Mark had heard stories about the persecutions of the past. But all he had ever known was peace, and in his youthful innocence, he didn’t realize how quickly this could change.
In AD 284, Diocletian was crowned emperor of Rome. Almost two decades later, just as Mark was starting up his own home, Diocletian set loose the demons of hell on the Church. The persecution lasted less than a decade, but it was the worst that Christians had ever experienced. And Mark and his wife Lydia were caught right in the middle.
They had a choice. They could give up their faith and live. Maybe even prosper.
Or they could stand firm. And die…
The Century of Crisis:How did the Christian church go from being a persecuted church to being a persecuting church within a century? This is the first of four books in this series, and tells the story of Christians living under the rule of Diocletian. The second book tells the story of Christians under the rule of Constantine. The third book takes a look at Christians under Julian (the apostate), and the fourth book will look at them becoming the state church under Theodosius.
Understanding God when He doesn’t seem to understand you
God, I have so many questions. So many things I don’t understand.
God, you promised me a Christian husband and family, but I’m getting too old.
God, you gave me the desire to be an engineer but haven’t given me the money I need to go to university.
God, why did you let my mother die after I claimed your power to heal her?
God, I’ve prayed and prayed but you still haven’t given me the money I need to pay my gambling debts.
God, I prayed but you didn’t answer. In fact, I’ve prayed for years, but you just ignore me.
God, why did my innocent little girl have to die? Why did you allow someone to kidnap her and rape her?
God, my baby is sick and needs an operation. Are you punishing him because of my sins?
The seed for this book came from questions like this written by people like you. I have struggled along with many of you, trying to answer that question: “Why Lord?” Understanding God’s answers, or lack of answers, can be hard.
In this book, I’ve tried to cast some light on this. It’s just a little bit of light because in many ways God is beyond my understanding. Yet God doesn’t want you to wallow in a slough of despair. If you are drowning in the mud of doubt and misery, I hope this book will give you a glimpse of something better. And help you to understand God better.
The twenty-eight chapters in this book each include a chapter from the Gospel of Matthew in the World English Bible. The commentary and questions guide the reader to understand who Jesus really is. An excellent ministry resource for mass distribution or to give to your neighbors.
Life isn’t meant to be hopeless or meaningless. God has answers. Solomon had every material thing he could wish for, yet he lacked one thing: meaning in life. To find it, he went on a quest. This book is a study of Ecclesiastes and was previously published under the title Where Is God When Life Doesn’t Make Sense?
I receive a check from my publisher well within the promised time-frame. At this point, I feel that the bad press I’ve read about Christian Faith Publishers is mostly fake news.
I’ll say several things here, then lay this post to rest.
When self-publishing, YOU are in charge of your success or failure. Don’t expect that giving the publisher extra money to promote your book for you is going to do much.
Be prepared to DO YOUR OWN PROMOTION WORK
Watch over every aspect of the work, from editing to layout to online promotion. Step in and insist on changes when you see a problem
Make sure that your project is as good as you can get it before you give it over to the self-publishing world. Have it read by critical reviewers who know what they are doing. Pay for good content editing by an experienced editor, no matter how good a writer or editor you might be.
This book includes a short summary and introduction of every book in the Bible. It also gives a brief introduction to Bible study methods. If you want to know more about the Bible this might be the book for you.
NOTE: I recently got an email asking about my experience self-publishing with a certain publisher. I think most points are applicable for most self-publish services. This post is not promoting or denigrating any particular publisher.
Pretty well any publisher will provide stability to a project, too often missing in self-published books. [Be sure to do an internet search for other people’s experiences because there are a few bad eggs out there.]
They provide some editorial and design services.
They put you in contact with sellers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble
They take care of the e-book formatting, etc.
Many will allow you to pay for their services over a ten month period.
I have heard and experienced mostly good reports from in house “publishing experts”
The price often seems very high for the services they provide.
In my case I needed to find my own contact editor. The publisher said that they edit the books but it was only a copy edit, and they didn’t edit structure or story flow. This is a very important editorial function and a normal sized book will probably cost you an additional thousand dollars or so. When I contracted with them, I thought this was part of their editorial process. My book was too far into the process for me to pull, so it actually didn’t get the editorial treatment I like for my writing to have. [Make sure you know the details.]
