. . . or buying Twitter followers or gaming the analytics to inflate website stats, etc.

At least 5 things:

1. It’s dishonest.

No, it’s not illegal. But neither are lots of unethical, dishonest things. The asumption that people make when they see “Bestseller” labeled on a book or 600,000 followers on your Twitter page is that you came by those accomplishments the straightforward way: attracting or impressing enough readers to merit their attention. Many “bestseller lists” are assembled in such a way to prevent certain gamings of the system. It may not be a crime to figure out the workarounds, but it’s certainly against the rules, the spirit of the lists, and the expectations of those who respect the lists. Exploiting the loopholes is a patently deceptive practice. Some may ask what the difference is between this practice and paying for an ad. But the difference should be obvious: when people see an ad, they know it was paid for by the writer/publisher/marketer, but when people see a book make a bestseller list, they assume it was paid for by readers. That the net effect may be the same — influence — doesn’t justify non-transparent means.

2. It’s egocentric and lazy.

Rather than actually write a strong book or assemble a steady body of social media work that people find valuable over time, rather than putting in the actual time and investing the relational capital necessary to build a genuine audience, one opts to leverage one commodity (money) for another (power). And while some may say the system-gaming strategy is simply a way to get “the gospel” into the maximum number of hands, others of us would suggest that the efforts to gin up an insta-hit indicate it’s not so much the gospel that needs a bestseller as an antsy writer who needs one.

3. It may eventually harm your reputation and will bug you in the long run.

It may harm your reputation when people find out. That’ll stink. Then you’ll spend more time defending yourself or owning up to your shadiness than you will enjoying your success and leveraging your influence for Christ’s fame.

But maybe nobody ever finds out. Maybe the only ones who know are you and the ones you paid to create your status. Instead, it will start to eat at you. As people congratulate you for your bestselling status or express regard for your widening audience, you’ll know inside it’s a sham, that you didn’t actually earn it but bought it. That’s assuming, of course, you have a sensitive conscience. Either way, it’s just not worth it in the long run.

4. It’s poor stewardship and bad strategy.

Okay, so let’s say you are just trying to “promote” the book. Wouldn’t it have been more efficient to simply pay the same amount for an advertising blitz in key publications? Let’s say you really are just trying to reach people with the gospel. Wouldn’t investing the same amount in an actual ministry endeavor (supporting a missionary, funding a church plant, etc.) be money better spent? If you’re simply trying to expand the audience of the gospel — or your gospel-teaching material — wouldn’t it be more effective to simply purchase thousands of copies of your book and give them away to lost people? Or, alternatively, not to sell your book at all and just give it away for free? (Did Keith Green make any bestseller lists? Has John Piper?) As a ministry maneuver, system-gaming works against its purported aim because it’s non-transparent, but it also seems too complicated and inefficient to effectively accomplish what it means to.

5. It disadvantages those actually gifted.

This is a subtle point but I think an important one. Some people take years to gather thousands of blog readers or Twitter followers by consistently putting out quality content over time and earning readers’ trust and therefore the widening influence this affords. Then someone comes along and buys twice as many fake followers. You may call this sour grapes on the part of the guy who came by his readers honestly, but I think he’d have a genuine grievance about the buyer’s inadvertent cheapening of the earner’s effort and influence. When more and more people get quickly and easily what others worked very hard for over time, it lessens the value of everybody’s influence. This is why the celebrity culture pervading evangelicalism doesn’t advance the gospel so much as it creates a culture of competition and consumerism, and also distrust.

Additionally, authors who buy their way into sales and accolades disadvantage their brothers and sisters who are actually gifted to write. Yes, I know some of the bestselling Christian authors have actually written their own books, but too many have not, and adding the dishonesty of system-gaming to the dishonesty of ghostwriting further hinders the work of real artists who are getting crowded out of the marketplace.

