Interview: Ian Borkent

Ian Borkent is the senior pastor of C3 Rivers, a two-location church in the Netherlands. He recently published his first book, The Norman Factor: Seven Keys to Living in Breakthrough and Victory.

In this interview he talks at length about the process of writing and publishing a book.

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John Finkelde: Hey guys, welcome to this interview, I’m here with my good friend Ian Borkent, who is the senior pastor of C3 Rivers, a two location church in Netherlands. He has just published his first book, The Norman Factor: Seven Keys to Living in Breakthrough and Victory. Great to have you in the hub on this interview, Ian, how are you doing?

Ian Borkent: Great, well good to be here, it’s such a privilege and I look forward to talking.

John Finkelde: We are going to have a fun time, first we are going to do the 60 second lightening round that I like to do with everyone that I interview, so let’s rock into this? What’s your favourite food?

Ian Borkent: I’m going to go for steak with potatoes.

John Finkelde: Oh nice, I like that. What is the best book you’ve read in recent times?

Ian Borkent: Well I read different books I like devotional books so on the top of the books there is Prophecy by Jenny Gilpin, I really like it for my devotional time to think for myself and to pray and in terms of leadership, I am going to for Leadersite by Jurgen Matthesius.

John Finkelde: Okay, for books you can only have one, we will go with Prophecy! This is a lightening round my friend. Your dream holiday destination?

Ian Borkent: New York City, for Christmas please.                       

John Finkelde: Oh I’ve never been there, would love to go. Who is your favourite person in the Bible besides Jesus?

Ian Borkent: I like Peter.

John Finkelde: Popular guy I like him too. What is your favourite down time activity?

Ian Borkent: I have to go for two answers again because in summer I’m going to go for kayaking but I can’t do that in winter, so in winter I will go for movies or out for a meal with friends.

John Finkelde: Kayaking sounds like fun. Coffee or tea?

Ian Borkent: Coffee.

John Finkelde: Good man, good choice. Book or podcast?

Ian Borkent: Podcast.

John Finkelde: Beach or mountains?

Ian Borkent: Definitely the beach. There are no mountains here.

John Finkelde: There isn’t, you are right there. Jog or bike?

Ian Borkent: I do both but I prefer the bike.

John Finkelde: Well that is a typical Dutch man right there I would suggest, love jumping on the bike.

As I said Ian at the intro you have just published your first book, congratulations on that, The Norman Factor: Seven Keys to Living in Breakthrough and Victory. Fabulous book. I got to read it as you were writing it, step by step, which was a lot of fun.

What on earth possessed you to write a book, what made you want to write a book?

Ian Borkent: I am wondering the same thing sometimes.

John Finkelde: Books are like that!

Ian Borkent: I always knew I had it in me and I really like writing so I’ve always known I would write a book or write books. My mum is a writer I come from a family of writers, but I was in my 30s, I just turned 40, and I didn’t really feel like I had lived long enough to be able to say something so I never really felt the desire to start now, it was always then and there I would start later, but then something happened in my life, in our life and actually that’s what the book is about.

And those events really led me to considering writing about it, because as soon as I started speaking in conferences or in churches about what happened on the 8th of May 2015, people came up to me afterward asking if you could please write a book about this.

After several people had asked that question, I felt like now is the time, I need to really put this on paper.

John Finkelde: Wow, and I am familiar with the situation, but tell all the folks in the hub, the members listening, what really triggered the book and what is the main theme and concept of the book?

Ian Borkent: What triggered the book was the fact that when my wife delivered our third child at home, in the Netherlands women can give birth at home and our eldest two were born at home as well. When our third child was born at home, something really rare happened, it’s called a uterine inversion, it’s a complete inversion of the uterus out of the body after birth and it occurs with massive bleeding.

We were 20 minutes away from the nearest hospital and my wife started just passing out, losing litres of blood and life starting pass out of her with each minute. There was a big battle going on for her life. Our church’s vision statement is based around life and so I felt like death was pounding on our door and I had to really use lots of keys that I had acquired in my life, like praising God in the midst of darkness, proclaiming what God is saying rather than what the circumstances are saying to find breakthrough.

I preached about these things before in Church but never were they really tested in my life as much as they were at this point. The book is called the Norman Factor and people are asking me, what is Norman or who is Norman. Norman was a guy called Norman Williams. In the worse airline disaster ever in March 1977, two Boeing 747s collided on the runway on Tenerife Island and 583 people unfortunately died.

