By Teena Myers
Examining the writings of successful Christian authors is a suitable way to learn how to write a bestseller. But God is the only author still living that broke a billion in sales. Let’s examine how God wrote his bestseller.
First, God had an unselfish purpose. He was not concerned about an advance, royalties or being a famous author. A lot of writers left a secular writing group I attended when they learned they would not be cashing a million dollar advance check any time soon, probably never. The first check I received for writing was a whopping $1. I mocked my huge advance to an editor.
“Teena don’t laugh,” he said. “Some writers write all of their lives and never receive a penny. Be proud of that $1.”
If making money was my goal, I would have stopped writing a long time ago. I have made more than a $1 since, but never made enough that my husband could retire. I can write because he has a good job and supports me.
Since the writings of those who contributed to the Bible were published centuries after they died, it’s unlikely any of them had a clue that one day they would become a bestselling author. None of them enjoyed an advance and royalties.
It’s not wrong to be paid for your writing. Some Christian inspiration writers have done very well. The Apostle Paul made it clear to the Corinthians that he had a right to carnal things in payment for the spiritual things he sowed in their lives, but he did not demand that right.
God’s purpose should be our purpose. He turned inspired writings into a book to benefit the readers. If the only motive is to make money pursue secular writing.
Second, God did not work alone. God wrote with his finger on stone his law and commandments, then he gave his part of the Bible to Moses for safe keeping until the other writers had written their part. In a fit of anger Moses broke the stone copy God gave him, and God had to write it again.
God understands. It’s difficult working with people.
Critique groups can be very helpful and difficult. There is always someone who thinks you ought to change what you consider a masterpiece in writing. Sometimes they are wrong, but not always. If you have two or more, especially more, say the same thing about your writing, they are probably right.
In my first experience with publishing, whatever program they used must have cleared my formatting that set apart my words from Bible quotes. The editor also decided pronouns that referred to God needed to be capitalized. At that time it was correct grammar. I did not capitalize the pronouns that referred to God, because the Bible I quoted from did not capitalize the pronouns that referred to God. The editor was not familiar with the Bible. She failed to separate my words from the Bible’s words and incorrectly discerned which pronouns referred to God.
The publisher advertised themselves as a traditional publisher because they produced books without charging the author. They did not have good editors. I was a third of the way into my manuscript with 15 pages of corrections when I threw up my hands and decided their editor had made too big of a mess to fix. But I had already signed a contract, and the manuscript was already on the conveyor belt to publication. I received a nice looking book with a mess inside.
Third, no one waited longer than God to get published. Genesis through Deuteronomy were written by God and Moses in 1400 BC. Revelation, the last book of the Bible, was written in 96 AD by the Apostle John. The first Bible was published approximately 1300 years after John wrote Revelation. Approximately 3,000 years elapsed from the time God wrote his portion of the Bible to the first print run of the Bible.
Today, advances in technology make it inexpensive for an author to be published within months. But that does not mean we should. God was not in a hurry to get published, and we should not be in a hurry either.
Poorly written books have flooded the market, which makes it harder to find quality books, and difficult to get your book in a bookstore. Major chain bookstores do not buy POD and self-published books because they don’t know your reputation, don’t have time to read every book they sell, and don’t want to tarnish their reputation with shelves full of poorly written books.
The only way for an unknown author to have their book picked up nationwide is to ride on the coattails of a respected publisher. Barnes and Nobles and university libraries picked up a friend’s book nationwide, not on her reputation but on the reputation of a respected publisher.
Most of the time unselfish motives led to success but take a longer path to get there. Working with others is difficult. It can teach us the difference between good and bad writing. The writing and publishing process can be painstakingly slow. Being patient will give us more than a nice looking book with a mess inside.