Labor of Love

In this space, WestBow Press publishes articles written by our authors in which they share some aspect of their self-publishing journeys. The following blog is from Paul J. Murphy, author of “Leading Well.” You can learn more about Paul by visiting his author Facebook page. To begin your self-publishing journey, get a free WestBow Press publishing guide today!


Something to Say

“I want to write a book.”  I was a young pastor in my late 20’s when I first voiced my author dream.  Ray, a seasoned friend and mentor, smiled and placed his hand on my shoulder, responding, “But you don’t have anything to say yet.

Thirty-five years later, I finally felt I had something worth saying, specifically, about living as a Christian leader. Leading Well is about the Purpose, Power, Personalities and Practice of Christian leadership. It is intentionally practical while also being theological. It is experiential, not merely idealistic. It is about inner development and outer skills.

But, how would I get Leading Well published? I enlisted my network, searching for publishers. This lead to direct contact with several major publishers. After reviewing my manuscript, they all politely declined, citing other big name authors who already have published books on Christian leadership.

Then, I received an email from Matt, a young man in his mid-twenties. Matt attended a church in Hollywood where I had served as an intentional interim pastor the previous twelve months. He mentioned that a man who had been his youth pastor had transitioned to work for a publisher, though Matt did not know much more than that. This information lead to several phone calls with Keith Ogorek, who usually began the conversation by saying, “Paul I am getting into a taxi in New York so I have a few minutes to talk now.”

Keith connected me to WestBow Press.  I now had a publisher!


Labor Pains

When my wife was in labor with our first child the attending nurse told us that 1 out of 100 women in labor “quit”. She explained that the woman would be far along in labor, but mentally hit the wall. These women literally got up off the bed and began walking to the hospital elevators saying, “I’ve changed my mind, I don’t want to do this.”

Labor, including labor pain, was what I felt during the publishing process. It took longer than I expected. Along the way, I felt frustration, anger, weariness, then finally peace and satisfaction.

I knew what I wanted to say, but in what order I was not always sure. Moving sections and then moving them again was wearying. Eventually, I had lost all objectivity about my own manuscript.

I sent the manuscript to twelve of my closest friends and colleagues, inviting their honest feedback. Eleven responded with varying versions of “good for you Paul”.  The twelfth, Dave, emailed me two pages of critiques saying “I suppose that perhaps there might be a good book in there somewhere, maybe….”.

For two days I nursed the sting of his critiques, and tried not to be defensive.  I asked another good friend what he thought of Dave’s critiques.  He felt Dave had valid, useful feedback.

So it was back to work, more ‘labor pains’ as I revised what I had already labored to write. In the Acknowledgements section of Leading Well you will find this sentence, “A number of friends invested time to read the draft version of this book, offering their compliments and constructive critiques.  The end result is better than what I would have produced on my own.”  That is my thank you sentence to Dave.


The Final Push

Finally I was ready to email my revised and improved manuscript to WestBow Press. WestBow reviewed portions of the manuscript and sent it back marked up with various change notes.  They insisted on a “release” (to avoid any invasion of privacy) from my deceased mother (tough getting her to sign a release, so they excused me) and from my elderly incapacitated father who could not walk, talk, chew or write. I felt like I had been pushing for months, years, yet still no baby – no birth. This was taking longer than I expected. Wasn’t my publisher supposed to HELP, rather than frustrate me?

After venting my anger and frustration, I took a cleansing breath and went back to pushing. I was actually closer to birth than I realized. I once again sent off my latest revised version of the manuscript. Instead of more change notes, WestBow sent me proofs to approve for publication. Several (uneventfully peaceful) weeks later, my newborn arrived: triplets – a hard back, paperback, and  e-book stub versions.

I will not tell you that Leading Well is perfect, but it is what I wanted to communicate. All the pain of writing, rewriting, revising, negotiating WestBow’s edits, and enduring Dave’s critiques was worth it. Leading Well is a better book for the struggle. Here is what I wrote in the introduction:

This book is for Christian leaders, whether in the ministry or in the marketplace.”


God’s Fingerprints

How do we experience the fingerprints of God upon us and upon the ministry He has given us? Leading Well is arranged by sections – the Purpose, Power, Personalities, and Practice of “leading well” as a Christ-like servant leader.

I have written this book to spark renewal in your own life, while equipping you to lead well in ministry.  I hope you will experience a caring arm around your shoulder and a firm hand in the middle of your back as we discover what it means for leaders to help Christian ministries meet the challenge of their calling.  Our calling is worth it.  The world for which Jesus gave His life needs the body of Christ to be who it is, because “if it is who it ain’t, then it ain’t who it is.

Who knows. Yet now, writing a second book does not seem so hard.



– WBP –

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 and follow the WestBow Press Twitter account @WestBowPress. WestBow Press reserves the right to edit stories for content, grammar, punctuation, and length. 

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