In 2010 I was in a prayer meeting talking to God about my future. During that meeting He spoke to me, clear as day, and said the word “Write.” So, in obedience, I started writing. I began blogging (which is a discipline all its own) and then while I was blogging I began working on a book. But what should I write about? The most obvious subject was the work I was doing for my church at that moment. Since I had been teaching the members of my church how to pray, I had scribbled some basic teachings on a half-sheet of paper which I pulled out at our weekly prayer meetings and talked through. Those notes, which developed into mini-lessons in prayer, became the skeleton structure for what would be the content of my first book, Ordinary Prayer.
Writing for me is an act of obedience, but it is not only obedience. I wrote Ordinary Prayer not only because I felt I should, but also because I felt there was a genuine need to help Christians gain a better grasp on the basics of a prayer life. I also, very practically, wanted to write a book that would help my church.
This also is the reason why I’ve chosen to self-publish. The publishing world, and perhaps especially the Christian publishing world, is a fairly competitive environment. It is also an environment hostile to new and unknown authors (*ahem, like me). You don’t have to search the website of any publisher for very long until you come right up against the hard rebuttal that “We accept no unsolicited manuscripts.” In some ways this makes good sense—every pastor under the sun and a good many Christians in general fancy themselves as the next great Christian author. The refusal of unsolicited manuscripts must be, as much as anything else, an act of self-defense.
But more even than this, I recognize that I am, by and large, precisely nobody. Now, if I was pastor of a church of 500 or 1000, a publishing company might look at me and think, “Regardless of content, if he publishes a book we’ll sell several hundred copies.” I am not that kind of pastor, and consequently, in the eyes of a publishing establishment, I am not a particularly great investment.
Lastly, it is my understanding that with modern publishing, authors are largely responsible for their own marketing. In other words, even if I were to successfully get a publishing company to look at my book, it would still fall to me to do the work of getting the word “out there.” Marketing was the only major service for which I would desire a publisher, especially because I felt confident to do the work of editing, copy editing, and proofing myself. I also felt capable to typeset, format, and design both the interior and exterior of the book. (For the record, I usually employ my wife’s help for cover design.) All those things being the case, I concluded that I might as well do the publishing work myself, and harvest a greater portion of whatever revenue might come my way. Do I have my sights set on fame and fortune? Not really. But hopefully I’ve been able to produce quality products.
Obedience, combined with a desire to help the church, still drives me to write. Just check out the Future Projects page to see what’s in store!
Jeremy Rios was raised in the American Midwest. He studied Greek and Latin at Wheaton College and has a Masters of Divinity from Regent College in Vancouver, BC. From 2008-2013 he served as pastor of New Hope Alliance Church in Surrey, British Columbia. Since 2013 he has served as Lead English Pastor at Burnaby Alliance Church. He is married, has three children, and loves cooking, reading, films, and great conversation.