10 Steps to Success in Writing a Christian Book


If you are planning to write a non-fiction Christian book, you should carefully consider the following ten suggestions. These are very important steps that need to be taken before you start the writing stage of your project.

STEP ONE—The most important step is receiving a revelation from God that it is definitely His will for you to write the book. There is a dramatic difference between doing a "good thing" and doing a "God-thing" in your walk with God. Good things can steal your time from doing far-more-important God-things and in the end be very counterproductive.

STEP TWO—Decide on a title and a subtitle that perfectly describe the substance of the message you want your book to convey. It's always good to list several options and prayerfully consider which one is best. You want to accomplish three primary things in your choice: a title and subtitle need to be as concise as possible, as exact in identifying the subject matter as possible, and as effective as possible in sparking interest or intrigue in potential readers.

STEP THREE—Determine what you want the outcome to be, the final idea that will be enshrined in a convincing, edifying and transformational way once someone finishes reading your book.

STEP FOUR—Write a basic outline that predetermines, step-by-step, how you will build your case and present your concept convincingly as you lead readers to this grand conclusion. This outline should include projected chapter titles.

STEP FIVE—Write a summary of the content you expect to cover in each chapter. These only need to be four to six sentences long, just a short paragraph explaining what you hope to accomplish in each chapter. Keep in mind that each successive chapter should lead the reader to a little higher plateau on your journey to the peak of the mountain: the final chapter.

STEP SIX—Decide approximately what length you want your chapters to be and be ready to stick with it as much as possible (for instance, in my book titled WHO AM I?, I limited myself to about 1,000 to 1,200 words per chapter). By doing this, your book will be more professional and digestible, being 'symmetrical' and 'balanced.'

STEP SEVEN—Do thorough research on your subject. It is a good thing to gather material from many Bible dictionaries, concordances, commentaries, various trusted Bible versions (including the original Hebrew and Greek), and other books written on the subject---then categorize all your information in separate folders on your computer. Look up every scripture that uses your key words, and highlight the important ones you want to use. Be sure to list all related words (like redeem, redeemed, redeeming, redemption and Redeemer). This might take several months or longer, depending on your projected goals.

STEP EIGHT—Research and pick out interesting stories in advance that illustrate your key concepts. You can use personal events, dreams, stories from other people's lives, historical events, interesting facts, etc.

STEP NINE—Once you have compiled a 'mountain' of material, cull away what you decide NOT to use. (Keep it in a separate file or on a separate document on your computer in case you change your mind later on include some of this extra information.) This step is one of the most challenging. They say a miner can go through a ton of coal before finding one diamond. In like manner, you will probably dig through a lot of good but unnecessary material to get to those most valuable truths you need to include.

STEP TEN—Set all your spelling, capitalization and punctuation standards so that you are consistent throughout your book (like the decision whether to capitalize all personal pronouns referring to God except who and whom, or what abbreviations to use for Bible books). A book can be a real mess for an editor to deal with if you skip this crucial step. It would be good to purchase a reference book like "The Chicago Manual of Style" or "The Christian Writer's Manual of Style" before setting your standards in place.

CONCLUDING THOUGHTS

After you've done all these things, prayerfully rethink your whole project altogether. Quite often the Holy Spirit will give you even better ways of organizing or presenting your concept. You can go from a small, black-and-white picture to a full color, panoramic display, just by 're-thinking' your book with the Holy Spirit’s help. Remember, the word "inspiration" means to breathe into, and the Holy Spirit is the breath of God. He will breathe the life of God into what you write. When that happens, it is so powerful. By the way, God understands the power of an inspired book; He has one Himself. It’s called the Bible.

Finally, one of my favorite quotes is from Mark Van Doren. He urged students to "Bring ideas in and entertain them royally, for one of them may be the king.” I’d like to alter it slightly and instead say, "One of them may be FROM the KING and exalt you to honor." I pray that happens for you.