And the disadvantage is a real one, if only because the “horning in” can’t run the other way. There are no ghost-preachers, after all. Many talented preachers are not talented writers, and vice versa, but talented writers can’t pretend to be talented preachers. But talented preachers can sure pretend to be talented writers. When we let them, we diminish the writer class in evangelicalism. We do a disservice to the Body, actually, because we let the preacher class cannibalize the writer class. They used to coexist harmoniously. But that was before the preacher got envious of the writer. And one of the awful results is that evangelicals don’t have very good literary taste. What if we let our gifted preachers preach to us and our gifted writers write to us? And when the twain meet, great, but when they don’t — also great.

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Comments:


69 thoughts on “What’s Wrong With Buying Your Way Onto the Bestseller List?”

  1. Christopher says:

    It seems that much of the Gospel Coalition blog has become a giant platform for complaining about other people’s practices as of late. I think it is very interesting that many of the authors can get so many things right while others are getting it so wrong…then they find new ways to complain about how everyone else is doing it wrong. How does a blog like this not go against Paul’s admonition to the Galatians to stop biting and devouring one another? It just seems to be an attempt to tear down others’ reputation and encourages personal criticism while discouraging true critical thought. Why is there a need to address something like this?

    1. Karen Butler says:

      “platform for complaining about other people’s practices as of late. I think it is very interesting that”

      [you use Jared's very important and incisive critique of some unfortunate practices in the world of Christian Celebritydom to]

      “complain about how [TGC]is doing it wrong. How does a [comment] like this not go against Paul’s admonition to the Galatians to stop biting and devouring one another? It just seems to be an attempt to tear down [Jared's] reputation and encourages personal criticism while discouraging true critical thought.”

      Why did you feel a need to make a comment like this, Christopher?

    2. Brian Wasicki says:

      Great job Jared!

  2. scott nichols says:

    And the same must certainly said of some preachers who grow crowds by buying their sermons from gifted preachers or writers.

    1. Eric Rasmusen says:

      What’s wrong with using sermons written by someone else? If a pastor isn’t gifted at writing them, why not make his sermons better by letting someone else write them?

      1. Jared C. Wilson says:

        Eric, setting dishonesty aside (since I’m assuming you mean that explicit credit would be given to the original writer), this practice would be disqualifying from the office, since one of the biblical requirements for pastors is that they are “able to teach.”

  3. If this is an issue, someone should also take a swing at the music industry – CCM included. Their are certain key agencies – and certain budget points – the combination of which can pretty much promise you a Top 40 hit. No, they don’t “buy” the CD for you, but they do make arrangements with certain organizations to distribute free give-aways, & discount discs to massive conference organizations, which count as sales, & have “in-roads” at the key radio station (K-Love/Air1… if you get on K-Love/Air 1 you’re automatically a Top 40 seller because they have a monopoly of the CCM Radio World). To me, it’s not different… and common practice, if you can afford to do it. I imagine Driscoll’s books were distributed for free, or at a super discount, at several massive conferences where it helped to get the material out. Though it is suspect, it’s such common practice that I don’t have an issue with it, especially if it helped his message have a greater impact.

    1. Dan says:

      Unfortunately those books were not given out as I had attended a Mars Hill during that time and we sold those books in droves.

  4. In fact, I imagine that those books were given out for free at Mars Hill Campuses, & Driscoll was just leveraging this fact by making those numbers count towards sales, & getting a little added promotion in the process. It benefits Mars Hill in having the books available to their members not only for their spiritual health, and identity, but also in finding unity on an important issue, & hopefully helping families in their congregation, creating stronger marriages, but also helps Driscoll in further distributing his message, by elevating the public awareness of the book. In fact, I believe that most mega-church pastors that use this service are merely buying the books for their own congregations’ use, either for free hand-outs, or church re-sale in the bookstore.

    1. Adam Shields says:

      If that were the case, then the agency would not be buying with hundreds of different payment methods to avoid triggering the protections that are in place to prevent people from buying their way onto best seller lists.

