Whether you’ve ever dreamed of being a published author or not, you should consider this as an avenue for evangelism nonetheless because of its potential to have a far-reaching impact on souls. Becoming a published author is much more easily done nowadays than at practically any time in the last few hundred years. How so? Well, that’s the subject of this month’s article on digital evangelism.
With the dawn of digital printing more than a decade ago has come the wonderful innovations of print on demand (or POD) and electronic books, better known as eBooks. From the physically printed book perspective, POD levels the playing field like never before. No longer is an independent author or publisher required to front thousands of dollars to print hundreds or thousands of copies of a book in order to lower the per copy manufacturing cost, because with POD an author or publisher can print one copy at a time as it sells, thus negating the necessity of storing numerous cases of books in your garage, and the cost remains constant whether you print only one copy or one hundred copies at once. Furthermore, if you don’t want to spend extra money on setup, distribution, printing, and shipping fees, you can forego the POD printed version of your book and publish only an eBook version, although for maximum impact it really is better to produce both versions if feasible. While you should still hire a professional editor, interior layout designer, and cover designer to make your book as appealing as you can, producing an eBook doesn’t require some of the other costs that are associated with print books. If you’d like to write a book (even a very short one) to tell your personal story of faith or to instruct others on how to become a Christian and/or live out the Christian faith, then here’s your opportunity to do just that and make it all available to whoever is interested.
Although it can get costly to hire the services of an editor, cover designer, and interior content layout professional to properly prepare your book for public distribution and consumption, the bare minimum you should try to get by with is the services of a good editor, since this is the heart of your presentation. Poor grammar, misspellings, and other errors tend to be more than just a distraction from the reading experience; they make the author look uneducated and unprofessional, and they greatly detract from the writer’s position as an authority on the subject that he or she is writing about. Still, if you’re going to distribute your book in print, you really can’t scrimp on the cover design and interior layout professionals either, because how your book looks on both the inside and outside matters a great deal to your potential readers. While much of our evaluations of these aspects of a book tend to be mostly subconscious, they truly can be the difference between drawing someone in to becoming a reader and putting them off so that they never pick it up again. Thus, a good cover design can attract a potential reader to at least look inside your book, but then a good interior layout to your book will prompt the reader to read a paragraph or two from its contents. A well-written and edited narrative will strike the final chord in the reader’s heart and mind that this is a book worth obtaining and reading and maybe even adding to one’s permanent library.
Because I have a passion for helping aspiring Christian authors publish their literary works, I’ve recently written and published a short primer on how to prepare a new manuscript for publication and distribution in both print and eBook formats. My book, A Publishing Panacea: How to Be Your Own Publisher in the Digital Age (released in January 2014 by Parson Place Press in both print and eBook editions), goes into a fair amount of detail on how to set up your own publishing company (even if you intend to publish no one’s writings but your own) and prepare your finished manuscript for commercial printing and world-wide distribution in the marketplace. Of course, the hardest part of writing and publishing any book is actually the promotional aspect after the book is released to the public. As hard as it is to write a book and find a publisher for it (or even prepare your book for independent publication – which is not exactly the same as self-publishing), promoting a book to the public is definitely the greatest challenge any author faces, even if published by a so-called traditional publisher. What most authors don’t realize is that even if they succeed in persuading a traditional publisher to publish their book, the lion’s share of promotional work for their book will still rest upon them even more so than the publisher. This was true even before the POD alternative arrived on the scene, since publishers have always focused the majority of their promotional efforts on their most popular and widely-known authors. It is even truer today than ever.
Digital publishing, whether in print or eBook format, can be a tremendous evangelistic outreach for both individual authors and organizations alike, such as local churches and even parachurch ministries. The best part about independent publishing for non-profit ministries is that they can keep 100% of the profit to use for more digital publishing and other ministries they sponsor. It truly is a publishing panacea.
What a time to be alive! It seems to me like God has saved the greatest inventions for mankind for the last days when He knew we would need to produce our evangelistic efforts as quickly and economically as possible in order to make the very most of the limited time left until Jesus’ return to rule the earth. So, dust off that manuscript you tried to publish via other publishers and become your own publisher now. Lost and hungry souls are waiting, so there’s no time to waste!
Michael L. White is the founder and Managing Editor of Parson Place Press, an independent Christian publishing house in Mobile, Alabama. His book Digital Evangelism: You Can Do It, Too! is available wherever books are sold. For a list of his other books and articles, visit his Website at http://books.parsonplace.com.