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Telling vs. Selling

I recently saw a job posting that made me somewhat angry. It was for a self-publishing company that encourages authors to avoid using a publisher to publish their book. I have nothing against self-publishing, obviously, but I didn't appreciate their characterization of all publishers as being basically useless and greedy. Granted, there are a number of bad eggs out there, but all of us are not the same. Another thing in the ad that stood out to me was the quote: "It’s not about the book, it’s about what the book can do for you." This hits me as the worst possible message to convey to authors. If all you're interested in is making money, there are other ways to use writing for that purpose. If you're writing a book, you have a responsibiity to do so with greater purpose than simply attaining wealth.

Higher Ground Books & Media's mission has never been to make lots of money from the books we publish. Our mission has always been to enrich the lives of others by providing them with inspirational, educational, and motivational books to read. The point of helping our authors share their stories has always been to help them further their ministries so that they can serve the purpose that God has set for them.

We select the books we publish based on many factors, but the main one is whether or not the book is something that adds value and seeks to glorify God. Whether that is through the story itself or through sharing the author's testimony and what led them to write the book. If we do not see some aspect that reflects that mission, we tend to reject the submission. We carefully scrutinize every fiction and non-fiction book submitted and we try to learn as much as we can about the author to ensure that their goals and mission for the book aligns with ours. If you come to us seeking a "hype man" or someone who is willing to spend time and money lifting you up instead of God, we'll kindly redirect you. On the other hand, if we feel that your story will be a comfort or encouragement to readers, we'll likely move ahead with you.

I understand that sometimes God will give you an idea at a time when your understanding may not quite have caught up with your actions. For example, when I began writing my own mystery series, my intent had not been related to anything that had to do with religion or God or faith. However, as my spiritual walk progressed, the way that I wrote that series progressed along as well. I began to incorporate details about faith and the struggles of people who lack it as a reflection of my own spiritual growth. I allowed my characters to go through a similar process and attempted to show how faith impacted their decisions and their perception of how life was supposed to be lived.

People are not ever going to be perfect. And rather than write what is commonly referred to as Christian fiction, I chose to write fiction that included characters who were impacted by faith and spirituality. And my platform for promoting these books has always been intertwined with the devotionals and ministry resources that I have written. As I got deeper into my faith, I considered removing the Rona Shively stories series from the roster because I was worried that she may not be the best reflection of a believer. But as I got further involved in the church and began to understand the concepts of forgiveness and grace a little better, I understood that she was exactly the right kind of character to illustrate our struggles with finding faith and hope in this world. And I never wanted to present a book that painted a picture of living a Christian life that didn’t seem attainable to everyone who might read it. I felt that it should be as honest as possible and show ALL of the mistakes that we make as human beings and how they don’t necessarily translate into whether or not God will still love us.

For a long time I felt like I had to be a perfect Christian in order to help others connect to Jesus. I have learned in the last few years that nothing could be more wrong. I’m sure you’ve all seen those memes that talk about how God selects people who are broken to carry His message. And though I had read them as well, I never really applied that logic to my own situation fully. But I started to see that when we become so tangled up in the mechanics of what it means to be a Christian, we lose the spirit, so to speak, of what Jesus intended when he came here to teach us how. It has little to do with our ability to follow a set process and everything to do with abandoning those restrictions and simply declaring our love for God and our intent to follow Him.

I say all of this to make the following point, as we open submissions again for the 2023 calendar year, we are not looking for stories that will necessarily make us wealthy. We are looking for stories that tell the truth. We are looking for stories that point to God’s glory and grace. We are looking for stories that you have been compelled to tell because your God-given purpose has become clear to you or at least has become unavoidable. So, we encourage authors who have these types of stories to check out our submissions page, read through the guidelines, and submit your manuscript if you feel you are a good fit for our Mission. We can’t wait to read all about it. We love to tell the story!


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