From a Crazy Idea to a Finished Devotional in less than 3 Months with Deb Potts

Do you want to learn how one author finished her devotional book in less than 3 months?

Today, Deb Potts is joining us as she shares her experience on publishing her 40-Day devotional book in such a short period of time.

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From A Crazy Idea

Shelley: In this episode, I’m going to position the spotlight on one of my members, Deb Potts. Welcome, Deb!

Deb: Thank you, I’m so glad to be here.

Shelley: Deb is a speaker, author, and mentor to married women. She loves to share the lessons God taught her about forgiveness, healing, and destiny. I love that.

She says that God called her to follow him just at the brink of a family tragedy. She shares her story with anyone who will listen in coffee shops and auditoriums, with humor and candor. Deb lives in Michigan with Bruce, her husband of 49 years. Wow! That’s awesome. And together they lead the marriage ministry at their church campus.

They have two married children and two grandsons. You can find more information about her book Make Peace with Prickly People at DebPotts.com.

So this episode I’m actually going to have you share something, Deb that you did before you joined Author Audience Academy. It was such a neat story that I felt it would be just a great opportunity for others to learn from the process you went through.

In this episode, Deb is going to share how she went from a crazy idea to a finished devotional in less than three months. I’m so excited to hear more from you.

Share with us a little bit about what happened in those three months.

Deb: A lot happened in those three months. It was probably about the beginning of June of 2016, and our anniversary was September 4. We started talking about what we wanted to do for our anniversary and decided we would have a party.

So, we were getting ready and kind of planning for the party. We were going to have a tent in the backyard, and all the sudden my husband gets this brilliant idea. He said, “Let’s write a devotional and we can give it away to everybody who comes to the party!”

I honestly wasn’t real excited about that idea, to begin with, because I was in the middle of finishing the edits on my print book. It was due to be launched September 12th – eight days after our party. So I was really busy going back and forth with the cover artist, the layout artist, and doing edits on my book.

At the same time, my husband and I were planning a major event at Church for August 29, five days before our anniversary. We had over 200 people invited. It was a big event to promote mentoring and try to intentionally recruit more mentors.

So I said, “Are you out of your mind? I’m going to write another book at the same time?”

Shelley: This was during a season that you were really busy.

Deb: Yeah! I was really busy.

Shelley: A lot of authors are like, “I can’t write a book, I’m too busy.”

Deb: That’s exactly what I thought. But I didn’t leave room for God, I guess. I started thinking about it and thinking about it a little bit more. We have a real passion for marriage. We were 18 years into our marriage before we became Christ followers, and we’re really committed to leaving a different legacy for our kids, our grandkids, and future great grandchildren.

We wanted to leave something, and he kept running me over with his idea of writing this book. He said that it would give us an opportunity to really impact the future generations.

I also want to let my grandchildren into my heart a little bit. I only knew one of my grandparents out of the four, and I would love to know what they’re lives were like and what their faith was like.

My grandparents, both sets, were divorced in a time when hardly anybody got divorced. My dad grew up with no dad and my mom grew up with no mom. We just really have a passion for marriage and family.

So he won me over. I decided, “OK, let’s do this.” So we prayed and that’s where we start.

Planning Ahead

Shelley: That’s the best place to start.

Deb: It is. There is literally no other way this could have happened, without God’s work in it. The first thing that we did was we sat down and brainstormed what items are we going to have in this devotional? We wanted 40 items since it was 40 years.

So we kind of just brainstormed and wrote down all the different events of our lives. We included our wedding, times when we moved, the birth of our kids, and the miscarriage that I had. Then we include our decision to follow Christ, the impact on our family, the time when two of our parents have passed away and all those different things. We also added Bruce’s career, writing my book, starting my ministry, and things like that.

We got it down to 40, and then we chose a scripture verse for each one of those and a photo to go with it. That took a lot of time because we started digging through all kinds of albums. We wanted to do that anyway for the party so the albums were out.

For each event, we would choose a scripture, a photo, a title. Then we divided them up so that we each got 20 to write. We also created a Word template, because we wanted the left-hand side of the page to be the title, the scripture, the picture, and then the right-hand side of the page would be the text. It would have to fit on one page.

So we thought ahead and decided what book size we wanted to have for the finished product. This way we could figure out what font, margins and things like that we need to use. That’s because we knew we wouldn’t have much time for the formatting to take place.

We started doing that. We created some Dropbox files so that we could share the work even when he’s traveling and out of town. So he could work on it and we could share the files. We would have a folder for devotionals yet to be written.

We would have one for devotionals that needed to be edited, and we edited each other’s draft. We didn’t have time to hire anybody to do the editing. Then we had a folder for the pictures and a folder for the finished devotional.

