The Faith Shift: I'll Show You Mine, You Show Me Yours
The story of a book that few people read (while the book tells the story that many people live)
One year ago today my second book came out, The Shift: Surviving and Thriving after Moving from Conservative to Progressive Christianity.
Also? One year ago today the U.S. was in a record-number-of-deaths for COVID 19 state (we have since annihilated those early records, cause we ‘Murica, and we do everything bigly).
Needless to say, the latter event shadowed the former.
Obviously, a global pandemic is magnitudes more important than an obscure sophomore release from an author who’s a niche among niches (writing for the post-evangelical crowd of the “Christian” market is not, you might say, super lucrative).
Shortly after my release date, a friend of mine who’s deep in the industry told me that according to insider publishing data, during the first couple months after Covid swarmed America people were basically reverting to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs as it related to book buying.
So if The Shift would’ve been about, “How to Grow Potatoes, Fast!” or, “Purify Your Own Water, Survive the Apocalypse!” then it might’ve actually moved some copies. However, since The Shift mostly deals with the upper half of our Maslow needs (psychological and self-fulfillment), it simply wasn’t the sort of book people wanted/needed.
In short, this time last year? People were not too concerned with purchasing a book about surviving their exodus from conservative, evangelical Christianity.
On top of that, as a small-time author with a small publishing house, there obviously wasn’t any sort of mass marketing attempt to get The Shift out there. Basically, unless you’re with one of the Big Five, and/or unless you’re an A-list author, the success of your book is largely due to three factors:
Just kidding, it’s really only Hustle and Luck
The Hustle Factor encompasses things such as:
Building out a platform on Social Media
Creating an email list so you can directly communicate with possible customers
Posting content regularly
Begging people to talk about, share about, review your book
Putting together a speaking tour.
The Luck Factor includes things such as:
Who do you know that help push/share/bump your book
Might you catch a zeitgeist wave
Maybe a big outlet will do a story on you/your book
It just hits the right note at the right time
So much of a book’s “success” comes down to luck. As one friend (who’s sold a ton of books) once told me, “Many times, really good books never sell, and really bad books sell a lot. The quality of a book rarely correlates to its sales number.”
You gotta be lucky, in other words.
But back to the Hustle Factor, specifically that final one on my list, the Book Tour.
Book tours are great in that they offer an author several things. First, it lets them go around and meet people IRL to talk about their work, thus adding to the aforementioned social media platform and email database. And, second, maybe more importantly, it gives authors repeated reasons to keep talking about their book, to keep putting out regular content.
Imagine if an author just did one post the day their book came out, then posted that same graphic the next week... then the next week... and so on... well, you can see how that would only ever get ignored. You have to have something to keep talking about, or to keep showing people. Hence, the book tour. A near endless supply of photos and stories and testimonies and fresh content to keep reminding folks, “This thing I made is in the world! Is it in your hands, yet?”
For The Shift, I was incredibly excited about the multi-week, multi-city tour I created. (Again, note the “I” created part. This goes back to Hustle. Ain’t nobody doing the work for most of us authors except us authors, unless you’re an A-lister and you have the coveted “Team.”)
I couldn’t wait to travel to places such as Nashville, New York, Austin and Minneapolis.
And then... the world shut down.
(I did our taxes the other day and my heart sank when I was going through invoices from 2020 and saw about 12 transactions through SouthWest Air (Yay! All my airfare booked!). Scroll down... down... about three weeks later, 12 refunds from SouthWest Air. Nevermind. Sad.)
I did my best, of course, to make some lemonade out of the Corona-Lemons. And I’m damn proud of my efforts. Such as the Livestream Extravaganza I put together—which, in addition to being one of my favorite evenings of the year (such a blast!), it introduced me to the world of livestreaming and set me up for year long deep dive in to the world of cameras and lighting and Live producing, which I never would’ve had time or space for otherwise. So that’s a win!
I also had a blast spending a couple months talking to a ton of really amazing folks through The Shift Podcast Tour.
And yet, neither of those compare to both the pure enjoyment of a book tour, nor the way in which a tour can help a book like The Shift find a foothold.
As a result, it’s an understatement to say that sales of The Shift have not been what any of us had hoped for. The timing, quite truly, could not have been worse. 🥴
(Please know that I know that in the grand scheme of things a Let-Down-of-a-Book-Release is microscopic compared to the damage that Covid 19 has wrought upon us.)
