Posts Tagged ‘publishing’


No, All Christian Content Shouldn’t Be Free

A few years ago, when I was a pastor, I had a hard time explaining to a rather cranky member why we, as a church, had to pay for a license to use Christian music in our worship services. “They should give it away freely. Why do I have to pay for it? I thought this was ministry. Why they are out to make money?” What made this man’s beef all the more interesting is that I had just concluded, a day earlier, a long conversation with him about what he considered unfair pay at his work. The irony was lost on him, but not me.

But alas, this complaint about Christian content costing money is one I’ve heard in a variety of forms most of my adult life. It goes something like this:

Christian publishers should not be so eager to make money. Why not give their books away free?

Christian musicians should not charge to sing at a Church. Why not sing for the Lord?

Christian conferences should offer all their content online, right away, for free, right now.

Well-known speakers shouldn’t charge so much to speak at someone’s church. They should just come to be a blessing.

So, the question is this: Should all Christian content be free? And to this I say a hearty, “No!”

I understand the desire to get resources into the hands of those who can’t afford them. The impulse to break down financial barriers so  people can hear the gospel and so God’s people can grow is good. I’m thankful for all of the free content, readily available online and elsewhere. But we must understand that good content always has a cost.

For free stuff, somebody, somewhere was kind enough to fund the spread of the good news. Praise God for this kind of generosity. May He raise up more Christian philanthropists in this generation.

But I want to tackle this idea that there should never be charge for Christian content–books, sermons, study guides, music, teaching textbooks. This is not a right argument on many levels.

First, the Bible says that hard work should be rewarded with adequate payment. Paul said to Timothy that “the worker” is worthy of his wages. Christians shouldn’t succumb to greed and materialism. This is a sin and can be a soul-sucking snare (1 Timothy 6:9). But money is offered in Scripture as a reward for hard work. Work was instituted by God at Creation, before the Fall. And the rewards of hard work are woven into the mandate to subdue the earth. To diminish reward is to cheapen, in my view, the value of hard work and to soften the God-glorifying act of creating.

Secondly, Christians should be rewarded for their ministry work. We have this idea that because someone is in “full-time” ministry that they should give their time and effort away for free. But Paul told the Galatians that those “One who is taught the word must share all good things with the one who teaches” (Galatians 6:6). In other words, those who benefit from the teaching ministry of others should support those who teach. How this works out in real life often differs. Some work full time and get their sole paycheck from a Christian organization. Others are “tent-makers” who, like Paul for a season, offer their ministry work in a part-time or free basis. Still, there are many who have some combination of an agreement. But, the principle still stands: there is nothing wrong with someone getting paid for their Christian content (music, books, preaching, etc). In fact, there is everything right.

Third, by depriving Christians of payment for their work, at times, we could be causing them to disobey Scripture. Scripture says that a man who doesn’t provide for his family is “worse than an unbeliever” (1 Timothy 5:8). Paul scolded lazy men who refused to provide for their families (2 Corinthians 3:10). Sometimes in our desire to demand free Christian content or when we grow upset at Christian organizations for charging for content or services, we forget that the men and women working in those organizations would like to feed their families, have health insurance, and own homes just as we do. Many serve and work at drastically reduced rates. They consider their vocation a calling, a mission, a chance to serve the body of Christ. But, that doesn’t mean the should work for free. Imagine if you were asked to do your job for free–if you had no paycheck to take home to support your wife and children? Imagine if someone demanded you do your job for free? You wouldn’t do that. You couldn’t do that. And neither should we expect editors, writers, web guys, recording artists, pastors etc give us the best and most edifying Christian content without cost.

Of course there are many caveats to this. There are legitimate and illegitimate ways to make money in the Christian world. There are, sadly, pastors who fleece their flocks and live lavish lifestyles off the backs of poor widows. There are some who claim that financial prosperity is a sign of God’s blessing. This wicked and destructive teaching is anti-gospel. And there are times when Christian organizations make decisions based on revenue streams rather than what is enriching for the body of Christ. That is wrong.

But let’s trust that these are a few examples out of the many faithful believers who serve the body well and deserve to be paid fairly for their labors. Let’s not simply rush to the conspiratorial idea that “That publisher/organization/church/pastor is just out to make money.” You actually don’t know that. It could be they are serving with an earnest desire to bring the good news of the gospel to those who need to hear it.


