Dreams Coming True is a Thursday feature on my blog, a way to highlight those whose goal is to create community. The dream might be a blog, a published book, a small business, volunteering, or even fundraising for a charity. Something that makes the world a better place . . . for others.
“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin” (Zechariah 4:10, NLT).
Brian Plachta, founder of Pillars of Steel and author of Life’s Toolbox . . . Blueprints Included, joins us today to share about his Dream Come True! Sign up for Pillars of Steel’s mailing list and Brian will send you a copy of Pillars of Steel — How Real Men Draw Strength from Each Other.
There are certain benchmarks in a writer’s life. Days when all the long and lonely work of writing, editing and tormenting ourselves with the question, “Why am I doing this?” come together affirming our vocation; reminding us of our passion.
Today’s one of those days. Today, I upload my book to the printer to self-publish my second book on Men’s Spirituality: Life’s Toolbox . . . Blueprints Included along with its companion Facilitator’s Guide.
As I get ready to watch my second book come off the press, I’m both excited and cautious. Excited—because publishers keep telling me the men’s spirituality genre is one of the top ten growing areas in the publishing industry. Cautious—because publishing giants like Loyola Press tell me that men don’t traditionally read books and even Loyola can’t figure out how to market to them.
And so I’ve listened. Learned. Prayed.
And what I’m discovering is this:
- Trail-blazing. Men’s Spirituality writing is trail-blazing work. The traditional models of masculinity have fallen away. Patriarchy is dead. Women have stepped forward to take their rightful role, leaving men scratching their heads asking, “Where does that leave men today?” As a result, as I wrote in my first book, Pillars of Steel—How Real Men Draw Strength from Each Other, men are in the middle of a paradigm shift without a new model to follow. And our quest for wholeness is the tool the Holy Spirit is using to invite men to develop and deepen their relationship with God and each other. As a result, men are blazing a new trail requiring lots of hard inner work and effort.
- Branding. Establishing a website that’s not about me, but rather about the message of the men’s initiative that I sense a calling and passion to be part of is essential toward building the foundation that underscores the message and themes of the books I’m writing. To that end, we created the name: Pillars of Steel as our platform with the acronym: POS, along with an advisory team made up of 7-10 others who help discern and steer the POS vision.
- Back-of-the-Room Marketing. Like a door-to-door salesman selling Cutco knives, I’m doing “back-of-the-room” marketing—i.e. my books are the tools used at half-day talks, workshops and retreats. I offer them at churches and other venues to encourage men to break the worn-out “man code”—that unwritten rule that restricts men from talking about anything deeper than sports, women, work and cars. Promoting the books isn’t about sales as much as about serving the men who’ll encounter the POS experiences. Through its books, talks, workshops and retreats, POS provides the tools to invite, deepen and sustain men’s relationships with God and each other.
- Team Work. Hiring a marketing intern, partnering with a creative design director and working with an experienced website designer provide the tools that drive the POS Men’s Initiative work and my writing. This professional team, along with the advisory group, creates a sacred yet practical group of men and women who are excited about the POS mission and its importance keeping it on-track and focused.
- Patience and Endurance. God’s timing is always perfect. The challenge for me is to be patient and allow God’s plan to unfold and to remember not to quit as long as I sense the movement of God in the writing and other work POS is doing.
- If It’s Not Fun, Don’t Do It. Too often my passion for writing and the men’s work POS is doing can drive my ego to believe I’ve been hired by God to save humanity, which of course is not true by any stretch of the imagination. By remembering to keep the fun in my work, I give my creative spirit the room to write, mentor, teach and learn in ways that are life-giving for others and myself.
- Don’t Buy More Books Than I Need. For my first POS book, Pillars of Steel—How Real Men Draw Strength from Each Other, I purchased 2,500 copies at a substantial cost. Nobody told me a self-published author is lucky if they sell over 500 copies. As a result, I have over 2,000 copies of the book sitting in my basement. For the Life’s Toolbox . . . Blueprints Included book, I’m using a digital printing company and only purchasing 100 copies up front. I can then print on-demand as needed and offer the books at a substantial savings to groups and churches.
With these writing and marketing lessons in my tool-belt, I’m ready for the second book in the POS series, Life’s Toolbox . . . Blueprints Included to come off the press. At age 55, I sense God’s call to use my gifts as a writer, spiritual mentor, pastoral counselor, teacher and mentor to walk alongside other men on the spiritual journey. If it’s God’s plan, I look forward to my dream coming true of gradually transitioning from a full-time lawyer to a second career as a writer, teacher, mentor and retreat leader.
Please check out the POS website and sign up for the email list to receive more inspiration and encouragement for your spiritual journey.
 Plachta, Brian, Pillars of Steel—How Real Men Draw Strength from Each Other, Principia Media (Grand Rapids, 2012).
 See the U-Tube Video: “Breaking the Man Code” on the Pillars of Steel website: www.pillarsofsteel.org.
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