      I agree Driscoll is probably not the only one to do this. And music has always had this problem (it is illegal in the music world given certain constraints).

      But saying something is common does not minimize the fact that it is wrong for the reasons Wilson cites.

    2. Royce says:

      “In fact, I imagine that those books were given out for free at Mars Hill Campuses, & Driscoll was just leveraging this fact by making those numbers count towards sales, & getting a little added promotion in the process.”

      Only in your imagination.

  5. Wilberforce says:

    There’s another subtle consequence of this practice–it undermines integrity and calls into question the veracity of everything else someone says. We listen differently to people who consistently exaggerate/spin information–it breeds skepticism and distrust. When that same person is responsible for declaring the gospel, they undermine the message by their lack of commitment to complete integrity in all communication. And when that person is a spiritual father figure, he creates a culture of leaders and followers that normalizes/accepts small deceptions for the sake of “promoting the gospel”. Beyond spinning positives, it also leads to covering up negatives.

    Its very similar to how we’ve trained ourselves to listen to “statistics” in advertising–companies are telling us what they WANT us to hear to make us believe a version of reality that benefits them (and is not, in fact, reality). The salesperson or company who commands our respect and trust has done so by consistently telling the whole truth–the good, the bad, and the ugly. Accountability and wisdom are desperately needed in churches, but if you place “smart business practices” near the center of your culture, there may not be room for much else.

    1. Karen Butler says:

      “it undermines integrity and calls into question the veracity of everything else someone says”

      I wholeheartedly agree! I was just conversing with a (real, I hope!) NYT bestselling ghostwriter recently, who is working on a book that appears to be a compelling testimony of a missionary’s significant work in a benighted country. I quizzed this person about how they felt about embracing the obscurity of not even being noted as a co-writer of the book. They were fine with this arrangement, as they just wanted to get the story out there. They saw it as “God’s story… not my own.”

      I concurred at the time, because this country is so close to my heart — after all, any good work done there for Jesus should be known! But I have been thinking about it for awhile, and I am not so sure. If this book comes out the way the marketers plan it, and this missionary agrees to the pageant of “celebritydom” by taking credit for writing the entire book, to me, they have taken the mark of the beast. I will be so distrustful about any missionary’s story in the future. This is not the way God gets his real stories out. If it is published according to this worldly plan, I will know for certain, the culture of Christianity is rotten to the core.

  6. Jim Lahey says:

    (1) It is not dishonest. The books were purchased. if someone thinks that all sales -of anything- are all independent purchases than they are wrong.
    (2) Egocentric? Pretty uncharitable read! A person writes a book, believes in it’s message, and is savvy about getting that message out there. Lazy? Hardly.
    (3) The idea of long term guilt assumes he did something wrong, which I don’t think you’ve proven. The issue of reputation is something else. Perhaps many celebrity pastors have practices that *may* damage their “brand” should they come to light. I’m guessing Driscoll calculated a low probability of this being a problem for him/his ministry. Perhaps he was wrong in that calculation, but that hardly proves he did something wrong.
    (4) The money he spent was effective for the purpose it was intended, which was to broaden the audience for the message of his book. That move generates funds which (according to MH) financially benefit the church, which in turn fund the ministries of the church. How is that not wise stewardship? It is not the most direct, but that is hardly an argument that it is wrong.
    (5)People with famous last names get books published. Fair? Probably not. Wrong? No. Can I really be mad that people want to read a book by a Graham, or a Piper, or a Rainer and not a Lahey? Those books generate sales in a way that mine do not. Just like pastors with large churches and degrees get book contracts more easily reviewed and green-lighted than those without. It’s business.

    Jim Lahey
    FBC Sunnyvale Trailer Park

    1. Adam Shields says:

      It is pretty hard to believe that it is not dishonest if the process is designed particularly to work around protections put into place to keep people from buying their way onto best seller lists.