Rewarding the Generious

Today I had the chance to interview Michael Hyatt, former CEO of Thomas Nelson and one of the most influential bloggers in the blogosphere. Hyatt is a popular speaker on issues of leadership, publishing, and platform. His latest book, Platform is a New York Times bestseller. I asked Hyatt about the idea of platform-building, which has drawn some critics:

Critics of the platform approach might say that it leads to a narcissism and self-promotion as opposed to service and substance. How would you respond to that?

I think it’s actually just the opposite. Social networks reward those who are generous. With the exception of some celebrities whose antics provide entertainment value for their followers, those who focus too much on themselves don’t build large followings.Those who succeed at the social media game add value, offer assistance, and point to content their followers will find useful. Those who do the best job of serving, grow the largest tribes.This is not to say that social media technologies are without problems, but I don’t think narcissism is one of them. I am far more concerned about what they are doing to our brains and the disintegration of our private and public selves.

Read more here:


7 Steps to Get Started Writing

I have a lot of people who are interested in launching a writing career, but don’t know how to get started. It seems a bit overwhelming. So I decided to try and write a post with seven sort of first-steps on writing. I hope this helps those who feel this call.

1) Take a Long View. This is less of a practical step and more of a vision thing. But I think it’s importnat to not get too caught up, right away, in that big book project or thinking that you’re going to make a ton of money so you can retire. You need to think of writing less as a way to make money (which in the future can happen, at least in a side-business kind of way) and more of a calling to communicate and use your gifts to lift people. Don’t take an all-or-nothing approach with the idea that “God told me to write this ONE book and if it doesn’t get published, that publishing house isn’t following God.” Take the long view and think of it as a progressive development of your gifts and your platform. Ok, with that out of the way, some practical steps:

2) Start a Blog. It used to be that to get started writing, you needed to get published somewhere, some kind of byline. Otherwise, where would you have an outlet to publish your stuff? Not anymore. I still think its important to get started writing in a various outlets (see step 3 below), however the internet has flattened the publishing world in that you can begin to write right away. My advice is to create a blog using a free service like WordPress or Blogspot and establish a regular rhythm of writing. Set a reasonable schedule for yourself, perhaps two to three times a week, and commit to it. It’s important for you to start writing even when you have an audience of nobody. You need to find your voice and work those writing muscles. Starting a blog is not as scary as it seems. I highly recommend Michael Hyatt’s book, Platform and his website to get going. One word of caution: don’t think you have to do everything Mike recommends right away with your blog (He says this as much). Just get your blog going, figure out a theme for your writing, and start writing. Don’t spend all your time with gizmos and gadgets and sacrifice your time writing. 

3) Start publishing in smaller markets. Besides getting a regular blog schedule going, it’s important for you to start getting published in other publications. This is important for several reasons. First, it helps get used to working with an editor and being edited. Second, working on a deadline forces you to produce something. Third, it establishes some credits for future work. Editors at publications and book publishers like to see you’ve been published elsewhere. My advice is to start small. Do yourself a favor and invest in The Christian Writer’s Market Guide. This book is filled with hundreds, if not thousands of big and small Christian publications needing articles. There are lots of opportunities with publications such as Sunday School take-home curricula, denominational papers, niche Christian magazines, Christian websites, devotional magazines, etc. And here’s a really cool thing. Let’s say you have an idea. You can spin that idea in a variety of ways depending on the needs of the publication you’re pursuing. This is a great, great way to break into publishing and establish a bit of a name for yourself and to get used to writing professionally.The best way to query these publications is usually with a short email pitching your idea (though you’ll want to pay attention to the guidelines in the Market Guide or on their website). I also encourage you to begin pursuing guest posts on popular blogs in the area where you’d like to write. Unlike most print publications, blogs typically don’t pay in dollars, but they pay in traffic and exposure for your own blog and help you establish a reputation. Jeff Goins has a great blog on how to write a good guest post here. Typically the more popular blogs will have a section outlining their guidelines for guest posts. If there isn’t one, then you’ll simply want to email the proprietor and pitch your idea in a short email.

