So You Want to Write a Book: Three Essential Ingredients

By Dave Ferguson

Since I had never written a book, I was flattered when I received an e-mail from a representative of a big publisher asking to meet me. I agreed to meet, and over coffee, we talked about me authoring a book. I was very excited about the possibilities!

10_Ferguson_book2However, within minutes I could tell this rep had made a huge mistake. He thought he was meeting with Dr. David Ferguson, the counselor and Oxford scholar. Instead he was meeting with Dave Ferguson, the church planter. Oops! We had a good laugh, finished our coffee, and I left thinking, There goes my best chance to ever write a book!

So, my first suggestion for getting published is to make sure you have the same name as someone who is already very successful! But if your name isn’t Max Lucado or Beth Moore, here are three better ideas for getting published:


A Big Idea

I’ve met with most major Christian publishers, and all of them lead with these kinds of questions: “What are you passionate about?” “What have you been thinking about lately?” “What makes your heart beat fast?” These questions are searching for big ideas.

The book I’m currently writing is Finding Your Way Back to God. Since 92 percent of Americans believe in God, and only 18 percent will be in church this Sunday, it means there are millions of Americans who believe in a higher power but don’t have a community to help them connect with God.

The publishers told me, “Dave, this is a book with a big idea!” I hope they are right. The Purpose Driven Life obviously is a big idea. Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life is also a big idea. A great way to get published is to have a big idea you want to share.


Gifted Writer

Writing is one part inspiration and two parts perspiration. If God has given you a gift for writing, it is up to you to work hard to make the most of that gift. Before I was ever published, I wrote word-for-word sermon manuscripts for 20 years. I blogged for five years before I published my first book, The Big Idea, with Jon Ferguson and Eric Bramlett.

Want to get your ideas published? Work hard at becoming a good writer. Take classes. Go to workshops. Solicit candid critique. But most of all write! And write a lot!


Significant Platform

Want to know the dirty secret of writing? Publishers are looking for people with a significant platform. Book companies want to sign people who have influence and a following. Why? It’s simple. This will translate into books sold!

Since I’m the pastor of a large church, the president of the Exponential Conference, and have a significant following on social media, it makes me a target for publishers. Book companies know if I write a book, I will tell the people in my church as well as my followers on Twitter and Facebook. And that will result in book sales. So, if you want to get the attention of publishers, keep growing your platform. Publishers may not say anything about it, but they will notice.

What are publishers looking for? A big idea, a gifted writer, and a significant platform. My experience is that if you have only one of the three, it will be hard to get published. If you have two out of three, you have a very good chance of becoming an author. If you have all three, you will have publishers requesting appointments, and they will know your name!

Dave Ferguson is a lead pastor and spiritual entrepreneur with Community Christian Church, Naperville, Illinois, and provides visionary leadership for NewThing Network. Follow him on twitter @daveferguson.


Read the first chapter from Dave and Jon Ferguson’s upcoming book Finding Your Way Back to God  FREE in the new Christian Standard app. Download information here:

Books by Dave Ferguson:

The Big Idea: Aligning the Ministries of Your Church through Creative Collaboration (Zondervan, 2007)

Exponential: How You and Your Friends Can Start a Missional Church Movement (Zondervan, 2010)

On the Verge: A Journey Into the Apostolic Future of the Church (Zondervan, 2011)

Discover Your Mission Now (Community Christian Church, 2012)

Keeping Score: How to Know if Your Church Is Winning (free e-book, 2013)

Finding Your Way Back to God (scheduled for release in 2015)

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