Hey, guys. So the other day I published the opening of the new book I’m writing, which I was planning to write, post by post, right here on my blog.
I pretty quickly thereafter understood that a better idea would be to write the book on an entirely separate website. So for that purpose I have now set up the blog [No Title Yet]: a book in progress.
The main reason I’ve moved the book to another site is because I don’t want first drafts of the book’s chapters going out to those who subscribe to my blog. One of the biggest reasons I decided to write this book online was because I so wanted the input on it I knew I would get from my mondo-smart readers. But incorporating that input means making a lot of changes to each piece I publish. Well (as far as I know), people who subscribe to this blog only receive in their email the first version of whatever posts I publish.
Duh. I forgot about that.
I don’t want my subscribers seeing the first version of [NTY’s] chapters. If they see anything, I want them to see the book’s awesome, post-input rewritten chapters. An altogether different site for the book-in-progress eliminates that concern.
Moving the new book off-site solves some other problems, too. I don’t want the thing taking over my blog, is a lot of what it basically boils down to. And it surely would have.
Oh. It would have.
So if I might say a bit about the whole editing-your-book-as-people-comment-on-it thing.
It’s so awesome!!
I don’t even know how to start to express how much I value this way of writing, where you guys get to just say, right away, what you think of what I’ve done. I’m actually … frozen, trying to find the words for how freakin’ fantastic that is.
Let me take but one example by way of trying to show what I mean.
Originally, I concluded the part of [NTY] that I’ve thus far published by essentially saying how my intention for the book overall was to show what amounts to the inevitability of Christ on the cross.
As originally published, the conclusion of the piece in part read:
A straight, clear, and uncompromisingly logical line of reasoning leads directly from the simple proposition, “God exists,” to God incarnating himself as Jesus Christ, and then, just as we have it in the Gospels, sacrificing himself on the cross by way of establishing a means by which any person, at any time, for any reason, can shed their guilt and remorse, and be fully reconciled to God.
Right? Perfect. I loved it.
But a fair number of comments I received on that opening chapter had to do with the idea of alienating my “intended audience.” Now, to me, “intended audience” is a trigger phrase. One of the big reasons I left “legacy” [read: normal/”traditional”] book publishing is because (most) people in that business are forever talking about a book’s “target audience.” They won’t publish anything unless they’re perfectly clear ahead of time on who exactly they’re going to sell that book to: who the book’s “target audience” is. “Target audience” (along with, in Christian publishing, “felt need”) is the phrase that I think most perfectly captures the core of everything that is today wrong with book publishing generally, and with Christian publishing in particular; it is the ultimate manifestation of the awful time when, in the publishing business, marketeers and advertising people became more important than editorial people.
Anyway, I loathe the phrase “intended audience.” But if you hear something often enough, you’re wise to consider what about it might be credible. And I kept hearing from my commenting friends that I needed to think about my (erg) “intended audience.”
And voila: because of such comments this morning I realized that, with the above paragraph, I had made it seem as if all this book is about is justifying Christ on the cross.
So this morning I spent three or four hours changing the ending of the book’s chapter/intro to … well, this:
If you start with the premise that God exists, a straight, clear, and uncompromisingly logical line of reasoning leads to a perfect explanation for virtually everything about the human experience: the nature of birth and death, morality, space, time, free-will, guilt . . . all of it. You don’t need to posit a God in order for everything to make rational sense—but doing so does satisfactorily answers a lot of fundamental questions about the universal human experience that must otherwise remain unknowable.
The line of reasoning that begins with the premise that God exists also leads directly to a full understanding of what exactly happened with Jesus on the cross.
It is the purpose of this book to, in as straightforward a manner as possible, trace that whole line.
That is solid. And it really captures, in a way my first version doesn’t even approach, the breadth and depth of what this book is really all about.
So, you see the magnitude of that improvement. And that’s just one of the many improvements I was able to make to the book thus far based on the comments readers wrote me about it.
It’s just … well, the culmination, for me, of the value of the community that we’ve together built here. I’m really cashing in on that now. I’ve got a prodigious amout of important stuff I need to say with this book; without you guys to help me, I couldn’t say it with anywhere near the power and precision I can with your help.
I know what I want to say. And I’ve got a reasonably decent set of skills to say it. What I don’t have anymore are really good editors. I’ve worked with the best in the business, and of course they’re invaluable. But leaving traditional book publishing, as I have, means losing access to such professionals. And relative to any particular written work, that’s pretty seriously problematic, because writing—especially about something as deep and complex as the issues I’ll be writing about in this book—involves considerations, nuances, and articulations way beyond the capabilities of any one person, no matter who they are.
Just proofreading a book like this is a seriously prodigious undertaking.
It is, that is, unless you have a whole lot of people who want to help you with your book, because they care enough about what you’re saying to help you say it right. Then you’re . . . pretty freakin’ good.
This book isn’t just blog posts I’m writing. (Not that each one of those doesn’t take insane amounts of time.) This is a work I mean to … last for a while.
Go big or go home, right? Well, there’s no way I can go bigger than this book. Topic-wise, this is about as big as it gets.
And when I say I can’t do it without you, I am really, really not kidding. That’s why I’m writing it this way.
I’ll let you know, on my Facebook page, when, on its site, I’ve put up new chapters of [No Title Yet]. Thanks ahead of time for whatever you might do to help this book become all I know it can and should be.