Writing and publishing Under Siege was intimate and personal, and also not possible without intentional interaction with others in the Body of Christ.
In April 2016 I was invited to speak at a pastors and spouses conference taking place in October 2016. The request was for two keynote talks on religious freedom, a subject that has been woven into my adult life through education and experience. One talk would be about religious freedom in Canada and other about the global persecuted church.
Somewhat uncharacteristically, I started work on the project early. Long before the deadline was even on the horizon, I was praying, outlining, researching and capturing thoughts—I sleep with a notepad on the nightstand. Waking early one morning with the idea of turning the Canada talk into a book, I scribbled out three section heading ideas and many of the chapter titles before going back to sleep. Beginning that morning in May, work on the talk was combined with work on the book.
At the same time, I was finishing teaching a course on living a public faith; part of the apologetics training year at Ottawa School of the Bible—OSB is a practical understanding and application Bible school that is an initiative of the Lifecentre, and is accessed by students and pastors from across the city. I was teaching those in or interested in Christian leadership, and in October I would be speaking to pastors and their spouses. As a result, I found myself writing for Christian leaders, pastors and their spouses.
There are well written books on religious freedom in Canada for lawyers and academics, but missing was something designed to equip the troops who are engaged in the daily frontline spiritual warfare of 21st century Canada. Christian leaders minister in a human rights minefield, both real and imagined. They are the people who will primarily benefit from an accurate understanding of the Canadian situation. Under Siege is written for them, for us.
It wasn’t until late August or early September that I convinced myself I was actually writing a book for publication and willing to accept the responsibility to finish the task. I’ve written blogs, opinion pieces for newspapers, and had a regular column in Faith Today, but I hadn’t written a book until Under Siege. As a result, I started seeking advice from people who had written, edited, published and marketed books.
In the east end of Ottawa, a small group of Christian leaders gather for breakfast on Thursday mornings. Seated across from me one Thursday, was another regular who is a published author. This breakfast chat initiated a trail of conversations about what my next steps should be as a new author, which led to more conversations with other authors – both self-published and traditionally published – as well as editors and others connected to Christian publishing.
I was introduced to Word Alive Press by someone experienced in the publishing industry who had listened to my tale, read the annotated table of contents and a sample chapter from Under Siege, then—based on her experience—suggested there might be a fit for me with Word Alive Press. There was.
When I was about seventy percent of the way through the writing process (and thinking I was ninety percent done) I invited input into the process from members of my target audience, pastors and Christian leaders, and some constitutional law lawyers. The lawyers were qualified to review my comments in the specialized constitutional law area of religious freedom. The pastors and Christian leaders gave me feedback on how to better communicate various concepts I was writing about.
Finally, when the draft was complete, I invited a couple of dozen people to read and comment on the full unedited text, including most of those who had input at the earlier stage. They had a four week deadline, which coincided with the deadline for approving the final edit of the text. I am exceedingly grateful for all who accepted, including those who ran out of time.
As each one was also invited to consider writing an endorsement, I ended up with seventeen endorsements from a good cross-section of Christian expressions and experience. I was excited— I cried when I read them all together at the deadline.
For editing, it was a privilege to work with an experienced, young Christian author/editor who was interested in the topic of my book. He held me to task on improving my footnoting, strengthened grammar and made good suggestions for adjustments in the text. Cover design and layout were done with similar thoughtfulness and professionalism.
Throughout the process I asked for advice from both the Word Alive Press team and a small group of personal-friend advisors—people praying for me while I was writing—who shared their thoughts on what they read, and were also invited to comment on cover design and layout.
In the end, Under Siege is available in offset and print-on-demand paperback, and a variety of electronic formats. Even though I’m educated as a pastor and a lawyer, when trying something new—particularly outside my scope of expertise—I look for simple, effective solutions; and this simple, proficiently managed option worked for me.
I applied for and received a license to use the Canada 150 logo based on the theme of the book, which only allows printing with the logo until the end of 2017. Extra fees would be required to remove the logo from print-on-demand and electronic formats effective January 1, 2018, so the offset press paperbacks printed by Word Alive Press are a kind of special edition Canada 150 cover. Get ‘em while they’re here!
Don Hutchinson is the author of Under Siege: Religious Freedom and the Church in Canada at 150 (1867-2017).
Writing from the perspective of a student of life, history, law, politics, and theology, Don Hutchinson draws on all of these areas in Under Siege to offer perceptive insight into the Christian Church of today’s Canada. You can purchase Under Siege here.