Over the last decade, I have done work at varying degrees in the publishing world. It began as editing a book for a friend while I was in the midst of church planting. (Because bills have to be paid.) Then, I was invited to coauthor a book. From there, I wrote a Bible study and was recruited to do editorial work full-time at LifeWay. Fast-forward a few years to the present and I’ve had my hands in all sorts of publishing work. My work has ranged from concept phase to completion both for the projects of others and my own. Currently, I am in the final stages of a book to be published in March of 2016.
With this as the background, it is why I do not carry business cards. Why? Because some days it feels like everyone I meet in passing, connect with through social media, or sit next to on a plane has a book idea. Some are clever. Most are in their formative stage. A few contain insights we all need. The majority will likely never see the light of day because writing is difficult and navigating the publishing industry is odd. But with the advent of electronic publishing, much is changing. Now anyone can get published at any time.
So I want to pose the question that I hear people ask in the first-person: “Should I write a book?”
If you have a nugget of an idea or thousands of words already recorded, here are a few answers to consider.
#1: Yes if you sense a clear calling from God that the message is important.
No if you are trying to seize an opportunity to simply become well-known and make a lot of money.
#2: Yes if you are dedicated to the long process it takes to write and publish.
No if your discipline is going to fail you.
#3: Yes if you have a new insight on an established topic.
No if you have are simply restating what others have already said.
#4: Yes if you have a fresh image to cast on a necessary topic.
No if you simply want to teach the same idea in the same way as others have published it.
#5: Yes if the topic is underserved and you sense a cultural need for it to be addressed.
No if you look at booksellers and see a flood of other books covering the topic.
#6: Yes if you are willing to do the hard work of promoting the published work.
No if you are expecting a publishing company to do all of the promotion.
#7: Yes if it is a topic that you wish to continually address through multiple media outlets.
No if you are going to write the manuscript and move on quickly to another idea.
#8: Yes if it is going to be helpful for the development of people.
No if it is only going to be helpful to you.
#9: Yes if you have a passion that will not go away about the subject.
No if it is just a passing thought.
#10: Yes if it is your “life message” that consumes you.
No it if is a passing fancy on which you simply want to capitalize.
Writing a book of any size is a difficult and should be a serious endeavor. I do not mean that it cannot be fun. Much of the writing process is quite enjoyable for me. However, writing is a skill that must be developed as you do it. I believer that plenty of people have a great book idea inside of their hearts. I love to read books that are born from personal passion that leads to transformation in the reader. If you have a calling that you cannot escape, then write. Find a way to publish. Bring the message to us that we need to hear.