He was one of the people in that Boeing 747 of Pan American Airlines and he survived that disaster miraculously and the whole premise of the book is what is in you will come out of you in times of crisis. What happened with Norman is that as that crisis unfolded, as the pressure came on his life and flames erupted, people around him were burning and dying, suddenly out of his mouth came words of life and victory, words of praise and he started claiming scripture and the interesting thing was next to him were some women, they were on fire, they were dying and as they were dying they were really kind elderly ladies normally, but they started cursing God as they were dying.

And so I read his book, I listened to his podcast, it impacted me in a tremendous way, this was all before the situation that happened to my wife giving birth. So my whole book is based around what keys Normans applied, and he had applied scripture all his life, and when the pressure came on what was in him came out of him, that is the whole theme of the book, what is in you, because what’s in you will eventually come out of you.

John Finkelde: Wow, and I have had the privilege of reading through the book as you were writing it, you were bouncing it around to different people just to get some feedback and just some of the principles you say are so helpful, it’s a great book. You can get the book at Amazon, we will give you a few more details as we go along, we will have links also in the notes here where you can buy the book immediately after you have listened to the interview, or even while you are listening to the interview you can buy it.

What was your writing process? This was your first book, your mum’s a writer, so obviously she would have had a process, but what was your writing process that you found worked for you? You are a pastor, you have a young family, you have three young children, you have a full calendar, a full life, what is that process to get all those words out?

Ian Borkent: Well, I put it down to four different things, first of all I would set up the story that I based the book around. My book is based around the principle that I just described and so immediately knew I am going to start the book with Norman Williams’ story, and then he used several keys to breakthrough, keys he had used all his life, just praising God, proclaiming the word, the blood of Jesus, prayer all those kinds of things.

Those keys made easy framework for the book, I had the story set up, I had the framework set up, then I just needed to start writing.

John Finkelde: Before you started really writing you had your chapters or your skeleton or your framework worked out before you really got writing?

Ian Borkent: Yes. So I had the framework set up already so I knew how to start and then what was going to be the main part of the book and then I just needed to start writing. I found a way to write, even though I am working a busy schedule and three kids and everything. But it was really helpful to me to just write short amounts of words every time.

So at first I wanted to write whole chapters in one go, but before long you realise you never really get around to that. So I just started writing 200 words in one go, or 500 words in one go, which is really easy to do, because it only takes half an hour or so, but it adds up in the course of a week or a month, it easily adds up.

John Finkelde: So did you have a set time of the day that you would write, or did that vary according to your schedule?

Ian Borkent: It would definitely vary, yeah, according to the schedule, it was really flexible and it helps that I like writing, so whenever I got around to it, and I had to time to get around to it, I started doing that, so it’s really helpful.

John Finkelde: So you had your framework and you just gave yourself to writing whenever you could, 200 words, 100 words, 500 words. Did you ever had a day where you kind of got into the zone and pumped 2000 words?

Ian Borkent: Yeah, well that’s the cool thing what happens is if you want to write 2000 words in one go you never really get around to it, but if you try to write only 200 or 500 words, which I decided to do, then what started happening is that suddenly I was on a roll and I had some time, and before long you are there typing until midnight, pumping out 2000 words.

So those moments were definitely there, and that really helped speed up the process, although in total it still took me about 18 months to write the book, but that’s including feedback from people. Sending around the manuscript and then adapting chapters, adding chapters, stuff like that.

John Finkelde: I think there is a real great tip there for people wanting to write, rather than thinking gee I have to go to write a book, get your skeleton, your chapters worked out, your topics if you like, even if your skeleton is an ugly draft, get it down and I love that process Ian that you mentioned, some days 200 words, and then the 200 turned to 400 and suddenly it was 1000 and you are in a flow and you are up to 1500 because you started with a very small goal and just kept at that.

I think Winston Churchill said books start out as lovers, and end up as tyrants. That sense of the long haul. What kind of kept you going as you got towards that second half of the 18 months? Was there a kind of weariness or was there an excitement or a perseverance factor? What kept you going in that second half of the writing process?

