After much prayer and seeking the Lord’s will, I wrote my first blog post for “I Am the Clay” On March 6, 2012—and another Christian blogger was born. I love writing and found the blog to be the ideal way to share my new-found faith in Christ. Two-and-a-half years and 57 blog posts later, I announced in my post “Power-Aid” that I was going to compile some of the posts into a self-published book—and another Christian author-to-be was born.
Two-and-a-half more years and 35 more blog posts later (and counting), I’m finally ready to share my book-writing progress along with a few details on the formatting.
Here are some links to jump further down the page:
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Let me just forget the build up and throw the subtitle right out here:
I Am the Clay: Everyday Faith; Extraordinary Grace
Non-fiction books need a subtitle so a potential buyer will have an idea what it’s about, especially when the title is “I Am the Clay.” If you’re not familiar with Isaiah 64:8 or the hymn, “Have Thine Own Way,” then “I Am the Clay” just sounds odd and needs some explaining.
Originally, I wanted the subtitle to mention “the Potter” so the “clay” bit would make sense; I also wanted to somehow indicate there was humor in the book.
Here are some I considered:
Working Out Our Faith with Humor and Grace: Stories About Life at the Potter’s Hands
Navigating the Twists and Turns of the Christian Life with Humor and Grace
Everyday Tales of Living Life in the Hands of the Potter
Funny How the Potter Can Turn Your World Upside Down
I have some dear friends who have suffered through the whole subtitle search for months—years, even. (God bless them.) I even put a potential subtitle on Facebook and asked everyone to weigh in. What I got was a lot of feedback, which—when summed up—led me to realize that instead of being a potential subtitle it was a subtitle with zero potential.
Then one morning on the way to work while hurtling down the crowded interstate, it came to me. (Actually, the Holy Spirit came to me. I reckon God was ready for me to get a move on.) I grabbed a pad of paper and a pen, steered with my knee, risked life and limb, and wrote down: Everyday Faith; Extraordinary Grace.
That was it. It has none of my original requirements about mentioning “humor” and “the Potter,” but it’s works; even better, it’s what God gave. (The humor and Potter stuff will go in the copy on the back cover. More to come)
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If I were using a publishing company, all these decisions would be made by them. But by self-publishing, I am in charge of writing, editing, and layout (and coffee).
The Chicago Manual of Style
If you’re familiar with style guides, you’ll know what I mean when I tell you I’m following the Chicago Manual of Style. I started out following the Associated Press (AP) Style Guide, but the Chicago is much more literary-based and doesn’t put everything in quotes.
I am laying everything out in an inexpensive but full-featured software program called iStudio Publisher. I tried to create the book in Microsoft Word but, while Word is great for writing, it isn’t as flexible as publishing software when it comes to making sure everything lines up and looks professional.
Here are the fonts and sizes I’m using, along with some sample pages:
Section title pages
Fonts: Optane, 48 pt./72 pt. for titles; Gibson Light, 14 pt. for scripture verses
Here is a sample Section Title page:
Chapter title pages
Font: Optane, 24 pt.
Chapter title drop cap
Font: Adobe Garamond Pro, 35 pt.
Chapter title inset scripture verses
Font: Gibson Light, 11 pt.
Font: Adobe Garamond Pro, 11 pt.
Here is a sample Chapter Title page, showing the title, the drop cap (the big “I”), the inset scripture verse, and the regular body text used throughout the book:
Font: Gibson Light, 10 pt.
Font: Optane, 8 pt., all caps
Here is a sample odd-numbered page showing the header, scripture verse, and some bulleted information:
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Each chapter (formerly a blog post) lives in one of six sections, each section getting its title from classic hymn lyrics and including a reference verse. They will all be similar to the one above for “This is My Story.”
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith… Ephesians 2:8
Trust and Obey
Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you. Psalm 9:10
Power in the Blood
He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6
I Am Thine, O Lord
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13
God in Three Persons
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. 2 Corinthians 13:14
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Who knew there were so many little decisions to be made? In addition, many of those decisions were made after everything had been written and laid out, meaning that (for example) I had to go back through the entire book and add a header with the book title to every even-numbered page and a header with each chapter title to every odd-numbered page (over 230 pages). Plus, after laying out the entire book, I decided that the chapter title pages weren’t aligned evenly and had to go into 30+ title pages and nudge the content up or down, left or right ever so slightly so that it was consistent throughout the entire book.
Here are the dates each was complete: (As each “Still To Be Completed” task is finished, it will be added to the top of this list.)
11/20/17 Received feedback from my second reviewer, herself a writer. All of her feedback was great and she uncovered quite a few grammatical errors that are no longer errors. (How is it that I’ve looked at this manuscript for this long and missed some of the most obvious things…?)
10/31/17 The Kindle version—first test. No fancy formatting is allowed on Kindle, but the message of grace doesn’t have to be fancy—just understandable.
10/21/17 Received feedback from my first reviewer (nothing major—whew!) and incorporated all suggested edits into the manuscript.
9/24/17 Sent the completed manuscript (except for the final chapter on the plan of salvation, still in progress) to a dear and trusted
victim friend, who will go through the entire book with a fine-toothed comb, both for content and formatting. (More test readers are lined up.)
- Completed a full reading/editing pass through the entire book, making grammatical/formatting changes
- Finalized all written content (what chapters go, which ones stay, combined a couple into a single chapter) and made sure the order feels right
- Created a table of contents
9/13/17 Headers with chapter titles added throughout to all odd-numbered pages.
9/5/17 Headers with the book title added throughout to all even-numbered pages.
9/1/17 Text alignment on every page checked and re-positioned so that it is consistent throughout.
8/28/17 All page footers (page numbers and decorative lines) positioned to be consistent.
8/28/17 All footers on all blank pages removed.
8/27/17 Every m-dash (the long dashes—like that) made consistent. (Turns out, I use m-dashes a lot…)
8/27/17 Finalize the order of the entire book—which chapter goes in which section and in what order. This included moving hundreds of pages around and keeping track of what went where.
8/26/17 Text alignment on all title pages adjusted to be consistent throughout.
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Still to Be Completed
- Work with my graphic designer to design the cover. (She’s talented!)
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To keep up with my progress on the book, as well as when new blog posts are published, click here or on the Facebook logo below and visit my page.