The Writing Process

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You may be wondering why a person with only one book under contract would share her “process”.  Frankly, I’ve written in some sort of capacity my whole life.  I approach every school writing assignment in the same manner I approached writing the college course.  And, I happen to have several other books that I’m working on now.

There are some interesting things I learned through this process.  If you are planning to pitch to a publishing house vs. self publishing, you will find this tidbit will give you some relief.  I’m also speaking into the CHRISTIAN niche of writing, I don’t know if this covers all genres and publishing houses.

Apparently, as a general rule of thumb, if you are writing FICTION the publishers would like a completed work.  However if you are writing NON-FICTION, you only need to have a chapter outline and 2-3 completed chapters in order to pitch the book.  NON-FICTION writing includes Bible Studies, Devotions, Leadership, Christian Lifestyle, Growth/Discipleship/Development, Histories, etc.   It appears the only caveat to this is memoirs, which some like completed and some don’t.  Children’s Books also seemed to vary publisher to publisher.

This means that if you have a great idea for a book, you do not have to slave over the keyboard working out 9-12 chapters of content.  Introduction, Chapter 1, and Chapter 2 will be sufficient.   This will be included with your proposal (we’ll talk about this in greater detail later).  Under no circumstances send a complete manuscript (if you have one) with the proposal.  Even if it’s fiction, you still send 2-3 sample chapters.

My Writing Process:

First I flesh out the concept of the book.  In this case, the book was going to be about Women’s Ministry.  However, I needed to define that.  What type of Women’s Ministry book?  Is this going to be encouragement for leaders?  A how to start a ministry guide? What is the point of my book, or why am I writing it?  What information do I want the reader to walk away with?  Who is my reader?  Knowing who I want to read the book is a huge help in figuring out the overall concept.

Next, I expand the concept into the table of contents.   What are 8-12 key points that I want to convey to get the reader from my introduction to the topic through the last chapter.  These become my chapter titles.  Right now they are just generic titles, that will probably get tightened up or even changed as I write the content.  Each of those chapter titles will have three sub points that support the chapter.   If this seems a bit confusing to you, just think of an outline for a research or school paper.

Finally, I expand all of those sub points into my paragraphs.  Once I’m done stringing all of these points together, I have a completed book.

There are two terms associated with Non-Fiction … Academic and Trade.  Academic books have about 100K words, these are college text books or books meant to be used as an educational resource.  Trade books are everything else, and those average about 50-60K words.  There may be some wiggle room depending on your exact topic.

My book was written, and completed, as an academic work. I had just over 100K words.  However the publisher contracted me for a trade book, which meant I had to trim down my original book to nearly half the word count.  This is why NOT having a completed book may work in your favor, ha.

If the publisher does not want a completed work, what is the purpose of the 3 sample chapters?  These chapters give the publisher an example of your writing style and voice.  The content reveals a lot about your writing process or how you think.  From a Christian standpoint, it will also identify your theological standings if you are writing on heavier topics.  It is a taste of who you are, and what you are trying to say.

The blessing of having to not complete the entire book also gives you an opportunity to work on multiple projects at one time.  Then when you do have an opportunity to pitch to a publisher, you may be able to pitch multiple books at one time.  Or, if they immediate turn down one idea, you can go right into your next idea.  Not only does this give you more chances to connect with the publisher on a project, they are able to see that you are not a one trick pony.  Instead of investing in a person who is going to do one book and move on, you become a person who they may have multiple books down the road with.  That’s a good investment.

 

 

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The Story of Writing a Book

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I would love to tell you a romanticized story about how deep in the wells of my soul there was a story.  I had never intended to write this book.  Even when I was writing it, I didn’t realize that was what I was doing.  Several years ago, I was given an opportunity to write a college course on Women’s Ministry for Christian Leaders Institute.  I spent several months researching, crafting the course content, and recording the lectures.

