(This was originally published under a slightly different title at my older site, FaithFusion.net1. I’m reposting it here mostly because of “inspiration” — ha ha! — after seeing this, and referencing Challies’ earlier review of the “Your Best Life Now” Game. Yes, there really is one.)
So, Ralph Lee Laufenburger, The Weeping Pastor™! You’ve gone through Bible school, conferences on church growth, and finally have a ministerial position at Christian-Light Community Church in Kansas City, a middle-size congregation that you’ve made even larger during the time of 11 years. Your church, already on local television, is soon to go on syndication to many spiritually oriented cable networks, as well as TBN.
Now, you’ve written a proposal for a book. And we here at the public-relations and marketing firm of Rosenwald, Farnsworth, Sneed and Morningstar are certain that proposal has promise.
Here we have for you a list of proven marketing methods. They are sure to work, first in Christian bookstores nationwide, then eventually even the featured-items aisles and displays of real bookstores. We are sure the following steps will also bring about certain success!
1. Table of contents
We find your book proposal definitely impressive. Jesus Wept is a catchy title. It is based on a short, pithy Bible verse that is too often overlooked in today’s church. We believe your genteel writing style is appealing. The best marketing will match your book’s theme: everyone must see anew the value of weeping as Jesus once did. This of course is the “magic bullet” to everything that ails not only the Church, but people’s personal lives.
Here is our suggested text for the front inside-flap text. The back one will have a photo of you.
Have you ever wondered if a wise being, somewhere, is looking upon the state of his world, and crying?
What would happen if you met him? And you found not the angry God you imagined, but a tearful Father who only wants to lavish his love on you?
God is not angry with the world. In fact, he is sorrowful over the things so many people do to cheat themselves. They give up their dreams, they settle for less, and they fall for so many lesser things than the love and acceptance he has promised.
He weeps over you, just as he once did. Let Ralph Lee Laufenburger, The Weeping Pastor™, show you anew how to allow yourself healthful sorrow in your newfound love and hope.
When you, with help, write the book, its contents will be based on messages you’ve given, and a focus your church’s staff hopes to push in your new television program. It must be spiritual, but not too deep.
Please be sure to include some Bible verses in the book, here and there. We find taking them from different translations, at least 17, ensures the points are made most effectively.
Also helpful will be only single verses at the beginning of each chapter. Have the chapter’s contents have something to do with those, even if only one word ties them together. Other sources, including rare quotes from other bestseller authors, poets, filmmakers, mystics, and the Rev. Robert Schueller, will be cited in the back bibliography.
2. The book itself
The first printing will be in hardcover, of course. On the front, we will include a picture of you, Ralph Lee Laufenburger, The Weeping Pastor™, smiling. Our photographers will make sure your hair, tuxedo, tie and fingernails are done well. You will be looking your best, all nice and handsome and sweet. This will increase the book’s appeal to the members of your reading audience. Our research has narrowed them down into the following demographics:
- People watching your television program.
- Nominally churchgoing middle-aged women in secret-sisters book-of-the-month clubs.
- Little old ladies who have come into the Christian bookstore to buy cool-neon-covered Bibles for their teen grandchildren, in their hope that the teens will, at minimum, stop necking in the backseats of cars.
- People buying books for others, whom the gift-givers consider Spiritual, so the givers know the recipients will definitely enjoy the book because it is Spiritual too.
Ads in Christian periodicals, endorsements from church-growth experts and popular evangelicals who are forging new seeker-friendly outreaches, will also help give a jump on sales.
Here we are talking about American periodicals and Christian media. International marketing, such as the United Kingdom, and especially Russia and the People’s Republic of China, will prove more limited. We find Christians in China do not respond well to new material of such spiritual magnitude. Our staffers continue to study this phenomenon.
3. Book tour
Our campaign will certainly bring requests for interviews, likely beginning on local Christian programs. Here, you will show the value of your ministry’s theme by erupting in tears multiple times. Like God himself, you weep, instead of getting mad, over the plight of people who are not living their lives well and following their dreams. And you wish for so much better for them.
This will lead to another jump in sales. Your Amazon.com rankings will increase and we will respond by negotiating with the publisher to purchase marquee shelf displays in Christian bookstores. Christian periodicals will review your book. For many in the target demographics (see section 2), the reviewers’ perspective doesn’t matter, so long as they have included a picture of the cover with you on there looking all handsome and smiling.
Statistically, about one out of nine reviews will likely prove negative. Our advice: take it in stride. They are simply mired in their theological traditions. In further TV interviews, now at the cable-network stage, you will weep over them also.
Increased sales numbers will lead to a coveted slot on the New York Times bestseller list. This will necessitate more advertising for the book. We are thinking here of licensed merchandise.
