Greetings from Sarah Sundin in California! Today I have the honor of interviewing nonfiction author Elaine Helms. Elaine served as the National Prayer Coordinator for Southern Baptists and also served on the North American Missions Board. Her books stemmed from her experiences in training churches how to pray.
Elaine, how did you get into writing?
I created a newsletter for almost every organization I joined. A few include college clubs, Red Cross Volunteers, Army Officers’ Wives Club, Neighborhood, and Atlanta Christian Chronicles preparing for and during the 1996 World Olympics. It is hard to be in unity if people don’t know what is going on.
When God called me into prayer ministry leadership at my church, other churches noticed that God was blessing. After repeating the same thing to so many church groups about how God was blessing our obedience to Him, a leader suggested that I write what I was saying into a book. That is why the first book, If My People . . . Pray, Steps to Effective Church Prayer Ministry, was written in 1993. In 2000 it was polished up and printed as a trade book by Church Prayer Ministries, and continues to be used across America, Canada, and Australia. The need for training of intercessors in the churches led to Prayer 101, What Every Intercessor Needs to Know published by New Hope Publishers.
How many books do you have published?
Eight: While I was the National Prayer Coordinator for the Southern Baptist Convention at NAMB, I wrote or revised five books for hire. I self-published two titles, and New Hope Publishers has published two.
What are a few of your latest titles?
Prayer 101, What Every Intercessor Needs to Know
Prayer Without Limits, Expanding Your Relationship with God
How did you get your first book contract?
While I was on staff at the North American Mission Board, SBC (NAMB) I repeatedly heard about and noticed a need for an intercessor ‘boot camp.’ I knew the woman who was the publisher at New Hope Publishers, talked to her, and she became interested in possibly publishing such a necessary book. I wrote a book proposal in 2006, it was examined and voted on by the publishing board, then published and released in 2008.
What has helped you promote your books the most?
The books sell especially well when I am speaking at a conference. The fact that my books fill a niche filled by very few books has made it easier to promote it to churches.
Did you see God open any doors you never expected in the promotion of your books?
I have seen God’s leadership and favor from day one. I really give Him all the glory for the first book about church prayer ministry still being viable and sought, after 20 years on the market! With the most recent book released this spring, Prayer Without Limits, I saw God open an unexpected door.
My husband and I were driving to Ohio for the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention, when the car just stopped working. He was able to get it safely to the side and AAA helped us get a tow truck and rental car. Without too many details, we saw God provide Christians from tow truck driver to several auto shop owners.
We came back through this very small town in Tennessee to meet one of the owners who we had only talked with by phone. My husband was thanking him and gave him a copy of Prayer Without Limits. He looked at the cover and said, “This looks familiar,” and asked, “Can you get this book around here?” I said, “Yes, it’s available at any bookstore.” He said, “My pastor’s secretary has this book on her desk and is reading it; I want to read it” It was like God was reassuring me that He will get this book where He wants it to be read!
Now that you have been writing a while, what do you find works best for you in promoting your work and why?
Speaking to groups, bookstore audiences, churches, wherever I have opportunity to introduce the contents of the books. When people are interested in the topic and meet the author, they are more likely to buy the book.
What are your top tips for writers with their first book contract?
Seek God and His wisdom, (Jeremiah 33:3 and James 1:5-6).
Enlist a group of friends, fellow authors, or group of target audience, those with a willingness to help, to either read and give you their comments or study it as a group if the book lends itself to study. Other people’s insights and observations caused me to make some important additions to my first book. This exercise made the book stronger.
Thank you for the great advice, Elaine!
To learn more about Elaine’s books and her ministry, please visit Elaine’s website.
Writing for Him,