Friday, August 13, 2021

The Ministry of a Book Launch

by Joshua J. Masters @JoshuaJMasters

I welcomed the typical author concoction of excitement and uncertainty in the depths of my spirit as I hovered over the send button. With a click of the mouse, the first email went out announcing an invitation to join the launch team for my new book, A Faith Unleashed: Living in the Hope of God’s Rescue.

The message described the true story of a rescue dog’s journey from isolated brokenness to joyful belonging and how it mirrors our own spiritual path, teaching us to a pursue a healing relationship with the One who brings true rescue. Throw in a cute dog on the cover and who wouldn’t stumble over themselves to be part of that launch team? 

Well, it turns out many people. 

Some people I thought certain would join even unsubscribed from my mailing list. My publisher assured me the sign-up response for the first week was outstanding, but I expected more. I had others sign up but never follow-through on joining the group.

In the end, we had an incredible team, and the launch was very successful. I wouldn’t change a thing now, but I fought discouragement in the early stages of building the team. 
  • What if no one else signs up? 
  • What if the people who sign up don’t share any of the posts? 
  • What if they don’t leave a review? 
  • What if… what if… what if?
I’m sure others have had similar experiences and the harsh realization everyone isn’t as excited about your launch as you think they should be is jarring. 

But I’m not sharing this to complain about my experience or discourage you in yours—I’m sharing it because it was the catalyst God used to correct my less than stellar attitude.

The “What if” question God wanted me to ask was this:

What if I stop focusing on what a launch team can do for me and start focusing on how the launch team is a ministry opportunity for me to encourage them? 

After all, when we look past the pride and love God’s given us for the project He put on our hearts, why would a large group of people drop everything to promote our book?
  • It’s not the prizes.
  • It’s not the early reader-copy of our book.
  • It’s not the secret Facebook group.
Those are perks, but they’re not valuable enough on their own to build a successful launch team. 

The true value we can offer our team isn’t swag but community.

Many of us want a launch team that will do tasks but that’s not community, it’s labor. And it’s difficult to build a labor force with free bookmarks. 

The tasks are important but launch teams can plunge into the same false works-mentality trap many churches do. Rather than convincing people to do tasks, what if the actions came out of sincere gratitude for what God is doing in the group rather than obligation?

I was fortunate enough to have a launch coordinator to organize the tasks and prize drawings in my launch. So, I resisted the temptation to watch who was completing this task or that challenge and focused on building community and ministry within the group. 

I didn’t do that perfectly, but I saw a powerful community of transparency and support emerge from the group that far outweighed the immense benefits my book still received.

We want to honor God in our writing, and the launch team is our first tangible opportunity to serve others through the book He’s given us. 


1. Be truly transparent.
Launch teams love getting to the know the behind-the-scenes information about your book. But set a tone of transparency right from the beginning, modeling the safety in your group to share real things. Go beyond your process and share your brokenness. Share how God has transformed you through your writing rather than how you write. People are already there to support you, so you don’t need to impress them. Your testimony is more powerful than your process.

2. Promote personal sharing.
Make sure your posts encourage people to share their own story rather than their love for yours. 

I chose to do a weekly chapter reading for my launch team via Zoom. This gave us the opportunity to talk with one another in a live setting. But be cautious when you facilitate those conversations. Avoid questions like, “What did you like about the chapter?” or “What was your favorite part?” Those questions put the focus on the book rather than the people. 

Instead, try asking, “Even if it’s not related to what was in the chapter, what did you sense God saying to you as we were reading?” or “How does your story connect to what we read?” The most powerful moments in my group didn’t come from a quote in the book, but from someone sharing about a lost spouse or a broken relationship and watching the other group members minister to that person.

3. Encourage sincere prayer.
In many Christian activities, we relegate prayer to a list of requests hurriedly written at the end of a meeting. Make prayer a cornerstone of your launch team—not for the launch but for the people. With transparent, personal sharing there are abundant opportunities to pray for one another’s felt needs. 

Encourage members to comment on one another’s posts and build one another up. Don’t just say, “We’ll pray for you,” openly model it in the group arena and follow-up with people who have requested prayer.

