How to be a Better Author

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Recently, I watched the author platform conference online. This was a series of interviews with authors, bloggers, marketers and other experts to help writers, speakers and bloggers be as effective as possible.

Below are the lessons from each interview that I watched:

Jonah Berger

  1. Create a connection with your book. Give something to people so that they make a concrete connection to what you are saying. At book events, he gave out tissues with the word Contagious: Why Things Catch On on them for his book and made the connection of “wouldn’t your like your ideas to be as contagious as the cold?”

Chris Brogan

  1. Be married to the outcome more than you are to the idea. This will allow you to enjoy the content you create.
  2. When it comes to branding, people think about people. The person sticks in the mind of people if you know who the person is.

Chad Cannon

  1. Books that sell come from authors that hustle.
  2. An author needs to provide value to the audience outside of their book.

Chris Ducker

  1. Writing a book is not like writing a blog post. Editing is by far the hardest part of writing a book.
  2. Just be you. Your readers and listeners will know if you are being real or not.

John Lee Dumas

  1. Failures happen when people don’t listen to their intuition. Successes happen when we do listen to our intuition.

Carmine Gallo

  1. Ideas are the currency of the 21st century and you are only as successful as your ideas.
  2. Most speakers fail because they don’t have their message down, they don’t know their story.
  3. The difference between a great speaker and a good speaker is the great speaker is always looking to improve.
  4. The 3 components to any great presentation: Emotional, novel and memorable.

Jeff Goins

  1. Activity always follows identity.
  2. Offline relationships still do matter in the midst of our social media worlds.

Chris Guillebeau

  1. A lot of people can launch a book well, but successful authors need to think about how to make it successful in 3, 6, and 12 months.

Derek Halpern

  1. The best way to promote yourself is to help others, to give a benefit to someone else.
  2. Content is not just about what you say, but how you say it.

Michael Hyatt

  1. Know your audience, who they are, what their needs are, and what questions they have.

There was some incredibly helpful things in these videos.

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Questions Every Blogger/Writer MUST Answer

Close up of vintage typewriter machine

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about why every leader and pastor should blog. If you decide to blog, here are a couple of things you need to think through:

  1. Why. Most people struggle with what to blog about, more on that in a minute. Why are you blogging? Why is it worth your time? If your goal with blogging is to build a platform to write a book, that’s a poor reason. Do you want to help people? Serve people? Get better at writing? Be famous? It is important to have a stated goal when it comes to your blog. Not everyone should blog. If you don’t have a compelling reason to start blogging, once the fad of it wears off, you will quit.
  2. What. This is the content. For me, I blog about things I find interesting and helpful. I blog about leadership, books, preaching, family, marriage, NFL, fantasy football, crossfit. Things I like. I assume that there are others out there who are interested in what I am interested in and so far, that seems to be the case. I will share things I think will be helpful to my readers and my church, things I’m learning, things I want to rant about, things about my kids and Katie. Some blogs are focused on one topic, which is great if that’s what you want to do. You should have a focus though, a grid that helps you decide what you do and don’t blog about.
  3. How often. This right here is one reason most blogs fail. They don’t blog enough. You can read about how to design a blog, what plug-ins to use, how to connect it to social media (and you should do all this). If you don’t blog on a regular basis, your blog will not get off the ground. I probably blog too much, but that’s my choice. Some blog 3 times a week or everyday. The point is, your readers need to know how often you will blog. People will tire of checking back on your blog for new information and it isn’t there, they will give up. I would say someone should start blogging when they can do it 3 times a week.

Blogging takes work, it is a job in many ways. You will spend hours writing, working on ideas, finding pictures for posts, responding to comments, looking for links to share and doing it all over again.

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Why a Leader Should Blog

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I often get asked by other pastors if they should have a blog. After all, it seems like any pastor who is doing anything has a blog. Whether that is true or not, it feels that way. Also, many pastors hope to write a book one day and a blog is a natural first step.

