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Writer's Tips and Guidelines

The P.I.L.L.A.R.S. of the Bible
Our company stands on the "P.I.L.L.A.R.S." of the Bible, and we even evaluate titles on them.

P = Plan of salvation (God's way of saving us)
I = Incarnation of Jesus (came as baby and tempted as we are)
L = Law of God (Ten Commandments)
L = Lifestyle (temperance)
A = Advent (first as baby, second at His glorious return, third at His recreating this earth)
R = Righteous by faith
S = State of the dead


Seven questions to keep in mind when writing your book

  1. Can you tell someone in 50 words what your book is about?
  2. Who will be your audience AND why will they want to read it?
  3. Is your book just another book on this topic OR will it stand out and shout?
  4. Do you have the right amount of content (story)—too little, too much, or just right?
  5. Have you created plans for promoting your book after it is published?
  6. Will your biography promote confidence that you are an expert on this topic?
  7. Great authors build on their previous titles—what is your next one going to be about?


Book Topics
TEACH Services is interested in a variety of topics for adults and children, such as:

  • Bible study topics*
  • Biblical and Christian narratives**
  • Biographies and mission stories
  • Books for sharing and gospel outreach*
  • Children’s stories***
  • Christian living topics*
  • Church history*
  • Cookbooks
  • Doctrinal topics and issues*
  • Ellen White
  • Health and nutrition
  • Marriage and parenting
  • Story collections

Our main goal is to help our readers grow personally and spiritually. We want to inspire them through the books we publish and help them strengthen their relationship with Christ.

We welcome the opportunity to talk to authors and review their manuscripts for free. We know how hard they’ve worked to transfer their ideas to paper and their desire to share their message with others.

*** Books that discuss biblical ideas or insights must be reviewed and approved by at least two Adventist ministers, retired or currently serving. Likewise, books that recommend medical treatment, diet, or nutrition must be reviewed and approved by at least two medical doctors or dietitians. The author is responsible for securing such approval before the book goes to the press (see HERE for additional imprint information).

*** Ellen White clipped stories from various religious publications of her day and assembled them into scrapbooks, which were later converted into Sabbath Readings for the Home. After analyzing the selected stories, John Waller, head of the English department at Andrews University, and many other Adventists concluded that many of the stories were fictional (John O. Waller, “A Contextual Study of Ellen G. White’s Counsel Concerning Fiction”). Although Mrs. White was comfortable with select fiction, such as Pilgrim’s Progress, she cautioned against reading fictional books that are “sentimental, sensational, erotic, profane, or trashy.” Because of her counsel, TEACH Services carefully reviews biblical and Christian narratives to make sure they adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Biblical narratives must present accurate facts according to the Bible account and light from the Spirit of Prophecy.
  • The characters must reflect Christian values and teachings in their language and actions.
  • The story must be historical, geographical, and socially accurate and not contain quotes from obscure sources that need proper referencing or for which the author needs reliable proof sources.
  • Romantic relationships of characters must portray the meaning of true love and commitment and not mere emotions or physical attraction in their language and actions. See Adventist Home p. 413.
  • We do not accept manuscripts that portray science fiction or fantasy or include graphic violence, sexual scenes, or foul language.
  • Content emphasizing controversy shows a critical spirit toward persons or leaders, strong opinions on politics, and sensationalism. All manuscripts must follow the principles outlined in Philippians 4:8.
  • Use names, descriptions, or photos of people without their consent or permission of the rights holder.
  • Anything discriminatory or illegal could lead to libel charges (please visit HERE for more information).

*** As you plan your children's book, make sure you are writing for your targeted audience in terms of imagery, length of the book, and subject matter (a 3-year-old child will not be interested in a topic about bullying). Children's books can be separated into the following categories:

Book StylesAge GroupAvg PagesAvg Word CountPictures
Read to Me/Toddler Picture Books 1–3 8–16 Under 500 Every page
Easy Reader/Picture Books 4–6 16–48 500–5,000 Every page or second page
Early Reader/Chapter Books 7–12 48–120 5,000–35,000 Some pictures or drawings
Young Adult Books 13 and up 120 and up Varies by Topic Varies by Topic


Editing Tips
The most common topics for editing your manuscript are in our Style Guidelines (PDF). This includes:

