Despite all the negative media, 2016 was a fantastic year for many people. Me included! I married my best-friend, graduated from seminary, and began to seriously concentrate on my writing. While I am still very much as the beginning stages of my journey, I know that I have grown by leaps and bounds this year.
Writing and teaching is my calling. I’m convinced of that. I feel most alive when I am doing those activities, and numerous people this year have reached out to tell me how God has used my work to help them. This is what I want to do with my life: help people reach a deeper knowledge and love for God through learning and loving Scripture.
One thing I haven’t talked about much on here is my entrepreneurial spirit. I want to write and teach full time. I honestly believe that is what God has called me to do, and that is the goal I am working towards through every book I write, church I speak at, and sacrifice I make. 2017 represents a host of opportunities. It will be the first year I have not been in school in my entire life. It’s the first year I will be invited to parties as Mr. and Mrs. Ramos. And it’s the first year I get to devote as much of myself as possible to pursuing the purpose God has for me.
I want to ask for two things. First, that you would pray for me (write it down so you’ll remember!). Pray that I would seek God first, that I would work as though I am working for the One True King, and that God would open the right doors. Second, join me on this journey. Whether that means joining the email list below, liking my Facebook page, or following some of the new projects. I want to share this adventure with others, to show fellow believers what a purpose-pursuit actually looks like, and why living anything less than your calling is just not an option.
Below are three sections. First, I will go into a little detail about how many books I sold in 2016. Second, I want to share some lessons I learned – mainly related to being an authors. Third, I want to share the inkling of a few projects I want to pursue this year.
I started publishing back in 2013 (seems like a lifetime ago). I had a series of devotionals along with a few other random works, mostly business and lifestyle related. I didn’t really know what I was doing, and the books didn’t quite “feel” like me. I decided to take them down and rethink what I wanted to put out into the world.
In 2015, as I entered my final stages of seminary, I found that thing: the Old Testament. I wanted to communicate it better. I wanted Christians to not be afraid of it, to not avoid it simply because it was big and confusing. So I dove in and what came out was what I consider my first “real” book: Climbing with Abraham. Since then, I’ve published a total of 12 books: 6 devotional, 6 standalone, plus a boxset. I am immensely proud of these and they have been very positively received (even if they haven’t flown off the shelves).
I started tracking my book statistics in October of 2015. Every month I calculate total number of free downloads, paid downloads, and print sales. These numbers come from reports from Amazon, Smashwords (which distributes to all other major retailers), and Createspace (for print books). I struggled with whether or not to share these actual numbers, but I think it’s important for others to see. Afterwards, I’ll explain them a little.
Digital Free: 611
Digital Paid: 47
Print Paid: 56
Digital Free: 56085
Digital Paid: 670
Print Paid: 345
This year I focused on getting my books into the hands of as many readers as possible – mainly through free downloads. I am amazed by that number. However, I am hopeful that over time many of those free downloads will translate into more paid ones.
The kind of books you write, not just how good they are, matters.
One lesson I had to learn the hard way is that devotionals, no matter how good they are, do not provide the income of other genres. As I said above, I have over 12 books now, but I am making what other authors make with only 2 or 3 books.
My goal this year is to be more strategic about what kinds of books I write. I want to teach the things God has put on my heart, but I want to do so in a way that reaches as many people as possible while also getting me closer to doing this full time.
Relationships are the foundation of success.
I have had the privilege of meeting some amazing authors this year. Many of them are Christians, and because of that, we are able to share insights, encouragement, as well as help one another.
On top of relationships with other authors, the connections I have with other pastors, friends, and my wife are invaluable. I am constantly being encouraged and directed by their wisdom. Do yourself a favor, and seek out Godly relationships because life is only a shell of what could be without them.
Entrepreneurs need to diversify their income.
I love to write, but I will be stretching myself in new ways this year. In order to reach the financial level that would enable me to do this full time, I would need to sell at least 30,000 books a year. While this is completely within the realm of possibility, there are other avenues which could be more fruitful.
Ecclesiastes 11:2 says, “Invest in seven ventures, yes, in eight; you do not know what disaster may come upon the land.”
I plan for writing to be only one of several “ventures” I pursue. There is wisdom in developing multiple streams of income. That way, no matter what strange changes or storms come – I will still be able to provide for my family and serve God as He calls me.
Testament Heroes Podcast
The first project that you should look out for is a new podcast I will be creating. If you have ever wanted an audio version of my devotionals, you’re in luck. In 2017, I will be bringing the 6 books of the Testament Heroes series to a daily podcast. I am still working out all the technical aspects, but I expect the project to launch sometimes around February.
I will be publishing less books than I did in 2016, but I cannot tell you how excited I am to get these started! Right now, I have 5 books planned for 2017. The topics were chosen from a survey I sent out to my subscribers. Thank you again if you were a part of it – I think you’ll be very happy with what is in the works.
Major project – FaithSpring
After I finish a book, I always feel like there is more to say. In order to craft a book that makes sense, an author has to be very deliberate about what they include and what they leave out. This struggle has been on my heart for a while, and I keep coming back to the idea that if I had more time with the subject – through video lessons, courses, etc. – I would be able to deliver even more value.
FaithSpring will be that avenue in 2017. I don’t know what it will look like right now. But I know it will include some sort of video lessons where I am able to dive even deeper into a subject, and offer you more treasure from Scripture! If you want to know more about this project in particular, then definitely get on the email list below.
Thank you for reaching the end of this report. I am immensely grateful for last year, and profoundly hopeful for this one. I hope you will join me on this journey. But more importantly, I hope, in some way, this encourages you to pursue your own purpose and calling. There is a reason you are who you are, and enjoy what you enjoy. Our God is a God of purpose, and He is ready to take your life to places you never imagined. May 2017 be the year we answer His call!