The enemy of your soul hates you, your message, books, products, services, and desire to become a bestselling author. Why? He simply doesn’t want the good news of Christ to be published. Authors always seemed surprised that I know the lies the enemy whispers in their ears about how impossible writing, publishing, and selling a book is. Since I have heard the enemy’s lies for decades, and he never creates anything new, then I know the same old fiery darts he has flung toward myself and other authors, will be shot their way as well. Have you ever heard one or more of these when planning to write a book?
- You don’t have enough money.
- You don’t have enough time.
- You don’t have enough smarts to write down anything good and worthwhile.
- You don’t have anybody to help you; you’re all alone.
- Even if you do write and publish it, it’ll never sell or make a difference.
God gave me a vision to equip the saints for the work of the ministry in the early 1990s. Our family had just left a successful career in ministry in a mainline denomination rapidly losing faith and members. Leaving that denomination left us broke, jobless, and directionless. God spoke to me, “Build a faith ministry.” A what? “Write books, speak, preach, and teach, and equip the saints,” He went on to say.
I felt all alone. Yes, I had a few men in a Bible study group who were supporting us for a time financially and in prayer. Yes, my family was fully intact and for one another. But all those ministry colleagues abandoned me and publicly ridiculed and criticized my decision to walk away from my denominational membership and credentials after being twenty-two years on their team. In fact, the president of the denomination, fearing my resignation might split the church, rushed to the scene and did damage control. We met briefly so he could say to me, “You know that leaving the church means your career if finished. You’ll never preach or pastor again. You might as well sell insurance.”
In spite of the enemy’s attacks and lies, we discovered then the truth of the cliché, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” The promise of the Scriptures was affirmed in the words of the song, “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” Christ promises to be with us always even until the end. God never leaves nor forsakes us. Our source isn’t our job or work; God is our Source.
Over the coming years, I would discover that no writer or author ever pens a book and then publishes it without the amazing grace and help of God and others. Becoming a bestselling author takes a team.
The writing and editing team. The first books I “wrote for hire” for a publisher were the Smith Wigglesworth series. I went to meet with a publisher named Tom Frieling at Creation House. I had at least a dozen of my own book ideas and titles to pitch to him. I was already a accomplished ghostwriter working with Gospel Light and Henrietta Mears’ material, What the Bible Is All About, writing for Josh McDowell (The Father Connection and Truth Matters), as well as with Gary Smalley (Making Love Last Forever curriculum). I thought I was a “bag of chips and all of that.” Tom wasn’t impressed, nor was he interested in my book ideas.
Tom informed me that if I really wanted to become a successful author, I needed to write books that the market wanted and needed. I should write something that would sell, in other words. Publishers create a market for certain types of books that will sell. It’s called the publishing business. If you don’t publish books that sell and make money, then you go out of business. It’s as simple as that.
“Smith Wigglesworth is really hot,” Tom confided. You need to write books using his material. We need something right away to capture the market trends toward classic Pentecostal types like Wigglesworth, Kuhlman, Maria Woodworth-Etter, and John Lake. We need material about Azusa street as well.”
Tom was talking in a foreign language to me; I knew nothing about these people. I had left a mainline, liberal denomination who thought these holy rollers were kooks. I was Ivy-League educated and clinically trained with a doctorate in ministry. So, writing flakey material based on some faith healers was nowhere on my radar.
“If you are willing to write the books, we need that will sell, then I might consider publishing some of your books,” Tom pitched to me.
“I’m game,” I warily responded.
“Okay, we’ll book you a flight out in January to go to the Assembly of God Archives in Springfield, Missouri,” Tom instructed.
“Oh, does Wigglesworth work there? Will I be able to interview him and read some of his books?”
Tom paused. Then he laughed. “Smith Wigglesworth was a healing evangelist who died in the late ‘40s. He never wrote a book and was an illiterate plumber most of his life. Didn’t learn how to read until later in his life. Never read any book other than the Bible. Yet, he became a world-famous healing evangelist. People are really interest in his teachings on prayer, faith, and healing. He’s hot right now. We’ve got to publish something soon to capture the market.”
Tom went on with his plan, “So, I will fly you out to Springfield. Pay all your expenses. Get you a motel close to the Archives. You can research all the notes that people took from hearing him preach and teach. You can also read the letters he wrote to people. And, you can read the newspaper clippings and magazine articles written about him and his crusades. Then come back to me with a plan for books that will sell about him and his message.”
Long story…short. I did just that. I returned back to Creation with three devotional booklet ideas titled, Smith Wigglesworth on Prayer, Smith Wigglesworth on Faith, and Smith Wigglesworth on Healing. These pocket-sized, thirty-day devotionals were published, marketed, and the three together sold over 126,000 books. Then Creation House asked me to write devotionals based on those other Pentecostal faith healers and those eight books in the Charisma Classics and the Charisma Classics Lessons Series sold over 80,000 books.
I discovered from that experience it takes a team to write, edit, produce, publish, market, and sell books. The wonderful people God brought into my life in the early years at Group Publishing, and later at Creation House, taught me how to become a better writer, and then how to ghostwrite and edit the writing of other authors. It’s a humbling experience to have experienced editors mark up and redline one’s manuscript. It’s also awesome to see how they make not only your writing but also your book produce read, look, and feel really professional and excellent. Such excellence really honors God.
In recent years, my joy has been to pass it forward in writing, editing, and coaching new and upcoming Christian authors as they move into their journey of becoming bestselling authors in their spheres of influence and beyond. The team begins with investors, authors, and editors and moves into a Production Team.
The Production Team. Time and space do not permit me more than an overview here of the production team an author needs. Some authors simply use a publisher program on their computer and then go to a local printer or Fedex-Kinko’s shop to publisher their book. However, a professional self-publisher like Xulon Press, has a whole team that designs covers, typeset the interior text file of a book, create digital files for E-books, Kindle, Nook, etc., register the ISBN number, proof and correct the print files, and upload the files to the “print on demand” (POD) presses or the offset presses for large volume (usually 1000+) print runs.
These professional production teams save an author time and money and also produce a trade-level, classy looking book that can be proudly displayed on a bookstore shelf or in an online bookstore like Amazon.
The Marketing, Distribution, and Sales Team. You need a team of people to get your book in Amazon’s bookstore as well as other online bookstores. Distributors like Ingram, Anchor, and Appalachian can put your books into bookstores and fulfill orders for your books from individuals, bookstores, organization, and businesses. You also need to have a sales and distribution plan for selling your books, products, services, coaching, events, online courses and webinars, etc. There are online marketing and selling platforms that can take your message to market by helping you build a following through social media and the Internet. People can coach you, train you, and integrate into your website or develop you a new online site for publishing you and your message globally.
I am devoting much of my time to coaching authors in the whole process of marketing and selling themselves and their messages. I have had teams of people help me in the past take my message to market and my books to branding. Now, I have the joy of doing that with other authors.
The Personal Support Team. For me, that began with my parents and siblings growing up. They believed in me and the calling on my life. Then I met God’s greatest gift beyond Christ…my wife. Without her support and love, my confidence would really be in the tank. Over the years, prayer and accountability partners, professional colleagues, Christian leaders in business and the church, and scores of Christian friends around the planet have undergirded me, encouraged and prayed for me, and given me wise counsel. Confidence is rooted in an attitude of gratitude for God’s love in Christ, His power in the Spirit, my family, friends, and colleagues in the church. And, there are so many Christian leaders and Kingdom business people who have invested time and money in me to bring provision to the vision God has given me.