      Here is a copy of what Matthew Turner has been told is a copy of the contract. If it is, then this is the definition of dishonest. I have no desire to tear down another pastor, but leadership needs to have a level of character that his higher that of culture. This is specifically prohibited by NYT and other best seller lists. So I can’t understand how it can be viewed as anything except dishonest.

      http://matthewpaulturner.com/2014/03/05/signing-this-contract-put-mark-driscoll-others-on-the-nyt-best-seller-list/

      1. Jim Lahey says:

        Adam,

        Why is it the definition of dishonest? A pastor hired a firm to expand his territory. Of course, he could have just prayed the prayer of Jabez…but seriously. I read the link. What exactly makes this a case in which Driscoll has been dishonest?

        Thanks,
        Jim Lahey
        FBC Sunnyvale Trailer Park

        1. Adam Shields says:

          The definition of dishonest is: “behaving or prone to behave in an untrustworthy or fraudulent way”.

          What is being done here is being done to intentionally circumvent system to prevent people from buying their way onto the best seller list. The results of doing that means that he will increase his prestige in a fraudulent manner. And the statement from Mars Hill suggests that they did not see it as a problem to spend the money to circumvent the system because the increased interest in the book would off set the cost of spending the money to get it on the list.

          So they choose to game a system in a way that they knew was against the intent, for the purposes of gaining both prestige and income.

          That is clearly dishonest.

          If you can’t see that then nothing else I say will change your mind.

        2. Todd Rundgren says:

          I’m not sure I should admit on this blog that I am aware of where Sunnyvale Trailer Park is…

    2. Karen Butler says:

      “Perhaps many celebrity pastors have practices that *may* damage their “brand” should they come to light.”

      “Just like pastors with large churches and degrees get book contracts more easily reviewed and green-lighted than those without. It’s business.”

      There you go! It is business, I agree. But the pragmatic marketing techniques and platforms and branding so aptly described here should not be the ways the children of God sow the seed of the Word of God. The ends are never justified by the means — correction — that is, they are not justified in the Kingdom of God!

  7. Good stuff here, Jared. Thanks for this.

  8. Mary DeMuth says:

    I’m grateful for your evenhanded words here. As an author who has felt like she had to do everything the hard way, it’s difficult to see some Christian leaders game the system. My full time career is writing. It is my bread and butter, sometimes no butter at all, and maybe only a crust of bread. Ask my friends and family how tirelessly I work, how passionate I am about the craft. I’m not in this to make money or garner fame. I’m in it out of obedience. And yet, it discourages me when I realize others have cut in line. It seems to cheapen all that hard work of putting pen to paper.

    1. Nan says:

      Mary, I don’t know you personally but follow your blog and have read one of your books. I know how hard you work. You are well respected and loved by a lot of us!

  9. Judy Gregerson says:

    People have been scamming the best sellers lists for a while. It’s too bad that Christians have to revert to the ways of the world to “get the message out there”.

  10. Bev Murrill says:

    I’m not surprised at anything Mark Driscoll would do in this vein. When the plagiarism scandal (tried to) hit the Christian world, I knew it was just the beginning of other things that would surface. And there is more to come.

    Many of us differ from each other in our opinions but most of us have learned to express our differences with a measure of grace and tolerance. Driscoll’s rampant antagonistic arrogance is the thing that will mean that when all the little secrets come out, there’ll be more people glad to see his demise than would have been if he’d acted with grace and love. Honestly, it’s very tiring seeing the Body of Christ being overwhelmed so often by its own poor leadership.

  11. David Swartz says:

    Extremely well said. This has been going on for a long time. It mutes and discourages those who humble themselves to learn the crafting of words under the Holy Spirit’s touch.

  12. Brandon says:

    ” When more and more people get quickly and easily what others worked very hard for over time, it lessens the value of everybody’s influence.”

    Um…have you read the parable of the workers in the vineyard? Just saying.

    1. Jared C. Wilson says:

      Brandon, yes. Just published a book on the parables, incidentally.

      These are not comparable situations/points.
      And the point of that parable is not that it’s okay to be lazy and take shortcuts to financial gain.

