When Al Ries and Jack Trout published their classic marketing book Positioning in 1981, the concept of the book and the single-word title became a white-hot marketing buzzword, much in the same way as “platform” is today.
I am not going to dig into that classic business title today or come up with a complicated analysis of positioning, but I can say this, if you want to do a brilliant piece of strategic personal branding or positioning, do the following:
Take a position.
If you want to be known for something and have a solid book-hook for your author platform, stand for something.
Talk show hosts who only ask questions are not as popular as those who take a stand on an issue. Of course, you can stand for something meaningless and downright stupid, but at least you will be known as the person who stands for something.
As Christian communicators we have an opportunity to take important stands and God desires we do so.
Christians love John 3:16, but it is another 3:16, this one in Revelation that is not-so-lovable towards those believers who take no stand or position.
“So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” (NIV)
That doesn’t sound like a good thing coming from the creator of the universe who holds everything together by the strength of his hands.
Traditional Christian publishers each stand for something. Most have corporate theology-statements. Some use the National Association of Evangelicals statement of faith as their own, found here. (http://www.nae.net/about-us/statement-of-faith )
An author desiring to write a book to convince readers to re-think the canon of Scripture, the deity of Jesus Christ or the existence of the trinity, are going to be very disappointed by a publisher’s response. There are issues where publishers will not be moved.
Agents take stands as well. The four at this agency talk about meaningful issues every now and then and we are generally of one mind as we see the world. Every decision we make is filtered through that position.
In general, only academic publishers might be interested in a work that “explores” all sides of an issue without taking a stand. When you are writing for the consumer-reader, you need to be strong and opinionated, pointing them in a specific direction you feel deeply about.
If you have published something and didn’t receive either strong praise or criticism from reviewers, you probably missed the mark on taking a stand. I’ve heard from a number of Christian leaders that if they are not experiencing strong opposition, they are probably not doing something right. The enemy does not like truth and will fight back.
Without getting into specifics, I can think of a number of “stands” you could take that are consistent with Scripture, but will make people really, really angry, proving you are on the right track.
I hear some people didn’t like what Jesus stood for either.
Both convicting and inspiring words to start my day, writing and otherwise. Duly edified!
On my drive home from work last night, a call in listener quoted this same scripture from Revelation. When I hear a specific scripture twice so close together, I know God is telling me something.
Thanks for sharing. I’ll definitely be thinking about this today.
A thousand times, YES. We are so terribly tepid these days…we pander too often, preaching culture’s Downy-soft answers to today’s wildly hot questions. I often pray that God raises up brave voices. Voices muscled and mature enough to stand firm of biblical truths. And I try to remind myself, when I write, that Christ-truth has always been unsettling and unpopular. Jesus warned us that his message was divisive, by design! And then…I try to balance it all by speaking in love.
What a dance.
Again, thanks for lighting fires beneath us! A desperately needed reminder.
Mr Dan. I’ve taken my position. What a ride. Some have taken a position only to find first hand knowledge of a prison cell. Ah but what a reward they reaped. Their words are still read today.
Chris, I have taken my position as well. Am I ready to be imprisoned for the cause of Christ? Not sure, but I would hope so.
Our church had a time of prayer this past Sunday for the international persecuted church (November 2 was the “official” day of prayer, but we had a conflict and chose to pray on the 9th). I don’t recall a more humbling and powerful time of prayer…which all ties back to this post. The time to take a stand is now. As writers. As believers. As followers of Christ. No matter what.
Thanks, Chris–and Dan–for the challenge.
Duly squirming in my chair, here. Yesterday my publisher e-mailed to me the final cover on my book, due out shortly, and I was a little concerned about how many times it said ‘Jesus’ on the back. Shame on me!
Lord, give me the courage to take a stand for you that is worthy of more than just spittle.
Thanks for the conviction Dan. Don’t like it, but need it.
Very true, but it is important to be courteous and professional in that stand.
I recently was reading a history of a certain operation in the South Pacific during WW2. As part of the background, the author outlined the Guadalcanal campaign, and took a stand on the controversial performance of Adm. Frank Jack Fletcher.
Fletcher’s actions are certainly open to discussion, but this author was so snide and contemptuous in discussing an issue that was not central to his subject that I didn’t wait around, and put the book aside.
I completely agree Andrew. Balancing grace and truth is the issue. There are times to remain silent and times to speak up. Praying for the wisdom to know the difference is something I do every day!
I appreciate your exhortation, Dan. As a person who doesn’t try to stir up conflict (in fact, I avoid it when I can), the idea of taking a stand sometimes is a fearful thing. But you are right, we need to know what we stand for, and then stand for it.
I read that blogs that take controversial stands tend to have more readers. I think what Andrew said is spot on too. When we take a stand, we need to do so with grace and courtesy.
Thanks for making me think today!
Thanks for this challenge, Dan. Your words have moved me to action.
When I first began writing, I was a new believer and I stood like a newborn giraffe. I was wobbly in both my faith and in my writing. I remember having a conversation with my grandfather in his writing basement. I told him I had strong feelings about what I wanted to write, but I was afraid that if I wrote what I felt, I would offend family and loved ones. “You should write what you feel strongly about writing,” he said. “Besides, there are plenty of books with explicit sex that do pretty well.”
“But Grandpa,” I replied. “I want to write about God.” And he sat mute for a minute, likely processing what my mind had been racing over for months, that most of my family and friends are non-believers and some are against the entire notion of God.
“Well then, by all means,” he finally replied. “You should write what you feel you should write.”
Sandy Faye Mauck
Amen, Dan. I think my biggest fear is that the editors will edit out my stance. But I won’t go there. I have been a wimp in a lot of areas in my life but not with God. He has brought me through the fire too many times to get me where He wants me.
This morning God said to me “Esther”. You post was timely! Thanks.
“The enemy does not like truth and will fight back.” So true! And the enemy is very tricky in how he fights back. Distractions from keeping writers from their story comes in many forms. Discernment is key when sorting out the noise of the world and I am so thankful for the Truth.
It’s been said that if you don’t stand for something, you stand for nothing.
Peter DeHaan, the corollary to that is that if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.
I try to strike a balance between taking a stand and not being obnoxious. Sometimes, when we are passionate about an issue, we let emotion trump reason. Never a good thing.
However, we cannot let rationalization trump conviction, either.
Thank you, Dan, for bringing this to our attention.