What I Have Learned So Far from Writing and Publishing My New Book

You probably know by now that I am close to publishing my next book—Foster and Adoptive Parenting: Authentic Stories that Will Inspire and Encourage Parenting with Connection. The ebook version is launching November 13, 2016 with the print version coming out Spring of 2017.

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If you have thought about writing and publishing a book, I bet the how-to overwhelms you. It has overwhelmed me.

I share here a few pointers that I learned this go around both that helped my writing and publishing. I am just beginning the launch and promotion phase, so I will post a blog about what I learn from that soon.

What I learned about writing:

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How I Decided to Publish My Next Book

I invited you along for the journey as I work on my next book, so here is an update. When I began I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go the self-publishing or traditional publishing route. I finally decided. I will share with you what I decided, a couple of reasons and where I am in the process.

Why I chose traditional publishing

Westbow Press published Adopting the Father’s Heart. Many call this way of publishing assisted publishing. We used my money; I made the final decisions on design, editing, when to release the book, etc. Westbow provided their services I purchased.

I like the outcome, and Westbow continues to offer support and guidance.

With this book about toxic shame I am looking for some things that I don’t think self or assisted publishing provides.

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What Really Keeps You from Writing that Book?

I have mentioned before that since becoming a writer (did I just call myself a writer?) several people have commented on how they have always wanted to write a book. “I have a story to tell!” “I really think what I have been through can help others.” “I have half of a manuscript written!”

Usually the next thing that they say is something about how they will never write it or they don’t have the time, or they don’t know how to get started.

I understand. It is hard. It does take time. It is challenging to know how to begin.

But isn’t anything that is worth doing hard, takes time and challenging? Of course it is!

Will anyone want to read what I write?

Some will. Some won’t. And that’s ok!

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Hitting the Space Bar Twice is Showing my Age

Many of you know that I am in the middle of formatting my manuscript before I give it to the publisher. I just did it again! I hit the space bar twice after that period. If you are under 40, you probably have no idea what the big idea is.

I got to page 16 of my Manuscript Prep Guide. Under Spacing with Punctuation it says, “Use just one space after all punctuation marks…”

I read that and wondered for a few seconds why it told me to do that. Seriously! I thought maybe it was a formatting rule. Not a general writing rule.

I did it again! I just put two spaces after a period.

Then, strangely, I saw a post on Linkedin by Eileen Burmeister posted the very same day – The rule stands: One space after a period. Period.

Here is one quote from her blog, “I have friends (mostly my age or older) who still swear by the double-space rule, and really, if their livelihoods don’t depend on it, who am I to judge? But the hard, cold truth is that it really is only one space.”

I tweeted last night that I was writing this blog. I enjoyed the replies:

  • Many said, “I do that too!”
  • “I will never stop doing that.  It just looks better.”
  • “I am not changing that!  I am such a rebel.”
  • “I double space so I can get the automated period.”
  • One took the time to tell us all that a 1988 digital typology book instructed to use only one space after a period. (I say that book was well before it’s time!)

Some even begin to argue in fun which way was better.  I never imagined that this would create so much interest or angst!  But I agree with Eileen, if their livelihoods do not depend on it, who am I to judge?

The interesting thing to me is that I was so oblivious to this rule of writing change until I began to pursue writing as my career. If you knew about this, why have you not said something to me? Come on, that is like sitting across from me at lunch and not telling me that I have a piece of lettuce stuck in my teeth!

I began to wonder what my complete ignorance of this rule says about me. I came up with a few things:

  • Things change all the time that go unnoticed. I notice and pay attention to things that are important to me. That is not all bad, but it reveals my heart. Things that are not important to me are not even on my radar screen.
  • Like it or not, I am a creature of habit. I hit the backspace button many times writing this blog. This habit will take some time to break. What other habits do I have that are so engrained that I do them without a second thought. Which habits are good, and which ones do I need to change?
  • Am able to learn new things? I can not ignore it any longer, I am getting older. Am I not only able but willing to learn, and if necessary, change? Or, will I hang on to old ways of doing things without any just cause?

Question for you? Yes, you guessed it. My question is the last one I asked myself.  What are you refusing to change in your life just because? If that one is too personal, then feel free to point out all the places that I double spaced.