  13. Ty says:

    “It’s too bad that Christians have to revert to the ways of the world to “get the message out there”

    Hmmm, I’m not so sure I buy the assumption (which is my reading of your post) that a lot of worldly folks/non believers are out in force buying books that are written to a Christian audience. It would seem, to me at least, that Mr. Driscoll, or those close to him, simply are making a shem for him. Which ain’t necessarily a good thing.

  14. Linda Marshall says:

    I’m a non-believer, so don’t know if you’ll be interested in what I have to say, but….

    This kind of thing seriously harms the reputation of Christians in general. There is a pretty widespread feeling that Christians are hypocrites, and here’s some proof. Rather than get a positive message about Christianity out into the world, these schemes, once exposed (and they will be exposed) send out a negative one – that Christians don’t really believe any of what they say, that they’re in it for the money.

    If you have no personal integrity, why on earth should anyone look to you for spiritual leadership? You’re willing to cheat to get what you want, and you’re telling *me* how to live? Seems to me that someone without integrity should maybe come get some lessons in living an authentic life from this atheist.

    If you’ve got a real message, if you’ve actually got the goods, you don’t have to cheat to win. If your methods don’t stand up to scrutiny, you have no business offering anyone advice – you’ve got nothing to say worth hearing.

    The fact that this isn’t blatantly obvious to anyone – that there are commentors – presumably Christians – argueing with the message of this article, just gives more ammunition to those who feel that Christianity is a con job, something dirty not worth the time of a decent person.

    1. Ryan says:

      Well said Linda.

      I’m sorry for this controversy, but I would like to say that the actions of a few don’t invalidate the content of the message. In other words… although there may be people that don’t look like they believe the truth does not invalidate the truth they claim to believe.

      Regardless, I’m in full agreement with your comment.

    2. Loren Sanders says:

      I couldn’t agree with you more Linda, and I thank you for taking the time to post what many would consider an “outsider’s” perspecive on this mess.

      But…

      The stereotypical accusal of Churches being full of hypocrites (and Christians full of hypocrisy) that the non-believing folks in society so often throw out as their first response to either condemn or dismiss Christianity is absolute baloney.

      The sad but flatly honest truth of the matter is that ALL people are hypocrites – be they believers in Christ as Lord or not. There is no one that has ever walked the face of the earth (outside of Christ Himself) who did not act in hypocrisy in their lives. It is a deeply pervasive sin in each and every one of us, that even the best of people in the secular world, as well as the best of folks in the Christian world struggle with from cradle to grave. All of us are quick to point out even the tiniest infraction by others – but remain willfully blind to our own incidents.

      Anyone – and I do mean anyone – who says that they have never, or do not ever act in hypocrisy is proving another deep-seated sin issue we all have by doing: that we are all liars.

      So anyone who says that all Christians are hypocrites, proves they are one themselves. ;-)

      Christians lie, cheat, steal, are selfish, arrogant, boastful, unkind, act in anger, act like plain old idiots for that matter; just like you and everyone else.

      The only difference is that those who have truly surrendered their lives to Christ have been forgiven of our sinful ways, and have the Holy Spirit to lead us ahead – which if we are “really saved” will mean that over time, those sins have a weaker and more tenuous grip on us than the murderous choke-hold they did before Jesus redeemed us. BUT…so long as we are here on earth, we will still struggle with sin, we will still fall down in our walks with our God, and we will NOT be perfected until we enter into His Kingdom in Heaven.

      You said that you do not believe that Jesus Christ is God. You didn’t say if you believe that someone else is, or that no one is, nor did you say how far you have or haven’t dug into the claims of Christ for yourself.

      So…the bigger reason for this lengthy diatribe(my apologies for my windiness)is this:

      One can never ever judge the truth or falseness of any philosophy by those who profess to be adherents. It either stand or falls on its own merits. This is true of every philosophy put forth from antiquity to today (even though I consider the Gospel of Jesus Christ to be so much more than a mere philosophy).

