Sometimes folks wonder what my first published book was. Or they wonder where the name of my website originated. Biblical Quality was my first book. In a previous professional life I was a Quality Manager. As a Christian, I put the two together. Each chapter of the book discusses a Biblical principle in light of business practice. At its core, Biblical Quality is an evangelical book. At first, it was a “how to” book. But then I realized that the Bible is not a “how to” book and therefore I should not use it as such. While it still is a book of principles, the truths only become evident in character as one submits to the Lord Jesus Christ.
That all sounds wonderful doesn’t it? Except when you read the book. Ten years ago I was so excited to finish writing the manuscript, find an inexpensive self-publisher, and certain of a huge market eager to fork out $10.95, that the raw manuscript went right to print. I never edited the work except to remove the conversion typos that happen when a file is pdf’d from MS Word. Fifteen years had gone by since I had looked at a grammar book. The Chicago Manual of Style Christmas present sat on the shelf unused. In other words, this book was a raw disaster. The content was great. The concept was market worthy. Naturally, many books of the same genre came out around the same time. While they sold from the shelves of Waldenbooks, Barnes & Noble, and Borders, Biblical Quality languished online at www.xlibris.com.
I learned a lot about writing since then and managed to sell a few articles. My next book project is nearly complete through its fifth editing round. I went to some writer’s conferences, attended classes, took notes, tweaked words, and read a lot of books on the craft. I especially paid attention to the teachers who knew what they were talking about. They are published – broadly. Not only can they write good books, they also can teach how to write good books. God put in my path such author/teachers as Cecil Murphey and Donald Maass. Working with them in person is great. Working from their written materials is hard work. Such is the “normal” life of an author.
If you are so inclined, then tap into some of their great “how to” books to help you along the way with your craft.
Cec has a great blog and website at www.themanbehindthewords.com
Donald has three fantastic books that I recommend: The Fire in Fiction, Writing the Breakout Novel, and Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook. Keep up to date with him at www.maassagency.com.
I also recommend, on the business side, getting to know Rachelle Gardner of WordServe Literary Agency. She is an avid blogger on all things literary. I strongly recommend that the Christian writer follow her advice, be a regular reader on her site, and also contribute comments to her for some worthwhile feedback. She’s at www.cba-ramblings.blogspot.com
Back in May I sat on a panel at a writer’s conference. The leader asked anyone who had ever self-published to share their experience. When I did it back in 2000, I was one of the first. XLibris was one of the first reputable online self-publishing houses. I still highly recommend their services for those who choose to go this route. The lessons learned above I shared again at the conference. The takeaway question was, “Would you do it again?” Not the next time. While I learned a lot from the experience, I care not to repeat those mistakes and I desire a mainstream publisher simply to provide that little extra edge of time and service which I do not have right now. I want to learn more from the agent/editor/publisher relationship. None of that exists in the self-publishing realm. You’re on your own all the way.
I sold maybe twenty copies of Biblical Quality and I doubt I will sell any more. One day perhaps I will re-write the book and get it published. In the meantime, I am learning how to and putting Biblical quality into my other works.