I’ve been blogging for 8 years now and I believe that a pastor should blog. Here are 4 ways to know if you should:

  1. You feel like you have something to say. If you don’t feel like you have something to say or you are starting a blog because every other pastor in your network has a blog, you shouldn’t start one. Don’t look to fill a void in the blog world, there probably isn’t one. Just write about the things you are passionate about. When I write something, I ask myself, “Do I want to know about this?” That for me is the question. If I’m interested in a topic, I assume others will be as well. This is why my blog has leadership topics, preaching, theology, family, marriage, NFL, fantasy football, health and crossfit and random Dilbert comics. Don’t try to talk about something you don’t care about or aren’t passionate about.
  2. You like to write. I’ve asked writers about their rhythm and schedule and many writers love to write. I’ve met some that have told me, “I write because someone pays me and I have a deadline.” If that’s you, don’t blog. Stick to books. I tried to make on of our leaders blog because I thought it would be helpful and it was a disaster. He hated it and I stopped trying to force him. It has to be something you want to do.
  3. It is a great way to shepherd and lead your church or organization. This is the reason I have continued blogging. I love to preach, read books, prep sermons and develop leaders. Blogging is an opportunity for me to shepherd and lead my church outside of Sunday morning. I can post more ideas about my sermon, talk about things I didn’t have time for in my sermon, pass on great articles and helpful resources. This is why pastors should blog. If you don’t, I believe you are missing a great leadership and shepherding opportunity.
  4. It is work. But it is work. Keeping up a blog takes time. A friend of mine recently told me that he had his highest traffic ever and said it was because he posted regularly. If you want to grow a blog, you have to write regularly. If you don’t, your readers won’t know when there is new content and won’t come back. The best way to grow a blog is to be helpful and write good content. Look at any of the blogs with the most traffic and usually those 2 things are true. Get into some kind of rhythm that works for you in terms of writing and stick to it.

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Links I Like

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.

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Mike Leake on People don’t become angels and you shouldn’t want them to.

You won’t be an angel when you die. And thank God for that. Angels aren’t in union with Christ. But real flesh and blood people like you and I are in union with Christ. We’ll enjoy Him forever in a way that an angel cannot.

Ron Edmondson on 7 warning signs a leader is about to crash.

I’ve learned there are some common indicators that a leader is heading towards burnout. The sooner we can recognize them, the sooner we know to reach out for help.

Archie Parrish on Avoiding burnout.

The term burnout was coined by rocket scientists to describe shutting down a jet or rocket engine by exhausting or shutting off its fuel. Dr. Herbert J. Freudenberg, in his 1974 book Burnout: The High Cost of High Achievement, was the first psychologist to use this term. He defined burnout as “the extinction of motivation or incentive, especially where one’s devotion to a cause or relationship fails to produce the desired results.”

Aaron Armstrong on Is church growth all about the pastor?

When it comes to church attendance, nothing matters as much as the ability of the pastor to deliver good sermons. If a pastor is good at his job, the church grows. If he’s bad at his job, the church shrinks. Sounds unspiritual—but it’s true. It shouldn’t be this way—but it is. Each week is a referendum on the pastor’s ability to deliver an inspiring sermon.

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Links I Like

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.

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Dorie Clark on Why we can’t stop working.

The ROI of work is immediately apparent. You get instant feedback and, oftentimes, instant gratification in the form of raises, promotions, new contracts, or general approbation. The arc of family life is different. In the moment, it can be banal, boring, or discouraging.

Perry Noble on 7 ways to be rich.

Give it TIME…what we spent years messing up will most likely not be fixed in three days, or even three weeks!

Dave Bruskas on 4 priorities for pastors from Christmas to Easter.

Christmas, with all its ministry demands, has come and gone. You’ve had a few days off. But you are still very tired as you approach the long run to Easter. How should you prioritize your time and energy? What can you do to recover?

Will Mancini on Ministry trends of 2014 leaders can’t ignore.