4) Get some professional training. I highly recommend you get some professional training and feedback on your writing. If you can afford it, I highly recommend attending a good Christian writer’s conference. The Christian Writer’s Market Guide should have a list of the popular conferences. I’ve attended and spoke at a number of them. If you’re in the Chicago area, I can’t recommend Write to Publish any higher. Others around the country are ones like Glorietta, ACFW, Write His Answer, and others. There are also one-day conferences. Really, Google “christian writer’s conferences.” Now, some words of advice. Not all of these are the same. I would look at the faculty teaching and the classes–does it fit what you want to do? And are do the faculty have substantial publishing credits? Also, see if there are editors attending and if they give time. This is one of the key benefits of attending a conference–you get to meet editors and build relationships that can sustain your writing career. If you can’t attend a conference due to costs, travel, etc, there are other options. I recommend taking a short course such as Jeff Goins’ Tribe Writers course. It’s relatively inexpensive and is packed with good stuff. Also, Mary DeMuth has some great resources as well. My writing mentor, Cecil Murphey has a terrific website with some really good, practical writing stuff. You want to grow in your craft. You want to improve.

5) Network. Writing can be a solitary calling–you and the laptop, so you need to work hard to find a community of writers who can strengthen you. You also need to build relationships with people in publishing. Relationships are everything. I highly recommend you join a Christian writer’s group either in your area or online. This is also why attending a conference is good as well. A few pieces of advice: Never burn bridges. Christian publishing is a small, small world. Editors move around. They talk. So if you become known as a prima dona or someone with very think skin when it comes to your work, well, you’ll have a harder time getting published. Never publicly bash editors or writers. Never gossip about editors to other editors, etc. You should do this, not only for your future career, but because you are a Christian called to “love one another.”

6) Get active on social media. I mentioned this last because there is a temptation to get active on social media without actually putting in the grunt work of writing. Don’t do this. Start writing and commit to some kind of schedule or deadline. But, I will say this, in this day and age, it’s vital to build a platform via social media. And here’s how to use it. You’ll want to use your social media accounts to leverage your writing. I typically use Bufferapp to send people to my blog posts. I also do this to send folks to my writing on other sites and, when a book comes out, to send them to my book. A tip here. I’ve found that using Buffer to schedule a “tweetable” quote from your work seems to work better at driving traffic than simply tweeting something like, “New blog . . . .” Another tip: find a few networks that work for you and use them regularly. You can’t employ every network. Twitter and Facebook work for me, but I’m going to explore using Pinterest this summer (and thereby sacrifice my mancard).

7) Read a lot. Good writers are active readers. Reading helps stimulate creative ideas and it also fills your well. Nourish your soul with good books from a variety of genres. I also recommend you take in content in other ways, such as sermon podcasts, online videos, etc. But you must regularly, regularly add to your creative reservoir.


In Defense of Christian Bookstores, Christian Publishers, and Southern Baptists

It seems there are three, quick, easy, cheap ways to score points if you’re a hip, up-and-coming evangelical. Say something negative about Christian bookstores, Christian publishers, and/or Southern Baptists. If you hit on a criticism of all three, you’ll really get a lot of back pats and your blog will probably have a lot of new unique visitors. You might even get a book deal. You’ll definitely want to buy those cool, new “Rob Bell” glasses.

At the risk of sounding old-fashioned, I’m going to defend this seeming unholy trifecta, the supposed enemies of Christian awesomeness. A few weeks ago there was a big controversy about Lifeway Christian stores. In response to a pastor from Florida, Lifeway pulled the movieBlindside from their stores because of some objectionable content. (for the record, I highly recommend the movie. It’s great). It’s apparently an evergreen story, because I keep reading fresh blog posts on the subject. Nothing drives web traffic like Christian controversies, apparently.

This was a silly move by Lifeway, but what I found even more offensive than this decision was the way “progressive” evangelicals used this opportunity to tee off on Lifeway, Christian bookstores, Christian publishers, and Southern Baptists in general. Rachel Held Evans wrote a widely distributed blog post that was pretty much a broad-brushed rant. She has some history in this struggle with her fight to have her book include a rather graphic body part. Her publisher, Thomas Nelson, agreed to keep it in, but not before Rachel got a lot of mileage and blog posts and Tweets in, all with disparaging digs against anyone who would dare edit her work in any way. And she is not the only one who expresses these feelings. I hear and read this complaint all the time, from both evangelical left and right.

To be sure, Christian bookstores, publishers, and denominations like the SBC deserve a fair share of the criticism they receive. But let’s remember they are brothers and sisters in the Lord. There are very good, wonderful, Christ-honoring men and women who work in these organizations. We should treat them with love and respect. It’s amazing how the people who scream for tolerance the loudest have the least amount of it for those with whom they disagree.

