After working in the Christian book industry for ten years, there are some consistencies in writing mishaps that I have noticed coming from authors who are believers. Fortunately, these things can easily be avoided and I will explain how below.
Don’t Use “Christianese”
There are phrases and terms that we may commonly use in our circles, denominations, or regions that may confuse readers from other groups or areas. The last thing you want to do is alienate those people or obscure the truth of your message because of your “Spirit-led lingo.” This is especially true if you are hoping to reach unbelievers with your book.
Also when it comes to Christian terms and phrases, I find it really boring when a book is chock full of common Christian lingo that ends up sounding like Bible-thumping mumbo jumbo. Work at saying things in a way that is not that same as we always hear it, yet clear and concise so the reader understands what you are writing.
Watch Your Capitalization
For some reason, when some Christian authors start writing about the Lord, every single thing that could possibly relate to Him ends up getting capitalized. This is not only incorrect, but also difficult for readers when every other word (I might be exaggerating a bit) is capped! Words like God’s grace, glory, love, His hand, etc. are all lowercase. It’s up to the publisher and the author if they will capitalize the pronouns of God, most people still do but a few publishers won’t to keep in line with current editing styles. If you are unsure of some words, grab a copy of the Christian Writer’s Manual of Style, (I have the expanded edition) where you can find an extensive list of religious and Christian terms and how they should appear in print. It is a great resource to have on hand, especially if you are planning to write a lot.
Know Your Theology
If you are going to write a Christian living book (or any other type of Christian book, for that matter) it would be a great benefit to you to have someone you know who really knows the Bible and theology to read things over to make sure that you are on the right track and have all the Bible facts straight. As an author, people will be looking to your book as an authority on whatever topic you are writing about, so that last thing you want to do is to lead people astray with a teaching that doesn’t line up with the Word of God. I would advise new authors to stay away from “gray” areas and controversial topics that they could get backlash from. The goal of your first few books is to help establish you as an author so you don’t want to kill your writing career even before it starts with bad theology or by putting things in your book that are not biblical, even if it is by mistake. If you have Moses building the ark, you want someone to bring that to your attention!
Check Your Verses (Especially if You are a Pastor!)
How many of you know a pastor who can just pull Bible verses and their references out of thin air faster than a cowboy can pull his gun out? I do! It is wonderful to have the Bible put to memory like that. However, we are all human, and I have discovered that the books which had the most errors in Bible quotations or had the wrong reference down, came from leaders in ministry. Even if you are totally sure that you have the right scripture verse, check it again, chances are that you may have gotten a few mixed up here or there. It will be a problem if you are directing people to Matthew 29:6 or Revelation 23:7.
If you have a good editor and book production team, normally they will catch these things, but be aware that they might be overlooking other important things such as punctuation, grammar, or sentence structure if they have to be so focused on fixing your capitalization errors or wrong theology. Your finished book will be a whole lot better if the manuscript starts out without these four issues taking up the majority of the editor’s time so they can focus on the right things while they work.