As we continue with the second phase of the Self-Publishing Africa initiative, today at It’s My Footprint (IMFP) we are joined by Greg Brown (GB) the author of The Bible Teacher’s Guide series. Greg is a humble man, a Chaplain and Professor at the Handong Global University in Pohang, South Korea and Lead Pastor of Handong International Congregation also at the Handong Global University. Greg holds a Master of Arts (MA) degree in Religion and Master of Arts (MA) degree in teaching from Trinity International University, in Deerfield, Illinois, United States, a Master of Religious Education (MRE) degree from Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, United States, and a PhD degree in Theology from Louisiana Baptist University in in Shreveport, Louisiana. He has served over twelve years in pastoral ministry in the United States and in South Korea.
(IMFP) Welcome Greg, and thank you for spending time with us at It’s My Footprint.
(GB) Thank you. It’s my pleasure.
(IMFP) Can you start by giving our followers a brief background of yourself and where you are coming from?
(GB) Yes, I’m originally from Austin, Texas. I was a basketball player in college, and coached college basketball to help pay my way through seminary. I’ve been pastoring the last twelve years: First as the English Pastor/ Youth Pastor at a Korean Church in Chicago, and now as a Chaplain/Professor at Handong Global University and as the Lead Pastor for Handong International Congregation. I am also a Navy Reserve Chaplain with the rank of Lt. Commander. In addition, I am an indie author with twelve books published in a series called The Bible Teacher’s Guide.
(IMFP) Where do you get your ideas from?
(GB) All my books come from my sermon manuscripts which I write weekly to preach at church or from my lectures at the university.
(IMFP) Why do you write?
(GB) In 2 Timothy 2:2, Paul says, “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.” That’s really my goal in life, to pass on the Biblical deposit that others faithfully passed on to me, with the hope that those I teach will continue to pass it on. And hopefully, when I get to Heaven, I will hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” That’s the reason I write.
(IMFP) What do you find most appealing about your chosen genre?
(GB) It’s been said that Theology is the Queen of all Sciences. There is no higher endeavour that knowing God and his Word. However, with that said, knowing God through his Word brings blessings on our life and our families. That’s the great appeal of the Bible Study/Commentary/Christian Living genre.
(IMFP) How do you deal with bad reviews, rejection and criticism?
(GB) Well, as far as bad Amazon Reviews, I am typically just glad someone decided to write. Most people who enjoy your work never write a review, so even a bad one is great. In sales, having quality reviews certainly matters, but probably the most important thing is having a high quantity of reviews.
But as far as general rejection and criticism, as a pastor I have developed thick skin. Not everybody will love your writing or your preaching. And I make no claims of perfection. So at least inwardly when criticized, I can say, “I know. Lord, help me.” When the criticism is unjust, many times people can discern that as they read it. In addition, some criticism can be extremely helpful. I am a young writer (in the sense of years of publishing), and I have a lot to learn. Hopefully, critical reviews can speed up my learning process.
(IMFP) Greg, you surely have developed in your writing. Have you published yet? What are you busy with now in terms of writing?
(GB) As mentioned, I’ve published twelve books in a series titled The Bible Teacher’s Guide. Essentially, they are devotional commentaries on Bible books or topical studies. They are great for small groups, teachers preparing to teach, or individuals simply desiring to understand Scripture better. Currently, I just published a book called Ephesians: Understanding God’s Purpose for the Church, and another book will publish this winter called, Abraham: Living the Life of Faith.
(IMFP) What do you find difficult about book writing?
(GB) The most difficult part about writing is either editing or rewriting. They both are difficult. When looking at my book after an editor has gone through it, it’s easy to get discouraged. In my mind, I say to myself, “I thought it didn’t need much editing!” In addition, rewriting old sermons not originally written for publishing is extremely difficult. I have tons of writing that that I almost hope to never get to. Currently, I’m trying to focus on new studies that I initially wrote with an eye towards publishing.
(IMFP) What is your opinion on self-publishing vs traditional publishing?
(GB) Both are great models. I initially started with a hybrid traditional publisher. They were a hybrid in that they only took select books and we both invested money into my first two books. The contract included a clause that when I reached a certain number of sales, they would return my investment. However, in the end, it wasn’t a good working relationship. I left the company, taking my books, and losing my investment to self-publish. I learned a lot from that experience which I now use in self-publishing.
I tried traditional publishing one other time, but I found that not having complete control over my book was hard for me. I would much rather oversee the entire process from editing, to creating the book cover, publishing, and even marketing. So in general, I don’t think traditional publishing is for me, but I think it could be great for others, especially if it’s a big publisher with strong marketing. With that said, I might be open to trying traditional publishing again if our visions aligned and it was a great situation.
(GB) As a Christian author, I would say write to honor God by cultivating the gift he gave you and seeking to give him pleasure. Use your writing to encourage and equip His people. If God calls you to write a blog and give it away for free, to publish and reach 10 people or to reach 10 million people, be faithful to God and trust the fruit to him.
(IMFP) If you could go back in time 12 months, what would you advise yourself?
(GB) Be Patient. There is no need to hurry. Enjoy the process of completing your projects and be balanced as you do it. Give thanks for the opportunity.
(IMFP) Who is your favorite author and why?
(GB) John MacArthur has had a tremendous effect on me spiritually and doctrinally. I’m very thankful for his ministry.
(IMFP) Do you do book reviews? What type of books do you review?
(GB) Yes, I try to stick to Christian nonfiction—preferably Bible study/Commentary/Christian Living books.
(IMFP) How do you interact with other authors? Are you a member of a book club?
(GB) I am on Goodreads in several Christian Author groups, and I’ve met most of my Christian author friends there. We update each other when our new books come out, ask each other questions, and share tips and encouragements.
(IMFP) What types of books do you normally recommend to your friends?
(GB) I love commentaries and systematic theologies.
(IMFP) What do you like to do when you’re not writing? Full-time job, pets, hobbies?
(GB) My favorite thing to do is have small group in my home with great fellowship and a good meal (hopefully my wife is cooking). Other than that, I enjoy working out, studying in coffee shops, going on dates with my wife and/or daughter, and watching the UFC and NBA.
(IMFP) Let’s talk about Greg, the man! Give us a bit of your social and family life.
(GB) I am married to one wife, Tara, and I have one daughter, Saiyah. Saiyah just turned four years old. We’ve been living in Korea for the last five years serving at Handong Global University. We love it. We love the students, the faculty, and the opportunity to serve here. Most of my family lives in Texas, the best place in the US.
(IMFP) Any final word for our followers?
(GB) Thanks for reading. Please check out The Bible Teacher’s Guide on Amazon.
(IMFP) Many thanks for this interview, Greg. Good luck with your writing.
(GB) Thanks for your time. God bless your ministry.
Gregory Brown Links and Contacts