Multiplication Center

Turning Your Idea into a Book

July 29, 2009

Books A lot of church leaders have a story to tell but don’t know how to get it from brain and heart to paper. They wonder whether anyone would be interested in reading it. And they don’t know how to contact publishers – or whether to go the self publishing route.

To address those issues, I wrote an article for Church Executive magazine titled, “Suggestions for Publishing Your First Book.” It’s available online as part of their “web exclusive” add-on features. It addresses:

– Do I need an agent?

– Do I need someone to help me write the book?

– If I write a book, how many people will read it?

-Should I write my book before thinking about publishers?

-What about self-publishing?

-What about making a book into an audio book, whether for download or CD or Kindle?

-What’s a good royalty advance for a first-time author?

In addition, the blog world has a lot of other helpful advice. Here are just a few suggestions:

– Mark Batterson offers “Seven Writing Tips” at
– Tony Morgan says “Don’t Write a Book — Start with a Journal” at
– Thomas Nelson publisher Michael Hyatt advises “How Not to Pitch Your Book” (and at bottom offers several related posts) at

“The Ugly Truth about Book Publishing” by Phil Cooke. He cites Publisher’s Weekly as saying the average U.S. book is now selling less than 250 copies per year and less than 3,000 copies over its lifetime. Further, 950,000 titles out of the 1.2 million tracked by Nielsen Bookscan sold fewer than 99 copies.  Another 200,000 sold fewer than 1,000 copies.  Only 25,000 sold more than 5,000 copies.  The average book in America sells about 500 copies” 

Finally, the researcher in me wants to offer a few stats:

– You need to sell roughly 1,000 books a day (all channels), on average, to get on Amazon’s overall bestseller list.

– Roughly 30% of you book sales will come through Amazon, if your book is typical.

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