A hundred years ago, the most powerful media in the world were newspapers.
Newspaper writers and editors were society’s thought-leaders and political kingmakers. The day-to-day influence of a major newspaper was unchallenged, no matter what city or country. They were the first truly mass media, defined as broadly available to everyone at a nominal cost and holding an extremely high level of influence on society.
In the 1920’s, the dawn of radio eventually led to the first radio network later in the decade. Radio quickly became another mass media.
After World War II, television began its rise and began to dominate. For almost a half-century, the era of mass media pointed millions in whatever direction they wanted. Newspapers, radio and television ruled.
Everything else? It was “niche” media.
Maybe some magazines and similar periodicals were considered mass media, but other than the now mostly-extinct news magazines, this type of media is niche media aimed at groups of readers who gather around a common interest.
Today, a case could be made all mass media is a thing of the past, replaced by niche media, with audiences carved up into hundreds and thousands of little pieces by all the media choices.
Social media is the quintessential niche media, tailored to personal taste and filtered to allow only those messages desired by the user.
But one fact remains; books have never been mass media. Books are niche media, each focusing on a different subset of people.
In the United States, the average traditionally published book sells around three to four thousand copies. This translates to about one person per county reading it. Not exactly mass communication.
The Christian community in any region, is an interesting and complicated set of groups. No one media covers all Christians any more than all Christians gather at one kind of church on a Sunday morning…or Saturday, or whenever, or use one certain Bible translation over another, worship the same way, etc.
If your desire is to reach everyone with your book, you should be applauded for your initiative.
But it won’t happen.
No message is for everyone and no media reaches everyone. If you aim at everyone, you miss everyone. The shotgun metaphor is not applicable when it comes to effective communication.
Just as there are dozens and dozens of Christian church denominations, books from Christian authors are written for various groups and sub-groups.
Go to a mainline Christian protestant denomination conference and you will hear different speakers than you would find at a Catholic conference.
There are conservative Christian authors and more liberal Christian authors. Depending on where you are on the spectrum of theology/politics/church- affiliation, your book is limited in some way for publishers and readers who would consider it.
Every author has a niche, so embrace it, because books are not mass media and your book is not for everyone. Find your audience and write to it, and remember, “everyone” is not an audience.
A final word about Christian publishing…
In the 1960’s, communications guru Marshall McLuhan’s assertion “The medium is the message,” was a powerful reminder of the role of media in communication. The medium in which a message was communicated was part of the actual message. The power of mass media to influence added to every message.
“It must be true, I read it in the newspaper.”
I would assert this is less-true today because we are surrounded and saturated by media, almost all of it pre-filtered by each of us.
Maybe, in modern societies where we swim in on-demand communications all day long, the actual content created by someone is most important.
Maybe now, “The message is the message.”
And that’s a good thing, because Christian authors have a great message.