I’m in the final stages of completing a new book called Imagining Rama. My publisher, planning the cover and layout for the book asked, as they always do, who is your target audience? I told her, initially, “People who searching for transformation” but then broadened the ‘market’ to “searchers.” From her standpoint, the trick is to get people to recognise something of interest to them on the cover, pick up the book, read the blurb on the back cover and open it. Then maybe some of them will buy it. It’s what they encounter on the outside that’s important in selling books: the design of the cover, the title, the author (well-known or not and I’m definitely not), what section the book is in, and so on. That’s why authors need publishers, bacause they know how to get people to take the first steps toward reading what you’ve written on the inside.
What’s inside Imagining Rama will have to remain a secret a bit longer. But I will share the opening of the Foreword.
“Why am I writing this book? I suppose I’m a bit like Arthur Stace, the homeless man in Sydney Australia who wrote the word ‘eternity’ in chalk on the sidewalks of the city for over forty years. He wanted people to encounter something that would trigger their imagination and expand their horizons about living. That’s my purpose also.”
It’s tricky, persuading people to listen to what you have to say, no matter how valuable you may think it may be. You have to resonate with some need, some desire inside them. The wrapping of the book and the opening — the outside — must connect with what’s inside them. Isn’t that the challenge Christians face in communicating the Good News? Maybe we need to realise that, no matter how powerful our message is, its “wrapper” (the behaviors of the people living it and communicating it) are what counts in most cases, in persuading people to really listen to the message.