|Lysa TerKeurst speaks to women’s felt needs
|Written by Ann Byle
|Tuesday, 08 July 2014 03:45 PM America/New_York
Best-selling author known for her ‘raw honesty’ engages readers and even learns from her own books
Lysa TerKeurst gladly admits she writes “from a place of my weakness.” Her struggles have yielded the best-selling Made to Crave: Satisfying Your Deepest Desire with God, Not Food and Unglued: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions, which have reached sales of well more than 1 million copies, not including companion devotionals and participant guides.
Her publisher, Nelson Books, an imprint of Thomas Nelson, which is part of HarperCollins Christian Publishers, is expecting more of the same from her August release, The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands.
“Lysa TerKeurst is completely in tune with the desires and needs of her audience,” said Brian Hampton, senior vice president and publisher at Nelson Books. “She does not write books and then hope her readers find them so engaging they talk to friends about them. Instead, she listens to what her readers are talking about—what they are really dealing with in their lives—and then writes books that speak to those needs in an engaging way.”
The combination of Christian retailers and TerKeurst’s books are what Hampton calls the perfect marriage.
“Lysa’s writing touches a broad audience, but the bull’s eye is exactly the kind of woman shopping in Christian retail: passionate about her faith, hungry for practical ideas and inspiration from an author who is authentic and knows from experience what it is like to juggle all of the roles she is playing,” he said.
The goals of the publisher and of Christian retail stores are well-matched: “putting life-changing content in the hands of Christian women (and men),” Hampton said. “Historically, nearly half of all TerKeurst’s book sales have been in Christian retail.”
The New Life Bookstore, located inside New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado, has a special place for TerKeurst’s books, according to Renai Herron, bookstore manager.
“Sales have been great, especially for Made to Crave and Unglued,” she said. “We’ve done several Bible studies with each book, so women have purchased them for themselves and as gifts.”
Herron plans to promote The Best Yes in the bookstore newsletter and in the New Release section of the store, displaying it on an endcap and offering a 20% discount on purchases for groups.
“Lysa has special place in our hearts here at New Life Church because she’s been here to speak,” Herron said. “The women really loved her talks and love her books.”
Baker Book House, an independent Christian retailer in Grand Rapids, Michigan, is forecasting store sales for The Best Yes on par with Made to Crave, which has sold nearly 700 copies since 2012, not counting Bible study guides.
“With each book, Lysa does a better job. She’s definitely an ‘A’ author,” said Sue Smith, store director. “Women are attracted to her because we need other women to be real and honest with us. Lysa’s biggest draw is her raw honesty. She doesn’t hide anything.”
Baker Book House will highlight The Best Yes along with TerKeurst’s other best-selling books in displays near the front of the store and close to the registers. The store has purchased 280 copies and forecasts a sell-through and additional purchases, thanks in part to a “healthy, upfront discount” from Thomas Nelson.
TerKeurst sees huge benefit from connecting to readers via Christian retailers.
“I value Christian retail stores and booksellers so much,” she said. “They are the connection point between a person desperate for help and the book I write to give them hope. So many times it’s a sales clerk within a Christian bookstore recommending a book that becomes the change agent in a person’s life.”
The Best Yes speaks directly to women who live with the stress of an overwhelmed schedule and an underwhelmed soul.
“I’ve really failed at this a lot,” TerKeurst said. “It’s not like I used to struggle with this five years ago. Today I have to open my own book to learn how to underwhelm my schedule.”
The author, who is also founder and director of Proverbs 31 Ministries, and her husband have five children, ages 15 to 26, so they know about being rushed. In fact, TerKeurst had been praying for a couple of years that God would “unrush” her. She discovered that wedging one more event into her schedule could bring her to that place of overwhelmed stress.
“I started to realize many years ago that either I was going to set and run my schedule or it was going to run me,” she said. “How I set my schedule determines how I run my life, and how I run my life is how I spend my soul. I kept getting a sinking sense that I wasn’t spending my soul well.”
Hampton of Nelson Books sees TerKeurst as one of the few authors who will open their lives to their readers.
“Some Christian authors aren’t willing to share their personal struggles in their books,” he said. “Others are willing to share them—if they have already overcome them. But Lysa is willing to share her current struggles with readers, and the result is powerful.”
He talked also of how much TerKeurst’s brand has meant to Nelson Books, admitting that he and his team learn as much from her as she learns from them.
“She is a student of her audience and of publishing; she is so smart and engaging,” Hampton said. “After more than two decades in the industry, Lysa and her team have caused me to think in new ways about how Christian nonfiction books ‘work,’ what bonds reader to author and what kind of writing truly delivers value to the reader.”
Hampton and TerKeurst are hoping for more of the same from Christian retailers who are eager to bring buyers through their store doors looking for her newest book.
“We’re hoping Christian stores continue their already strong partnership with us, giving The Best Yes the kind of attention and support such a sales track record merits,” Hampton said. “We know their customers are eager for Lysa’s new book and will find it genuinely life-giving.”
Says TerKeurst: “When I hear booksellers have suggested one of my titles, I am humbled and so very honored. Together, we are changing lives.”