I had a very specific audience that I was writing to, and I build the course content around their needs or at least my perception of their needs.  About a year after the course was live, students sent me feedback.  Utilizing their feedback, I made some adjustments to the original content and ended up putting it in a book format.  I put together a book proposal and sent it to a Christian academic publisher.  It was rejected.

I pushed the idea behind me.  Even when I sent it to the publishing house, I didn’t see it as a “book” yet.  Maybe a guide.  I didn’t see myself as an author.  After that single rejection, I filed it away, and years passed.

Fast forward in time, and in a nutshell there was a lot of affirmation and confirmation in my life that this was the year (2018) that I was going to publish a book.   My husband even confidently suggested that if a publisher didn’t want it, we would just publish it ourselves.  I had several other people speak into my life about this being the time to write a book.   Those encouraging me had no idea that I had a completed manuscript just filed away among papers.

With some additional encouragement, I stepped out in faith and registered for the She Speaks Conference.  Not only would I have the opportunity to take amazing workshops, meet other writers/speakers/leaders, but I would also have an opportunity to pitch my book to publishers.  Over the next several months I would pull out that old manuscript and breath new life into it.

I went through through the pages and selected a couple of chapters that were my absolute favorites.  I read through them with new eyes, I’ve learned a lot over the last few years.  I began crafting new ideas.  I expanded my perspective in some areas, others I became laser focused.  My original content was a look at modern Women’s Ministry, and guide to how we could do a better job.  The new vision was an apologist’s look at Women’s Ministry, creating a Biblical defense.  Tracking through time on how we have gone off course, and then providing the direction on how to get back to a Gospel centered ministry.

As I worked my way through re-writing the chapters with this new vision in mind, the words flowed effortlessly.  I don’t want to undermine anyone who has gone through and arduous process of writing a book or novel.  This is a book that took several months of researching the apologetics concepts, and then the rest flowed from twenty years serving in ministry leadership.  It sat in a semi-complete state for several years, and now I can see that it is exactly what needed to happen.  There were some additional experiences I needed to work through during that time, experiences that added value to the book.

What seems like an “overnight success” was after decades of preparation.  Yes, I admit for me, things did move faster than the norm.  I had a contract signed within one month of the pitch, and that is not an industry standard.  However, I also believe with one hundred percent certainty that had less to do with me and more about God’s agenda.  Several times during the preparation process I had other women telling me that I was prepared for such a time as this.  God works in the time frame that suits His purposes.

So, how did I get all of these words to a page?

Life experience.

Research.

Passion.

Timing.

God.

A Whirlwind of a Time

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To say it has been a whirlwind of a time, would be an understatement.  You think that writing a book is the hard part, then you say getting it published is.  Only after you sign on the dotted line do you realize the real work is going to being.

When I originally wrote my book, I had intended it for a certain purpose.  I build the content around that purpose, including my word count.  However, by the time the book was ready to publisher, the Lord was going to take it another direction.  Which meant, editing.  Not a few little edits, but more of a “you are going to cut this book in half” edits.

Yikes.

How does one even begin to tear apart the thing you poured your heart and soul into?  Trying to pick and choose what is important enough to remain, and what can be sacrificed on the cutting room floor…. cruel.

But, it had to be done.  The book is going to be better for it.

And now, there is so much more to do.

All of this has pulled me away from my usual schedule of posting something every 3-4 days.  For that I apologize.  I foresee that some changes will be coming down the road for this site and myself.  Through this, God has given me the clearest vision of my calling that I have ever had.

I am going to use this site to document about the process of writing the book, as well as everything happening now.  A little documentary on how to write and publish a book, when you have no idea what you are doing.  Fun times.

I will be also working on my new professional authors site.  More about that to come.  Until then, here is the official news:

ComingFall2019

 

In the Right Time

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One of the difficult things about announcing that my book was picked up by a publisher is the “why me and not her” thoughts.  At She Speaks I met a lot of amazing women, who are writing amazing things.  I know that the doorway into publishing is small.  I am still feeling an incredible sense of “why me”, almost a month later.

