Three years ago—in 2015—I came up with an idea for a book giving a pep talk to church communicators. Last month we officially launched You’ve Got This: A Pep Talk for Church Communicators by Kelley Hartnett and illustrated by Erica J. Hicks.
In 2015 I was in the middle of reading Kid President’s Guide to Being Awesome by Robby Novak and Brad Montague. It’s hard to read that book without smiling and being inspired. It’s just full of such pep.
I’ve worked with church communicators as the editor of Church Marketing Sucks since 2004. If there’s any group in need of a pep talk, it’s church communicators. I read Novak and Montague’s infectious good cheer and thought we need this for church communicators.
So I put a proposal together for a pep talk for church communicators.
I wasn’t sure exactly what form it would take. Maybe it would be a creative journal? I thought it needed to have some sort of design to it, like the Kid President book—it needed to be visual as well as wordy.
When it came to who would write it, I had one name in mind: Kelley Hartnett.
Kelly has written for Church Marketing Sucks for a number of years and she was my go-to writer. I knew she could handle difficult topics and deliver incredible prose. And be funny. Plus she’s just an incredible encourager. She’s spoken at some of our Center for Church Communication (CFCC) events and the feedback made it clear that Kelley could connect and inspire with her fellow communicators.
Kelley embodied the idea for this book.
Thankfully she said yes, and the pep talk book moved forward.
Creating the Book
Unfortunately, we could have used a pep talk for creating the pep talk.
CFCC self-published its first church communication book in 2011 with Outspoken. One of the benefits of self publishing is that we can get books out quickly. A two or three year turnaround is pretty normal for traditional publishers. But we published Dangerous in a matter of weeks. Usually we take six to nine months from idea to launch.
But You’ve Got This took nearly three years.
It’s exhausting just thinking about it. I’m not even sure I could pinpoint what made it take so long. We ran into delays and problems for sure. The book also had a visual component, which required a lot of extra time. Erica created wonderful illustrations to bring Kelley’s words to life, but that also meant a fixed layout where one little change could throw the whole thing out of whack.
But the book was worth it. I didn’t just come up with the idea, I believed in it. I knew it could be great. Knowing that about an idea is one thing, but having the writing match it is another.
And it totally did. Kelley’s words were a pep talk, better than anything I could have imagined.
There were times when we wanted to give up. A new issue would come up and it seemed like the whole project had imploded. Walking away wouldn’t have been a bad idea. I’m still amazed and grateful that CFCC’s executive director at the time, Chuck Scoggins, kept going to bat for the book.
Despite all the hours and headaches, delays and disruptions, typos and tears—this book was going to happen. We fought for it.
The Pep Talk
And here it is. It launched in January to rave reviews.
I knew this book was going to be amazing before Kelley wrote it. Reading those initial drafts, I knew we had something great. But there’s always that difference between what you think and know in your gut, and what happens in reality. I knew it was good, but would church communicators know it too?
Yes. Yes, they would.
That’s been the most encouraging part: Seeing fellow communicators reading the book and saying, ‘Yes, this is it.’ It’s incredibly gratifying to know that we put something together that speaks to church communicators where they are and gives them that high-five or fist bump or kick in the pants they need.
If you ask me right now, I’m not eager to sign up for another three-year book project. It’s a ton of work. But it’s worth it. CFCC is a nonprofit and we do this work to help churches. Books don’t make a lot of money, and nobody is getting rich off this project (trust me, I know how many hours went into it)—except maybe church communicators who get an incredible resource.
It’s one of the projects I’m most proud to be a part of. I’m so grateful to Chuck for championing this project, the CFCC board for supporting it, Erica for illustrating it, everyone else who helped make it happen—and most of all to Kelley. Coming up with ideas is easy, but writing a book is so not. And she embodies this one. The book is graceful and healing and funny because Kelley is. (I’m also grateful that Kelley joined CFCC as the membership director for Courageous Storytellers in 2017. That means working on the book together wasn’t too terrible, and I get to keep on working with her!)
So if you’re a church communicator or you know someone who is, I encourage you to check it out. Heck, I’ve heard from folks who don’t work in churches but still got something out of it.
You can buy You’ve Got This: A Pep Talk for Church Communicators from Amazon or other digital retailers, or grab a free sample here. And you should hear directly from Kelley—here’s an interview she did about the book.