Here's an email I regularly receive:
"I am a Christian with an incredible story. I feel God wants me to publish it in a book, but I don't where to start. How can you help me get it published?"
First, I understand that feeling, as Jeremiah described, of having a message burning on your heart, and if you don't get it out, there's going to be a documented case of spontaneous human combustion. (Been there, done that, bought the Maalox!)
Second, the avenue for getting that message out is probably not a book. You will actually reach a thousand times more people with your message in a magazine article or Web posting. Here are the harsh realities of book publishing.
1. According to Publishers Weekly the average book sells 500 copies. The chance that your book will sell a million copies is a million-to-one. However, a magazine article can reach that number of readers! Plus, there's a potential audience of three billion Internet users.
2. It's very difficult for new authors to be published by a royalty publisher today. There are fewer and fewer publishers producing fewer and fewer titles by fewer and fewer authors. (Only one in 100 book proposals is published.) Magazines can afford to take risks with unpublished authors since it is only one article in many.
3. While self-publishing is becoming more affordable, there's no guarantee it will sell unless you have a strong speaking ministry. Magazines pay the author.
4. While book sales are being hurt by the current economy, other avenues such as Web sites and blogging can reach potentially billions of readers.
I would encourage you to do two things to get out the message you feel God has given you.
1. If you feel you're a writer, the Kentucky Christian Writers' Conference is the perfect place to learn the ins and outs of publishing. Also, check out my writing resources at http://www.jameswatkins.com/manu.htm.
2. Then submit it to magazines. I'll be looking for nonfiction articles (500-550 words) and humor pieces (250-300) for Vista, the magazine I edit for Wesleyan Publishing House. Or set up your own Web site or blog. See my online helps at http://www.jameswatkins.com/wired3.htm.
I'm afraid a book is probably not the avenue God will use to market your message, but there are plenty of alternate routes! Learn about them June 19-20, 2009.
Jim wears more hats than his Aunt Luella. He's the author of fourteen books and two thousand articles, editor with Wesleyan Publishing House, advisor for ACW Press, instructor at Taylor University, and most important "Papaw" of four adorable grandchildren.
He will be wearing some of these hats at KCWC 2009. His workshops are "Self-Publishing: How-to, When-to" and "Writing for Goldfish" (Writing for the Web). He will serve on the editor panel and meet with a limited number of attendees book proposals or magazine articles to share.
Deadline for early registration discount and senior discount is May 10th. See details on KCWC site registration page. Early registrants also get priority in editor appointments.