How I published 22 books in 19 months: an independent publisher’s journey
Everyone can write including you. It is a matter of putting your thoughts on pen and paper or characters into a word processor. After going through the school of hard knocks called life, you would have accumulated a lot of ideas, thoughts, concepts, knowledge, experience, relationships, baggage, and stuff. You would have gone through pains, trials, sufferings, afflictions, even persecutions, called “the storms of lives” and “dark nights of the souls”. You would have celebrated successes, climbed mountains, achieved uncharted milestones, achieved targets and goals, won prizes, and broken records, called “mountain top experiences”. You can write all these stories, memoirs, historical narratives, journals, and snippets into a book to be passed down from generation to generation. Writing memorialised your memories and will live on even when you are gone. Memories are priceless and are there for learning. You can look back at memories and reminisce over them, learn from them, celebrate, feel, relive, and even enjoy them. It is like going back into the time tunnel of history, to relive the memories down memory lane. What if you did have the chance to go back to 1967 on a time travel machine? Will you have any regrets? Will you do something in a different way to change the course of history? Did you learn any lessons from the past? What were your proudest moments? What were your saddest moments? Where was God? How did God rescue you? Were these coincidences or God-incidences? Do not waste memories. They are there for a purpose. God scripted your story behind the scenes twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, three hundred and sixty five days a year, without your knowledge. Nothing happened to you by accident because there is no accident in the kingdom of God. God makes all things happened for you and not to you. Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose.”
My writing and publication journey started in February 2020. In December 2019, I had a critical accident resulting in a neck injury with paralysis from below my neck. I was tetraplegic, bedridden, and could not move my hands and feet. I underwent emergency spinal surgery followed by intensive physiotherapy. I gradually recovered motor strength in my hands and feet and was able to walk and be ambulant again. Needless to say, I had to retire as a cardiologist in a private hospital. My recovery was truly a miracle from God. Within a couple of months, I was already ambulant and walking. In the days, weeks, and months following the recovery, I took up writing and publishing as a hobby for my retirement, to occupy time, for self enrichment, and to leave as a legacy for my future generations.
Before this, I did not have much experience as a writer, except for publishing research articles in medical journals. In February 2020, I started teaching the gospel of John to church members of St. Andrews Presbyterian Church, Pengkalan, Ipoh. Unfortunately, the Coronavirus pandemic started escalating and by March 2021, physical Bible study had to be discontinued and replaced by virtual Bible study. This was discontinued in April and replaced by what’s app Bible study. The weekly Bible studies motivated me to write expositional biblical commentaries on books of the New Testament.
In March 2021, I published my first book in Kindle Direct Publishing Amazon, entitled the Daily Devotion, the Gospel of Mark. The book was published in the Kindle e-book and paperback format. Writing this first book was a learning curve as I did not have any prior experience. I learned by trial and error, through self-learning, and through advice from established writers. Book writing can be very daunting to the uninitiated.
My first step is to write the book. This required inspiration, self-discipline, time commitment, motivation, consistency, perseverance, and persistence. I typically spend 6 to 7 hours daily, from 9 am until 3 pm with lunch and tea break in between. I had to brainstorm until I arrived at the book title, subtitle, table of contents, and outlines. After that, it is a matter of filling in the details and putting flesh on the skeleton. You should write on areas that you are knowledgeable according to your interests, hobbies, career, or profession. Because of my theology background and interest in Bible teaching, I wrote Bible commentaries, study guides, and devotions based on books of the New Testament from the Gospel of Matthew to the Book of Revelation.
Writing the book is only the first step. The next steps are editing, proofreading, book formatting, designing the book cover, and publishing. Initially, I outsourced everything to a freelance professional but later on, I did all these on my own. I used Grammarly for proofreading, Microsoft Word for writing and formatting, Book Brush and Canva for cover designs.
When the book was ready, I decided to be an independent publisher rather than a traditional publisher. This was because I could not find an agent to connect me to a book publishing house. I decided to publish my books on kindle direct publishing Amazon or KDP Amazon.
