By Denise George
When you, as a minister, write-to-publish books, you can reach out far beyond the walls of your church with the Gospel message, and deep into the heart of the world. With today’s Internet and communication resources – including online ebooks – you can reach places in the world once considered closed to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
As you already know, the world is a hurting place, and people need instruction, wisdom, encouragement, and hope. As a minister, you have the answers for the world’s hurting and confused people. Not only can your book help a person now, but the written word has lasting power, leaving a legacy that will continue bearing rich fruit long after your time on earth has passed.
Advantages from your position
As a minister, you have definite advantages over other writers. You’ve already been called to share the Gospel with others, and have made the lifelong commitment to Christ and to His ministry. Spreading the Gospel through the written word is simply a natural progression of your church ministry.
You also have your finger on the pulse of today’s men, women, youth, and children. Counseling hurting people in your congregation is, no doubt, part of your everyday ministry. You know firsthand how people today are hurting – their “felt needs.”
Another advantage? You are already writing. It’s a major part of your profession. You have learned skills far beyond the average person employed in vocations that require little writing. You know how to write regularly, on schedule, and in a disciplined manner that meets necessary deadlines.
You are probably a prolific reader, know how to study, and have a deep understanding of Scripture, church history, and pastoral care.
Steps to begin your writing ministry
Why, then, aren’t you, as a minister – whether a pastor, church leader, Bible study teacher, children’s and/or youth director, etc. – writing and publishing books? I think the answer is simple.
You may know how to write well, research, study, preach, and teach, but you have questions about the nuts and bolts of writing toward the goal of publication. It’s one thing to write a sermon or Bible study, but it’s quite another to take those words, shape them into a book format for worldwide readership, and approach a publisher with those ideas. A long, confusing bridge spans the chasm between writing and writing-to-publish books. How do you start to cross that bridge? Here are some suggestions:
- Decide what type of book will best communicate your message. You may prefer to write nonfiction, including personal experience, self-help, pastoral care, devotional, Bible study books, etc. One exciting and popular new genre both editors and readers love is the narrative nonfiction book – a true story written to read like a page-turner novel. You may already have a wealth of sermons, Bible studies, etc. that can be written in book format. Or you may want to express truth in an indirect way through fictional books/novels. That format works well, too.
- Decide on your audience. Who most needs to hear this particular message? Who exactly are you addressing with this book? Men, women, youth, children? Book editors will expect you to target your reading audience so that you can address their individual needs with specific instruction and wisdom.
- What exactly do you want to tell your targeted audience? What precisely will your message do for the reader? How will it help the reader?
What to do from there …
After you make these decisions, if you want to approach a traditional publisher, you will need to write a book proposal. The proposal (usually 30-45 pages in length) answers all the essential questions an editor will need to know. For instance: What books are on the market already that are similar to yours, and how is your book idea different enough from theirs to warrant publication? What platform (influence, personal and professional groups, online presence, etc.) do you have in place that can help promote the published book?
When you finish the book proposal, write and attach the first few chapters, and then choose the publisher. One helpful guide, Writer’s Market, lists traditional publishers, contact information, and the ideas they hope to receive. You can also find writing guidelines on traditional publishers’ websites.
Expect to wait at least two months to hear from the editor. If he accepts your book idea, he’ll send you a book publishing contract. Some publishers also pay the author an advance royalty. Sign the contract and return it. Finish writing the book and send it to him by the agreed upon deadline.
If you decide to forego traditional book publishing, you can self-publish the book. I highly recommend one publisher: CreateSpace, a self-publishing of Amazon.com. You can find all the information you need at createspace.com. Self-publishing with CreateSpace is free, and you can buy one, or a thousand copies, at a low price.
Be forewarned: Book writing is hard work! But when you choose to write books, you will send Christ’s message far beyond your church walls and into a hurting world that needs to hear what you can tell it.
NOTE: If you’d like an emailed copy of the traditional publisher’s template to help you write a professional book proposal, please email your name and email address to Denise George (firstname.lastname@example.org).