The Changing Christian Publishing Industry

This year has brought many changes to the world and our way of life. The book industry—including the Christian publishing industry—is enduring and shifting due to the ramifications of both the pandemic and the spotlight on racial injustice.

The COVID-19 Pandemic

With worldwide lock down and banning of large in-person gatherings, the convention and conference landscape has been shaken up. Many events have been cancelled, some have gone to a virtual format, and a few brave organizers are forging ahead with running a physical event.

Publishing Trends for 2020

Christian Writers Conferences are an important infrastructure in the Christian book industry. They provide authors with:

  • Vital training to take your writing and publishing to the next level
  • Literary agents to connect you to the publishing world
  • Book and magazine editors looking to work with new authors
  • Freelance editors to provide valuable critiques
  • Fellow authors to both network with and encourage you in your journey

A number of Christian Writers Conferences have taken a huge hit from the pandemic. Many have been cancelled for 2020 and some are scrambling to provide virtual conferences like:

  • ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers)

This organization will be holding their annual writers conference in September via zoom—a first ever for them. Learn more on their website at https://www.acfw.com/conference.

  • Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference

This conference has been running for 50 years. This year, it was cancelled due to COVID-19, and the organizers decided that they could not longer sponsor the event moving forward. In an attempt to save this conference, the Steve Laube Agency, has initiated a Kickstarter fund to try to save the conference and hold it in March 2021.

If you have ever attended this writers conference or are interested in attending, then join this campaign by signing up for the March 2021 conference now at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/christianwriters/2021-mount-hermon-christian-writers-conference

In response to the need for continued support for writers, some new virtual conferences have been started.

  • Writing for Your Life

This group recently announced their inaugural Writing for Your Life Christian Children’s Book Conference. This virtual conference is geared toward Christian children’s book readers and writers. The conference will be held in September. You can learn more at  https://writingforyourlife.com/2020-online-christian-childrens-books-conference

Racial Injustice Issues

The recent protests and movements around the United States have shown a spotlight on the publishing industry’s need for more diversity. Interestingly, the Christian book industry had already begun to address this issue.

Publishing Trends for 2020

  • Christian Publishing Summit

Last fall, Publishers Weekly held an online Christian Publishing Summit. One of the sessions in this summit was “Lessons on How To Engage and Serve Diverse Christian Audiences”. In that summit, Helen Lee of Intervarsity Press talked about why diversity matters and the importance of inclusion from a variety of perspectives.

  • Publishing in Color

Publishing in Color is a writers conference for spiritual writers of color. This conference was started help overcome the fact that in today’s spiritual publishing industry writers of color are under-represented.  Under-represented writers of color include (but are not limited to) African Americans, Latinx Americans, Asian Americans, and Native Americans.

This fall, Publishing in Color will be held as a virtual online conference in October. You can learn more at https://publishingincolor.com.

More recently, a new group has formed to encourage Christian publishing professionals of color.

  • Christian Publishing Professionals of Color (CPPOC)

Jevon Bolden of Embolden Media Group recently launched an online community called Christian Publishing Professionals of Color (CPPOC). The group was formed to be a place where BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) Christian publishing professionals can connect with other each other to bond, brainstorm, strategize, and problem solve as well as get encouragement, advice, and support.

Sadly, this group is only open to BIPOC Christian publishing professionals who work in traditional publishing or providing services that serve the Christian publishing industry—marketing, sales, distribution, ghostwriting, editing, literary agenting—or those who are aspiring to any one of those positions in the field. So, indie authors and self-published BIPOC authors are excluded.

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Photos by Lisa Fotios from Pexels and Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels.

The Law of Unity

United we stand; divided we fall.

This Kentucky state motto is often used to inspire unity and collaboration.

Unity works in God’s kingdom. United, our light shines brighter and we have a greater impact on the world. Sadly, instead of uniting, often Christians view other Christians as their competitors, not their teammates.

I have witnessed this with Christian authors and publishers. Often authors and publishers view other in the industry as their competition. Instead, we should be embracing each other, seeking for ways to build each other up, and exploring ways to work together for Kingdom purposes.

If you are a Christian author or publisher, other Christians writing and producing Christian books are not your competition. These people are on the same team as you. We are all working toward the same goal—or we should be. Our common goal is to draw people to God.

The law of unity is simple. When we are united, our efforts are multiplied. In other words, when we join forces with other Christians working for the same goal, collectively our impact for the Gospel and God’s Kingdom will be much greater.

Jesus’ desire was for unity among his followers. In his prayer in John 17, he says, “I pray not only for these, but also for those who believe in me through their word. May they all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us, so that the world may believe you sent me.

Since we are on the same team, we should be helping and cheering each other on. Are you cheering or helping your fellow Christian authors?

Consider these five easy ways to unite and cheer on your fellow Christian authors and publishers:

  1. Review and recommend others books to your followers.
  2. Invite other Christian authors to be a guest on your blog or podcast.
  3. Share fellow Christian authors’ social media posts with your followers.
  4. Give other authors a shout out when they have a noteworthy accomplishment.
  5. Offer words of encouragement and advice to others who are writing and publishing Christian books.

As teammates, we should be looking after each other’s interests as well as our own. When we do, our collective efforts will be multiplied. Remember, there is room for everyone in God’s kingdom.

Related Posts:
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Unity in Diversity

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Four Truths Every Author Should Know

I often hear authors and aspiring authors say things like:

  • When I finish my book, I will attend a writer’s conference.
  • When my book starts to make some money, I will have money to spend on marketing.
  • When I get some reviews for my book, I will begin promoting it.
  • When my novel garners attention and sales, I will write another one.

Sadly, this is backwards thinking.

false-beliefs

Too many people think “when I arrive” I will take the next step. They have the process reversed. In reality, you must “take the next step” to arrive.

Consider the following truths:

1. Attending a writer’s conference will give you the skills and motivation you need to complete your book.

This summer, I met a woman at a writer’s conference who has slowly been working on a novel. She has many self-doubts. So, each year after the conference, she takes the next step, but then the doubts creep back in. She attends the writer’s conference each year to keep herself motivated and on track. She is now, after three years, in the process of rewriting her novel and plans to have it done in 2017 for publication.

2. Marketing your book is essential to drawing people to purchase your book.

You can’t wait until you make money on your book to start marketing. People can’t purchase a book they don’t know exists. Marketing lets people know your book exists. Funds for marketing should be part of your budget when you decide to publish a book. Don’t neglect this important step.

Sometimes authors and publishers tell me that they will join Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) when they start having success with their books. This is the same backwards thinking as marketing your book once it starts to make money. A professional association helps you become more successful by giving you an appearance of professionalism, providing you the information you need to be more successful, and helping you with affordable marketing opportunities.

3. Promotion for your book should start before you produce it.

Don’t wait until you have a book in hand or until you have some reviews to begin to promote your book. You should start promoting your book six months to a year before it goes on sale. Build interest as you are writing the book. Whet people’s appetites with teasers so that they want more and can’t wait to read your book when it is released.

4. Novelists who write multiple books sell better than those who only pen one book.

The statistics show this to be true. People read books by authors they like. So, if you only pen one book, you lose sales. The more books you write the better. With multiple books, a reader reads your book and likes it will purchase and read your other novels as well. One bestselling Christian author told me that every time she releases a new book, the sales for her other books increase.

If you have been operating under a false belief about writing and selling books, I encourage you to embrace the truth.

Related Posts:
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