The Other Conversation

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Generally speaking, I tend to not engage about current events and controversies on my page.  I tend to stick to the wisdom of the Scriptures and avoid the fray, because Titus 3:9.   Today, I am going to dip my toes in the conversation pool.  A different perspective needs to be addressed.

In case you have been under a rock, here is a brief timeline of events: Lauren Daigle rises as a Christian artist with crossover merit.  As she gets more accolades, so come more opportunities.  Daigle performs on the Ellen Show, which comes with accolades and criticism.  Accolades acknowledge the opportunity Daigle had to give a glimpse of the Gospel to a huge audience.  Criticism was the choice to perform on a show hosted by a Lesbian.  All of which culminated in what everyone could see coming down the pipe… someone was going to out right ask Daigle to draw the line in the sand.  Does she believe homosexuality is a sin or not?

I really don’t believe that there was anyone who didn’t think that this question was going to come up in an interview.  We have enough experience by this point to know that it was bound to happen.  I, for one, was caught off guard by how it happened.  My expectation was that the question was going to show up in a secular interview.  After all, is that not what we tell ourselves to expect of “the world”?  The world is going to try and trip us up, discredit us, diminish us, shut us up, and shut us down so that we can not share the Gospel.  That nefarious world, the world we are told to be nothing like.

And, yet, it was not the world that struck the first blow at Ms. Daigle.  In an interview, with a fellow Christian, is where she was asked to draw the line in the sand and make a definitive statement.   Daigle didn’t need to fear the world, the trap was set among her own family of believers.

Yes, I said it.  It was a trap.  In the majority of conversations regarding Daigle’s answer is a missing element of accountability.  Who is holding the interviewer accountable for putting her in that position in the first place?

The interviewer framed the question with a caveat that interviews are ended with a controversial question.  This means that the interviewer knew, before the question was even asked, that it was going to stir up trouble for Daigle.  Those very words betray the heart of the interviewer.  From the beginning, the interviewer had every intention of creating drama, stirring up controversy, and creating trouble for Daigle.

There was no single answer that she could have given that didn’t have a consequence.  If Daigle said firmly that she believed homosexuality was sin, it would probably secure her with her conservative audience that criticized her performance on Ellen.  It also would have alienated those whom she was trying to reach, as they would turn a deaf ear to her music.  On the other side of the coin, if Daigle said with conviction that she did not believe homosexuality was sin, it would have cost her even more criticism among her conservative critics, and had a major impact on her career.  Just look at what happened to author Jen Hatmaker after her affirming statements.  There is a third option, which is to say nothing.  At which point Daigle still would have been criticized for not making declaration one way or the other.  She could not answer this question unscathed.

Daigle was asked a question that was a trap.

Now, you may be pumping the breaks and feel like throwing scripture at me (just as people have done to/about Daigle) related to speaking hard truths, not being lukewarm, or watering down the Scripture in order to appease people.

I would ask you to simple open your Bible and take a look at how Jesus would answer questions.  Jesus was Truth.  He spoke truth.  He didn’t mince words.  He called a spade a spade.  If we are to be like Jesus, then so should we.  Right?

Jesus was also incredibly wise and discerning.  When Jesus encountered a person with less than pure intentions, asking questions in order to trap Him… Jesus didn’t fall for it.  Who were the ones who liked to ask trap questions?  Not the world.  Not the multitudes.  The religious leaders.  They would come and listen to his teachings, then ask him questions in order to make Jesus stumble.  To discredit Him.

When the Pharisees and Saducees would ask Jesus a trap question, He didn’t answer.  In fact, His response was to answer their question with a question.  Examples:  Matt 15:1-3, Luke 20:1-4, Mark 12:14-17, etc.

If we are to be like Jesus, and answer questions like this as Jesus would:

  1.  We must be wise enough to recognize a trap question when we hear it.
  2.  We must be wise enough to know how to answer (or not answer) the question.

In Mark 12:14-17, we are told directly that Jesus recognized what they were up to, outright asking the leaders why they were trying to trap him.  He didn’t fall into their trap.

In her interview, I believe Daigle recognized that she was being asked a trap question.  There was no answer that was not going to stir up controversy.   She answered the best she could, in a way that pointed listeners to the Scriptures to read it for themselves.  Could she have worded it better, probably.   For a young woman, starting the rise to fame, she was very wise to not stumble in to the pit a fellow believer set before her.

Jesus wouldn’t have fallen for it either.

Before we prosecute Daigle for her answer (or non-answer), perhaps we should also be discussing why she was asked that question in the first place?  What kind of accountability falls on the shoulders of the interviewer to put her in that position? What was their intention behind asking the question?  What was the expected gain?  Should any of us set out in conversation, interviews, or blog posts with a heart of discrediting or maligning the heart/faith of another believer?  For what ends/purpose?