Writing a book is an incredibly personal thing, and you set it before eyes to judge it’s worthiness.  So rejection stings deep.  Truth be told, this very book was rejected years ago.  This was not a new creation of mine, but something built up over time.  About 4 years ago, I submitted it to one publishing house.  They didn’t want it.  And so, I tucked it away.

With the encouragement of my husband, and several friends, 2018 was the year to try again.  In fact, my husband was so behind it… he said “if we have to, we will publish it ourselves”.   It was this encouragement that led me to She Speaks, where I would have the opportunity to pitch the book in person to publishing houses.

One of the things I have learned over the years is that it is not wise to rush blessings.  The Lord is orchestrating so many things that we never even see, preparing ways, setting the stage for things that need to happen.  Some things take time.

In twenty years of ministry leadership (and probably 25 in leadership in general), the Lord was preparing me for this day.  I had no idea the first time I stepped up to lead anything, that down the road I would end up signing a book contract.  It was not even on my radar.

I needed 25 years of lessons.  The ones we learn easy, the ones we learn the hard way.  I needed to go through some things, as a leader, in order to understand the complexity of leadership from various angles.  I needed to be led.  I needed to lead.  I needed to be hindered.  I needed to be stopped.  I also needed to be encouraged, trusted, and allowed to serve in the fullness of my gifting.

Even as I set out to prepare the book for the proposals that I would share with the publishing houses, I was finessing the sample chapters.  In the years since I mailed that first proposal, I’ve learned even more.

In Esther 4:14, Mordecai speaks to Esther these words:

For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”

Ecclesiastes 3 imparts to us that there is a time and a season for everything.

For whatever the reason, 4 years ago was not the right time for this book.  Perhaps because I had more to learn.  Or, perhaps the people who need to read the words were not ready to receive.  I can’t say, may not ever know on this side of heaven.

What I do know is that God does not show up early or late, but always on time.  And, when He does show up things move in ways we can’t even fathom.

If I was to remain silent, and squirrel these words away in a drawer, the Lord would get them out there through someone else or in some other way.  Who knows but that I have come to this point in my life… for such a time as this.

Time is Running Out!

$79 General RegistrationEnds on 8_31$99 Late RegistrationBegins 9_1

The #LeadHer2018 Conference is just around the corner.  Register for $79 through 8/31.  Late registration begins on 9/1 at $99 and ticket sales end on 9/21.

Seating is limited at this event.

1 Day.

12 Speakers.

150 Leaders.

LeadHer Conference, Oct 6 2018 in Hobe Sound.

Conference registration fee includes continental breakfast at arrival, plated lunch, and all conference materials.

If you are a woman leading in the church, community ministry, or feel called to begin leading… you won’t want to miss out.

TO REGISTER:  http://www.LeadHerConference.com

A quiet reason….

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It’s been a bit quiet here, and there is a reason for that.

Previously, I wrote about my experience attending the She Speaks Conference.  At the conference I was able to pitch my book on Women’s Ministry to several publishers.

I am happy to finally, and officially announce, that I have a contract on my desk from a publishing house for me to sign.  I’m reading through it now… exciting and surreal.

I do not have any hard fast dates, yet, on when this book is expected to hit shelves.  I’ll let you know as soon as I do.  We are just beginning the process.

Also, in the interim, I’ve signed 2 additional contracts with Chicken Soup for the Soul.  My contributions will be included in an edition about the best advice ever received, and in an edition about holiday traditions.    Best Advice, I’m waiting for the release date.  Holiday Tradition, will be in the 2019 edition… so you’ll have to wait for a bit.

With this news comes a lot of work.  There is editing and formatting to do, conference calls, viewing mocks ups of book covers, etc.  Whew.

I am excited.

But, mostly… I am humbled by this.

I pray that my words on these pages glorify God, and land in the hands of those who can benefit from it.