From time to time in this space, WestBow Press publishes articles written by our authors in which they share some aspect of their self-publishing journeys. The following are the words of J.A. Ludwig; author of “Come, Let Us Reason Together.” To begin your self-publishing journey, get your free WestBow Press publishing guide today!
Have you ever felt God’s gentle, guiding hand? I have. I’ve also felt the strong pull of His staff, when I’ve strayed too far from His direction. But I think one way to see His design, is to look back and see how all the pieces fit into place like a puzzle. When I was about seventeen or eighteen, I used to write down my devotions as I spent time with God,studying and praying. One day when I began to write, a short story came out instead. I called it, “A Prisoner By Choice.”
Skipping ahead a few years, God had placed it in my heart to lead Bible study groups in my home. My pastor had also asked me on different occasions, to fill in for him when he was away. My church hadasked me to lead the adult Sunday school class and lead our youth group.
All of the messages God had laid on my heart were difficult to “settle down” and write, so I’d write cues and just trust God to bring all these to mind…and He always did. I knew my calling was to share God’s message and He was opening doors in my community to do so. However, when I was approached about writing a book with these studies, I couldn’t recall all the details of the messages to write.
Fast forwarding a few more years, life had brought me to a new town and a new church. I found that God’s call for me to share His message hadn’t left. I was surprised by the overwhelming burning in my chest that called me back to sharing. With a new town and a new church, I didn’t know where or how to begin…so I began an online group. The next time I was approached with the idea of putting all the lessons into a book, I then had thirty-eight completed lessons, all written down.
As I began to pray for God’s direction, I felt to send a sample into Zondervan to see if they’d be interested. Why Zondervan? I didn’t know at the time, but later came to understand it was a piece to the puzzle, affirming the timing. They were interested and sent a link for the completed work to be
submitted. By the time I took ten lessons and turned them into Bible studies, complete with a spiritual gifts test, I missed my opportunity. Disappointed, the finished book sat untouched for several months, perhaps over a year. One day, out of the blue, it hit me that I had a completed book that needed publishing; God’s gift that I had no right to hold back. Thomas Nelson was a name I’d heard of many times as a previous owner of a
Christian book store, so I approached them with my manuscript.
Withing two days I had a phone call from WestBow Press, Thomas Nelson’s self-publishing division! I knew what I was going to do next, but I had no funding. Failed attempts to raise the money, delayed the book for another year. When I finally had the financing, I learned that Zondervan and Thomas Nelson had merged! I took this as God’s pre-established confirmation of this being the right time.
I’ve never published a book before, but the staff at WestBow walked me through every step and detail. They were patient with my questions and offered excellent guidance. I’ve learned that all things happen in God’s timing. I’ve also learned that a call of God on your life doesn’t change when we move. I love looking back and seeing how all the details worked together. God is awesome! I had to rewrite the final chapter in the book because I was never satisfied that the original was complete. As I rewrote it, God reminded me of the short story I wrote as a teenager. It fit perfectly. I have so much more to share and my prayer is that will be through at least two more books and perhaps the chance to share in person as well.
For publication of the books, I would definitely choose WestBow again. I hope their staff realize how important each of their roles is to us as authors. I thank WestBow for being such a tremendous instrument in sharing God’s message to the world we live in.
WestBow Press authors who’d like to share a 350-600 word experience related to the self-publishing of their books, are invited to do so by sending a message through the WestBow Press Facebook page, by tweeting us @WestBowPress, or by emailing kgray@ westbowpress.com. We may not be able to use every story, but we will read and consider them. WestBow Press reserves the right to edit stories for content, grammar, punctuation and length.