      So I would encourage you to consider (or possibly reconsider) Jesus based solely on Himself and His book, and not on the actions of a knucklehead with a Bible Camp bumper sticker who cuts you off on the freeway. :-)

      Again, thank you for posting as you did, hopefully there will be Christians who reading your post may see situations like this in a light they haven’t before, or more likely…be convicted to recognize them for what they are when they see them rather than turn a willfully blinded eye to them.

      We all need – myself most definitely included – to truly “hear” our critics and to soberly investigate their claims to see if they are true, and then, admit, repent, and adjust as needed. No one likes to be rebuked, Christian or not, but we who claim to follow Jesus must be open to it if we want to be faithful.

      May God bless you beyond anything you yet perceive or think even possible. :-)

      1. Linda Marshall says:

        Thanks for your thoughtful comment.

        Personally, I was raised a Christian, but it never really “took” – even at the time religion did not speak to me and never has. I think spirituality might be something like having an ear for music – some people are more inclined that way, and the rest don’t really care one way or another.

        So, on the whole, I don’t care much one way or another about what Christians are doing, insofar as their Christianity – it’s got little or nothing to do with me. The trouble is that some Christians are actively working against the interests of people I care about, and are working to set public policy according to their beliefs. I do think that if one is trying to interfere in other people’s lives because of a claimed moral authority, one must be held to a higher standard. Just as if I was, oh, trying to get laws passed against highly polluting vehicles, if I were driving a ’56 Lincoln I would have no room to talk.

        I am sure I am a hypocrite in some ways, and am certainly less than perfect in many ways. However, I don’t cheat, and being told by a cheater that I and those I love are sinners fails to impress me much. I don’t really care a whole lot about the effect the sins and redemption of the cheaters has upon their own souls; that’s a private matter between them and their God. I do care about the effect their actions have upon other people.

        I’d be much less troubled by all this if the response were to be “You’re right, this was wrong and we as a church will do what we can to repair any harm done”. Instead, as in the case of various abuse scandals, the focus seems to be on covering up and preserving the faith of those who might turn away if the truth were known. Someone who leaps to “save my reputation” in the case of bad behaviour, rather than “make reparation” has no business trying to tell the rest of us what sin is. The morally bankrupt should not be throwing their moral weight around.

        If Mars Hill Church, and evangelical Christianity in the US in general, were not spending their money and influence interfering in the lives of non-Christians, we wouldn’t care much about all this – the state of Mr Driscoll’s soul is not really any of my business. You can see, though, I hope, that we view all of this with a jaundiced eye given the influence mega churches have on public policy.

  15. Joe Wisnieski says:

    Well Said. I’m astounded by any professing Christian who would disagree with what was said here.

  16. I have to admit that I was skeptical of the article but that was because it sounded so hypothetical. When I read an article about Driscoll’s contract with RSI I realized that this is a problem. If anyone hasn’t read the news report they should. RSI explains in the contract what they do to ensure that the purchases of the book look organic. It is clearly a campaign of deception. I don’t see how you can justify that.

  17. Charles Digman says:

    My beef is not with the exposure of any inconsistency with Pastor Mark it’s with the discriminatory focus from World Magazine upon one person. Go now and search the internet for sites that quickly expose people who have paid for their twitter followers. Then let’s see an article on . . . to start with [name deleted by mod.]

    1. Jared C. Wilson says:

      Charles, before I let you allege deception by others in my thread, you will have to substantiate your claims. Do you have a link?

    2. I don’t think it’s hard to understand why there’s more focus on someone who is well-known. Driscoll has put himself out there in the spotlight and that means you’re going to get more scrutiny. If you’re not prepared for that then you shouldn’t put yourself out there. [This comment has been edited by mod. to remove reference to allegation against another public figure.]

  18. Jared

    Thanks for this piece. What a breath of fresh air amid all the ego-driven Christian celebrity bunk. I found it linked from a piece on the Driscoll issue (from Patheos – buying your way to the NYT bestseller list).