We got to work, and that was probably around the middle or late June when we started actually getting serious about the project. We just dug away at it little by little until we got to the point where we started wondering about these pictures. A lot of them we were scanning in from our photo albums and they weren’t looking that great.

Luckily, one advantage I had is that I already had a relationship with a layout artist and with a cover artist. This is because I was doing the other book. I probably could have done better at getting better prices if I had been in Author Audience Academy before that because we didn’t have a really good bargain.

I knew they worked well since I was working well with them, and they could get the job done when I asked them, “Could you rush this?”

So we decided to give the layout artist a file of the pictures first, just to make sure they were going to be OK. Then, he came back and checked the bad photos off on a list and said, “These are not OK.” So we had to go back and try to find some more.

We ended up buying some photos online to replace some of them. They’re not all that great, but this is a free giveaway so it’s OK. Some of them are a little blurry and washed out, but we thought it was OK for the use that we had for it. That was the process that we went through.

We got the graphic artist – she was a real trooper and she got it done in three days. So she got the coverage. For the layout artist, that took him a month, but that was a lot of back and forth between us and him. We were editing at the same time and getting the pictures in there.

I was planning on publishing my book, my other book, on IngramSpark. So we decided to use IngramSpark for this one as well, and just do it as a print book. That was easy also because I already had that knowledge about how to go about uploading it and things like that.

We ordered the print books August 22nd. They were shipped on August 26th, and our event was September 4th.

Shelley: Wow!

Deb: They got there just in time.

Shelley: Awesome. Did people enjoy it? Did they really find that a significant gift?

Deb: Yeah! It was so precious when we gave them. Nobody knew about it. It was a surprise, so we didn’t tell our kids. So Bruce’s dad was there, and his sister came from out of state. All my sisters were there, except one who didn’t make it.

We had lots and lots of family, and some of our friends who had been in our wedding were there as well. It was a really great day. We had a great celebration, and that was the surprise as the end, that we had these books for them. Some of our family members read them that night, the entire book.

Shelley: Yes! Like you said, that’s something that they’ll cherish. I would cherish something like that from any of my family members. Just the fact that there were personal pictures in there as well.

But there were several things that you did that were really key to your success.

The first thing you did was you sat down and brainstormed your outline. Basically, your outline was based upon the different events. Now, every book is going to be different, but for non-fiction books, there is probably going to be some sort of brainstorming session that you can use to outline your book. So you did that in the very beginning.

The second thing you did was you decided on the format. I find that for devotionals, it’s really nice to decide on that flow, and the format, ahead of time so that you know what the pieces I need for every day are. It’s almost like putting together a puzzle.

Once you know, when you’re putting together a puzzle and you have the outer edges. It’s like it’s so much easier then to fill in the other pieces. It’s almost like you did that and God just lead you in that processes of putting out that outline and the formatting of how you were going to do each devotional.

Then what’s so powerful. I have a blog post all about this – about having a coauthor. What’s the best part is, guess what? You only had to write half of the book.

Deb: Yeah!

Shelley: I’ve done that many times where I’ve had coauthors, and we’ll divide up the book. You can get things done a lot faster but it has to be the right person. There can be issues if it’s not the right person because you can’t agree on things.

But when it’s the right person, it can really help you get the work done faster. And for you and your husband, how perfect! I just love this.

So as far as any encouragement that you just want to share to authors in a take action tip, what would you share today?

Deb: I think just planning ahead. That was huge. If we didn’t do that, we never would have had the book done on time.

I just really would encourage people to just go for it. We spend all this time thinking about that book we want to write, and they say something like 95% of people wants to write a book. Yet we keep that inside of us and never becomes real.

We don’t have that to leave behind. Maybe there is somebody in the future generation that is going to look for that. I have Bibles that belong to my grandma and my great aunt and there is nothing written in them, at all. I have nothing of them, their thoughts.

So, think about the future and who needs to read the story that’s in your heart.

Shelley: Yes, I love that. You just have no idea what God will do. I always encourage people to be finishers of what God has called you to do. Once you have finished that, God can then use it in a multitude of ways.

You never know how He’s going to use it. I would encourage you and your husband to put that devotional on Kindle for other people to have access to. Or as a PDF download when they sign up for your email list. Allow other people to be impacted.

Once you have that, once you finished it, God can use it in so many different ways that you have no idea. I get emails and it just blows my mind of what God is doing. So yes, I love that!

Thank you so much for sharing with us, and again just share where people can find you online if they want to connect with you more.

Deb: It’s DebPotts.com. And they can sign up there for my email list. You will get some free goodies if you sign up for that. So come over and see what I have.

Shelley: So go check out her website and connect with her.

Thank you so much for sharing your story. It’s just such a fun story for so many reasons. I just thank you for being here today.

Deb: Thanks so much Shelley. I really appreciate it.

Shelley: Thank you all so much for listening and being here for this episode of Author Audience. I will see you next time!

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