Ten Important Steps To Success
If you are considering writing a Christian book (primarily non-fiction), or if you have already started—you should carefully consider the following ten suggestions. These are very important steps you need to take BEFORE fully launching your project.
STEP ONE is the most important one: receiving a revelation from God that it is actually HIS WILL for you to write the book.
STEP TWO is to come up with both 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 a number of options and prayerfully consider which one is best.
STEP THREE is determining what you want the outcome to be, the final idea that will be enshrined in a convincing and edifying way once someone finishes reading your book.
STEP FOUR is writing 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 chapter titles.
STEP FIVE is writing a summary of the content you expect to cover in each chapter. It only needs to be four to six sentences, just a short paragraph that explains what you hope to accomplish in that chapter. Keep in mind that each chapter should lead the reader to a little higher plateau on your journey to the peak of the mountain: the final chapter.
STEP SIX is deciding 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 far more professional, being 'symmetrical' and 'balanced'.
STEP SEVEN is to do thorough research on your subject. It is a good thing to gather material from many Bible dictionaries, concordances, commentaries, various Bible versions, and other books written on the subject---then categorize all your information in separate folders. Look up every scripture that uses your key words, and highlight the important ones you want to use. This might take several months or longer, depending on your projected goals. You should also pick out interesting stories in advance that illustrate your key concepts. You can use personal events, stories from other people's lives, historical events, interesting facts, etc.
STEP EIGHT, 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.) Actually, this step is one of the most challenging. They say you might go through a ton of coal in order to find one diamond. In like manner, you have to discard a lot of good but unnecessary material to get to the MOST VALUABLE truths you can convey.
STEP NINE, set all your spelling, capitalization and punctuation standards so that you are consistent throughout your book (like the decision whether or not 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 important 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.
STEP TEN, after you've done all these things, prayerfully rethink your whole project altogether. Quite often the Holy Spirit will give you better ways of presenting your concept. You can go from a black-and-white still picture presentation to a full color, panoramic video picture, just by 'thinking' of a better way to do your book. Remember the word "inspiration" means to breathe into, and the Holy Spirit is the breath of God.
A FINAL THOUGHT
One of my favorite quotes is from Jack London, a writer whose books I devoured as a boy. He said, "Bring thoughts in and entertain them royally, for one of them may be the king and may exalt you to honor." I 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!