  • Organization of Front and Back Matter
  • Capitalization and Spelling
  • Grammar and Style
  • Punctuation
  • References

The most common tips for setting up your manuscript are listed here:

  • Use the centering function for all chapter titles. Do not use the space bar or tab feature to center text.
  • Indent with the tab key. Do not hit the space bar five times, as you would on a typewriter.
  • Save your manuscript in one computer file and make sure each chapter starts on a new page.
  • Use Times New Roman and 12-point font in your document.
  • Submit all manuscripts in Microsoft Word "DOCX" or, when using other word processing software, files with the "RTF" extension for best results.
  • Do not attempt to layout or format the book within Word. Do not worry about placing page numbers and/or headers or footers in your document unless you are submitting a camera-ready file that will be going straight to press. Please avoid using complex or unusual formatting in your manuscript (e.g. custom "styles," automatic table of contents, manually added page numbers, mid-chapter page breaks, etc.) Doing so slows down both the editing and the layout processes and will result in production delays for your project.
  • Only insert a single space at the end of each sentence. Do not use a double space between sentences.
  • Separate paragraphs with one single hard return. Do not double or triple space between paragraphs.


Bible Version Usage Limits
If you are quoting Bible texts in your book, you must clearly indicate which version you are using for every text. If you are using the same version throughout the book, please note that at the beginning of your manuscript.

You can only use a certain number of Bible texts from versions other than the King James Version without receiving permission from the publisher to quote texts within your book. Following are the requirements for using texts from the various versions according to the publishers’ Web sites:

  • Modern English Version — Up to and including 500 verses may be quoted in printed form as long as the verses quoted amount to less than 50% of a complete book of the Bible and make up less than 50% of the total work in which they are quoted. All MEV quotations must conform accurately to the MEV text.
  • New International Version, Today’s New International Version, and New International Reader’s Version — Text may be quoted up to 500 verses without written permission, providing the verses quoted do not amount to a complete book of the Bible or account for 25 percent or more of the total text of the book or are being quoted in a commentary or other Biblical reference work.
  • New King James Version® Text may be quoted up to 1,000 verses without written permission, providing the verses quoted do not amount to 50 percent of a complete book of the Bible and do not make up 50 percent or more of the total text of the book.
  • New Living Translation — Text may be quoted up to 500 verses without written permission, providing the verses quoted do not amount to a complete book of the Bible or account for 25 percent or more of the total text of the book.
  • The Message — Text may be quoted up to 500 verses without written permission, providing the verses quoted do not amount to a complete book of the Bible or account for 25 percent or more of the total text of the book.
  • The Clear Word — Text may be quoted up to 500 verses without written permission, providing the verses quoted make up less than 25 percent of the work and are not a complete book of the Bible.

Public Domain Versions without any restrictions include:


Note: Additional English versions in the public domain are Darby Translation and the Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition; TEACH Services does not recommend these because of their theological biases. Please review all of the versions on the above list before selecting one as it is the author's responsibility to conduct any due diligence before making a final selection.




Use of Copyrighted Material
Following are some frequently asked questions (FAQs) regarding obtaining permission to use copyrighted material:

