Writing a book is an endeavor that many dream of undertaking, little realizing the hard work that it entails. It is a worthwhile effort for the author, especially when the end result is a published work. Publishers are always looking for the next best seller. In some ways, publishing a Christian self-help book is no different than publishing any other type of non-fiction. However, the end result helps the reader achieve a better life with the help of a higher authority.
Write the book. Many people spend their lives plotting, planning and talking about their book, but never actually sit down to write it. Use a computer or work processor; longhand is not looked upon kindly by publishers. Unless you are self-publishing and plan to scan the pages directly to the file, type the manuscript. Dedicate some time every day to work on your book. To quote Pulitzer Prize Winner, Richard Rhodes, "A page a day is a book a year. Listen to that again: A page a day is a book a year."
Decide how to publish your book—are you submitting your manuscript to a traditional book publisher or are you choosing a self-publishing, print-on-demand or e-book publisher? Each has its own pros and cons. Breaking into the market with a traditional publisher is difficult, but they take care of everything. They provide the editor and proofreader, design and produce the book, and handle the marketing and sales. In return, you receive royalties on each book sold. However, consider carefully whether you want your Christian book associated with that publisher. Look at the publisher's other books and publications before making a decision.
Buy or borrow a copy of "Writer's Market" or "Christian Writers' Market Guide" if you choose traditional publishing. These books provide the names and addresses of multiple publishers in your chosen genre. You can also research publishers by going online to their websites and searching for their submission policies. In addition, go to bookstores and look for books similar to yours. Look inside at the copyright information for the publisher's name. Publishers look for "the same thing only different," i.e., a publisher that sells Christian self-help books generally publishes similar self-help books. Look the publisher up and submit your manuscript according to that publisher's guidelines.
Research self-publishing firms. While most writers choose either traditional or print-on-demand, some still prefer to control every aspect of the process in publishing. With self-publishing, you can design, produce, print, market and publicize your own book in the manner that you choose. You can market your Christian self-help book at churches, through Christian websites and in Christian bookstores. This method of marketing generally avoids your book being associated with other publications that might be inappropriate to your focus on God and self-help.
Consider print-on-demand publishing. There are Christian publishers, like Thomas Nelson, that offer their own print-on-demand services. While this method is similar to self-publishing, customers order directly from the publisher. Each book is printed when ordered and mailed to the customer. You receive a percentage, usually around 50 to 60 percent, of the sale. Again, like self-publishing, the publicity and marketing are up to you, unless it is included in your package. Publishing packages are available with most print-on-demand publishers.
Step into the 21st century, and consider publishing an e-book. E-book publishing options range from 100 percent do-it-yourself to a more traditional approach, with the e-book publisher handling the entire project, including marketing. The more the publisher does for you, the less you receive of the e-book sales. Again, Christian publishing companies have noted the increasing interest and sales of e-books, and many offer e-book options with their self-publishing packages.
Purchase the ISBN (International Standard Book Number) for each edition of your book. No matter which method you choose, if you are not using a traditional publisher, you should purchase an ISBN. With an ISBN, your book can be marketed through major bookstores and online book sellers. ISBNs are available through the self-publishing company or directly from bowker.com in blocks of 10, 100 or 1000. Bar codes are sold separately and are highly recommended.