055 How to Find Your Courage as an Author

Here are the show notes for the most recent episode of the Christian Publishing Show.

You can listen to this episode here.


For the next few weeks, we will be releasing some “best of” episodes while I spend time with our new baby Thomas Gregory Umstattd, III. “Tommy” was born weighing 8 pounds, 14 ounces and he and my wife are both home and doing well.

Why we are posting re-runs for the next few weeks. I need more sleep!

Episode Notes

This episode originally aired in 2018.

Today I would like to talk about one of the things that make authors successful: courage.

Fear is the biggest enemy of authors. It can ruin their writing. It can ruin their marketing. In this episode, we are going to talk about how to overcome fear and change the world.

How Fear Ruins Writing

Fear Ruins Our Output

Fear can keep you from finishing your manuscript. For some writers, it keeps them from starting in the first place.

It takes courage to write.

Fear Ruins Our Craft

The author who is afraid of offending someone often fills her writing with so many qualifiers that her point gets lost. Her short punchy sentences get watered down so as not to offend. Or, she is afraid of offending specific people, so she takes the vivid details out of her story until all that remains is a bland abstraction.

It takes courage to say what you mean.

How this Fear Disguises Itself: Perfectionism

Perfectionism is a fancy word for fear. You will never be perfect, and neither will your writing.

Excellence = quality + speed.

How Fear Ruins Our Marketing

After I wrote the blog post Why Courtship is Fundamentally Flawed I got pushback from hundreds, if not thousands, of other bloggers. People wished my death on social media and left hundreds of negative comments. At one point my mom was in tears after seeing her friends hating on me on Facebook.

That can be the cost of having a million people read what you write.

During that time, I had a fortune cookie message in my wallet. It said simply, “He who gets the credit gets the blame.”

Writing is an act of leadership. You are either leading people to a new world in fiction or to a new way of thinking in nonfiction. People complain about their leaders.

If you are afraid of putting yourself out there, everything about marketing your book will be harder.

How this Fear Disguises Itself: Humility

A lot of authors think that promoting their work is in conflict with Christian humility. So, when is it okay to promote yourself as an author?

Let me answer that question with a story.

The Story of Dr. Barry Marshall

For decades, medical students were taught that chronic stomach ailments, including peptic ulcers and gastritis, were caused by stress, greasy food, or too much alcohol.

Barry Marshall’s research showed that this was 100% wrong. His research showed that while stomach acid caused the pain, ulcers were actually caused by bacteria that the acid helped fight. So taking an antacid was unhelpful, if not downright harmful.

The medical community was not impressed by this Aussie doctor telling them they were wrong.

Marshall tried doing experiments on pigs, but could not validate his theory. It turns out that pigs have a very robust digestive system.

He asked for permission to test on humans and was denied. So he drank billions of strands of H. pylori bacteria himself to see if he would get an ulcer. Marshall expected to get an ulcer in a year or two. He got one in three days. Then he took an antibiotic and it cured his ulcer.

He now had both the cause and the cure to a sickness affecting millions of people.

So, when was it okay for Barry Marshall to promote himself?

What if he had said, “I don’t want people to think I’m some great scientist so I will keep this to myself”?


Dr. Barry Marshall had an obligation to the truth to spread it as widely as he could. He had an obligation to the truth to write articles, to be seen as an expert, and to convince the world to change its thinking.

False humility is just another form of pride. As Rick Warren once said, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking about yourself less.”

Guess who wrote the words “Now Moses was very humble—more humble than any other person on earth.” Moses did.

If you think humility is at odds with the truth, you either don’t know the truth or you don’t know humility.

If your book is filled with truth, you have an obligation to spread that truth even if it means becoming famous in the process.

How to Find Your Courage


Love your reader. The more you love your reader, the more courage you will have.  Perfect love casts out all fear.

Is it hard to love perfectly? Sure. In fact, writing and marketing may never stop being scary. But that is okay. Courage is not the absence of fear; it is right action despite feeling terrified.

If you love your reader and your writing will help her, then you already have everything you need.

God has given you everything you need to do everything He has called you to do. So get to it!

Final Thoughts

Like I’ve said before, the world is broken. As Christians, we have the truth of Christ that the world desperately needs.

I want to partner with authors who are willing to face that brokenness and write the truth even when the truth hurts to write. Can you write truth to power while motivated by love?

If so, I want to stand with you as you change the world. If you’ve been persecuted for your position, I want to help. That is what my mastermind groups are here for.

