Planning a Book

Some of us have the perfect idea for a book, but we do not know where to begin with the writing. Others have the desire to write a book but the topic won’t come into clear focus. Use this guide to lay the foundation for your book. Show the completed questions to your favorite writing buddy, share it with your writers’ group, bring it to an editor, or have a friend in publishing read it over. Or keep it to yourself and just start writing!

1. The Idea (or concept)

A. In 50 words or less, what is the thesis of the book you want to write?

B. In a paragraph, what will be the content of the book? Include the key theme or message, the major points, and the format or structure–biography, narrative, expositional, etc.–you’ll follow.

C. How long have you thought about the idea for this book, and what have you already done toward expressing that idea in writing?

These questions serve to expand the book idea into something quite concrete. If you can say the above clearly, you’ve gone a long way toward being ready to start writing.

2. The Reader

A. What kind of person will your reader be?
Not simply, just “Christian” or “non-Christian.” Describe your target reader as specifically as you can. We’re talking about your primary audience.

B. What is motivating you to write the book?
What specific interests, needs or problems among the intended readers prompted you to want to write the book?

C. How will the intended reader be reached with the book?
In other words, are you going to distribute the book personally, by advertising online, in a newspaper or periodical, by promoting it through the seminary or bookstore, through colporteurs, by selling it on the street corner or giving it to your friends and your enemies? The issue is: How will the reader find out the book exists and be given the privilege of reading it?

3. The Book or the Manuscript

A. What benefits will your reader get from reading your book? Be specific. Don’t say, “Well, to help them to pray better.”

B. What is unique about the book?
In other words, what will your book offer that other books on the same subject do not offer? There might not be a book in existence on this subject, but yet there might be. So what will you offer that is unique?

So, if Juan Gonzales already has a book on teenagers, I, the publisher, would ask you, “Well, what is there in your book about teenagers that isn’t in Juan Gonzales’ book?

4. The Writer

A. What education and/or life experience qualifies you to write this particular book?

B.Have you written any articles about this subject?

C. Are you willing to work with an editor toward completion and publication of this book?

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Readers Are Ripe for the Harvest

Why is it important that more Christian authors in your country write and get published?Susan Braun of the United States responded to this prompt in the LittWorld writing contest.

I wiggled my fingers excitedly – another listing of new Kindle books was posted on Facebook. But my enthusiasm waned as I browsed through the choices. Crazy for Cowboys: A Romance. Scroll – The Third Wife. Scroll some more – Murder at Midnight.

I clicked out of the screen, feeling an all-too-familiar dejection. As a writer myself, I pay attention to the world of writing and the world of publishing. Most of what I see coming out isn’t Christian. It’s secular in the extreme. And what is available is what will be read.

I have many non-Christian friends. Most all of them, like me, are voracious readers. We like to peruse the new books out there, and we like to read and review many of them. If most of the compelling titles are secular, that’s what we’ll read. And if the Christian offerings are few and far-between, we have little chance to find and read them. If I, as a Christian, find it difficult to locate quality Christian reading material, what chance do non-Christians have? Typically, they’re not even looking for Christian literature.

I would love to see a world where Christian literature is plentiful and well-publicized. When I walk into a bookstore or turn on the computer, I’d like to be overwhelmed with all the God-honoring choices out there — all the choices that would point unbelievers in the direction of Jesus. If we as Christians are to be salt and light to our dark world, let’s do our best to shine God’s love into the world of readers. To paraphrase the Bible, “Look at the readers! They are ripe for harvest.” (John 4:35 NIV).

It’s not too late to submit your entry! Deadline: this Friday, June 29. Learn how you can submit articles and win cash in the LittWorld 2012 writing contest, “Blogging for Global Impact.”

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Writer Development: Keys to success

The success or failure of Christian writer development hinges on three realities: structure, incentive and economics.

Structure

Positive outcomes of all writer development and training depend upon some structure or framework through which the writer’s work can be published and given a readership.

Writers function and develop best when their creative work with words is monitored by a caring and competent editor. The interactive process of critiquing, querying, questioning, honing and clarifying create an environment for excellence. This environment prepares a work for publication.

Making sure that writers have a viable opportunity to be published is crucial to the success of every long-range writer training program.

Incentive

When the writer knows that his or her piece of writing is good, this is incentive to keep writing. The goal of being published also communicates to the writer the imperative for excellence in whatever is written. Trainers of writers should always remember that, for the writer, the possibility for a manuscript or article to be put in print or published online is an immense stimulus and encouragement to write.

