I’m just back from two days at a Christian publishing industry retreat. Two days of meeting up with people I’ve known a long time, and also seeing in real life many friends whom I enjoy chatting with online. The gathering is unique, bringing together booksellers, book, music and video publishers, suppliers of gifts/cards/T-shirts/churchy things/etc/etc, authors and others from the Christian industry in the UK.
The talks were inspirational. The three were all given, interestingly, by men from the former colonies – two from America and one from Australia. Conrad Gempf and Bob Hartman could hardly believe the parallels between their talks – they mentioned how they both are from roughly the same part of the world (New Jersey and Pennsylvania), they both had German fathers who raised them with delicacies such as liverwurst and mustard sandwiches, both their German fathers loved Studebakers, and both Conrad and Bob chose the same passage to speak on – Philippians 2! Amazing synergy, divinely inspired, I reckon. (Family commitments meant I missed the last talk by Sheridan Voysey, but I did get to hear him step in for Adrian Plass with his excellent seminar sharing pointers on how authors can spread the word about their books.)
What did I learn? What was affirmed?
The Christian publishing industry isn’t dead.
It may feel battered, and changes abound, especially with Trust Media folding last month, but booksellers are selling, publishers are publishing, authors are writing, musicians are making music, and other distributors are distributing.
Booksellers are passionate.
The couple who won the longserving award – 38 years – seemed to ooze humility. The dedication and creativity of people like them is what keeps bookshops alive. (And of course, us using bookstores!)
Books change lives.
Several times throughout the retreat I heard stories of people’s lives changing when they were given a book. New life in Christ; new hope. One moving story of just the right book purchased before a diagnosis of terminal illness (it’s not my story to share, but my word, what a story).
Creators need to keep creating.
We need great stories, fresh worship songs, moving memoir, thoughtful biblical helps. No longer are we in a world where creators cannot be involved with the marketing of their books. One way to spread the word is through this retreat, and indeed, authors were represented there through the Association of Christian Writers, of which I’m a member. I only wish more ACW members and other authors were able to attend – where else can authors have such unfettered access to industry professionals?
That we need to keep encouraging female speakers, even if that means positive discrimination, following the good example of Youthwork, who turn down some great blokes so that they can have women and men equally represented on the platform.
That I never will like a full English breakfast.
Do you attend industry events? If so, what do you gain from them? If not, why?