I used to have this idea that writing a book involved an idea, creating a rough draft, editing, submitting a final draft, and getting it published. Then, of course, comes marketing, book signings, and Today show appearances. Pretty straightforward, right?
Of all the things I’ve written and projects I’ve worked on, none has had so unconventional a life as the devotional formerly known as A;life. A;life started out of a need, a decade ago. Sean and I were leading middle and high school students who were committing their lives to Christ but had no idea where to start in studying the Bible. There were topical devotionals but none that explained the story of the Bible, the character of God, and basics of spiritual disciplines. I couldn’t find a good devotional to meet the need so I wrote one.
A;life was a 29 day devotional geared toward teens. Each day had a little bit of explanation, Scripture to read, questions to answer, and a model prayer. At one point it had a DVD with it and a leader insert so it could be used in a small group setting.
We started realizing the need didn’t stop at our own youth ministry and gave copies of A;life to other youth ministries lacking resources. It circled around for years. At some point we dropped the DVD as it was outdated, and I’m not sure where most of the leader inserts went.
A year and a half ago I decided to rewrite A;life. I extended it to a 40 day devotional and took out teen specific references so it could easily apply to any age. I talked to connections with two publishing companies and was hopeful something would come of it.
For various reasons, I began to doubt publishing would happen. After a series of ups and downs, I was thinking I’d shelve the idea. My writing mentor, ghostwriter Jeanne Halsey (who is the one who pushes me when I think I’ve already pushed enough), taught me about self-publishing and convinced me to give it a try. Between her urging, Lisa Oliver’s exceptional design work, and Marti Eide’s editing, we self-published the devotional, now called Brand New; A Field Guide to Life in Christ.
The beautiful irony is as I’ve received proof copies (first printed wrong… second printed wrong…third time’s a charm!) I also received a contract from a publishing company. It’s a throw-up-your-hands-and-shake-your-head moment when you’ve spent years bouncing around a project and then everything happens at once.
The next turn in the journey will be meeting with an editing and marketing team to see what direction this project may go. I’m slightly giddy not only about publishing this devotional, but the learning curve with it. I’m learning plenty about what not to do next time and trusting that God will still lead and have His hand in this project as I bumble through it.
I’m suspending purchases of the self-published version so that we can officially move forward to improve and publish A;life/Brand New/Whatever we decide to call this devotional! Now for a word from the publisher:
The Lexham Press team is thrilled to have this opportunity to work with Shilo and Sean in such an important area of ministry in the life of the church. Shilo’s book addresses a real need for solid and accessible resources aimed at brand-new Christians who need to learn (and delight in!) the story of their new identity in Jesus. I’m looking forward to seeing what the Lord continues to accomplish through their ministry, and excited for the part we get to play in bringing this fruit of their labors to publication.
Brannon Ellis, Associate Publisher, Lexham Press (lexhampress.com)
Just throwing myself out there a bit...