Posts Tagged ‘writing’

PostHeaderIcon Publishing Heavenly Father’s Day, Part 1–Starting a Blog

By mid-September 2009, copies of the draft of Heavenly Father’s Day were in the hands of my content reviewers. As I described in my previous entry Christian Discipleship in a Small Gesture, I had received encouragement from a stranger, and was looking forward to doing some research about publishing options.

Most of that August had been spent on a free, intensive online class on internet marketing called the Thirty Day Challenge. The stated goal of this class was to make your first dollar online. I started a blog called Easy Knitting Patterns for class purposes. I didn’t make a cent for the first three months, but I learned a lot. And to be fair, I wasn’t giving the first blog much effort once I started the Heavenly Father’s Day blog.

So what was this Thirty Day Challenge? It was a class presented in thirty daily lessons. It was “live” in August 2009 (meaning the teachers were readily available via forums each day), but the lessons have continued to be posted up to the date of this writing.

Ed Dale and friends teach about marketing research, setting up a blog, ranking high in Google search, making money from your blog, and becoming a market leader. If you hunt around on the web enough, I’m sure you can find these topics elsewhere. The beauty of the Challenge is that it’s all in one place and very well executed.

What was really interesting to me about the Thirty Day Challenge was that it came into my life exactly when I needed it. The Spirit first told me that I was going to need to learn website design in late May 2009. (As I mentioned in my post, God knows all about publishing) Just as I was reaching a lull in the flow of material in late July 2009, along came an invitation to the Challenge in my email in-box.

I managed to get through the thirty lessons (and, more importantly, the homework) by early September and started my Heavenly Father’s Day blog. With all that knowledge under my belt, I set to work writing about the process of writing. My goal was to tell the “behind the scenes” story of how the book came to be written. I’m enough of an optimist to think there are those who will find value in the story of my journey.

One of the things the Thirty Day Challenge really helped me with was fear of losing privacy. As late as July 2009, I was telling friends that not only was I not on Facebook, I had no intentions of signing up. In fact, there was a time when I was proud of the fact that Google search couldn’t find me. Ed Dale changed all that. He convinced me I couldn’t reach my goals as long as I was too wary to step out from behind my firewall.

It has been interesting to watch friend after friend pop up on Facebook over the past year . . . like watching popcorn sizzling in hot oil. Makes me feel like I did the right thing. And today, I guess, I’m a full-fledged social-media-using internet marketer.

As a side note, the 2010 Challenge is structured a little differently so it’s not so intense. If you are at all interested in internet marketing, or just want to learn about one topic (say, Twitter), check it out. The preseason lessons for this year go live on July 1, 2010. Tell Ed I sent you.

Now that I had a manuscript and a blog to go with it, my next step was to make a big decision . . . one which I had been studiously avoiding: How to publish?

Now that you’ve finished the story of writing Heavenly Father’s Day (so far), check out my entries about Christian Discipleship.

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PostHeaderIcon Writing Heavenly Father’s Day, Part 3–Finding Message and Audience

Now that I had the title and the topic, I had started to outline some chapters. But I still didn’t know why the Lord wanted me to write–what my key message was. I felt my book should be kind of along the lines of The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren.

However, at this point, I couldn’t see how my book would be that different. I needed to be able to clearly articulate how my message differed from his. But the Spirit had told me at the beginning that more would be revealed as I finished each step, so I just kept going.

By now it was early May 2009. The question of the book’s purpose weighed heavily on my heart one Friday night as I said my prayers. About two hours later, the Spirit woke me with the answer. The message is that (1) God wants to be a part of your life every day, and (2) you, as a Christian, are called to bring the peace of Jesus Christ into others’ lives. Armed with this additional direction, the message and flow of the book took shape

The next question I had was who is my ideal reader? The internet articles on getting published said to think of your target audience in terms of an ideal reader. Then have this ideal reader in mind as you write. I was already seeing how this was important as I considered what to include or leave out and how formal my style should be.

After several days of trying to figure this out for myself, the Spirit let me know that my ideal reader is someone like the people who worked for me at our convenience store. I took that to mean someone with these characteristics:

(1) intelligent enough to go to college, but either hadn’t gone or hadn’t finished,

(2) Christian, but not spiritual and not a Bible reader, and

(3) someone who had perhaps asked questions of ministers in the past, but had not received satisfying answers.

Mostly, this type of person would not be “set in their religious ways,” but would be open to what I had to share. The challenge is that this type of person tends not to be a big reader of any kind of religious book. In fact, many of my employees were not big readers, period.

In addition, the Spirit showed me that my goal would be to share the message of Jesus Christ in a way that a 21st century citizen of the United States, or really in any of the developed countries, would find easy to understand.

This led me to include many references recognizable to anyone familiar with current American popular culture. In updating the setting of Jesus’ parables and illustrations, I am seeking to make the basic principles of Christianity as culturally relevant to the average person living in my time as Jesus made them to those living in his time 2000 years ago.

So now I had title, topic, message, target audience, outline…what’s next? Oh…actually writing the book! And then there’s the stickiest question of all–how to publish?

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