Monday, October 4, 2010

Thoughts from a Rookie

Recently, a friend who works in the publishing industry asked me to write an article for his blog, He asked me to write about my experiences as a first time writer. Below is what I wrote:

The following are three inter-related applications that I have found helpful as I am nearing the end of what has been a rewarding and enjoyable process.

1. Be humble.

I doubt there are many writers who submit a manuscript to a publisher without wondering “what if.” In “the writer’s daydream,” the would-be wunderkind begins to fantasize about future fame and glory: What if the publisher accepts my manuscript? What if it does really well? What if I become a best-selling author? What if J.K. Rowling, John Grisham and I begin to hang out?

The writer’s daydream is majestic, but the writer’s reality is far more mundane. Most books are not best sellers, and there’s no reason to believe your book will be the exception. As my friend and fellow pastor said to me when I told him I could get some copies of my book at a discounted price: “That’s OK. I’ll wait a month and get it at clearance prices.” Odds are that he has hit upon a pretty-good strategy.

The harsh realities of the publishing world should protect a writer from hubris. A first-time author, such as myself, should be particularly humble as he or she receives guidance from a publisher.

From the very beginning, my publisher has had specific suggestions for how to improve my book. It would have been very foolish of me to believe that my original proposal was so incredible it could not be improved upon!

By the way, this principle is important at all phases of the publishing process. As I have researched more about the publishing world, I hear authors make all sorts of complaints about their publishers: they should have a higher initial printing, they should do more to market my book, they should display my book more prominently, etc.

In the end, the reality is that the publisher wants your book to do well almost as much as you do. The hard truth to accept is that maybe your book is getting the attention it deserves. It’s good enough to be published, but maybe it won’t change the universe in quite the way you thought it might!

2. Have something to write about.

The remedy to the discouraging realities of the publishing world is to be confident that you have a contribution to make. The writer of Ecclesiastes tells us that of the making of books there is no end. What you will say in your book has already been said before. You are simply repacking ideas that have already been thought and perhaps you are expressing them in a new way.

It is incumbent upon you, therefore, to make sure that the ideas you are repackaging are of worth, that they are those timeless truths that will serve to build up Christ’s kingdom.

3. Keep your ultimate goal in mind.

Our ultimate goal in writing, as in life, is to glorify God. There is only one way to ensure that your book or project has an impact that reaches into eternity and that is to make it a work that exalts our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. When that is your passion and aim in life, your book need not be published at all to be considered a success!

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