Mistakes I’ve Made as an Author

Thom RainerToday’s guest post comes to us from my good friend Thom Rainer. Dr. Rainer is the CEO and President of LifeWay Christian Resources and has authored more than two dozen books.

If you want to hear some really stupid mistakes I made as an author, then read the following with the hope that it might help you.

I have authored, co-authored, or edited 24 books. So how many of those books were good books? I am embarrassed to say. Let me just confess that the number is far below 24.

For the first time in my life I have two top-selling books (I Am a Church Member and Autopsy of a Deceased Church), either in the top ten or top fifteen depending on the service doing the rankings. But my path has been arduous and full of mistakes. Maybe my confessions about these eleven mistakes will help you who are writing—or considering writing—a book.

  1. I forgot my audience. I wrote a book for me, not for my readers. I did not consider what they wanted or needed to hear. I became self-absorbed and wrote out of my ego instead of the needs of others.
  2. I expected my publisher to promote my book. Books that have great receptivity in the marketplace are written by people who have a platform on which to speak. I wrote books and sat back and waited on my publisher. Stupid mistake.
  3. I wrote a book expecting great financial returns. Very, very, very few authors make much money on their books. I am ashamed that it was a primary motivator for me with some of my books (Disclaimer: My royalties from B&H go to a charitable fund.). The book must be about the message. Not many authors can make a living only by writing.
  4. I did not verify “facts” in my book. I remember the first time my editor called me and said a statement in my book could not stand as it was written. The sentence began with these words: “Statistics show that . . .” I have since learned that you never write or say those words. You cite your source and the exact findings.
  5. I did not seek outside counsel about my book. I bulldozed forward as if I were the font of all knowledge. If I had asked a few trusted advisors to evaluate my book before I submitted it, I would have saved a lot of pain.
  6. I argued with my editor. Several books ago, I just knew I had the perfect title for a book. My editor, who had probably helped launch several hundred books, said that my title stunk. I thought I knew more than he did, so I argued for two weeks over the issue. He finally told me to go ask any 10 to 12 people to choose the title. I asked 10 people. And 10 out of 10 people liked his title. Most of them laughed at my title. He prevailed and the book did well.
  7. I thought the best path to sell my book was to get it on the shelves of retail stores. I learned this lesson the hard way as well. Here is the lesson I learned: if a book has a message people want to hear, retailers will carry it. But if it has to be pushed on them to be put it in their stores, sales will be anemic even if they comply. Customers can buy any title they want via the Internet today. If brick-and-mortar stores see it’s doing well online, they will carry it in their stores.

To read Thom’s remaining mistakes, click here.

Your partner in ministry,


Write-Your-First-Book-icon-2016P.S. – There are many more mistakes you can make as a first-time author – and I’d like to help you avoid them all.

Here’s your chance to learn EVERYTHING you need to know about writing, publishing and growing your ministry including what I’ve personally learned after publishing 15 books!

You’re invited to join me and discover How To Write Your First Book With Less Stress, Time and Energy (Even If You Got Bad Grammar!) on April 21 -22, 2016 in Walt Disney World, Orlando, FL.

Register now – Your Super Early Bird Rate ends TODAY, Friday, March 4th!  Less than 78 seats left – Click here to secure your spot and save $450.00 when you register TODAY!


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About Nelson Searcy

Nelson Searcy is an experienced church growth strategist, pastor, church planter and coach, consulting with churches around the world. As founder of Church Leader Insights and the Renegade Pastors Network, he has personally trained more than 3,500 church leaders in over 45 denominations through live events, seminars and monthly coaching. Nelson is also the Founding and Lead Pastor of The Journey Church, with locations across New York City and in Boca Raton, FL. Nelson and his church routinely appear on lists such as “The 50 Most Influential Churches” and “The 25 Most Innovative Leaders.” He is the author of over 100 church growth resources and 18+ books, including The Renegade Pastor: Abandoning Average in Your Life, Ministry and The Difference Maker: Using Your Everyday Life for Eternal Impact, and At the Cross with the People Who Were There. He and his wife, Kelley, have one son, Alexander.

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