn’t have to be religious and can be very simply done even with a picture book by sharing how children responded to the reading (here’s a great example of this) or how it made the reviewer remember something special from their own life (here’s an example of this). With inspirational and biblical fiction like Mesu’s books, this most often takes the form of sharing how reading the book drew them closer to God or convicted them in some way. When a reviewer opens herself up in this way, a book review becomes a small act of discipleship, an act of love that invites the reader to see how God has used a book to reveal Himself. While this is bigger and more important than promoting a book, it is nonetheless very effective at doing just that. It is hard to read a review like this and not want to read the book itself. Here are a couple of examples of this type of review – one by Renee Smith, my heroine of this type of reviewing, and my own review of Valerie Comer’s Plum Upside Down,
Another way I’ve used my blog to promote Mesu’s books besides sharing how they have impacted me and influenced my walk with the Lord is by mentioning them in weekly reading reports. In each Booknificent Thursday link-up post, I always include a short introduction about how my week has gone, usually related to my reading. This allows me to share excitement a few weeks in advance about Mesu’s books coming out, to mention that I’m in the middle of one of her books, and to mention that I’ve finished it and am working on the review. Every mention of one of her books helps, and so I try to work these in whenever I can do it naturally.
This leads to the third way I promote Mesu’s books on my blog (and also on social media) – mentioning her books in other posts on relevant topics. This way is a little harder to define and needs to be done carefully so that it never feels like a forced commercial, but when it’s done well, it can be very effective. Essentially, I try to keep her books in mind and when I mention any of the Bible stories she has covered or any of the themes or personal lessons I took from the books, I try to also mention the book itself. So, for example, when I reviewed a homeschool Bible curriculum on the book of Exodus, I mentioned Mesu’s book The Pharaoh’s Daughter in my introduction. Or when a friend on facebook posts a status update about how they are struggling to believe that God is still in control in this dark, political climate, I mention how Mesu’s book In the Shadow of Jezebel reaffirmed my faith in God’s sovereignty and overarching plan for His glory and our good even when the rulers of the day seem downright evil.
I have enjoyed being a part of the BFF team primarily because I love reading how the other members’ lives are impacted and changed as they read Mesu’s books and other Biblical fiction. Every time I read another members’ review of one of her books, they bring up something that encouraged or challenged them, and I am also encouraged and challenged.
I hope that my few comments here have encouraged you to be brave and allow yourself to be vulnerable as you share about Mesu’s books with others, whether it’s on a personal blog or in a face-to-face conversation or on facebook. Go beyond the “This is a great book!” conversations and connect at the heart level by sharing how God met you in her books! This will not only promote Mesu’s books well but will also promote God’s Kingdom as we spur one another to go deeper and deeper with Him.