The truth is, we don’t need to worry about the world trying to discount us, discredit us, or destroy us… when we seem to be doing a good enough job of it within our own ranks.

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Book Update…

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Hey all, it’s been a little bit since I wrote about the publishing process for my first book and thus an update is due.  The problem?  There is not much to update.  We are still in the throws of back and forth editing.

This means we are in a great opportunity for anyone reading and following along to ask questions about the process thus far.  I’m happy to answer from my experience thus far.

One Sheets & Proposals

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In preparation for my meeting with the publishing companies, I was instructed to prepare what is called a “One Sheet”.  Essentially, it is like a combination of your resume and synopsis of the book project, all on one single sided sheet of paper.   It is important to strike a balance between too much or too little information.   When we met with publishers, right out the gate, we handed over our One Sheet for their review.  I will say that in my appointments, they very briefly glanced over the information on the One Sheet.  Most of the time was spent in conversation.  Yes, you need to have a One Sheet, but also don’t stress out over putting it together.

At the end of the meeting, the publisher would then ask for the actual book proposal.  In this particular instance, none wanted them at that exact moment.  Instead, it was requested that the proposal was emailed to them once we returned home.  If you do not have an opportunity to have a meeting with a publisher, and you are choosing to contact publishers directly, a good cover letter with a One Sheet is sufficient.  Then allow the publisher to request your proposal before sending it. A cover letter and One Sheet are also a great way to reach out to literary agents before the expense of mailing a full proposal.

It is incredibly important that your proposal is complete and ready to send before you even pitch your book.  The sooner you can email them the documents, the better.  Not to mention that writing a book proposal is a lengthy process.  Some publishers have specific requests in the format or content of the proposal.  By having a completed proposal to work from, you can edit the proposal to meet those requests faster than having to write it from scratch.

For publishers who will accept cold (unsolicited) proposals, their guidelines for proposals is normally found on their website.  For those who only accept solicited proposals, you may need to ask if there are any specific details they wish to have included in the proposal.

In a nutshell, a good proposal will have:

  • a picture of you
  • your contact information
  • a paragraph or two about you, personally
  • a paragraph or two about you, professionally (education, ministry work, etc.)
  • details about your current platform (social media numbers, blog followers, etc.)
  • details about your speaking platform (past dates, upcoming dates, locations, etc.)
  • details about any previously published works (solo, contributions, etc.)
  • a paragraph or two about the book content
  • a paragraph or two about why this book is needed, beneficial
  • details about any books that might be considered “competition” and how your book differs or adds to the conversation on the topic.
  • proposed outline of your book
  • 2-3 sample chapters of your book*
  • a list of alternative titles (if you have thought of any)
  • a list of other titles you are working on

* keep in mind that for most works (non-fiction, Bible study, etc.) you do not need to have a complete manuscript in order to pitch.  In fact, some publishers prefer that you don’t.  However, fiction and memoirs are manuscripts that publishers prefer to have completed before the pitch.  In either case, if you do not have a completed manuscript, indicate in your proposal how much time you would need to complete the manuscript from the time the contract is signed.  I would also include this info with proposed future titles you are working on.

Should you need to mail a proposal, it should be single sided only, not stapled.  A binder clip works beautifully to keep it together during shipment.   In my experience, thus far, and speaking with other authors… no publisher has ever requested a full manuscript on the spot.

One the publisher has your full proposal, they will review it and present it to the publishing board (aka pub board) for consideration for print.

Moving Foreword

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As part of publishing a book, you may be considering a foreward.  This is usually written by someone else that has read the material, who has a frame of reference to you the author.  I asked a friend, I’ll spare her name for now, if she would be willing to consider writing a foreword… and she agreed to read the manuscript.

I sent her the version of the manuscript that had been cut to the appropriate length, but had not been edited through the back and forth process that occurs behind the scenes.  That is an incredibly intimate thing to ask of someone to do.  I’m handing over a raw version of my book, my thoughts splayed on pages, words that once read I can’t take back.  What if she doesn’t like it?  What if she doesn’t agree with me?  What if she says NO?

Insecurity will get the best of you, that is for sure.

I am ever so thankful that she not only liked my work, but agreed to write the foreword.  As I was making a long drive home, yesterday, she read her words over the phone to me.

Humbled.

She made me cry, which is honestly not something I do a lot of.  But, it wasn’t so much a response to her elegant words or accolades for my material.

It was a response to the fact that she saw me.

The inside, under the flesh, in my heart, me.

The me that I wished so many in recent years were able to see.  My heart for serving God’s women.  My heart for building up leaders.  My desire to please God.