But let’s also consider this idea of Christian publishers and bookstores wanting to sanitize their content to make it safe for Christians. Perhaps they sometimes go too far, and we try to create a safe, sterile Christianity that doesn’t reflect the violence and messiness of the gospel story. At the same time, we are called by Christ out of this world to be different (1 Peter 2:9). So Christian books should not be as vulgar, violent, or explicit as nonChristian books. They should be different and publishers and bookstores are right to filter some of this content. Not simply because the people who patronize their businesses want this (though this isn’t wrong), but because they have a deep conviction that God’s people are to be holy. Baptists in business suits didn’t write 1 Peter 1:16. The Holy Spirit did, using the pen and personality of a fisherman who had seen his share of gospel messiness.

Secondly, there is a misconception about “edgy” Christian literature. If edgy means cutting edge storytelling, penetrating, haunting tales of suffering, I’m all for it. If it means presenting life as it really is rather than how we’d want it to be, yes let’s be edgy. But for many young, progressive, postmodern evangelicals, “edgy” simply means “I want to use indiscriminate cuss words and I don’t want anyone to stop me.” If edgy means fighting to the death to include words that intentionally offend your Christian brothers and sisters, words that have no bearing on your overall book, then you’re not being artistic or edgy, you’re just being purposefully offensive. And that, my friends, is wrong (1 Corinthians 8:13).

Count me as one young, millennial Christian leader grateful for some level of Christian editing, some kind of filter that lets me know that when I pick up a Christian book it’s going to have wholesome, Christian content that will edify rather than unnecessarily stir up passions best left quiet.

Lastly, it must be said that there is a sense of entitlement among some authors, artists, creatives who constantly push the boundaries in Christian publishing. As if that bookstore and that publisher owe them a contract and they should have no say over what is put in their books. I’ve met these types. They look at the publishing executives in CBA as ignorant rubes who don’t understand their exalted art.

Let’s take a step back here and realize that no publisher owes me or anyone else the time, investment, and business risk of publishing my book. And no struggling small business (because that’s what Christian bookstore owners are) owe me shelf space. If what I write offends their constituency, the publisher doesn’t have to publish it and the bookstore doesn’t have to stock it. For me to demand this, because I want to make some kind of outlandish point, is ridiculous.

The bottom line is this. Yes, sometimes bookstores, Baptists, and publishers are unnecessarily censorious. Sometimes they may make decisions that frustrate, even offend. But to paint all of these good brothers and sisters with such a broad brush and demand they do what I say, well, that’s just not the way of Christ. It’s a privilege to speak for God, not a right.

We’d do well to adopt a bit of humility.


Friday Five: Lin Johnson

Lin Johnson is one of the most influential people in Christian publishing as a writer, editor, and instructor. Perhaps here biggest contribution is her annual Write to Publish Conference, held every year on the campus of Wheaton College. Personally, the Write to Publish Conference has had more influence on my writing career than almost any other factor. It’s one of the premier writing conferences in the country.

Lin is Managing Editor of The Christian Communicator, Advanced Christian Writer and Church Libraries and is the author and co-author of more than 60 books, including Christian Education: Foundations for the Future, Extracting the Precious from 2nd Corinthians, Encouraging Others, and The Book of John from The Smart Guide to the Bible Series. Lin specializes in Bible curriculum and is a Gold Medallion Book Award recipient. She’s a sought-after teacher at writers’ conferences across the country and internationally. Lin was kind enough to stop and answer some questions about Christian writing:

You’ve been a writer and editor for a long time, but perhaps you are best known for helping writers get their start in Christian publishing. What motivates you to continue to educate and assist the next generation of writers rather than seek your own “fame and glory” as it were?

One of my spiritual gifts is teaching, and training writers is a way to use that gift. A great thing about teaching is the ripple effect of influence that goes far beyond a classroom or conference. As I assist people in honing the craft of writing and getting published, their words, in turn, will influence thousands of people I’d never be able to reach.

Write-to-Publish (WTP) has been around for almost 40 years. How did it get started?

It started in 1971 (and missed a couple of years) as a two-week, credit-only, summer-school course at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. Eleven years later, it became a one-week workshop to allow more people to attend, then morphed into a conference format a few years later. I worked as assistant director for almost 10 years.

In the early ‘90s, Moody decided to drop several conferences; and Write-to-Publish was one of them. The school gave me the rights to the name, the mailing list, and cassette masters for past conferences.