  • Whom do I ask for permission? Obtain written permission from the copyright holder (usually the publisher) before providing us with the file. For illustrations or photos, you sometimes also need to ask permission of the artist or photographer. The publisher will be able to tell you whether it’s necessary to do so.
  • Is it enough to credit the original author and publisher? No. If you don’t get permission to use their material, you’re violating their copyright.
  • What about "Fair Use"? "Fair use" is a copyright doctrine that, in its most general sense, allows copying of copyrighted material done for a limited and "transformative" purpose. For example, to review a text, make fun of a popular song, or quote a portion of a writer’s work. Claiming fair use has its problems in that there are many "grey areas," with only general rules and varying court decisions making them even more "grey." All it takes is having the copyright owner disagree with what is "fair use" and you may have to face your problem in a courtroom.
  • Do I need permission to use content or materials from a Web site? Yes. You should consider everything on the Web as copyrighted material.
  • If a work does not contain a copyright notice, can I use material from it or do I still need to get permission? Laws change all the time, but generally if it was published before March 1, 1989, you can use it. All works published after that date are considered copyrighted even if they don’t contain a notice, so you can’t use them without permission.
  • Do I need permission to use material from the government? Federal-government materials are not copyrighted. State-government materials might be, this means you must check before using.
  • Do I need permission to use material from an out-of-print publication? Yes. Ask the publisher. If the publisher is no longer in business, make a good faith effort to locate the author AND DOCUMENT ALL OF YOUR ATTEMPTS.
  • Do I need permission to use material from a TEACH Services, Inc. publication? Yes. If TEACH Services, Inc. used someone else’s copyrighted material in the publication, we may have permission only for that specific use. Please apply for usage from us just like you would from any other publisher you would seek permissions from. Rights Request Form
  • If I get permission to use material in my printed publication, can I put the publication on the Web? Print and electronic permissions are often granted separately. To be safe, always ask for permission for both print and Web use.
  • If I alter the material from a copyrighted work, do I still need to get permission? Yes. The copyright owner has legal control over all copying and modification of the work.
  • Do I need permission to publish photos of people? If there are people in your photographs and they are recognizable, it is best practice to get their permission, in writing, to use their likeness. For additional information about why you need a release and how to obtain them HERE. A copy of a model release can be downloaded HERE.
  • If I have questions, who can I ask? Your attorney or legal representative. The U.S. Copyright Office (www.copyright.gov) is the ultimate source for copyright information. The site includes registration procedures, forms, and frequently asked questions.
  • Where do I find more information? For more information about various aspects of copyright law, see the U.S. Copyright Office.
  • For more information go HERE.


Recipe Copyrights

A recipe is a set of ingredients and instructions for preparing a dish. At minimum it lists ingredients, but typically also includes procedural directions, introduction, and attribution. Recipes ingredient lists themselves cannot be copyrighted, but the text, photographs, and videos that accompany them can be. While an individual recipe's list of ingredients is not protected by copyright, an entire compilation of recipes, such as in a cookbook, is eligible for copyright as a collective work. So while one can freely reuse a recipe's ingredients, the creative expression surrounding the ingredients may be protected, and reusing an entire cookbook's worth of recipes can constitute copyright infringement. For more information see HERE.


Collective Work Copyrights

A collective work is a compilation of separate, independent works gathered into a collective whole, such as a periodical, anthology, encyclopedia, album, or DVD. The authorship of a collective work comes from the selection, coordination, and arrangement of the independent works. Collective works can be registered with the U.S. Copyright Office as single works. This registration covers the authorship in arranging the work as a whole, and may also cover the copyright of the individual works within the collection if those works are (1) owned by the same party as the collection, (2) previously unpublished/unregistered, and (3) not in the public domain. So registration of a collective work grants copyright protection for the collection and potentially the individual pieces as well. For more information see HERE.


Using Song Titles and Lyrics in your book

Song Titles

    1. Song titles cannot be copyrighted, only trademarked
    2. Trademark protects titles from being used commercially in a way that confuses consumers
    3. Using song titles in literary works is generally permissible
    4. However, using a song title for the name of your own song or book risks trademark issues

Song Lyrics

    1. Song lyrics are covered under copyright from the moment they are fixed in tangible form
    2. Quoting lyrics in a literary work requires licensing from the rights holder
    3. Getting permission involves contacting music publishers; fees/denial are possible
    4. Lyrics may only be used without permission if the work is in the public domain
    5. Public domain applies to songs published in the US before 1925

In summary, copyright protects song lyrics and usage requires publisher approval. But song titles receive trademark protection, which mainly covers commercial usage likelihood to cause consumer confusion. Titles may be referenced in literature, but not repurposed as names for new works. For more information see HERE.


Web References in Your Book

As part of the editing process, TEACH Services shortens all web references in your book using a URL shortener service at "1ref.us". 1ref.us makes it easier for readers to view the references you list since they only have to type in a short address instead of a long one full of random characters. The other benefit of this system is that TEACH Services manages 1ref.us. Therefore, if, for instance, you reference an article you found on CNN.com that is later archived and the web address changes, if we are alerted to the change, we can go in and redirect the same 1ref.us address that is in your book to the new web address on CNN.com. Therefore, the web references in your text can stay up to date.

If you have a personal website address or blog and you want to reference that in the book, we will include your address without shortening it. Please note that we do not list personal contact information in our books. If you, as an author, want to include contact information for your readers, you need to do so on your blog or personal website. If you do not have a blog, TEACH Services will be happy to set one up for you in which you can list your contact information.