Wednesday, 1 November 2006

On self-promotion

For reasons that have everything to do with stupidity and my inability to say ‘no’, I am I currently doing quite a bit of speaking and preaching; church, a student Christian Union and a Chinese fellowship. So given that I have a captive audience and we have so many copies of my works cluttering up the house that we are in danger of being buried alive under paper, I have been trying to sell books. Not, I hasten to add, in case the Inland Revenue is reading this site, in anything like large numbers. I think I have sold six in the last week, netting around £25, which is probably what it cost me to send copies to family and friends and people who might conceivably give me a plug.

But the issue, dear reader, is not finances. It’s how to do self promotion competently and consistently. You see in these Christian talks, I try (really) to promote the gospel or Jesus and not myself. (This is the John the Baptist Principle: ‘that I may decrease and He may increase’ see John 3:30.) But if you’re selling books, you have to, at some point say. ‘Oh and I brought these books, and you can buy them and I will sign them.’ But what is the Christian to do here? Is he or she to say, ‘These are absolutely wonderful! I have got fans all over the world who love them! Get out your wallets and buy, buy, buy!’ You don’t have to be very spiritual to see that this is hardly in keeping with the rest of the talk.

Alternatively, you could take the modest approach. ‘Oh and…’ look down at floor ‘… there are some books I have written…. mumble, mumble, mumble. They really aren’t very good. I don’t know why you’d want to buy them. Why don’t you get a Bible or a really good book of theology instead?’ In my usual British slightly bungling manner, I suspect, I manage to do both. The result is that I come over as being a) not very spiritual and b) someone who is embarrassed about his not terribly good books. Hmm.