However, I didn’t have the upfront money to run it as a conference, so I organized a few Saturday seminars at Moody and Wheaton College. Then in 1996, with several interest-free loans from fellow congregation members, I started it as a conference again at Wheaton College.

Why is a conference like WTP so crucial for a writer to break into the marketplace? 

So much of getting published these days is the result of networking, of who you know. At a conference like WTP, you have the opportunity to meet editors and agents who are looking for manuscripts—or they wouldn’t take the time to be there. Plus you get to know other writers who may provide introductions to their editors or agents and share writing leads later.

A conference is crucial for book writers. Every year more book houses close to looking at unsolicited proposals, so it’s difficult to sell a book without an agent. And few agents are interested in writers who haven’t sold books. The way around this Catch-22 situation is attending a writers conference since book editors go to them, looking for new writers.

What are the common mistakes a first-time conference attender might make at a conference like WTP? 

The biggest mistake I see is going to a conference with a myopic focus on selling one or two specific manuscripts, usually books, instead of being open to what God has in mind. His plan is always so much bigger than ours.

Another mistake is not getting to know other writers who attend the conference. Yes, editors are the ones who buy manuscripts; and you want to get acquainted with as many as possible. But networking with writers can pay off in many ways: lifelong friendships, prayer/accountability partners who motivate you get more writing done, passing along your name to editors for other projects.

If you could give one piece of advice (besides attending WTP!) to an emerging Christian writer, what would it be? 

Learn the craft and the market. Editors are looking for polished manuscripts that won’t take a lot of time, which they don’t have, to edit. Learning the craft involves knowing the structure for different types of manuscripts and genres, practice, knowing the proper manuscript format, getting feedback from a critique group or writing partner, and more practice.

Learning the market involves finding what publications and houses take the types of manuscripts and topics you write (the Christian Writers’ Market Guide makes that task easier), following writers guidelines, and analyzing at least one issue of a periodical or a book-house catalog/website. As a magazine and newsletter editor, I get dozens of articles and queries a year that have nothing to do with the audience and type of periodical. Those are guaranteed rejections.


Friday Five: Dave Zimmerman

Today I’m privileged to feature my friend, Dave Zimmerman. Dave is longtime editor for Intervarsity Press and a columnist at Burnside Writers Collective. His books include Deliver Us from Me-Ville and the devotional compilation My Heart–Christ’s Home Through the Year.

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How to Do a Radio Interview

Micphoto © 2009 Renée Johnson | more info (via: Wylio)



With the publication of my three books, I’ve had to quite a few radio interviews, mostly on Christian radio. I’ve also done some TV interviews as well, but mainly I do radio, because it enables me to do it from home or office and is a good way to promote the message of my books.

I’m not an expert and I still have a long ways to go as a communicator, but along the way I’ve picked up a few tips. I thought I’d share them with you:

