It’s tough to get a good book published – even tougher, it seems, to have one that does well in sales. But one of our FaithWriters member, Robert Bernecker, has done so. His current book, Who’s Your Father, was self-published, and is often the #1 selling book on Amazon in several categories. In this two-part interview, come learn more about Robert, his book, his background, and a bit about what it took for him to get his book on the path to succes.
JOANNE SHER: I was looking at your profile page at FaithWriters and learned a bit about your story. Can you share it a bit with us? It sounds like you were a living witness in the secular world, as well as a servant within the church in many capacities.
ROBERT BERNECKER: As I look back on the incredible journey that God authored specifically for me (Psalm 139:16), I can now clearly see his loving, ever-present hand in bringing me to the exact point at which He has placed me today. I see how He used me along the way but was always building, always developing, and always drawing me towards Himself at all points all along the way.
Without exaggeration, it would take an entire book to recount how my Father has led, worked, delivered, blessed, disciplined, and shaped me along the way. Many things that were painful or made little sense at the time can now be seen as blessings because that particular portion of God’s purpose is now evident. Better still, I have the comfort of knowing that what lies ahead in my path will certainly be for my good and for my further growth (Romans 8:28), no matter how the fog of present difficulties may shroud a clear view of the future. From this perspective, the trite phase “God isn’t finished with me yet” takes on a profoundly deeper meaning.
I was indeed blessed to have been a living example of Christian principals and ethics in the business world, serving nearly 30 years as the CEO of a multi-million dollar company. We Christians are told to “let our lights shine” in our present world, and we must rejoice to be used by God to be His witnesses. As such, my company’s customers and employees knew with certainty that we would always do our best to be honest, ethical, and fair in all of our dealings.
It is for this reason that I believe that none ever took offense when, as a simple single example, Christmas cards from our company always boldly declared “Merry Christmas” instead of the bland and ostensibly less offensive “Happy Holidays.” Much more important than things like Christmas cards, however, is a simple but immense truth that experience has burned deeply into my heart. Biblical principles and teachings always work wherever they are employed, be it the competitive business world or the friendly confines of family and church.
In the church world, I see now that God was preparing me for nearly 50 years to be able to write Who’s Your Father? The heart and perspective from which to write this book were divinely developed, and I needed an “insider’s understanding” to be able to deal effectively with the misconceptions and errors commonly found in many of the churches of our day. In this sense, Who’s Your Father? is a chronicle of my own spiritual journey.
JOANNE: I have found this to be so true – everything that happens is preparation, from God, for the next thing. Your book Who’s Your Father?, available the FaithWriters Bookstore, and on Amazon, is doing very well. Can you tell us a bit about it?
ROBERT: It has been very gratifying to see Who’s Your Father? do well in a very tough marketplace. Sales rankings naturally ebb and flow, but the work is often the #1 best-selling book in several different Kindle categories. I attribute this success to our great God, of course, in that ultimately it is He alone that turns the attention of potential readers to this new book.
Who’s Your Father? is a book that comes from the author’s heart, propelled by the study of God’s Word. It is a book that seeks to develop in the reader a higher view of our preeminent Father. Who’s Your Father? shows the path to a transforming appreciation and understanding of God’s loving sovereignty that will thereafter color our perspective of every facet of our lives.
Over a period of many years of ministry and service in the church, I had taught, studied, and even debated many concepts, doctrines, and precepts from the Bible. However, I have come to understand that this sort of Bible study, while certainly beneficial, is not a substitute for long hours spent pouring over and absorbing the entirety of God’s Word with no motive other than to draw closer to our Father.
When we are searching the Bible for a specific text to use to build a Sunday School lesson upon, or for a verse that will be a proof text to support our preexisting doctrinal positions, it is too easy to find exactly that which we are looking for. On the other hand, when God’s loving providence moved me from teaching, leading, and debating and I began, over a period of years, to read the Bible completely through over and over with no need to do anything but absorb the whole, it was only then that God began to show me the truths that I had been missing all of the previous years.
One by one, the many false notions that I had believed (and even taught) for many years fell to the irresistible and compelling power of God’s Word. It was this incredible, blessed, life-changing discovery of who my Father truly is that compelled me to write Who’s Your Father? We must know the true God that is revealed in the Bible!
I have received many comments from readers of the book that it has likewise completely changed how they view and understand their loving Father. The higher view of our great God that is presented in the book has somehow been lost in much of today’s church, and I believe that a firm grasp of these magnificent concepts can and will transform the lives of Christians today!
As I mention in the preface of the book, it is these truths that can provide soaring worship in times of triumph and lasting comfort in times of sorrow. Indeed, it has been my prayer that God will use the message in the book to equip and transform his people to know Him in truth and worship His magnificent greatness as the God who always fulfils His holy purpose rather than the belated, frustrated, disappointed God that is presented in so many churches today. It has been my blessing to see Him do exactly that.
JOANNE: Sounds like a must-read! How long did it take you to write Who’s Your Father? What process did you go through to get it ready for publication?
ROBERT: In very round numbers, Who’s Your Father? was written over an eighteen-month period of time. Certainly much research preceded those months of active development, but the bulk of the narrative was shaped during those months.
After the initial manuscript was completed, multiple complete reviews were required. I found it more productive to read through and focus on a specific issue on each pass. For example, one pass was focused on punctuation, another on organization of thoughts, and another on sentence and paragraph structure. As any author will attest, it is necessary to step back from one’s work for a period of time (the longer the better) to be able to see such issues as one reads one’s own work. I also consider a good style guide to be indispensable, and the one I used extensively for Who’s Your Father? was Robert Hudson’s The Christian Writer’s Manual of Style.
The manuscript was then sent to a professional editor. I was blessed to have an editor that did a great job of preserving my voice while correcting errors that had slipped past me. At the same time, several trusted people were asked to be test readers. The comments, suggestions, and encouragements of these test readers were invaluable. After completing the corrections and modifications that resulted from the reviews of the editor and the test readers, several additional full read-throughs proved fruitful. I continued my own reading and studying during that period of time, and the result was that several crucial points were added to the manuscript even this late in the process.
Watch for the second half of this interview, when Robert talks about his book’s marketing, why he took the self-publishing route, advice for other writers, and more, on Tuesday, January 7!
What can you learn from Robert’s experience for your own writing journey?