So... aaaalllll that to say, if it’s alright with you, I’m gonna take the next month to re-announce the existence of The Shift!
Through my newsletter here, and on my Wednesday afternoon Live Show, I’m gonna:
Share some excerpts from the book,
Talk about some of my favorite subjects from The Shift, and
Even bring on some special guests to talk about their experience with Shifting away from conservative Christianity.
Which brings me to... YOU!
If you have experienced (or are experiencing) the Shift--moving away from a more conservative expression of your Christian faith and toward something more progressive--will you tell me about it?
I have four Big Questions for you that I’ll be asking over the next month:
What has been the hardest part about your Shift?
What has been most surprising?
What are you grateful for as a result of your Shift?
What do you love about your new expression of faith (and what might you miss from your previous one?)
All month long I’m gonna be asking you these questions, hoping that you’ll share with me/us.
So without any further ado, here is the first question I’m hoping you’ll respond to:
What has been the hardest part about your Shift?
Whether it’s happening to you right now, or whether your shift is behind you, when you reflect on your movement away from you more conservative Christian self/church/community/etc, what is/was the hardest part?
The thing that hurt the most? The loss that felt the greatest?
If you’re willing to share publicly, simply leave it here in the comment section.
However, if you’d prefer to keep it between us (which, for this topic, totally makes sense), you can reply to this email (or, if you’re reading this article online, you can email me)
For now, I hope you’ll check out The Shift (learn more about it here), pick up a hardcover copy, or, wait a couple months because I’m getting ready to record/release the audio book version! 🤙🏼😎🥳
Join Us Live Today!
As always, I’ll be going live today (Wednesday) at 2pm PST, where I’ll do a reading of this article as well as interact with YOU!
Respond to your thoughts and questions.
And talking about faith Shifting!
The hardest part about the Shift for me:
When you have no-one to talk to about any of your more controverial thoughts (for example excluding homosexuals from membership or active duty is somehow not very loving) or your own sexuality that is somehow a bit different (poly bisexual... as a christian... really?!) it feels like you are difting away from faith in general. That is what most of my chistian friends would probably have said had I told them about how my views changed in some things.
So, before any other christian could tell me, I slowly accepted the fact that I wasn't really a christian anymore. I thought that when you can't sign your name to The List Of Things To Believe As A Christian Because The Bible Says So, you can't be an auhentic believer. And, seeing that authenticity has always been very important to me, my inner reaction went something like this: "Well, if I can't be a true believer, then I guess I'm not a real christian anymore" and this scared me.
I want to be a christian! I love Jesus! I know he loves me! I want to discuss the bible and be taken seriously! I don't want to be looked at with pity because "the Lord will reveal his truth to me and then I will understand my error". I want my thoughts to be valid! I don't want to be scared of rejection when I'm with my spiritual family that used to think of me as a good person and praised me for my faith.
But I will not be able to be both, authentic and appreciated. And that is hard.
Originally left this as a youtube comment. Moved it here :)
I became a believer in Christ at 30.
I wasn't long in congregational spheres in Finland and they were kinda moderate. Orthodox Lutherans, penal substitutionary and lightly conservative. Very loving but non-affirming, which in itself is I know, a reason to question much else. I myself held a lot of evangelical views though, because Finns are very isolated from each other and I didn't get as much spiritul guidance as I would have liked, so I turned to the internet and there evangelicals reign supreme.
I stumbled at first upon progressive adventists and then over time to more and more.progressive views. Life also has demolished those rigid legalistic viewpoints. Theya re castles in the sand. Can't stand the waves.
I didn't loose people or anything but the loneliness of being one of the few people I know that holds these views makes me sad and more lonely..most people I know are atheists and only a couple of Christians I know share my views.
So the loneliness is the worst. Though I was lonely anyway, like I said Finns are very secluded and getting emotionally in to a community was hard for me. There aren't really progressive congregations here in my hometown. There isn't even the comfort of sharing views with others anymore. And the simplistic "clarity" of everything is gone and one has to be still subject to much of the relativity of everything that everyone is subjected to. Thank God though for it, despite the loneliness. :D Truth sets free. Just the concept of eternal conscious hell is an idea so vile that it needs to be combated. Not to mention ALL forms of exclusion.
I have though awoken to being non-binary during the past year so I might try to take part in the LGBTQI+ congregations. Maybe there I will find the live-progressive connection.