Sometimes you can dismiss a trend as a fad. Like Crocs, the Harlem Shake, or flash mobs. At other times to dismiss a trend is just a mistake. As in every era, some of today’s trends will become tomorrow’s reality. Innovative leaders aren’t afraid to embrace change and to be some of the first in on the shifts they see around them. In that spirit, here are 5 trends you’ll no longer be able to dismiss in 2014.

Tony Merida on 9 benefits of expository preaching.

Expository preaching is an approach that is founded on certain theological beliefs, such as the role of the preacher according to Scripture, the nature of the Scripture, and the work of the Spirit. Therefore, many of the benefits for doing exposition are hard to measure. However, nine practical-theological benefits are worth noting.

If you miss your family, you miss everything.

7 crippling parenting behaviors that keep your kids from becoming leaders.

I was intrigued, then, to catch up with leadership expert Dr. Tim Elmore and learn more about how we as parents are failing our children today — coddling and crippling them — and keeping them from becoming leaders they are destined to be. Tim is a best-selling author of more than 25 books, including Generation iY: Our Last Chance to Save Their FutureArtificial Maturity: Helping Kids Meet the Challenges of Becoming Authentic Adults, and theHabitudes® series. He is Founder and President of Growing Leaders, an organization dedicated to mentoring today’s young people to become the leaders of tomorrow.

Ed Stetzer on 5 ways to teach your kids to hate the ministry.

To put it bluntly, a lot of pastors’ children hate the ministry. My team interviewed 20 pastors’ kids who are adults now. They provided some insights that were both inspiring and disturbing. Children with a pastor-parent can grow to hate the ministry for many reasons, but there are five guaranteed ways you can make sure they hate being a pastor’s kid (PK).

OK Go “This too Shall Pass”
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Links I Like

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.

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Al Mohler on Must Christians believe in the virgin birth?

For some, the belief that Jesus Christ was born of a virgin is nothing less than evidence of intellectual dimness. One writer for the New York Times put the lament plainly: “The faith in the Virgin Birth reflects the way American Christianity is becoming less intellectual and more mystical over time.” Does belief in the virgin birth make Christians “less intellectual?” Are we saddled with an untenable doctrine? Can a true Christian deny the virgin birth, or is the doctrine an essential component of the Gospel revealed to us in Scripture?

The playoff scenario for my Pittsburgh Steelers.

So, you’re saying there’s a chance.

Aaron Earls on Make sure what you share on social media is true.

It can happen to any of us. It does happen to almost all of us. We see a story online that shocks us and seems just true enough. Normally, we check things out before we share them, but this is so unbelievable we need to get the news out as soon as possible. We post it on Facebook or retweet it. Before we know it, others have shared the story. Only then do we find out the truth – it was fake.

Mark Steyn on The age of intolerance.

Joseph Parker on An essential manly movie.

In creating the “essential manly movie” category, it is impossible to exclude Ridley Scott’s Gladiator. It stands as the quintessential Roman tale, its epic scale towering above that of other stories within the genre, namely The Eagle, King Arthur, and The Last Legion. All these were good (sort of), but Gladiator hit all major points of Roman culture while providing a story which highlighted the character of man torn apart by the politics of the age. So, this movie came out over eight years ago. What else can be said? Plenty and you can quote me on that.

Mike Myatt on 15 traits of great leaders.

While much has been written about the traits and characteristics that form great leaders, the truth is that leaders come in many different varieties…there is no one-size-fits-all formula for leadership. That said, all good leaders possess certain core qualities, and great leaders simply develop said core qualities to a higher level than their peers. Put simply, a leader’s shelf life will be equal to their ability to leverage their leadership traits through solid execution, and influencing their constituencies in alignment with the corporate vision with values.

Links I Like

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.

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Justin Lee on When Christian’s are Christianity’s worst enemy.

I’m a Christian. I’m proud of my faith, and I love the church. But sometimes my fellow Christians make me want to scream.

Jessica Stillman on 5 secrets of public speaking from the best TED presenters.

