To the Ends of the Earth

Photo of a mailbox on a country road
How does the Lord deliver his words of comfort and challenge to the people who need to hear them?

Oh, he has his ways!

In my last post, I described how I wrote a collection of hymns and faith songs and filed them away while the Lord assigned me other kinds of writing.

But that wasn’t the end of the music story …

Changing Direction

Over a year later, one Monday morning in October, 2011, I woke up and asked, “What do you have for me today, Lord?” For three months running, his answer had been, “Keep working on your novel.” I expected that day’s marching orders to be the same.

But, no.

My writing assignment for that day (and the next several months, as it turned out) was to publish a Kindle version of my hymn collection.

Huh? I didn’t know anything about Kindles!

Then again, I didn’t know anything about songwriting either, but the Holy Spirit made that happen!

Off and Running …

I hopped out of bed and hit the Internet for information about e-books. First I tackled the fun part: creating a cover image from my photo of a monarch butterfly perched on a pretty pink weed. Never mind that the actual book didn’t exist yet. I had a cover!

That’s not all. The very day I finished the cover design, an e-mail arrived from an online copy-and-print service, offering one hundred free custom postcards.

I thought, “If I knew for sure that this e-book would happen, postcards with my cover image on the front and contact information on the back would make a great promotional item!”

To which the Holy Spirit retorted, “What do you mean, ‘IF‘?”

A week later the mail truck delivered one hundred beautifully printed promotional postcards to go with my cover image. I had Bible verses picked out to go with the songs. I was ready to start compiling my content into a book.

… Into Trouble

Good thing I didn’t know then what I was getting into! Learning the complexities of formatting a manuscript for Kindle was more laborious than writing the songs in the first place. After all, an e-book isn’t exactly a song book’s natural habitat.

  • The twenty-six pages of sheet music had to be inserted as twenty-six individual pictures, which are limited to the width of the Kindle screen.
  • Ebook readers might want to use the sheet music in hard copy. I had to figure out how to provide a printable PDF file.
  • Several hundred “bookmarks” and “hyperlinks” had to be created within the manuscript to enable e-book readers to jump between the table of contents, the song descriptions, the sheet music pages, the texts, and the companion Bible verses.

There were lots of other things to learn and do in the Kindle formatting process. It didn’t go smoothly. In November, I bought a used Kindle to help troubleshoot persistent display problems. I sought help from Kindle forums. But every glitch I solved led to another.

Photo of a Kindle screen displaying sheet music with a double image of the song title

Double trouble:  At one point, all the sheet music in my e-book displayed double title headings, like overlapping pages.
To learn how to avoid that glitch, and lots more how-I-did-it information, see the links at the bottom of this post.

By January I was an inch away from giving up. Who was I trying to kid? I’m not some big HTML expert. Getting everything to work right was impossible. For me, anyway.

Soaring on the Promises of God

But the memory of that October morning kept me grinding forward. The Lord had assigned me this project. He must know there was a way to fix all these formatting problems. He would show me what I needed to learn.

And he did! A nicely formatted Kindle book titled Songs for the Lord went live on Amazon on February 14, 2012. What a divine valentine!

Now people all over America and even Europe have downloaded the book. Instead of gathering dust in a drawer, my songs have flown across the ocean on cyber-wings!

Photo of broad streaks of yellow sunlight across evening clouds

 

 “When the Holy Spirit comes upon you, you will be filled with power, and you will be witnesses for me … to the ends of the earth.”
– Acts 1:8 (GNT)

Sharing the Experience

Besides sharing the excitement of following the Holy Spirit to a completed project, I want to share the nuts and bolts of Kindle publishing I picked up along the way.

I’ve posted on my Resources page two handouts I put together for a focus group I led at Montrose Christian Writers Conference in July, 2012. One covers the What, Why, Where, Who, and How of publishing an e-book. The other explains how to create bookmarks and hyperlinks in a Microsoft Word document. I also posted a cheat-sheet for promoting a Kindle book with KDP free days.

The technical and social aspects of e-publishing change every day, so any guide is quickly outdated to some extent. I hope, though, that you’ll find something useful in these three free items and the other recommended links on the Resources page.

And please post a comment to share your own tips or troubles with e-book publishing.

4 thoughts on “To the Ends of the Earth

  1. Wow! You are an inspiration! I know the Lord has commissioned me to write another book for married women, so each Tuesday, I work on the poems for it. It’s a challenge, but, hey, I live on challenges! Thanks for the encouragement, my friend.

  2. Pingback: 10 Tips to Put Your Poem to Music | AWEsome Writers Group

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