Ian Borkent: Well it helped me to send the manuscript around to different people. So I started including people in reading the manuscript and they gave me some real helpful feedback, so I would send it to people with experience in teaching for example, or to other authors and their feedback was so helpful. For example one person said your story and these keys you are sharing are very inspirational but I don’t really know what to do with them, can you give me any hands on help, can you add application questions for example.

So what I started doing was adding application questions and I added a final chapter which was fully focused on application and that helped me keep going and finalise it into a real great product.

John Finkelde: Wow, that feedback process, that’s a great idea, especially I think writing that first book to have that feedback process that is a really good tip for people getting into this deal.

If you are writing a second book, do you have a second book in you?

Ian Borkent: Oh yeah, yeah, for sure I have a second and third one, because I like writing, so there is always more to be said. It’s not about the book, it’s more about finding the time and finding the theme again.

John Finkelde: What would you do different in your process compared to your first book if you were to launch into a second book in 2019 what would you different?

Ian Borkent: Well I can think of different things! First of all I would write a shorter book because the book I have written, it has about 224 pages, and there are many Christian books out there with that length, however it’s always easier to read a book which is slightly shorter.

John Finkelde: Okay I like that, I am a fan of short books, I write short books, they are easy to write. They are easier to read too.

Ian Borkent: Yeah exactly.

John Finkelde: So you have got the book written, you have feedback from friends, you’ve got it nailed, how did you find a publisher, what sort of barriers did you find running into trying to find a publisher to publish the book?

Ian Borkent: That’s another thing I might change next time, to first find a publisher and then write a book. However, I was going to publish this book anyway, regardless of who would publish it, I would self-publish it anyway because of the fact that I really want to get the word out there.

So I just asked around, I asked different pastors, different friends of mine, I eventually found a publisher in the United States, via a pastor friend of mine in San Diego, called Newtype and they publish two types of authors, they publish either really well known authors such as John Bevere, or really unknown authors such as myself. It’s a self-publishing kind of deal that you make with them, so the author pays for it upfront, however the rights are also retained with the author.

The cool thing is that because it’s published via an official publishing company in the States it gets pushed through all the book channels, so it ends up all automatically on Amazon, on Barnes and Nobles, on, all these agencies, all these book companies, they can sell my book. Because it’s been pushed through the channels via this publisher that I’ve found.

John Finkelde: What was the experience like, going with that publisher? Has that been a good experience for you, would you do that again, would you recommend them?

Ian Borkent: Oh yes, I would definitely recommend them if you are a first time author, because as I said it’s hard to find a publisher who would pay for it themselves. So often you end up paying for it as the author, which I don’t mind, because it’s my first book and I want to get the word out there.

But what happens with self-publishing often is that if you do everything yourself, you then end up with 20 boxes of books in your house and now you have to and you have to mail out your book all over the world, I don’t have to do that.

I did get a few hundred books in my house that I can more easily sell here at Church or elsewhere as I travel, but people can order it on line anywhere in the world, because it’s being pushed through those official channels and that’s really helped me using this kind of publisher.

John Finkelde: That is awesome. What are you doing yourself to promote the book, to get the word out there, what are you doing separate from your publisher putting it to these various outlets, what are you doing to get the word out there yourself?

Ian Borkent: I am doing whatever I can. Of course, whenever I am at a conference and I have the opportunity to say something about it, then I am promoting it. If I am speaking somewhere, of course at our home church I did a preaching series around the topics that are contained in the books and other things that are easy to do.

I am currently working on a short movie to really help visualise what actually happened to my wife and the keys that are described in the book.

I find that many people they would be interested once they know the story, but they will never know the story until they read it, and in a visual world I think it helps them for them to see what actually went on. I don’t know how big this movie will be, it’s going to be a short one, but who knows, someday a movie will be made about it.

John Finkelde: Wow, so you are looking at a movie you can put on YouTube that people can just get into, have a look at it and go oh, got the story and want to get the book?

Ian Borkent: Yeah, that’s one way I can promote it and of course there is a lot of money you can throw into it, you can do sponsors, ads or whatever. To be honest if you want to do it to make money, don’t do it, because by the time I have sold 900 out of my 1000 books then I am breaking even, so it’s quite an investment.

Also because I have given a lot of books away to promote it, so I am sending books around to different pastors, I give them away to my core team, so it’s really an investment, but I don’t mind.