Trauma upon Trauma

This post is a continuation of excerpts from my new book. A quick note about the progress of the book–My timeline is to publish the book by the first of May  I am enjoying formatting the manuscript. Did I just say enjoy? Can’t say that I am really. But it feels good to move closer to publishing.

 

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copyright www.KennethACamp.com

 

After I agreed to the placement of our first foster child, the CPS case worker knocked on our front door a couple of hours later. I opened the door and staring back at me was an 8 month old little boy in the arms of the case worker. She introduced herself.  I invited her in.

The little boy was quiet.  Did not cry.  He did not show any emotion when the case worker handed him to me.  Now I know that he was in shock.

A few weeks later after his first parent visit, this sweet little boy just stared at his parents as they walked away.  No emotion.  No crying.  Until we got home.  Then he lay on our living floor screaming, hitting his head with one of his toys.  It broke our hearts to see this 8 month old little boy reacting this way.

So, what was causing this extreme behavior?

Trauma.

In my book, I refer to little boys like this one as at risk or vulnerable children. Dr. Karen Purvis refers to them as children from hard places. If you are considering fostering or are doing so now, I highly urge you to check out Dr. Karen Purvis’ material.

Also, classes such as, Separation, Loss and Grief that we took through Arrow helped us understand at least at an elementary level about what was going on with this child.

A person of any age will struggle with processing trauma  Think about how grown people act after experiencing natural disasters. But can you imagine what it is like for a child.  If they are very young, only a few months old, it seems to affect how they process more normal situations.

Their reactions become fear based instead of normal needs based.

  • I am hungry.  Normal need based response–Someone will feed me. Fear based response–I will starve.
  • I am cold.  Normal need based response–Someone will keep me warm. Fear based response–I am alone.
  • I am afraid.  Normal need based response–Someone will comfort me. Fear based response–I will take care of myself.

For a child in foster care, the trauma begins to pile on top of trauma. Fear eventually controls the child’s behavior.

Example of trauma upon trauma for a foster child:

  • Neglect, abuse, or abandonment in family of origin.
  • Removal from family of origin.
  • Placement in the home of complete strangers.
  • Loss of personal items, routine, familiarity.
  • Months of uncertainty, sense of belonging.

The first night that our foster son was in our home, I lay in bed listening to a thunderstorm.  My heart was full of compassion wondering what was going on in his young mind. Did the storm frighten him? Was he sleeping through it? Did he wonder where he was? Did he wonder if he was safe? My intercessory prayer was that God would protect his heart and mind making him whole.

Question for you:  How can you patiently and with compassion embrace an at risk child from a hard place?

 

Author as Entrepreneur

Michael Hyatt, former CEO of Thomas Nelson, uses the term, Author as Entrepreneur, in the video below.  He is sharing about WestBow Press, a self publishing division of Thomas Nelson.  Over the past few years, the status of self publishing has risen.

I put a lot of research into self publishing vs. traditional publishing.  Blogs, articles, and author friends of mine had a lot of different advice.  Some said to stay far away from self publishing.  Others said that self publishing is an excellent option.

For me it came down to a few things that helped me make this decision:

  1. The idea of being an author and an entrepreneur is attractive to me.  I like the idea of being in business for myself and ultimately being responsible for my success.
  2. It is also attractive to me to work with a division of Thomas Nelson.  I will be able to use their expertise and name recognition.
  3. I did not want to wait the length of time that it probably would take to go through the traditional publishing process of writing queries, hiring an agent, and finding a publishing house that would accept my manuscript.

Ultimately, the decision was mine to make.  But as I was on the phone with the WestBow representative, I felt very strange.  She even commented about how I did not seem very excited.  Believe me, I am excited!

The strange emotion lasted for most of the day.  Finally, as I was getting ready for bed, I processed with my wife what I thought was going on inside of me.  Why did I feel so strange?

I decided that making this commitment made everything seem more real.  Another thought lingered around the edges of my mind – “Do I really want to take the risk of sharing some of my life, my story, my passions?”

The answer is yes.  But, I do not take what I am doing lightly.

I appreciate everyone’s encouragement to follow my dream of writing.  Will you help me get the word out.  Like me on my FB page – Adopting a Father’s Heart – the book. You can do so by looking to your right on the sidebar.