At first, your publisher will offer only Jesus Wept prayer devotionals. Next will come the essentials: Jesus Wept coffee mugs, commemorative bracelets (Mr. Farnsworth suggests teardrop-shaped beads), mantle collectibles, little lacy things, t-shirts, Bible verse pens, and live-a-weeping-life-themed dreamcatchers to hang on rear-view mirrors.
More books and prayer devotionals will be given through your television program, absolutely free, only after people send in their suggested donations.
6. More spinoff books
As your popularity increases, more books will become necessary. We will assemble a paid committee for you to determine which are the best options.
The Jesus Wept prayer devotional will be followed by age- and gender-specific new titles such as Jesus Wept for Women, Jesus Wept for Single Mothers, Jesus Wept for Extreme Teens, Jesus Wept for Kids!, Jesus Wept for Grandmothers, and Jesus Wept for Kids Grades 5 – 8.
More titles will include books of inspirational stories targeted toward specific groups of hobbyists. Our committee will handle this by enlisting the aid of several dozen other freelance writers and locking them all inside a dark room with non-internet-access computers and denying them (the writers) food and water until the task is complete.
This second line will include Jesus Wept for Hikers, Jesus Wept for Pet Lovers, Jesus Wept for Girlfriends, Jesus Wept for Teachers, Jesus Wept for Single Women, Jesus Wept for the Broken-Hearted, Jesus Wept for Poor Lost Circus Performers and Jesus Wept for Unicyclists.
A likely sequel called He Still Weeps For You, with imitation leather-bound gift editions.
7. Dealing with criticism
At this point, some Christian organizations and their leaders will get mad at you. They will conduct broadcasts and write articles in which they will say so. They make their living causing controversy and ensuring people are too concerned about believing exactly as they do.
You may be pressed about your beliefs, say on the Larry King Live show, or asked for your views on religious issues such as gay marriage, the Ten Commandments in courthouses and border control. Do not comment heavily on these topics. Don’t try to articulate your ideas about how to solve the problems. In fact, it is best if you do not speak at all. Just cry — not for those who believe wrongly, but for those who are too dogmatic one way or the other at all.
More criticism may come from representatives of other faiths. (Make sure your church is partnering with others in order to cure AIDS, eliminate poverty in Africa and all sorts of things that up until your arrival in the world the church hasn’t given a rip about.) Remind those critics that the leaders of their faiths also wept a lot.
(Mr. Sneed suggests another spinoff product for Judaism: Jeremiah Wept, Too.)
8. More merchandise
Our marketing plan for spinoff books will lead to a whole new realm of merchandise: Jesus Wept devotionals for teens, women and waitresses, coffee mug coasters, wall plaques, handbags, Bible covers (or covers for other books), cell phone cases, PDA-library software and special pens with verses and slogans on them, will prove valuable and essential to customers.
(Mr. Sneed and Mr. Rosenwald have also begun drawing up plans for a new board-game product. It will take players through this life, from failure to accepting love and the weeping realization that God loves us all and wants us to cry with him over our unfulfilled potentials.)
Ralph Lee Laufenburger, The Weeping Pastor™, we believe that this will give you fame, fortunate and time on the bestseller lists for at least 1.3 years.
After that it will likely end. It will be replaced by an even newer line of amazing and never-before-known truths for spiritual people. (Mr. Morningstar just this morning informed us that we have received a proposal from a Frances K. McVeigh, pastor of Brown Hill Community Church in Sacramento, for a book entitled Jesus Slept®.)
But you must also be assured that Jesus Wept and its assorted products, devotionals, coffee coasters, toilet seat covers, etc., will provide you and your church with unprecedented growth, long after your own bright light fades from the relevant radar screens. The momentum from your popularity will continue for at least six more years. It will be aided by your preaching of pretty much the same sermon in your church, without notes, and also helped later by your available-on-TV-only release of various artists’ inspirational inspired-by Jesus Wept CDs.
Long after the books have faded and even the paperback devotionals have been discounted for $.34 apiece, you’ll know that you, Ralph Lee Laufenburger, The Weeping Pastor™, have made a permanent mark on culture, and spirituality. People will remember you, for the rest of their lives, because of their newfound capacity to weep.
Therefore we encourage you here at the public-relations and marketing offices of Rosenwald, Farnsworth, Sneed and Morningstar to sign the enclosed contracts and waivers. We must begin our efforts at once. We will expect you to complete the book, with the help of your staff, in about two weeks. Meanwhile we will work through our schedules and lay out the ads to be released in magazines.
Memorize these steps. Learn them, know them, live them; bind them about your heart. We know they will work every time they are tried and that only these steps, at long last released upon the world, will solve everything. And finally the world will be a better, albeit weepier, place in which to live, and earn.