In March 2021, I published my first book on KDP Amazon, entitled “Daily Devotion Gospel of Mark” as e-book and paperback as an independent author. To do this, I had to learn the ropes of self-publishing with KDP Amazon through youtube videos, Google articles, videos on KDP Amazon website, and other online resources.
Twenty two books in 19 months:
I wrote and published 22 books in 19 months from February 2020 to August 2021. This turned out to be a huge undertaking and a significant milestone. 22 books in 19 months is equivalent to 0.9 book a month. I did not set any goal for this. It just happened out of the blue! My task was made easier because of the Mac book, iPad Pro, and Microsoft Word. My journey was also facilitated by my timely retirement and the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic. Retirement unlocked the time required to embark on this project. Pandemic compelled me to stay at home most of the time. Local and overseas travelling, socialising, and going out for meals was curtailed due to government enforced lockdown. I grabbed hold of the precious commodity called time and put it into good use. I also had divine inspiration and enablement to write books.
My second project was my autobiography, “Memoirs of a Doctor, an extraordinary journey of faith across continents that will encourage, enlighten, and empower you to fulfill your God-ordained destiny”. This project took me 3 months to complete from beginning to end. I recollected and researched my life events from childhood to retirement. The genre was of this book is non fiction, historical, and biographical narrative. After coming up with the title, subtitle, contents, and outlines, I slowly filled in all the details, word by word, paragraph by paragraphs, page by page, and chapter by chapter. Consistently writing for 6 to 7 hours a day, the story slowly took shape and substance.
When I finally completed the book, I sent the manuscript to a freelance professional for proofreading, editing, formatting, and cover design. After that, I got it published on KDP Amazon as e-book and paperback. I also printed hard copies of the book by a local printing press.
After the second book, I continued writing Bible commentaries. By August 2021, I wrote and published 22 e-books and 21 paperbacks on KDP Amazon. These consisted of 21 New Testament Bible Commentaries and one autobiography. The book titles are Daily Devotion Gospel of Mark, Memoirs of a Doctor, Expository Preaching, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Daily Devotion Gospel of John Volumes 1, 2, 3, 4, and Volume 1-4, Philippians, Colossians, Ephesians, Philemon, Galatians, Romans, Hebrews, General Epistles, Pastoral Epistles, Prison Epistles, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, & Philemon, 1, 2, 3 John, & Jude.
The book writing and publishing journey was tiring, exhausting, time-consuming, and labor-intensive. I had to be motivated, disciplined, goal-oriented, focused, and dedicated to the task. To prevent burnout, I took a weekly rest day on Sunday.
Obstacles to writing;
What are the obstacles to writing?
First, you need to have passion, motivation, drive, perseverance, persistence, and consistency. Matthew 19:26, Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
You need to overcome procrastination. Do not put off a project to the next day. Time pass very fast. One day will turn into one week, one week will turn into one month, one month will turn into one year, one year will turn into one decade, and one decade will turn into forever! Today is the day to start writing your book. Start with the title, subtitle, chapters, and outlines. After that, add in the substance, like adding flesh to the skeleton. Reserved blocks of time every day for writing. If you are a working person with family and other commitments, you need time management. Everyone has 24 hours a day. No one has more time and no one has less time. Time cannot be stopped, cannot be carried forward, cannot be fast forward, and cannot be replayed backward. Once it is gone, it is forever gone. You need to plan and manage your time. There is no hurry and no rush. You don’t have to write 22 books in 19 months. 1 book per year will be the usual target to set. Anything faster than this will be a bonus. Your first book will take a longer time due to the learning curve. Remember that Rome was not built in 1 day. Remember the Chinese proverb, a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.
Do not allow grammar or language skills to deter you from writing. Outsource the completed draft of your book to a freelance professional for proofreading, grammar checks, editing, formatting, cover design, and publishing.
A good tip in book writing is to ask questions and answer these questions. Try to ask 5 questions as your outlines in each of the chapters. If you have 5 chapters, you will have 25 questions and if you have answered all the 25 questions, you have written your book! It is as simple as this! Try it out!
To be continued…..