Follow me on Twitter.  And join me on LinkedIn.  You can also follow me on Pinterest and Google+.  All of these are on the header of my home page.

Enjoy the video!

 

 

 

 

Change of Plans

No, I am not changing my mind about writing books.  Yes, I am still working on my book – Adopting the Heart of a Father.  In fact, I only have a few pages left to work on from Danielle’s, my wife, review.  Then, I will decide on an editor, designer and publisher.

 

 

At least once a week for the next few, I will blog about a section in my book.  In case you are not aware, you can read an unedited sample of the first two chapters.  You can find them by going to the home page.

Early in the book, I share some of our history to give you some context.  It helps a little to understand why we decided to be more involved in orphan care at this stage of our lives.  One sub-chapter I entitled “Change of Plans”.

February 2007, Danielle and I led a small mission team to Thailand for a 10 day trip.  Danielle and I had gone once before, but this was my first time to lead a team.  What a learning experience!  Short story is that after we arrived home, Danielle and I decided that we needed to go for a longer time.

We talked to the project leader in Thailand about us volunteering for 6-12 months.  That turned out to be an answer to his prayers.  They needed some help.  Immediately.  Within 2 months, Danielle and I quit our jobs, set up care for our home and vehicles, and were on a plane back to Thailand.

We volunteered with several mission organizations during the 6 months in Thailand.  It was painful to leave and transition back to living in the U.S.  I really thought that we would quickly be back overseas.  But we have not gone back long-term.

Over the next three years, I served as the mission pastor at our church.  In 2010, while I was still on staff, we felt that we were ready to return to the mission field.  We began making plans, including setting up several meetings with mission organizations in Thailand.  We went to Thailand for 3 weeks in March, 2010.

However, God had other plans for us.

Before we left for Thailand, Danielle and I attended a Verge conference in our city.  Our focus was on learning more about being international missionaries.  God refocused us.  Not that our desire has changed about international missions.  We still want to go.

At the conference, Aaron Ivey’s worship team shared about God’s heart for the orphan.  Many on the worship team had adopted children.  They emphasized the need for foster care and adoption in our own city.  As, I sat their listening to their stories and challenge, I knew the Holy Spirit was speaking to my heart.

As Danielle and I walked across the parking lot to our car after that session, we both knew that we were about to change our plans.  We still went to Thailand the next month to serve with a youth team from our church.  Then, we served with a team from Tamar Center in a village.  The next week we met with several other mission leaders in the country.

By the time we returned home, even though it did not make sense to me, I knew that we were going to pursue foster care and possibly adoption before we returned overseas.

The change of plans caught me completely by surprise.  But, it is not the first time that God has done that in my life.  And, I have no regrets at all.

I try to live my life with a loose hold on things so that God can change my plans when He chooses.  I look forward to whatever is next.  What an adventure!

Question – Has God ever radically changed your plans?  How did you respond?

 

Final Draft

This morning I finished my final draft!  It is a little hard to believe.  I know I still have a lot of work to do before publishing.

First, my wife will read my manuscript while I decide on some professional editing.  I have not decided yet if I will have an editor from a publishing house or a freelance editor do the work.

I will also make a decision on the publishing route.  I have decided that I will contract with a “self publisher”.  I researched many of these options online.  Now, I will make some calls to interview the ones that I am interested in.

While doing that, I will be also putting more time into developing my online presence.  This includes my website, enhancing my blog, and networking through the various social media sites.

My hope is to have a solid following by the time my book is ready to be published.  Not only will this help with marketing of the book, but it also could catch the attention of a traditional publisher.

As I started my morning today, I was thinking about finishing my final draft today.  I had not been confident that this day would ever come.  Even though some had encouraged me over the years to write, I was not sure that I would ever take the time to do so.

I thought about how so many people have a story to share, but in comparison so few take the time to write it.  Just like any endeavor or project, many excuses prevent someone from writing a book.  I am proud of myself for jumping that hurdle and sharing this story.  Hopefully, there will be more to come.

Personal Branding

I promised in my last blog post that I would share some of what I am learning about marketing which leads me to this title – Personal Branding.

When I began to embrace the idea of being a writer about one year ago after many years of encouragement from others, especially my wife, I had no idea of what all would be entailed.

As I wrote in my last blog about being a little bit overwhelmed by all of the publishing options that are available today for an aspiring author, I also find myself feeling the same way about the whole idea of self marketing.