    Again, thanks.

    Mike

  19. Charles Digman says:

    Just go to http://www.twittercounter.com and enter anyone you follow. Search going back and you will see quickly if they bough followers by observing if their increase in followers is uniform for an extended amount of time day after day. MacArthur added a uniform number of followers per day in the fall of 2013. There is no other way to increase your followers by a uniform number day after day after day except to buy them. [portion deleted by mod. at request of commenter]

    1. Jared C. Wilson says:

      Thanks for the link. And the edifying questions about my character.

  20. Charles Digman says:

    the TGC elite will celebrate your courage and fortitude for exposing mark, (not because of any unresolved issues you have with him I’m sure) But post my link about macArthur and see how quickly you are chastised for your brazenness by Don Carson and Piper. Your a pawn. when you saw mark as a real christian counter to the establishment and when he was more entirely that, those were the best days. He is CERTAINLY not more sold out than you are Jared. But he is a better friend than you.

  21. Charles Digman says:

    From december 2013 to mid january 2014 macarthur added twitter followers at a 24 per day clip except the days he picked up actual followers other than the 24 he was buying every day. FOR SHAME!!!!

    1. Mike Earl says:

      Charles, check out a handful of popular Twitter feeds you follow – I think you’ll find that Twitter Counter shows a linear growth pattern for many of them. Twitter Counter appears to report linear (i.e. static) growth for accounts on which it does not have historical data.

      Jared, great post.

  22. Charles Digman says:

    from my bracketed ‘You can delete” to the end I expected that to me kept just between us. Please delete.

    1. Jared C. Wilson says:

      Heh. Out of all you said, *that’s* the part you wanted private?

    2. Loren Sanders says:

      After reading all you’ve (yet) posted here Mr. Digman, I cannot help but think if we were to take the World article about this and replace “Mark Driscoll” with “John MacArthur” at every instance, that you might very well be cheering rather than chiding.

      You have a very emotional investment in this that is obviously affected by the personality(-ies) involved in it.

  23. Karen Butler says:

    So I was thinking of hopping onto the star-making machinery to go market myself at Mt. Hermon next month, because I think I have a compelling and important story to tell — and for any agents or editors out there in Interwebsland, here is my one sentence pitch: my book is about the problems of informed consent among Christians regarding psychiatric treatment, why Critical Psychiatry is so distrusted among the “Mental Illness” gatekeepers in the Church, all threaded through with compelling testimonies from the Psychiatric Survivor movement — but I do not think I have the stomach for this monumental task. Not now.

    I know I would be asked to develop my platform before they could even consider me as a potential author. But I am no good at being busy and witty, so I would stink at Twitter. Facebook is a huge distraction for an inveterate people-watcher like me. Pinterest is a little too twee for my kind of content, and I don’t want to go all PioneerWoman on my blog. What’s an outlier like me to do?

    “Sometimes we have to let our dreams die.
    And that’s okay. We will be okay.” http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/gospeldrivenchurch/2014/03/05/youre-going-to-die-and-so-might-your-dreams/

    So thank you, Jared, that was really helpful for me,when I decided the window wasn’t opening the way I thought it would, last Wednesday. Now, if the whole building falls down…

    It is not a dying dream that makes me believe that the whole ecology of Christian publishing is terribly polluted, so that vital, prophetic thoughts to the body of Christ are being held back, and important voices are not being heard. Whatever else you think of Scot McKnight, he is right about platform and publishing: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2013/12/16/platform-and-publishing/

  24. Jared C. Wilson says:

    Folks, I’m gonna be out of pocket for a bit while traveling, so if your comments don’t get approved quickly, don’t get too antsy, please. I’m not deleting them (probably); I’m just not available to moderate as vigilantly.

  25. Erin Bartels says:

    Thank you for this, Jared. All good, wise words and true. As someone who works in Christian publishing, things like this deeply disturb me.

