Book Review

How Crafting a Kid’s Story Taught Me that Publishing a Book is an Odyssey

Last year, I had the joy of baptizing my son Joshua. As we talked through his decision beforehand, I began to think how our conversations could help other kids and parents understand the ordinance of baptism. When COVID disrupted normal day-to-day office routines, I had more time to think. I began grasping how a kid’s book about baptism could help pastors, parents, and kids communicate and comprehend theological truth more easily.

I began forming a story based on discussions I’ve had with my children. Four young kids make the likelihood of distractions during conversations inevitable. I weaved disruptions into the storyline to help readers learn the personalities of the kids, and well, because it’s real-life! Many of the comical interludes were based on real-world events from our family.

The Cera Kids Learn About Baptism is a story about a girl named Elizabeth who is spiritually curious and desiring to learn why she ought to be baptized. Wax is translated into Spanish as Cera, so the kids names are based on our own four kids–Joseph Tyler, Abigail Elizabeth, Joshua Paul, and Jonathan Patrick Wax.

I’d be grateful if you purchased the book. You can buy it on Amazon for $11.99 here. If you do buy the book, I’d also really appreciate it also if you left a positive review on Amazon. This will help spread the word to others. All proceeds from the book are donated to the North American Mission Board and the International Mission Board.

Here are three things I learned from the process that may help others thinking about taking the book-writing plunge.

1. An editor really will help you make the book better. I’m blessed that my older brother Trevin has written several books. He was a great resource and provided great suggestions and feedback. He recommended an excellent editor (Julie Breihan) who was willing to take my book on as a project. Julie helped sharpen my writing and provided great coaching on the overall direction of the book. Her biggest contribution was tethering me to Elizabeth’s point of view throughout the story. This was a struggle for me, because I’ve never written fiction before. My previous published writing experience involved news, commentary, and this blog. Children’s fiction is just an entirely different beast.

2. Expect to go the self-publishing route. If you don’t already have a platform (large following, social media influencer, etc), odds are publishers won’t care about your book. Publishing is a business, and they’re looking for home run and grand slam proposals with minimal risk. Most first-time authors self-publish their first book. I pitched my book to a few publishers, but unsurprisingly none were interested. It was frustrating, but I just kept moving forward. I titled my publisher For the Church Press, because I hope this book (and others) will help strengthen the church.

3. Getting the book properly formatted was the toughest and most frustrating part of the process. I really enjoyed working with my illustrator and brother in Christ, Daniel Wlodarski. He’s a gifted creator, and each illustration he sent was truly a joy for Bethany and me to receive. The tough part was choosing the size of the book, submitting proper digital files to the publishing company, and the overall formatting of the book. It’s just a time-consuming and boring (at least to me) process. It’s a lot like learning a new language. When it came to book formatting, I definitely was on the bleeding edge for this book. Thankfully, I learned a lot and will be able to rely on a great book formatting team for the next project.

Writing and publishing a book is truly a journey. There will be rough seas, but the end result makes the odyssey worth it. I’ve enjoyed giving the book to kids who attend our Agape 101 class here in Korea. It’s been a blessing hearing from people in the US and overseas who have enjoyed it. Knowing it’s making a difference makes the moments of heartburn worth it. Thanks be to God for providing me the inspiration, time, and resources to bring it to fruition.

If you decide to give it a read, I truly hope it blesses you and your family too.

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