What You Need to Know Before You Publish Your First Book | Write Brilliant
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What You Need to Know Before You Publish Your First Book

by Paul McDonald

When we hear of one of our Write Brilliant Academy graduates publishing yet another book, we throw a 10-second dance party. Paul McDonald’s book, Called to Follow, is no exception.

In the process of writing and publishing Called to Follow, Paul learned a slew of lessons he wants to pass along to you.

Whether you’re just getting started…

A blogger who is trying to find a pathway to self-publishing…

A seasoned writer who is frustrated with lackluster sales…

You’re going to want to read Paul’s advice and the lessons he’s learned.

What are the top two biggest lessons you’ve learned from your writing journey so far? 

One of the biggest lessons I learned was the importance of making a map. I used the chapter mapping process that I learned in the Write Brilliant Academy  to transform Called to Follow from a simplistic travel journal into an encouragement for others to follow Jesus into adventure and meaning.  I’ve also used that strategy to guide presentations and script our men’s retreats. Chapter mapping may not seem fun or sexy, but nothing else has helped to clarify and amplify my writing.

Another lesson I’ve learned is to create with God. Before I ever sit down to write, I spend time offering my gifts and my writing to Him. I’ve spent so much of my life trying to make things work through my own strength, and I know it falls flat every time. The pressure isn’t on me to be successful. I’m called to create with the One who gave me my gifts. Anything else is destined for failure.

What surprised you most about self-publishing? 

Most of the help I needed came from my network of friends I made through the Write Brilliant Academy.  I used a self-publishing division of an established publisher, but they mostly just gave me checklists of things to do. If I needed direction or guidance, I resorted to the men in my community to help (usually talk me off the ledge).

If a writer wanted to self-publish, what advice do you have?

Be patient. Nothing has to be done today, or probably even this week. Many times, my internal pressure to make a decision immediately almost led to me paying for things I didn’t need, or paying a great deal more. It’s new and it’s exciting, and it’s easy to feel like everything has to be done this minute or it’ll all fall apart. When you feel that way, take a breath. Call someone you trust. Pray about it. That pressure will only lead to missteps and mistakes.

What’s the most satisfying part of this process? 

The most satisfying part of the process so far is seeing the support my network of friends has given me. I mean, it’s nice for someone to buy and read my book, and they almost always have nice things to say. But when these same people decide to give the book to their dad, their brother, a friend from work, that says a lot to me. They believe in me, and in the message I’ve shared in Called to Follow. I feel grateful, honored, and humbled all at once.

God uses my words to grow in other people’s lives, in ways I may never see. I just have to trust Him and keep throwing out the seeds.

How was your writing and publishing experience enhanced through the Write Brilliant Academy? 

Write Brilliant gave me the tools and knowledge to direct my gift, and the confidence that I could do this.

When I completed the first draft of the manuscript, I thought the hard work was over. It wasn’t. The process of taking the lump of clay I had just written and turning it into something useful was the most difficult part. What do I cut? Where do I need to add? What needs to be moved or tweaked? The Write Brilliant Academy gave me the training and tools to shape and polish what I had in order to make it better.

To learn more about Paul McDonald, visit his website. Grab a copy of his book, Called to Follow, here.



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