I ended up doing a suggested cover layout of my own. Their designer added finishing touches which were good, but I’m not sure what they would have done otherwise. I get the feeling they have certain templates they use that allow them to fast-track design. You have to be clear in your expectations and not afraid to ask for changes. BUT each change request adds a month to the process. My project ended up taking close to a year.
The first uploads to Amazon and Barne’s & Noble had obvious errors in the descriptions. While my publishing expert was quick to get this fixed, it again depended on me to ask for it. I felt that for the price I paid, they should have been more careful about details in various times throughout the project. I asked for advice different times and it seemed like the person in charge of my project was reluctant to step out with concrete suggestions.
Maybe my expectations were too high. But it is the little things that derail the success of your book. If you feel comfortable being your own general contractor, here is what you probably need to expect.
You need some good reviewers, not just people who pat on the back for your “wonderful work.” You need critics. Cost? It depends on who you know.
You need a good content editor. Say a thousand dollars? Depends on book size.
You need a thorough copy editor. Another thousand? Amazon has both available, but look for some good freelancers. I’d say that a good content and copy edit would cost you at least $1500 and maybe as high as $2,000, depending on the length and complexity of your book.
You need someone to design the layout and the cover of your book. Maybe $750 or so.
You need someone to design / format your e-book. Another $500 – 750.
My publisher also did a video trailer, which makes a good sales point, but I’m not impressed with mine and I don’t think it will really generate a lot of sales. They gave me a page on their website, but I have my own website. They do a press release, but I don’t know how many get printed or read. They do make the book available on a world wide distribution network.
I’m waiting to see how much their marketing efforts will help my book. But I suspect that in most cases, you will have to do your own promotions to make it work. It is hard to know who much these things help and how many simply make a good sales pitch. I don’t feel that they are dishonest, and a lot of people do seem to like their work. The books I have from them are good quality.
I paid them around $4800, most of which I borrowed. Add content editorial and I would be at close to $6000. [That was CND $$. US $$ might be cheaper.]
To produce the same thing on my own, if I had to hire everything, would cost around $3500. Say $4000 to be safe. So the extra $2000 goes for services like getting an ISBN, getting the book into the distribution chains and online, and giving me some security. Is it worth that? I’m glad in some ways that I took this route for my first self-published project. I know what to expect now. However, I used to do layout and cover design when I worked for Rod and Staff Publishers, so I could probably knock up to another $1500 off that. If I do another self-published project I’ll likely do it myself. But my next book has already been accepted by a regular publisher, and they have made me an offer on writing future books for them that I really can’t turn down. It takes some of the variables out of everything. Especially, they pay for editorial and review and do all the design without me financing it.
That should be your long term goal. Look at self-publishing as an investment in your future. But be sure that you do a good job of it, so that you can use your books to sell yourself to a publisher. I haven’t been very impressed with many of the kindle books I’ve download from Amazon to try to get a feel for the market.
Blessings on your work. If you have more questions, feel free to ask in the comments, or contact me using the contact form. However, I’m finding my way as well, so I’m not an expert. Note that the costs I mentioned are off the top of my head, but they should be close.
There’s no end to the publishing of books, and constant study wears you out so you’re no good for anything else. (Ecc 12:12 MSG)
UPDATE: This book has now been on the market for about nine months. I have found the biggest downside of self-publishing through a publisher to be the fact that you can’t set your own prices. You can’t do any kindle give-aways, or sell hard copies at a discount. My impression is that the pricing is about 25% to high.
The marketing my publisher did for me [if any] accomplished nothing, as far as I can tell. On the other hand, about four months ago a traditional publisher released a small book that I wrote. I didn’t really expect much of it, but someone I knew wanted a book on that subject. They sold over a thousand books in the first three months. No cost to me for editorial, marketing, or layout. I won’t tell you how many self-published books I’ve sold in the past nine months.
This was my first “novel” and has sold over 10,000 copies in English. Not sure about the others. I wrote this under contract and don’t get any royalties, so it’s hard to know for sure what the sales figures are. It was published in 2005, in English, 2012 in German, 2011 in Ukranian, and 2014 in Spanish. All but the Ukranian copy are available from Rod and Staff Publishers.