So You Want to Write a Book: Writing a Book Takes Discipline and Drive

By Robert Rea

Believe in the project because of its importance for the kingdom. This will sustain you over hurdles and discouragements.

10_Rea_book2Consider taking your proposal to publishers who market best to your target audience. Be clear about the book’s thesis, chapter contents, and conclusions. Explain your book’s unique approach and contribution—how your book supplements others already published in your area, how it is similar to others, and how it is distinctive (do not say there is nothing like it if that isn’t true). 

If a publisher shows interest, answer the company’s follow-up questions, and be flexible on length, style, adjustments to target audience, and more. After you sign a contract, remain willing to accept advice from the publisher, who knows best how to publish and sell books. Trust your editor and editorial team to advocate what is best for your work.

Push yourself to make progress even when writing seems difficult. Sometimes the words will flow, and sometimes they will not. Strive to get something down—you can always rewrite or fix it later. Pay attention to details like writing style, footnoting, the publisher’s style manual, etc., as it will help during the rewriting and editing process. 

Read silently and aloud to make sure each sentence makes sense, connects logically to those around it, and contributes to the flow of the presentation. Excise unnecessary words.

Be sure each sentence, paragraph, and section invites your readers to go deeper into the argument. If being personal is helpful, share personal experiences, but be willing to remove some of your favorite stories or aphorisms for the sake of the book’s clear purpose. Write in a way that is most accessible to the audience you are targeting. 

Ask trusted colleagues with publishing experience to read sections and hold you accountable for clarity and readability.

 

Robert Rea serves as professor of church history/historical theology at Lincoln (Illinois) Christian University.

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Books by Robert Rea:

Why Church History Matters: An Invitation to Love and Learn from Our Past (InterVarsity, 2014) 

 

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