Writing has been a major part of my life and calling over the past 13 years. I started blogging in 2011 on my blog entitled My Joyous Heart, and by 2013, I was freelance writing for iBelieve in addition to my regular blog and social media posts. Last year, after holding a dream of becoming an author in my heart for over ten years, I self-published my very first devotional, Almost There: A 30 Day Journey Where Tomorrow’s Uncertainty Takes a Back Seat to the Promise of Today, and it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life!
Over the past decade, the journey and advice for becoming an author have changed a little. When I attended my first writer’s conference in 2013, the topics of building a platform, finding an agent, and getting a publishing deal were the primary goals. Ten years later, while having agents and publishing deals are still very important to be traditionally published, it is not the only path to becoming an author and following the call God put on your heart.
If you are considering writing a non-fiction book and self-publishing it, like I did, I would love to encourage you to take your next steps toward this dream. If you’d rather go the traditional publishing route, my tips should also help motivate you, even if our journeys are different. I pray this article finds every woman that needs encouragement to finally pursue their God-given dream of becoming an author.
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1. Write the Book You Want to Read
My first piece of encouragement may seem pretty obvious, but I want to encourage you to write a book you would be excited to read yourself. If you’re a writer, you are probably a reader too. You know just as well as I do that there are books that get the point across, and then there are books that you connect with, cry through, learn from, grow closer to God through, and want to share with a friend or loved one.
Is there a topic that you are passionate about that you feel has been brushed aside? Do you have a special and unique story that God is working out in you that you feel confident enough to share with the world even if you are still in that season of life? I am a 40-year-old, single, professional Christian woman with a heart focused on God and hopeful for what He continues to have in store for me. There have been books that have encouraged me over the years and then books I didn’t see on the shelves that I longed to read as I reached my mid-late 30s.
People identify with struggles. The main goal of my devotional, Almost There, is to encourage others that are in seasons of waiting, like myself, while being grateful for our day-to-day blessings and staying hopeful for the future. Sure, a happily-ever-after is a nice ending to a book, but if you are going through a fire, you don’t just need someone to tell you that you’ll be ok because they got out of their own fire. You need immediate, step-by-step help from those right next to you. As we are reminded in Romans 12:15, “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” If you feel prompted by God to share your story but feel your struggle isn’t “finished” yet, rely on Him to be your book’s happily-ever-after ending, and you can’t go wrong.
2. Don't Compare Your Platform to Others'
There are so many wonderful authors and writers out there and, if you went digging long enough, I am sure you would find someone else in a similar life season as you. I want to encourage you to keep writing, keep sharing your stories, and staying true to yourself. Every time a twinge of comparison starts to creep up, I remind myself of Psalm 139:14, which states that I am “... fearfully and wonderfully made....” You have a unique voice, platform, and group of friends and supporters, so be proud of that!
It's so easy to get bogged down in the logistics of an online social media presence. I’ve been a full-time SLP for 16 years, so the times I have for writing and social media are nights and weekends. While I don’t have a “huge” following if you compared me to a seasoned author with a big publishing deal, I still am very honored and proud of the hundreds and now thousands of people who have chosen to follow along, receive my emails, and interact with my social media posts over the years. Think of it this way: You may not feel like 500 followers are a lot on Instagram, but if 500 people all decided to come to your house tomorrow...it would be a big deal!
Engage with people choosing to receive your updates and posts on their social media feeds. You know how many people and organizations are vying for our attention every second we are on the internet, so don’t take it for granted when a kind person comments or likes something you have posted. Believe me, when you write your book, those people are going to be your biggest cheerleaders!
Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/Candy Retriever
3. It's Never Too Late
If you’re reading this article and feel that it's just too late for you to write a book, let me stop you right now from going down that negative mindset. I promise you, especially in the age of technology, becoming an author has never been more doable. As I stated earlier, I began blogging around 2011 and freelance writing in 2013. I actually have had the title of the book I wanted to write since around 2015! And while I could have tried to write it earlier than 2022, I truly believe in God’s perfect plan and timing, so when I felt Him prompting me to begin writing my book in January 2022, I said “yes!”
I don’t consider myself that old, but I wouldn’t have envisioned becoming a first-time author at the age of 40. Looking at it now, it is the perfect age because this is what God wanted my story to look like at this point in my life that I would share my story with the world! In true God-wink fashion, I ended up turning 40 while also taking approximately 40 weeks from start to finish of writing and self-publishing my book. And a triple God-wink is that this article I am writing is the 40th freelance article I have ever written, and it is all about becoming an author! Isn’t God so cool?!
Proverbs 16:9 has become my anthem over the last year: “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.” Please let me be an encouragement to you to write that book that is in your heart and listen to God’s sweet nudges for His perfect timing of its release. If you are publishing it with a publishing company, they will help in the timing of its release, but if you are self-publishing, like I did, you’ll be really amazed at how great an agent and publishing master our God is!
4. Write for the One
I hope that my recent experience of becoming a self-published author for the first time while also having a full-time job outside of the writing world has encouraged you! I am so proud that you are considering sharing a part of your heart for the world to read. It’s not easy being vulnerable and sharing our hearts, experiences, and personal stories with others. You may feel anxious about the numbers of it all, and while I’ll admit I look at my book sales from time to time, I want you to remember that whether one person or a thousand people read your book, you have been successful.
When we write a book we are only one part of the equation. We are called to be faithful to use our gifts while shining our focus on God’s love and the gift of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. Don’t forget that God is all-powerful and will take your offering and multiply it as He sees fit. He will put your book in the right hands at the right time.
Write for the one person who may read your book when they are close to giving up. To quote a small part of my own devotional, “Have you ever thought that your life could be helping to save someone else’s in how you live it?” Your book may be an integral piece of the big puzzle that God uses to save a soul for Him. As it is written in Luke 15:7, “I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” Don’t worry about the rankings, the sales, and the followers. Just remember the one person that needs to hear what you have to say and the One we owe everything to, and it’ll all be worth it.
For more inspiration from Mandy, check out her new book, Almost There.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Tom Merton
Originally published Friday, 24 March 2023.