In the several years that we have known each other, I have never sat down and had a formal conversation about who I am and what I dream of.  Most of what was written in the foreword came from simply doing life along with one another.  What she read between the lines of the words that came out of my mouth.

The mouth reveals the heart, it’s intentions.  She could hear what I wasn’t saying because she was listening to what I was.  Stitching together whether or not my word and deed matched one another.

To have another person not only look at the merit of my written work… but the desires of my heart in relation to my devotion to God and His work… it moved me to tears.

Not only does my friend see me, but God sees me.

I pray that when my day comes, He will say “well done, my good and faithful servant”.

Getting Technical

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If you are considering writing a book, I wanted to take a moment in our online journey together to discuss a few technical things you will want to know.

First:  Complete or Incomplete Manuscript

One of the things I found very interesting in the process of meeting with the publishers is that in most cases, you do not need a completed manuscript in order to pitch your book.  From publisher to publisher, the only two genres of books that publishers wanted a completed manuscript was memoir and fiction.  If you are writing a devotion, Bible study, leadership book, etc. then only a few sample chapters are necessary.  Although you will want to have an outline of the book that shows where you are going with the topic.  Also, if Children’s Books are your thing, you do not need to have the whole thing written out and illustrated to get a book deal.  In fact, many publishers have in house artists that will do the artwork for you.

Second:  Not All Publishers are Created Equal

In the company of Christian publishers, you will find some variations.  Some hold to strict doctrinal lines, and others are willing to explore other doctrinal view points.  There are publishers who do not publish certain types of books.  Take the time to get to know the publishers.  What are they selling?  What are they looking for?  How do they take submissions from authors?  What format do they want the submission presented in?  The more you know, the more you will be prepared for publisher meetings and connections.

Third:  Do You Need an Agent?

Some publishers will prefer an author without an agent, some don’t care, and some will only take proposals from someone with an agent.  An good authors agent is just like a talent agent, they work on your behalf using their contacts to get your book published.  They only get paid, when you get paid.  Therefore they do everything possible to help you in the process.  They understand the market, and what publishers like and don’t like.  They will go alongside you and help polish up the book to it’s best. 

Fourth:  Editing Process and Writing Formats

Once you have a contract, your publishers will have an editor help you through the nuances of your book.  Be prepared for editing.  When my contract was signed and accepted, the next thing I received from the publisher was a style guide.  This guide helped me to understand that writing format that my publisher required.  I tend to write like I talk, and having a theatre background that includes script writing… I can’t help myself.  I write as if what is being read is meant to be spoken.  However, just because I wrote the book and they liked my writing doesn’t mean it fit the format they preferred.

Additionally, when I was in school learning about writing we were taught two different writing styles.  In high school, I learned AP style.  In college, I learned MLA.  (Or, perhaps it was the other way around?).  Turns out my publisher prefers CMOS a.k.a. Chicago Style.  This was a writing style format I was not just unfamiliar with… I didn’t even know it existed.  So in addition to having to edit down the word count of my book, I also had to reformat the entire thing to fit their writing style.

The reason I bring this up is that you need to know that in most cases this is your responsibility.  An editor is not going to do all of this work for you, unless you want to pay out of your own pocket for the services.  You will want to weigh that cost against your advance/royalties and see if it is worth it or not to hire out the editing work.  Your publishing editor will do some editing, but the bulk will fall on you.

 

Feeling Overwhelmed

Overwhelmed

I couldn’t share my publishing story without giving a nod to feeling overwhelmed.

I was at an amazing conference, being filled with great information… teaching… and encouragement.  My mind was already at max capacity.  Then, I’m facing publishers who are interested in my book.  I was overwhelmed at the first request for my proposal.  Everything else just added to it.

Upon arriving home, signing the contract… I was still overwhelmed.  There were things I needed to do (editing the book size for starters) and that was on top of my every day life.  It’s a process of go-go-go and wait.  Trying to understand what to do and when to do it.  People giving advice from their experiences, on what you should and shouldn’t be doing, and really it just gets to be too much at times.

Especially when you are getting advice from one person that counters the advice from someone else.

This is why it is so important to take your time, don’t rush.  Pray about each of the steps, seek wise counsel but weight it against the Lord’s Word and how is guiding and leading you.  There are good, godly, people out there who have amazing testimonies, experience, advice, and good intentions.  Just because they are apart of your life does not mean they are aligned into your calling.  You can be overwhelmed by the input and stress that others put on you, even when they have your best interest at heart.

Separate the wheat from the chaff.

Trust the One who began your journey will see you through to it’s fruition.  Ask God to light up your pathway, and to let you know when the race is done.