John Finkelde: If you have sold 900 already that is fantastic, that is a really good high sales there, well done sir, that is brilliant and you are only in the first little while since you have launched the book and I think you’re going to get a lot more sales as the years roll on as well.

I think that’s very clever I like the idea of a little movie, maybe interview thing or any way to get the story out there, because once people get a touch of the story and a taste of the story then they want to know more about it and then before you know you will be reading the audio book. You’ll have it all formats.

Ian Borkent: That’s the goal to really get the word out there. I haven’t sold 900 yet, I think, I actually don’t know how many, but I am saying I need to sell 900 to break even.

John Finkelde: Oh 900 to break even, okay. Well I am speaking by faith, you are going to sell those 900 to break even and then you will sell more my friend, absolutely.

So you want to write another book, do you have a topic of your next book Ian?

Ian Borkent: I don’t, although again, people keep asking me can you write a book about this, about our building process how we are finding and acquiring a building as a church, which is quite a miraculous story.

I don’t know if I will write a book about it, because it only really pertains to a faith process of acquiring buildings as a pastor, that’s not something that many people are dealing with in their life. So I don’t know if I am going to write about that, maybe it’s going to be a short book, just to share the story. Other than that, no, I don’t know a topic at the moment to write about.

John Finkelde: Okay that will emerge as you go, so congratulations on your first book, Ian, I was very excited when you were telling me you were going to write a book and you got into it and started doing it.

Many people say they want to write a book and some people actually get to the next point of starting but it’s the small minority who actually finish and then move on to publish it, it’s a mammoth task. It took you 18 months, I am not surprised by the length of time, it’s a mammoth task getting the book out of your heart and mind into paper and then where it starts to touch people and change lives, well done sir, it’s a phenomenal process, well done.

Ian Borkent: Yeah, thank you, thank you!

It’s also just to do with a life changing event that shakes you to the core and then writing a book to me feels like a birthing process, I am not a woman, but it almost feels like giving birth. So once you have something that you know you need to share then it’s easier.

John Finkelde: Wow, well done. Here is a question I would love to pop all to all of my guests to the hub that I interview, you can invite four guests from any time in history except Jesus, we always assume Jesus is there somewhere but you can invite four guests from any time in history to a dinner party, who would the four be that you would choose to have at your dinner party?

Ian Borkent: Well I guess it’s a bit random, but I would go for Nelson Mandala.

John Finkelde: Oh good choice.

Ian Borkent: I am very inspired by his life and I have read his book, it’s very inspiring to read his story, autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom.

I would go for King David. I like David and his story and I would love to meet him someday around the table, the Psalm 23 table, maybe.

I definitely need to include a woman in the list, so then I would go for Margret Thatcher the Iron Lady.

John Finkelde: Very good, left field, I love it.

Ian Borkent: I would include her and then I am going to go for something completely different, someone completely different which would be Napoleon. Napoleon the French, or English some would say, dictator.

John Finkelde: Yes, the emperor.

Ian Borkent: Yes the emperor and he changed the European continent quite a bit, so I would definitely have him at the table and ask him some questions.

John Finkelde: I love it, what a mixture – David, Nelson Mandela, Margaret Thatcher and Napoleon Bonaparte, that’s definitely a mixed table there brother, you have got a mix brother.

You wouldn’t die wondering what anyone was thinking, I think you would have four very firm opinions around the table. The most unusual guest that anyone said they would like to have has been Adolf Hitler.

Which was completely left field, a pastor I was interviewing in the hub said Adolf Hitler, I was like wow, that is so left field. And I said, well it would make the night very interesting around the table and especially if you had any Jewish people at the table at the same time, but I reckon Napoleon is a very left field as well, and Margaret Thatcher I think you have done well there and I would like to be a waiter at the table, pick up the odd conversation.

I think that would be a fun night.

Thanks so much for joining us in the hub for this interview and this I know will really help a lot of budding authors out there. People who have thought they want to write a book, but now know far more about the process, thanks so much for joining us Ian and there is a link here folks in the hub where you can guy the Norman Factor, click through and buy it.

There is also a link to a free chapter that’s on my blog that you can click through and link through too that and also have a gorgeous little Eva as well, beautiful picture of her, and Ian and their family. Get the book it’s a beauty.

Thanks Ian so much for joining us.

Ian Borkent: It’s a pleasure, thank you!