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 previous Aspriring Author contest winner William Thornton; author of “Set Your Fields On Fire.” To begin your self-publishing journey, get your free WestBow Press publishing guide today
Writing a book is an act of faith.
Even before you put the first word on the page, you have to believe that what you’re writing will be worth reading, and worth the time it takes to fully flesh out a wisp of an idea into a concept, characters, scenes and dialogue. You have to believe that someone will be there at the other end of all that thought and panic and work to pick up your book and plop down their own money for it.
It was back in October 2008 that I got the idea that eventually became my WestBow novel, “Set Your Fields on Fire.” I saw an article in The Wall Street Journal on “mystery worshippers” – the people who evaluate churches as “mystery shoppers” do for retail outlets. I immediately asked myself the question: “What if your job was to go to a church as a visitor and evaluate its worship experience? And what if you were REALLY committed to your job?”
From the beginning, I saw it as a comedy. Why? Maybe I thought people needed some laughs at the time. In that same moment, Wall Street was in a slow motion crash at the beginning of a long recession. A few months later, Bernie Madoff was arrested at the head of the biggest Ponzi scheme in financial history. So there was plenty for me to work into my book. But in my own life, my father had just died, my mother’s health was deteriorating due to Alzheimer’s Disease and my sister-in-law had been diagnosed with cancer. My own story was changing, and it was changing me.
Still, it was hard writing at first. I abandoned the book about 20 pages in because I didn’t trust the ending that I had originally come up with. A year later, I got a little further, but I still had the same hang-up that made me put it aside. But I didn’t abandon it. I kept making notes on the side, still in love with the idea and unwilling to give it up. It wasn’t until the beginning of 2014 that I finally decided to get to work again, go with that stubborn ending I originally thought up, and see what happened. I finished the first draft a few months later.
I still needed somebody to have faith in what I had written. That came a few months later, when I happened to see a link on Twitter about WestBow’s
Aspiring Author Contest with the Parable Group. I emailed the manuscript in and promptly forgot about it. Then after the Fourth of July weekend, I had an email saying I had won the contest. Suddenly, somebody had faith in my story. The rest of 2015 was spent getting the manuscript into shape for publication, deciding on cover art with the help of friends, and praying that what showed up on the page, aside from the jokes, was something that would glorify God.
A few years ago, I was talking to another writer who was struggling with getting people to buy his work. His frustrations were very familiar to me. “Why does the Lord give me a story to tell,” he asked, “but no one seems to want to listen?“ I told my wife Donna this, and she said, “Maybe the Lord only wants you to tell the story because of what it will do to you.”
We walk by faith. We listen in faith. Writing a book is an act of faith. Without faith, it is impossible to please Him.
The first chapter of William’s book can be read for free at http://brilliantdisguises.blogspot.com/2015/12/read-first-chapter-of-set-your-fields.html
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.