To be clear, I’m looking for more than just controversial books. Your book doesn’t need to be controversial to advance the Kingdom.

I am looking for authors with the courage to write clearly and the courage to promote their work publicly.

I’m looking for authors:

  • with clear, simple writing.
  • who are willing to tackle today’s controversial issues and topics.
  • with a track record of putting themselves out there as the face of their message.
  • who have a passion for the truth in their writing.

Oh and the rest of the story with Dr. Barry Marshall? He won the Nobel Prize in medicine. All those medical textbooks have now been rewritten to include his research.

Sponsor: Thomas Umstattd’s Mastermind Groups

Do you want help and encouragement in your writing career? I have started two mastermind groups, for published and prepublished authors.

These groups meet monthly with me via video call where each mastermind checks in, shares their progress, challenges, and goals. Each mastermind also gets a chance to pick my brain and get encouragement from the other masterminds. You can learn more here.

The Christian Writers Institute course of the week: 7 Secrets of Amazing Author Websites. Use coupon code: “welcome” to get it for free.

The post 055 How to Find Your Courage as an Author Rerun appeared first on Christian Publishing Show.

13 Responses to 055 How to Find Your Courage as an Author

  1. Avatar
    Bryan Mitchell January 7, 2020 at 8:02 am #


  2. Avatar
    Andrew Budek-Schmeisser January 7, 2020 at 8:14 am #

    Your courage isn’t what you own,
    you can’t save it for tomorrow.
    As the greats have always known,
    it’s only yours to borrow.
    It is there at your request,
    if a simple rule you heed:
    to stand in valour with the best,
    love is all you need.
    Love those with whom you intersect
    and the unseen other, too.
    Love lords to whom you genuflect,
    and those who bow to you.
    ‘Tis love the roads of courage pave,
    to gird faint heart, and defeat the grave.

  3. Avatar
    Allyson West Lewis January 7, 2020 at 8:28 am #

    Congratulations on your beautiful baby boy!
    This is a wonderful post about fear, courage and humility! I especially like Moses’ quote!

  4. Avatar
    Roberta Sarver January 7, 2020 at 8:53 am #

    Thomas, congratulations on such a beautiful baby boy! Here’s hoping you get enough sleep. Or maybe you could take part in a study on sleep deprivation. 🙂

    Thanks for this post; it helps visual learners like this writer to digest the material.

  5. Avatar
    Kay DiBianca January 7, 2020 at 10:45 am #

    Thomas, Congratulations to you and your wife on such a beautiful baby boy! We rejoice with you.

  6. Avatar
    Lynn Baber January 7, 2020 at 8:02 pm #

    Steve, congratulations on your son and thank you for this rerun. Humility is a big issue.
    Enjoy – and blessings.

  7. Avatar
    Esther Thompson January 8, 2020 at 10:33 am #

    Congratulations! Blessings for your growing family.

  8. Avatar
    remadepreacher January 10, 2020 at 2:26 pm #

    A good episode on courage, Thomas. Thanks for the reminders of the many ways we need to take courage as a writer and a Christian. Fear kept me in secret sin for decades. Shedding light on it was half the battle so I became determined to never let fear hold me back. Many express surprise at how bold the subtitle is of Remade, a preacher finds victory over porn and complaint. I tell them I must be bold to accomplish the ministry God has given.
    So, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you.” Joshua 1:9
    Oh, and congratulations on your baby boy, Kent.

    • Avatar
      Christine Hagion February 1, 2020 at 2:01 pm #

      HI, Remade Preacher.

      I love the courageous stand you are taking and your willingness to be transparent in leadership.

      I also am an ordained minister, and some of my male fellow ministers have told me that the issue of pastors overtaken in pornography is of epidemic proportions in the church. Yet no one except you has been willing to tell the world that the emperor has no clothes.

      Thank you for being brave and speaking up–as I also am, on another forbidden topic in the church.

  9. Avatar
    Kathy January 11, 2020 at 2:39 pm #

    Thanks for the encouragement to be courageous! And Congratulations on your new son!

  10. Avatar
    Christine Hagion February 1, 2020 at 1:53 pm #

    Hi, Thomas! Congratulations on your little bundle of joy!

    I am so glad you re-ran this post. I really enjoyed this blog post on having courage as a writer. I am forwarding it to many of my friends in our writers’ groups (as I have done before with so many of these posts).

    I wish you many hours of restful sleep. 🙂


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