  26. Stephan says:

    Two things:

    1. “And one of the awful results is that evangelicals don’t have very good literary taste.” That is so true.

    2. Although the analogy isn’t perfect, there is some continuity between buying influence and using steroids in baseball–the people who want to play by the rules are at a HUGE disadvantage, hard work is insufficient.
    In that regard, your fifth point reminded me of a Sports Illustrated article I read regarding steroids: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2012/magazine/05/29/baseball.steroids/ “Linebarger thinks about what his career might have been like if he hadn’t played in the Steroid Era. His first thought is, ‘Maybe I could have made it.’ One thing he knows: Having played the game clean in a dirty era is not what he considers an accomplishment. ‘That’s not something to be proud of,’ Linebarger says.” (pg 5 online)

  27. Joe Zias says:

    For decades, I, as an Israeli archaeologist/anthropologist working for the gov’t fought against this abuse in which ‘wanna be biblical archaeologists’ self proclaimed ministers were conning the public of their hard earned cash. Working on the maxim of the first century philosopher Seneca, that ‘academics should be lawyers for the masses’ I felt that this was the least one could do for those who paid for our public education. We criticized, mocked them in public as this was the only way to get the word out to the public with some success in preventing a worsening of the situation. However almost three yrs ago the ‘Hollywood’ crowd retaliated along the lines of L Ron Hubbard, ‘critics, no problem, sue them, the aim is not to win the aim is to destroy them’ and any other who has the courage to criticize them. When we turned to the Evangelical community here in Israel for help in combating this one million dollar law suit, those whom had been most helped thru out efforts, now disappeared from the scene. In fact, some of them refused to even grant us an interview to discuss our plight which leads one to the sentiment of M. Gandhi, when asked about Jesus, replied, ‘I could be very interested in his teachings, but have a problem with Christians…

  28. RWblake says:

    What it does, that is missing from the list.
    It brings a bad reputation to the name of Christians as a whole. It may be a worlds way of getting books on the list, but it should not be Christians way.
    As stated, it is dishonest and as it is exposed brings a black mark that should not be there.
    Anything done in the dark will be exposed by our Savior. Unfortunately, that is being exposed in one particular preachers ministry right now. Hopefully, he goes to the light and becomes more transparent.

  29. Joe says:

    Agree! Good stuff Jared.

  30. It is just more evidence that the multi-site/mega-church/attractional model is seriously flawed. Many flaws, but one being that if the figurehead falls in any way they possibly bring down a small empire, 20-30 campuses, a international church planting organization, publishing company, etc. just to name a few. Gospel influence is not made on a big screen, it is made person to person as the gospel influences our own lives, we spread it by being the hands and feet of Jesus to a broken and hurting world.

  31. Loren Sanders says:

    I could not have put it better myself – and proved that very well with my comments about it a few days back on Challies blog. :-)

    You said: “There are no ghost-preachers, after all.” Does that take into account all the plagiarism that gets spouted week after week at pulpits when many spend a few minutes rewording another and relate it as their own, or even those that actually BUY such sermons on the Internet?

    Biggest problem (I believe) is that we (the church) have far too many professing Christians who aren’t at all discerning about who they listen to, and never even notice (nor seem to care) that so many “preachers” today are not actually “Ghost-FILLED-preachers”.

  32. Ron Miller says:

    Great job Jared. Has anybody asked R Warren why on his book “Purpose Driven Life”, he has a quote on the front of his book, from Publishers Weekly “Best Selling Non-Fiction Hardback in History”. I guess PW thinks the Pew Bible is fiction, and the Rick Warren, his marketing people and the publishing company must agree. It’s one thing for PW to make a mistake, it’s quite another for a ‘pastor’ knowing FULL well it’s a LIE to run with it.

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Jared C. Wilson


Jared C. Wilson is the pastor of Middletown Springs Community Church in Middletown Springs, Vermont. You can follow him on Twitter.

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