Pastor Karl Vaters Shares 17 Steps for Writers and Speakers to Catch the Attention of Publishers and Conferences

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Just a few years ago, I was happily pastoring a small church, expecting to spend the rest of my ministry that way.

Then I wrote a book about it, and everything changed.

Now I have two books out, a third on the way, and I’m asked to speak at dozens of conferences every year.

What happened?

Why I’m Writing About This

Before I answer that, I need to give you three qualifiers:

First, being a published author and conference speaker is not better than pastoral ministry. It may be more desired by many people, and it is fulfilling in many ways, but if I could only do one, I’d pick pastoring every time.

Second, many aspiring writers and conference speakers have asked me how they can catch the attention of publishers and conference promoters.

Third, while this information should be helpful for whatever you’re writing about, I really want to help other small church pastors step up and write, speak and share their expertise.

With that in mind, here are 17 principles to consider if you want to become an author or conference speaker:

1. Get good at something

Writing and speaking doesn’t come first. Being good at something worth writing and speaking about comes first.

The first line in your speaker/writer profile won’t be how well you turn a phrase, it will be the expertise you have on the subject.

2. Find a need and fill it

Once you’ve found your area of expertise, ask yourself “what do people need to know about this that isn’t being adequately covered by other writers and speakers?”

For example, in my case, I wanted to write for pastors (my area of expertise) but it seemed like every possible angle had been covered. Then I realized that, while 90 percent of churches are small, less than 10 percent (maybe less than 1 percent) of church leadership writing and speaking addressed the needs and blessings of small churches. That just happens to be where I’ve spent all my pastoral ministry.

My experience + an overlooked need = something to write about.

3. Start a website

It’s never been easier, faster or cheaper to get your message to an audience. And the best way to do that is to create a website, then promote it using social media. This is called an online presence.

But please note the order above. You cannot create an adequate online presence solely through Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube or Instagram.

You need a website that you own and you control. Social media is where you promote what you’ve created, not where it originates.

4. Post your content consistently

The rule for online content is the same as it is for preaching. If you do it regularly you’ll get better at it, and if you don’t, you won’t.

Plus, if you’re not creating content at least once a week you won’t create enough material to matter, and your name won’t come up enough to get noticed.

5. Create quality content

There’s simply no substitute for quality.

If you write, learn to write well. Be compelling. Spend the necessary time to create a good title, strong opening sentences and helpful illustrations. Then have a proofreader look for issues like repeated words, misspellings, grammatical errors and so on.

It’s the same with podcasts and video. Watch or listen to them before you publish them. Make sure the audio is clear and shots are well framed. Do solid intros and outros. Stop saying fillers such as “um” or “like” and reduce dead air (silence) to a bare minimum.

6. Pay for good design elements

Whether you write, podcast or shoot video, pay attention to how the top people in your field present their product and set up their website. Pay attention to details like page layout, color, fonts, logos and graphics.

While you may want to do everything else yourself, this is the one area you have to pay for. Unless you’re a professional photographer or graphic designer, you can’t afford to do this yourself. It will show.

7. Have a point of view

Your regular audience should know what you stand for. And yes, you can do this without becoming predictable.

In your web name and description, avoid using words like “musings”, “random”, “ramblings” and “thoughts”. Those telegraph to any potential audience that your point of view isn’t as focused as it should be.

8. Tell us what you’re for

There are a lot of angry voices out there. And some of them have built up quite a following. But if you want to attract publishers and conference promoters, along with the mainstream audience they’ll bring you, be for something positive.

Standing against something isn’t enough. It has no staying power. It exhausts everyone but the narrowest sliver of zealots.

When you say what you stand for in a positive, compelling fashion, you give people something to come back for.

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Source: Christianity Today