How can you borrow a bit of the magic that garners some TED talks millions upon millions of views? An author of a book on the subject shares some secrets.

Tim Stevens on How to help a leader leave your church well.

These situations are going to be messy. A “good leave” is not defined by lack of mess. It is defined by how both sides respond to the mess and work through it with love and grace.

Trevin Wax on Book notes from Playing God, David & Goliath, and Die Empty.

Will Mancini on The 4 types of church members every church has and how they relate to the mission of the church.

A helpful way to shepherd your people with relationship to the mission of Jesus is to ask two simple questions: 1) Is the person clear about the vision of your church? 2) Is the person wanting to make a contribution?

U2’s new song “Ordinary Love” from the new Mandela movie. Such a great song and I can’t wait to see this movie.

Links I Like

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.

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Matt Walsh on Abstinence is unrealistic and old fashioned.

You could ask any married person who slept with other people before meeting their spouse (I wouldn’t recommend actually asking this, I’m just trying to illustrate a point here): are you happy about it? Are you glad that you gave yourself to someone other than the person you now love eternally? If you could go back to those times, would you stop yourself? Was it worth it? Really, was it worth it? Do you wish you could say that your spouse is the only person who has experienced these intimate, sacred moments with you? Are you proud that there are other men or women in the world who have seen this side of you? Are you satisfied that what you give to your spouse is now secondhand?

Don Carson on 6 reasons not to abandon expository preaching.

I distinguish expository preaching from topical preaching, textual preaching, and others, for the expository sermon must be controlled by a Scripture text or texts. Expository preaching emerges directly and demonstrably from a passage or passages of Scripture.

Men, how being fat can destroy your family.

Those knees sound like broken glass yet? How about the constant back pain? No energy, you say? Out of breath? Does any of this surprise you? It shouldn’t! You probably could have prevented all of these things by shedding some of that extra tonnage you’re carrying around.

Scott Williams on Learn to expect great things.

Success and great things come to those who expect it and those who step out and make it happen. The key to success is living from the spirit of expectancy.

So, “Atheist Mega-Churches” are a thing.

To have a service when there’s no One you’re serving…well, that would be like inviting friends over for a movie night, but staring at a blank wall. The concept is good, but the execution is empty.

Addie Zierman on 5 church phrases that are scaring off Millenials.

Here is what I can tell you about millennials: We grew up on easy answers, catchphrases and cliché, and if we’ve learned anything, it’s that things are almost always more complicated than that.

Thom Rainer on Thank you pastor’s wife. This is so true. You should thank your pastor’s wife.

You may have one of the most thankless roles in the world. You receive no compensation, but there are many expectations of you. At times you are expected to be omnipresent; and other times you are expected to be invisible. Rarely at any of those times does anyone express gratitude to you. Thank you pastor’s wife.

Links I Like

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.

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  1. 3 big opportunities busy pastors miss.
  2. Simone Richardson on Some thoughts on erotic romance books for women.
  3. 7 habits of a highly effective date night.
  4. Carey Nieuwhof on 9 great ways for leaders to use social media.
  5. Modesty and why it matters.
  6. Brian Howard on 3 ways to not miss out on real life.
  7. 7 ways to be more productive with your time.
  8. Jeff Brodie on How to know if your church is making daily progress.
  9. Brian Dodd on 10 things church volunteers wished their pastor knew.

Links I Like

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.

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  1. Tim Elmore on 3 huge mistakes we make leading kids and how to correct them. Parents, teachers, kids pastors and student pastors need to read this. So helpful.
  2. Bringing clarity to organizational language.
  3. Jared Wilson on How your preaching might increase sin in your church.
  4. When everyone else has a better sunday than you. Every pastor feels this at some point, and this is good encouragement.
  5. Ron Edmondson on How to stop being a people pleasing pastor.
  6. 9 observations on the lonely pastor. Every pastor and church member needs to read this.
  7. David Dunham on Superman pastors are bound to fail.
  8. How to design message series for the unchurched.