4. Continually point to Christ.
The obvious temptation of a book launch is to focus on the author or the book, but Christian authors write to glorify Christ. So, He should be at the center of our book launch—not in a token way, but in a continual state of praise and worship.

Your book will not change someone’s life. It won’t. But the Holy Spirit may use it to transform someone’s life. See the difference? The wording may be subtle, but until we internalize that truth in our spirit, we’ll continue to seek success over our calling. Make sure the sharing, group posts, and group prayer all point to what God is doing in the group. It’s Christ that binds us together in community, not our writing.

5. Ask God these questions as you plan your launch:
  • What should I do to selflessly serve those who are on my launch team?
  • What should I do to build a healthy community among the participants?
  • What should I do to encourage engagement with one another rather than just the book?
  • What do You want to teach me through the launch team?
As counter-intuitive as it may seem, the less we make our book launch about the success of the book, the more powerful the experience will be for you and your team. That doesn’t mean we ignore the book or pretend we’re not there to do a job—but it does mean using the book as a stage for ministry rather than using people as a stage for my book. 

If you sincerely care more about the members of your team than the triumph of your book, God will take care of the rest.


by Joshua J. Masters

Life tries to convince us we're alone and unwanted, tied to our past and without hope for the future.

Daily trials challenge our faith as our souls beg for renewal, but rescue is coming.
Abused and neglected, Franklin spent his first Christmas huddled in a lonely puppy mill. In this true story, his path from isolated brokenness to joyful belonging mirrors our own journey toward the promise of Christ. Each chapter of Franklin's story serves as the backdrop for a biblical approach to exploring questions of faith, encouraging individual growth, and deepening our relationship with God. Franklin's humorous and heartwarming tale will lead you to the ultimate source of life. 


Joshua J. Masters is a pastor, author, and speaker with a heart for encouraging others. His book on prayer, AMERICAN PSALMS, was a Serious Writer’s Book of the Decade finalist. He’s been featured on CBN Television, HIS Radio, the Light Radio Network, and worked in the film industry as a member of SAG-AFTRA performer. He is a regular teacher and speaker for large groups. A self-proclaimed sci-fi and comic book geek, Josh loves film, pop culture and is known in some circles as THE BAT PASTOR. Joshua was raised in the White Mountains of New England and now serves as a pastor in South Carolina where he lives with his wife, Gina, and their miniature poodle, FRANKLIN THE PUP, who is the subject of his latest book. Josh would love to connect with you on his website, JOSHUAJMASTERS.COM


  1. Josh, you did all of this so well during your launch. Thank you for sharing this important perspective as well as the how-to. I’m saving this post to share with my author friends when they are preparing to launch.

  2. Thank you, this is a good reminder. Donevy

  3. Thank you, Josh, for sharing such a timely and Spirit-led perspective. I'm still basking in the kindness of so many people who unselfishly gave their time and talents to help my first book launch. I know it was their love for God that motivated them to get behind me and my book and help it reach the people God intended for it to find. I've often thought, "I have so little except my gratitude to give back to them," but your article helped me see that I can do so much more the next time around. Thanks for sharing your journey.

  4. What wonderful advice. A great perspective. Thanks!

  5. This is an outstanding post on book launches. A refreshing, grounded perspective. I've participated in a few launches this year and am collecting avid reader fans for my own shortly. As you state, Joshua, these groups have felt like "tasks I want you to do for me" experiences. I seek to operate mine with a Christ-centered, ministry mind-set. Thanks!

  6. Hi Josh.
    Loved the book and love your heart. Thanks for sharing what you learned from the launch. It was a wonderful experience. Blessings, Tammy

  7. Josh, what a wonderful perspective you have for a book launch and writing in general. It was an honor to serve on your launch team.

  8. Love your perspective, Josh, and your book. Franklin's story mirrors our own apart from God. I could identify with that little dog when I was reading and see how God rescues us. I enjoyed being a part of your launch team.

  9. This is really good! My heart is big, and I always want to help with launch teams. But my illness is chronic, and I must keep my enthusiasm in check, which makes me feel bad. You’re so right about the importance of a launch team. No team equals low sales. I hope your sales are clipping along at a fast pace!

  10. This is such a great post, Joshua, and a good reminder to be humble and caring in all things, including a book launch - making sure all honors God.