“A house is built by wisdom and becomes strong through good sense. Through knowledge its rooms are filled with all sorts of precious riches and valuables. The wise are mightier than the strong, and those with knowledge grow stronger and stronger. So, don’t go to war without wise guidance; victory depends on having many advisers.” –Proverbs 24:3-6
This scripture is filled with a great amount of richness from its truth. If I were writing a bible study or devotional I would peel back each verse to reveal its wealth. I know writing/publishing a book doesn’t equate to “war,” but it takes strategy and wisdom in order to do it well. Anyone that knows me, knows that before I tackle anything I do my research first. Whether it is planning a trip, making a purchase over $40 (don’t judge me) and yes of course writing and publishing a book – I do my homework. I live by these scriptures above and put them into practice as it relates to my personal and professional life. In short, these scriptures tells us to use wisdom and seek council before making major decisions or building anything of value.
As you probably have discovered by now, writing and publishing are lofty topics with a lot of nuances, trends, do’s and don’ts, strategies, industry news and so much more. The best piece of advice that resonated in the writing conferences I attended and from publishing professionals is – do your research.
There is an abundance of books, videos, conference materials, blogs and courses on this topic. While it can certainly be an overwhelming task rummaging through this information, it is a necessary step that each of us must take. Regardless of where you are in process you must do your research on the Christian marketplace for writing, marketing and publishing.
I discovered these 5 books before, during and after publishing my first book and found each of them to be instrumental within the process along with key things we need to know about this major venture.
1. Know how to write for the Christian Marketplace
Whether you decide to self-publish or traditionally publish, your writing should reflect an equal amount of professionalism. Nothing hurts the creditability of self-publishing than poor writing and amateurism exposed by the lack of research and professional editing. Every Christian writer should have a copy of The Christian Writer’s Manual of Style on his/her desk while writing and editing.
This is a comprehensive guide that spells out style, rules and word usage in religious writing and publishing inclusive of but not limited to grammar, punctuation, abbreviations, biblical terminology, etc. It is a great tool for writers and invaluable for editors. It discusses how to correctly quote the Bible, how to capitalize and use common biblical terms. It also includes valuable information on obtaining permissions which author’s must not neglect.
2. Understand the Writing to Publishing Process
One of the most informative books I discovered while writing my first book is Understanding the Christian Non-Fiction Book: Concept to Contract. While it is written through the lens of traditional publishing, it has a wealth of information for the Christian writer and walks you through each writing stage. I recommend this book to all my friends and clients when they say they want to write a faith based book. My only regret was that I wish I had discovered it sooner in my writing process. It would have saved me a lot of time and silenced all my fears and concerns of writing and publishing especially within the Christian marketplace. I knew there were lots of books regarding the general market, but I wanted to know the differences and nuances for the Christian market. This book identifies those nuances and takes the mystery out of the process. (Whew!)
3. Understand the Christian Marketplace
I was doing so much homework about writing and publishing and was beginning to feel lost in a sea of information. I knew that I was writing my book to target a core Christian believer and knew I needed to understand where and how I could market that book effectively. Everybody wants their book to sell but everyone doesn’t understand the channels of distribution within the process. Every author wants to see their book on the shelf in their local bookstore (if you can find one) but some do not necessarily understand how it gets there which leads to my next two recommended books. These two books address how to get published and how to market your book once it is published.
I have my undergrad degree in Marketing and spent over 15 years in the marketing and advertising fields. I learned in college that once you understood the fundamentals of sales and marketing, you could sell anything. However, one must know your product, your audience and your industry. Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace is a great handbook for understanding how to market your Christian book to the Christian marketplace. This book provides information on how to launch and sell your book through Christian organizations or those that accept faith based books. It is rich with ideas, resources and lists that covers all genres of writing including targeting special markets such as Homeschools, Urban and Spanish Markets. Although, I read the previous edition, my book is filled with colorful flags throughout.
4. Understand the Industry and Know its Players
One of the most exhaustive books on the market is The Christian Writer’s Market Guide. This book is a comprehensive resource for getting published. It provides hundreds of pages of over 300 book publishers, 550 periodicals, literary agencies, writer’s contests, conferences, etc. Since this information changes all the time, you can expect new editions of this book almost yearly. If you want your book to sell beyond your family and friends, this is one book you must have at your fingertips, but be prepared to put in the work. Understand the target audience for your book. All Christians is not an ideal target audience because it is too large. You must understand niches within the genre and focus your marketing efforts on it. (Example: Christians and relationships, parenting, grief, health, education, ministry, children, clergy, etc.) Once you have identified your audience, going through this large resource becomes easier and more strategic.
5. Understand your Kingdom assignment
Finally, this last book is kind of a bonus book on this list. It is not a book about publishing, writing, marketing, etc. However, Pursing Your Passion in a Godly Fashion deals with the heart and prayer life of the creative Christian and his/her business. (Note: Don’t let the heels on the cover dissuade you, the book is gender neutral and men could read it too.) Most people don’t write books with the expense of publishing and marketing those books just to give it away for free. (No Sir, no Ma’am.) It’s a business. Although, you may not be in it to become rich nor famous, you won’t mind the bank deposits. (Authorpreneurs love PayPal Notifications.)
I recently discovered this book from Instagram and used it as a devotional while reading it. Each chapter dealt with a topic to focus on as it relates to the entrepreneur life of a Christian. As a woman of faith and as an entrepreneur my prayers for my businesses are different and sometimes complex. When you are in business and a representative of the Kingdom, many things may be lawful not all things are permissive. At the end of the day, I want to make sure God is pleased with me in business and in ministry. Therefore, this is a great heart-check for those with businesses and it is rich with prayers to keep your heart focused on Kingdom affairs while pursuing excellence in business.
If you are serious about writing and publishing as a Christian Author, your book shelf should be reflective of good counsel, wisdom and relevant resources to the market in which you will serve. I’m curious, which books would you add to this list?