Another key incentive is the goading and nurturing of an editor. Many an article or book was first conceived when a caring editor tossed an idea back and forth over a cup of coffee or while taking a walk with a writer.

Lastly, for the Christian writer the overarching driving incentive is the faith we communicate. The Apostle Paul reminds Christians strongly that our words are to be interesting, attractive, reasoned and winsome (Col. 4:5-6).

Economics

One way to recognize the value of a writer’s work is to express appreciation via payment, however modest.

Sometimes, authors and writers are the last to receive economic or any meaningful recognition. Even though Christians rarely expect a printer to produce a product without fair payment, they often fail to understand that the writer deserves, and indeed earns, similar financial recognition for work accomplished. A writer’s work is the engine that drives publishing. Without writers, publishers cannot exist.

The amount of payment is secondary to the importance of recognizing the creative vitality and discipline that went into a significant piece of writing.

Trainers have a responsibility to encourage payment of these creative and unusual people for their published work. If payment is not possible, some alternative but meaningful recognition for value received, is imperative.

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Preach the Word

“What is one thing the church in your country has learned that believers elsewhere could benefit from?” Benjamin Kisoni of the Democratic Republic of Congo responded to this prompt in the LittWorld writing contest.

Misonya had just finished his pastoral studies. One Sunday as he walked to the pulpit to preach, unknown voices grumbled behind him, “Damn! Satan is going to preach the Word of God!” He couldn’t believe his ears. As he turned his gaze behind him, hostile faces stared at him. His knees shuddered. For a few seconds, he struggled within. Should he go on and preach, change the subject on the spot, or throw in the towel? A voice whispered in his heart, “Preach the Word.”

Mustering courage, he delivered his sermon from 1 Corinthians 1:12-13. “One of you says, ‘I follow Paul’; another, ‘I follow Apollos’; another, ‘I follow Cephas’; still another, ‘I follow Christ’. Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you?”

After the service, an urgent leadership meeting was held to debate the incident. The majority sided with those who had insulted the preacher. “A wise man doesn’t revive tensions among people,” they argued. In fact, although Misonya belonged to the same ethnic group as the majority, he refused to support them in a conflict that was undermining the church.

Feeling betrayed, Misonya stepped down from his position. Was this the end of a dream for an advocate of unity? His opponents mocked him saying he had not been called by God. Little did they know that God would use this incident for His glory!
The news of a preacher who had been insulted at the pulpit but confidently finished his sermon spread throughout the city. Many churches, praising his courage, invited him to preach. His message was sought for local radio stations, and his writing ministry was enhanced, touching many lives for God’s glory. “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season.” (2 Timothy 4:2).

Learn how you can submit articles and win cash in the LittWorld 2012 writing contest, “Blogging for Global Impact.”

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Salty and Bright Indonesian Christian Writers Wanted!

Indonesia is a secular country and not a Muslim country as most people in the world have thought. Around 20% of the 254 million population are Christian Protestant and Roman Catholic, but we are living among the biggest Muslim population in the world. And how many Christian authors have we had so far?

Let me give you a tour… from one Christian book store to another…  and let us have a look. How many local books written by local Christian authors are displayed on their shelfs? I can see your eyes are searching and you have trouble finding one among so many translations of books written by international Christian authors.

How about having a tour from one Christian publisher to another?  Let us open their catalogue, and you will amazed by so many famous familiar names like Phillip Yancey, Joyce Meyer, John Maxwell, Les Parrott, John Stott, Matthew Henry… When you open and read the copyright page, you will find Tyndale, Thomas Nelson, Zondervan, Lion-Hudson, Baker, IVP…

Oh, we have very good books written by Eka Dharmaputera, Andar Ismail, Ayub Yahya and Xavier Quentin which have been published by Indonesian Christian publishers, but the authors are few. It is hard to find new and young Indonesian Christian authors whose books get published, local writers who write with the freshness of contextual theology for Indonesian people, with the richness of our multicultural society, and with an Indonesian way of thinking delivering the message straight to the hearts of Indonesian readers in their heart language.

Salty and bright Indonesian Christian writers who will speak in a friendly way to 254 million people in their writings are WANTED!

Eva Kristiaman of Indonesia responded to the writing prompt, “Why is it important that more Christian authors in your country write and get published?” Learn how you can submit articles and win cash in the LittWorld 2012 writing contest, “Blogging for Global Impact.”

Photo above courtesy Surachai, FreeDigitalPhotos