January 25, 2014

An Adventure In Publishing

I'm trying something new this week. I'm having an adventure in publishing. This is exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time. I've written more words than many people, having blogged before, but I've never written a book. And why write one book when you could write two? Well, one is going to be more of a booklet, but still, it's a real publishable work that I intend to ask people to pay me money for.

I am self-publishing them because that's the cutting edge of where the book market is headed. Many people are increasingly comfortable with reading electronic books, or ebooks to those of us with more inner-geek, on e-reader devices. These devices are not just limited to Nooks and Kindles. Now you can read electronic books on smart phones and tablets including iPads. About the only place that it's difficult to read an electronic book these days is on paper, and even then you can print a copy of your PDF if you really must read from dead tree.

I'm using a service called LeanPub, of which many of you will not have heard, but they specialize in self-publishing electronic books. I've read a few other books from their authors and have been impressed enough that I'm going to try them. The difference with LeanPub is that they promote an agile approach to publishing. This needs some explaining, so settle back and I'll explain what that means.

Agile publishing comes from the concept behind agile software development. I've been using agile principles for more years than I can remember because of my previous day job as a computer programmer. Agile development, or publishing, or anything else you care to do with it, is where you make progress in small, deliberate steps, while receiving feedback from your customer. This was an especially important step in the corporate software development world, because of the industry's tendency to decide what their customer wanted (perhaps checking with them first) and then go away and spend months or years creating something that the customer hated when they saw it. Agile development takes the approach of working with your customer, asking them what they want and then working with them to create it. Agile software development is regularly talking to your customer and showing them what you have so far. If they don't like something about it, you can easily change that one piece and be happy knowing that they like everything else you've shown them.

This concept applies nicely to publishing. The author of a book makes it available in an unfinished state to anyone brave enough to start reading it before it's finished, they collect feedback and use that feedback to guide their writing as they finish the book. I've been one of those brave readers for approaching a dozen or so computer books and I've found the process works really well.

How early in the process do you release your book I hear you asking? That's a good question and the normal answer given by agile adherents is that if you aren't embarrassed by your release, then you waited too long! So, in this spirit, I am publishing these books very early. They have empty chapters and very little proofreading. They have a pretty picture on the cover, but I may yet ask some of my graphic designer friends to help me with the titles or perhaps even go with a different cover design. I've left the empty chapters in with their titles so that readers can see what I plan to cover and then make suggestions accordingly.

Here are the two that I am writing:

Apostolic Perspectives is just exactly that. I take a few dozen key apostolic scriptures and offer a perspective on them. This perspective is deeper than many commentaries, but not written in an academic style (I'm not intending to compete with the new Apostolic Study Bible from Pentecostal Publishing House). I am told that I have a light and cheery writing style, so it is my hope that this book will both entertain and illuminate you.

Apostolic Baptism is what I hope will be the first of a series of small books that will explore apostolic topics thoroughly, presenting a range information about the selected topic as well as an exhaustive reference scripture list. It is my intention to write the kind of books that I had wished for when I started studying in detail and again when I started pastoring. Sermon and lesson preparation can be very detailed work if you do it right, and it is my sincere wish that this book will make future lessons on baptism much easier to prepare for.

Tags: Writings Apostolic Perspectives Personal Apostolic Doctrine