By Wednesday, I will have completed the first six chapters of the Arthur Lough biography, which I have tentatively titled The Road From Healing Springs: A Faith Odyssey. This represents more than 26000 words or about one third of the projected total. The early chapters have taken more time than I expected, since they required considerable research in order to create a back-story for Arthur which is different enough from my own to establish Arthur as a distinct character but similar enough so that his early life experiences reflect the essence of my own without duplicating them. I expect the writing from this point to move along much faster. I am still on track to complete the manuscript well ahead of the self-imposed March 17 deadline.
I have circulated the completed chapters among some trusted friends and advisors. Yes, they are prejudiced in my favor, but their response has been very encouraging nonetheless. I have also begun to consider my options for publication of the manuscript. As a brand new author trying to break into the crowded field of “Christian” literature, I am facing substantial obstacles when it comes to landing my book with an established trade publisher. By “trade,” “traditional,” or “royalty” publisher, I mean a company like Zondervan, Tyndale, Nelson, etc., who essentially buys the rights to the book, prepares it for publication, pays the author a royalty on each copy sold, then aggressively markets the finished product so as to reduce the risk of losing money on the venture.
In recent years, a new “niche” has developed in the field of book publishers. A number of companies have arisen who do much of what a trade publisher does—with varying degrees of quality and thoroughness—except that the author pays all or most of the costs associated with bringing the book to market. The publisher assumes little risk. The risk is borne by the author who can recover his or her investment if the book sells reasonably well.
When I first conceived the idea of the Arthur book, I was mainly interested in using it as a vehicle to share my story—with all of its twists and turns and surprises and disappointments—with a limited audience of friends and family. Since I’ve begun writing the book, I’ve had the temerity to imagine that it can serve a grander purpose as a testimony of the blessings and consequences of Christian discipleship no matter the cost.
Whatever purpose God may have in mind for the book, it needs to get published first. I have engaged the service of a company that will make my manuscript proposal available, for six months, on its website which is regularly consulted by all the major publishers, trade and DIY, as well as some agents who represent authors (generally well-established authors) in negotiations with publishers. We’ll see what happens.
The ideal scenario, of course, would be for an established publisher to learn of my manuscript and deem it marketable enough to publish. As a first-time author, I don’t really expect that to happen. (Of course, as they say, anything is possible.) The more likely scenario will require me to make some sort of financial investment in the project before the presses start running. In that case, I’m not at all sure what I will do, since I am, as they say in Britain, “completely skint” (i.e. without funds).
I have considered releasing the book exclusively as an e-book, but I have pretty well discarded that idea except as a last resort. I really want my first book to appear, first of all, in the old-fashioned, ink-and-paper format. Very likely, it will come out as an e-book (for Kindle, etc.) at the same time anyway, for those who prefer that technology.
Thanks for your prayers on behalf of this endeavor. I’ll continue to keep you updated on the progress toward completion. God willing, those of you who want to read the book should have a copy in your hands, or at least available for purchase, within six months… maybe sooner.
Soli Deo Gloria.