Writing has always been a part of my life in one form or another but becoming a published author is a different matter altogether.  My greatest challenge was deciding what to write about and who my target audience was.  Should it be fiction, non-fiction a mixture of both should I write to help someone go through their struggles or to provide an exciting fun read; who am I writing for?  My first book ‘My Alabaster Box’ is a simple uncomplicated guide through the Christian Journey, so it’s factual and based on Bible truths.  I come across so many people on my journey struggling with life in general.  For many a great part of this struggle is their Faith, and one of the primary reasons that keeps popping up is that they don’t really understand what Christianity is really about.  They have no answers to the why, when and how’s! And when they don’t receive the answers they more often than not do one of the following three things:

Give up and walk away
Hang on in there trying to make sense of it, in one minute out the next struggling with no real joy
Become a really good church goer and happy to live by a set of religious rules

No Christian should be happy to find themselves in any of the positions above.  A real live relationship with the God of the universe promises so much more than the mundane.  My desire and passion is to help anyone, trying to answer the question of ‘why am I here, what is my purpose on this earth.”  Now just to clarify I don’t have all the answers, not even close; but I know someone who does…  His name is Jesus and I will encourage everyone to get to know Him through my writings, mentoring, counselling, seminars and events.  So my journey as a published author begins here.

The Christian writer must maintain an extremely close relationship with God and allow themselves to be inspired and directed by the Holy Spirit.  He inspired the men of God to write the Bible so He will inspire you to write books, it is but a small thing for Him to do.  My first step in becoming a writer was to decide what to write about and for me this aligned perfectly with my constant desires to help people find and understand Jesus Christ or find their way back to Him. I decided to write My Alabaster Box to help many of the new Christians trying to understand their journey of Faith and their new life.  I had no structure in my mind so I just started writing.  With the aid of word-processing applications and computers writing is so easy in the 21st century, as we have the ability to delete and retype, cut copy and paste, move text around with ease so my advice is start writing it will take shape later.  When writing under the anointing of the Holy Spirit so much will flow that you can’t always keep up.  Keep a notebook and pen close by you’ll need it.  Often I would go to bed asking the Holy Spirit to help me finalise a chapter or start a new one and would wake up with so much inspiration flowing from my spirit that I had to grab a notebook and jot it down so as not to forget it later when I finally got a chance to sit with my laptop.  This was a regular occurrence and it was lovely to go bed asking for something and wake up the next morning receiving it.

For those with a real desire to write, the natural writers, no one has to tell you to take time out of your busy day and find your private time.  You cannot write if you are distracted or have a lot of distractions around you.  If you can get someone to proof your work as you progress, that would be helpful as it is not easy to spot your own mistakes.  The more you read it the more likely you are to miss them.   Also I found people from my target audience and asked them to read chapters, providing me with valuable feedback ensuring I was indeed writing for them and they would understand and enjoy the book.  So being extremely driven and focused I was able to write My Alabaster Box in five to six months and spent the following few months proofing, checking, re-writing, restructuring and so on, you name it I had to do it.  Working full time with many time constraints meant that I was only able to write after work in the evenings and on weekends, so time management was crucial.  Organise your days in advance, don’t leave anything to chance!

Writing is one journey and when that ends, the next one begins; publishing.  This is not an area that I am even remotely familiar with so after weeks of internet research I found some of the top Christian writers in the world and started to send them my proposal.  For me it had to be a Christian publisher who knows God and will maintain the integrity of my work.  I really didn’t want a publisher who thought ‘spiritual warfare’ was speculative and fictional and believe it or not some Christian publishers did.  Having sent my proposal to three Christian traditional publishers without success I decided to look at self-publishing but again wasn’t sure where to go with this as I really didn’t want to be responsible for publishing my book by myself.  I wanted industry professionals to help and advise me to have a real chance of selling my book worldwide. My Alabaster Box is written to help Christians and non-Christians worldwide not just in Nottingham or the United Kingdom, so it was important to give it a real chance to get out there in the big wide world.

After much prayer, patience and guidance from the Holy Spirit I found Westbow Press on the Bible Gateway website.  For me Harper Collins, Thomas Nelson and Zondervan were the only publishers I wanted to publish my book, but as you can imagine the number one Christian Publishers in the world will be inundated with requests such as mine on an hourly basis.  I went for the next best, Westbow Press which is a division of Thomas Nelson and Zondervan and provide a range of self-publishing services for the new author.

They provide a range of packages ranging from essential to premium services and for me the moment I found them there was no doubt that I would be using them.  I completed their online form on the Monday evening and received a phone call from their office in the United States by mid afternoon the next day.  A real live person to speak to and explain the process; impressive! This is self-publishing with a difference, just what I was looking for, help and advice from industry professionals.  They guide you, check your work to ensure it is within their guidelines, design the cover and interior, distribute your book worldwide and so much more.  But don’t take my word for it, check out Westbow Press for yourself.  I was no longer on the publishing journey by myself I had professional publishers working to get my book into print.  They maintained regular contact with me throughout, via phone and email, there was seamless handover from one department to another as my book travelled along its’ journey, it is quite overwhelming.  I learned so much on this journey and hope this information will make your journey a little easier then mine.

Don’t settle for average, we are already average without God in our lives. With Him life becomes great!

PL Bennett