With the growth of social media, the ability and opportunity to present yourself, your voice, your message in a consistent manner is incredible.

I have had a few factors that caused me to be resistant to the whole social media scene.  First of all, being in my early 50’s , I am used to more of a face to face way of networking.  I want to know who I am talking to just as much as that person probably likes being able to know me as well.  I like to look into the eyes of the person I am talking to.

Secondly, I have been overly protective of my online identity.  A couple of reasons for that.  One is that I have done missionary work in some countries where it was prudent to be “unknown”.  The other reason is that I have not wanted to be naiive about online relationships.  I know that it can be fun and sometimes beneficial to reconnect with old friends and create new friendships.  But, I have chosen to not go there out of respect of my marriage.  I believe it is important for me to build strong hedges.

Thirdly, and not lastly, but all I will share here, is that I have avoided the social media world so that I would not become addicted to it.  I have friends, as I am sure you do too, that spend countless hours on their social media sites.  I know myself too well.  Because I can easily become OCD about things, I made a decision to not even be tempted by it.

All these things were true because I viewed social media mainly as just that, a “social” activity.  I understood that it could be very useful for someone who was networking for business or politics, etc.  But, I had not seen the value for me until now.

Finally, I am getting around to the objective of this blog!  I am learning that I am not just writing a book, or hopefully, books.  I am beginning to form a business around who I am and what I have to say.

Now, I am beginning to see the tremendous value of creating personal brand.  And, social media is a powerful way of getting the word out about that brand.

As I mentioned in the last blog, Michael Hyatt has a lot good information on his blog about this topic.  www.michaelhyatt.com.  He even has taken a lot of his blog posts on the subject and has written a book about it – Platform – Getting Noticed in a Noisy World.

I found a lot good supporting and additional online also about personal branding.  Just a few of the general tips I have learned are:

  • Know who you are.
  • Know what your message is or you want it to be.
  • Be consistent in your message.
  • Know your audience and how to connect to them.

So, this is where I find myself.  I laid in bed the other night processing out loud with my wife about creating my personal brand and platform.  I less overwhelmed and becoming more excited about developing my personal brand.

Stay tuned to see how I roll it out in the weeks to come.

 

More research on publishing options

As I near completion of my manuscript, I continue to research publishing options.  The more I research, the more options I seem to find.  The first decision that I need to make is whether I want to go the traditional publishing house route or the quickly expanding self publishing route.

If I go the traditional publishing route, then I should strongly consider contracting a literary agent.  Someone who understands the publishing world and has the necessary contacts.  Being a beginner author, this relationship would be crucial for me.

Traditional publishing houses understandably receive tons of requests to review new manuscripts.  Because there are only so much time in a day, most manuscripts that are submitted without some kind of relationship already in place get quickly rejected.  It is not that the book is not a good one, it is just not the best way of acquiring a book deal in today’s marketplace.

If I go the self publishing route, I need to decide how much I want to partner with a publisher.  Many of the traditional publishing houses now have developed a division dedicated to self publishers offering them various packages in helping with the process.

My friend, Lance, turned me onto Michael Hyatt’s blog – www.michaelhyatt.com.  Michael Hyatt is the former Chairman and CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, one of the largest publishers in North America.  His blog offers tons of great advice for authors, both experienced and novice.

Here is some advice he gave in a blog about deciding if self publishing is for you:

  • You are passionate about your book idea but can’t seem to find a publisher or agent who “gets it.”
  • You are weary of the rejection letters and just want to get your book into print—now!
  • You really don’t care about selling a gazillion copies and becoming famous. You just want something to give to your family and friends.
  • You are a public speaker and need a book to sell at your events.
  • You want a published book to explain your business philosophy and provide a “calling card” for prospective clients.
  • You know that even if a publisher agrees to publish your book, you are probably not going to get A-list treatment. You might as well do it yourself and keep the lion’s share of the profits.
  • You are the pastor of a church and want something to drive your sermon series more deeply into the life of your congregation.

I am not sure if any of these fit my situation exactly, as I have yet to try the traditional publisher route.

Another great piece of advice that Michael Hyatt gives is about the importance of self marketing regardless of the publishing route that I choose.  I will blog more next time about what I am learning about all of that.