How does one go about accidentally creating a book for oneself? Contrary to popular belief, this is not such an infrequent occurrence for me. To be sure, not all of the work in creating these books was accidental. At some point what had been a fairly low-key activity became something far more conscious and deliberate, but it did not begin so. As this is a not infrequent occurrence in m life in general, I would like to give an example with a book I finished earlier today. As someone who is a particularly prolific reader, this is perhaps the sort of experience which may resonate with others. I will comment both on the process of my own thinking and acting with regards to writing that creates accidental books and what areas in my own practice are lacking that may be present for other people who are more successful writers than I am. With that said, let us begin.
Not too long ago I began reading several books that were collections of sermons . Naturally, as is frequently the case for me, these books gave me ideas. For one, I saw that the books had come either from my own religious tradition (the early, public domain writings of Herbert W. Armstrong) or the Seventh Day Adventists, a tradition that is closer to us than most other denominations are on account of our shared belief in the continuing validity of the biblical Sabbath. From this reading the germ of an idea was in my head that perhaps it would be a good idea for sermon collections to be more commonly done in our own religious tradition. To some extent we have a lot of this data already collected, because the transcripts as well as recordings of many messages are on the website of the church I attend, for example. Nevertheless, it is not something we tend to think of with regards to books of collected material, and I knew that there would likely be many such books that could be made.
It should be noted as well that it was not my interest to see these books in the context of merchandise to sell, although certainly others would have that idea first and foremost in their minds. I am aware, and a practitioner of the philosophy, that what has been freely given to us should be given freely by us to others. And rather than simply waiting on other people to collect their messages together, I thought it would be worthwhile to collect my own messages together and see what kind of volume would be the resort of it. I do not consider myself to be the most prolific speaker that could be found, although I am more familiar with my own efforts than with anyone else’s, and the sample of my messages given from 2005 to 2011 was certainly a convenience sample because my own transcripts are in my own possession, and can even be found here if one is willing to do a lot of digging.
At first I thought there would be maybe a couple hundred pages from the sermonettes I gave in Florida between 2005 and 2011 as well as the various messages I gave while an instructor at Legacy Institute in suburban (?) Northern Thailand to an audience of fellow teachers, scattered brethren, as well as students. As is frequently the case when I guess how long something will be, in the process of collecting these messages together it became obvious that I had saved more of my older messages than I had thought and that the total size of my messages would be immense. After having completed it, I found out that the resulting volume: The Best That I Could Do Vol 1, was more than 300 pages of 8 1/2 x 11 paper. making it a very large resource. And if this is true of my transcripts over the course of 6 years, most of which I was not actually speaking, the transcripts of many ministers and elders and even deacons and lay speakers would be truly immense collections that would far dwarf my own in both size as well as scope. My own contribution to this genre is, like my contribution to most genres, therefore an immensely modest one, but I offer it freely (see the link in this paragraph) for those who are interested in reading the lightly edited effort.
Now, I will freely admit that there are some aspects of writing that I struggle at. Editing is not one of my more favorite tasks, and sometimes those who have watched me speak will see me scribble down edits to the transcript of a message while I am in the process of giving it. I hope that is not too distracting for my audience. More than editing, I simply do not have a good sense for marketing and the turning of my intellectual gifts into valuable merchandise. Some people have a good head for profiting off of what God has given them, but I have never been particularly skilled at this gift. How should what I write be packaged? How can one get positive word of mouth and attention for something? For the most part, I leave such matters more or less up to chance–certainly most of the attention that some of my writing has happened to receive has not come about by any of my own conscious design except through linking related posts together. And so it likely will be with this effort; it is curious to see if it will be a neglected and forgotten work or if it is something that will be passed on widely to an appreciative audience. Only time will tell.
 See, for example: