1. Where possible, fill your writing with anecdotes, quotes, and humor.
2. Write down thoughts about your topic as soon as they come to mind, or you will lose them.
3. Keep your writing as simple as possible. A good writer can make the complex simple.
4. Avoid chapter headings that say what the chapter is about. Stir curiosity with witty headings.
5. Revise, review, correct. Go through your writing with the objectivity of a surgeon’s scalpel. If it doesn’t flow, cut it out no matter how dear it is to you.
6. Ask people to read it through with a critical eye and give you honest feedback, and be open to their thoughts.
7. The book title is extremely important. When I first submitted Hell’s Best Kept Secret to the publisher, they said the title was too heavy. They suggested Watering Down the Gospel. I disliked that suggestion so I submitted another 74 titles as alternatives. They eventually changed their minds and chose Hell’s Best Kept Secret, saying, “You must have been praying.” So make sure you pray.
8. The cover design will make or break the book. It’s said that you can’t judge a book by its cover, but potential customers certainly will. If you try to save money by skimping on the cover, you will have a lifetime to regret it. Book salesmen (if you’re fortunate enough to have a traditional publisher) don’t take books with them to meetings with corporate buyers. Instead, they sell them by showing images of the covers.
9. You have two options when it comes to publishing. One is to try to find a traditional publishing house. This is ideal because it typically means that they finance the production and printing and help to promote the book, as well as take care of the book cover, professional editing, etc. Be aware, however, that less than 2 percent of manuscripts are accepted — and that’s if the company accepts unsolicited manuscripts at all. Most large publishing houses don’t these days. Here are 17 of the largest Christian publishers; for a more robust list, get a copy of the latest edition of the Christian Writer’s Market Guide (updated annually). I don’t want to dampen your enthusiasm, but Hell’s Best Kept Secret was turned down by 90 publishers before I found one that showed interest.
10. The alternative to finding a traditional publisher is to self-publish or use a “hybrid” publisher, where you participate in the costs. Nowadays there are countless options, including print-on-demand, eBooks, and more. You won’t be disappointed by the amount of results from a search engine on the topic. Through the years, we’ve often used the services of Genesis Publishing Group, who may be able to help you navigate the options.
If you are going to market your book, you will need to advertise, which is not cheap. The ideal is to have an itinerant ministry or a large social media following, where you can make the book available at your meetings and on your own website.
You could seek a distributor. There is a problem, though. They will only take your book on a consignment basis. That means they will take a few dozen copies, and if they don’t sell in six months, they will send them back to you (perhaps dog-eared and unsalable). Then you may end up with 5,000 books under your bed. You will also likely need to demonstrate an active promotional campaign to be accepted for distribution, incur a setup fee, and storage and fulfillment charges, and so on. If you have reason to anticipate a large volume of sales, a distributor can be helpful to handle the order fulfillment for you. Here is a list of some distributors.
If you self-publish, the book will need an ISBN and a barcode.
Don’t be discouraged by all this. If God wants your book published, things will work out.