  1. Try to use a landline. Cell phones have a come along way, but they are still less reliable than landlines. Producers and hosts prefer landlines, because they produce better audio. Plus there is less a chance that they will cut off in the middle. I once had a great radio interview lined up, one that I’d worked hard to get, only to have it cut off in the middle. I was able to come back on and do the interview, but it was embarrassing. (Oh, and online phones like Magic Jack don’t count!)
  2. If you have to use your cell phone . . . I schedule 90% of my interviews for when I’m in the office here at church and can use the landline. But sometimes I’m scheduled to do it when I’m on an off-day at home. Because we don’t have a landline at home, I’m forced to use my iPhone. I’ve learned a few tricks to making the iPhone sound fairly good. First, I disable the wifi search and the bluetooth capability. Sometimes these tools interfere with the phone’s reception. I also make sure I’m in a good cell area in our home (for me, it’s upstairs in our master bedroom).
  3. Make sure you’re in a quiet room. For me this is pretty easy, because my office is at church and there is typically few if any people here. I usually close my door, however and put the shade down so people know not to disturb me. At home, I go in our master bedroom and lock the door and my wife keeps the kids from disturbing. There have been a few times that I’m home and one of my kids has tried to get in. This is where I master the angry Dad look that lets them know not to bother me!
  4. Be mentally ready. Take a few deep breaths before you start, sit in a comfortable place, drink your favorite beverage, then pray and be ready to minister to the needs of the audience you are about to serve. It’s so important not to be rushed, distracted, or otherwise taken away from task at hand.
  5. Have your talking points ready, but be flexible in your answers. It’s good to know what you’re going to say about your book, but it’s also important to be flexible and draw on the wisdom from God’s Word that you’ve internalized in you. I have found it helpful to answer the hosts questions with answers that eventually lead to the content of your book. And the more you do radio, the easier this gets.
  6. Give short, sound-byte-answers. Remember hosts have segments, time to fill. They have to take breaks. They also have to continue to educate their audience as to who you are and what this show is about. So you need to have a “clock in your head.” If you’re answers are longwinded, you make it tougher for the host. Also, you need to “land the plane” with every answer in that as you are in the middle of sharing, think of how you will draw this answer to a close. Then when you finish your answer, pause, so you can let the host know you are finished and he/she can jump in.
  7. Don’t interrupt. This is a hard one for me. I’m a serial interrupter in conversation, something God is slowly working out of me. It’s important to let a host finish her statement. You will know it’s your turn when he/she inflects her voice for a question and then pauses.
  8. Give them something to chew on. When it’s your turn to speak, speak. Don’t wait too long. Have some content to share. When a book of mine is first being released, I usually have it in front of me and I have some sheets with info. But as a book campaign progresses, I find this stuff becomes internalized and I don’t need that. But it’s always better to have content in front of you, to jog your thoughts so you can give the audience something. It’s also helpful to be energized. I find that walking around and moving my hands like I’m speaking gives me energy. I think that transfers to the audience.
  9. Don’t make it about you, but about the message God has given you. I listen to quite a bit of Christian radio. I find that the interviews that prompt me to buy books are not the ones with the author constantly talking about himself and his book and his wildly successful ministry. They are the interviews where the author pours himself out and offers solid, biblical advice. I have bought a number of books after being in my car and thinking, Wow, this is really good. I need this. I know people who need this. If God has given you a message, share that message and the results, the sales, will take care of themselves.
  10. Don’t expect one interview to be the magic bullet. Unless you’re on Oprah, rarely will a media appearance automatically boost your Amazon rankings. But that doesn’t mean it’s a failure. You have to see each media appearance, each blog review/interview, each speech as adding one more plank to your platform. And each is an opportunity for ministry. This relieves the pressure of having to sell yourself on each interview and having to hit a home run with each appearance. Just be faithful in the opportunities God calls you to and let Him manage the results. He’s pretty good at that.
  11. Be gracious and appreciative. It’s an honor to be featured on any media platform. Producers chose you over hundreds, maybe thousands of options. So be grateful for the appearance. Seek to serve the people at the radio station. And always say, “thank-you” and perhaps send a hand-written note or at least a nice email of thanks.




Creative Tensions: Between the Editor and Your Voice

This is the third post in a series of posts on writing and the creative life. The other two posts are: “Between Annoyance and Passivity“; “Between Authenticity and Plastic.

Today I want to discuss another tension, the one that exists between your unique voice and the hot red pen of the editor. One of the things that is difficult for new writers to understand is that the editor is not your enemy but your friend. I had a good book editor tell me one time, “Dan, you are not Hemingway.” Tough, but great advice. What she was saying is that yes I had talent, but it needed to be polished, just like any other gift. Consider the basketball player who is uncoachable. Can he achieve maximum performance? Or the raw musician who refuses instruction from the maestro. Can he ever get all he wants out of his talent? The answer is always no.

Every writer has a unique voice and style. Bad editors (which are few and far between. I’ve never met one before), hack away and steal the author’s true intent. Good editors seek to carve the rock and bring out the sculpture underneath. I have found my writing sharpened and improved by simply having the willingness to let others into my work. Often my most creative impulses come through after seeing the honest critiques from someone else.

If you hang on to every word and turn of phrase, you will never maximize your God-given gift. I have come to love editors. I realize it’s a unique gift that I don’t have. In fact, for my current book project, I have three people who are going to review every chapter. I gave them one simple instruction: Be Brutal. In other words, I don’t want them giving me smiley stickers and back pats. I want honest critique that will tighten my writing.

Now, does that mean I apply each and every change someone suggests? No. As the author, I reserve the right to say, “thanks but no thanks” to a change. And I do that. If I feel that the word or phrase or section is vital to the overall theme of the project, I leave it in. But not before trying to find another way to say it that is clearer.

Summary: Come to see honest editing of your work as a way of polishing your talent and you will see your writing improve many-fold.