What I learned at a Christian publishing retreat…

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.

Conrad Gempf, ready to give out the 200 copies of his book.

Conrad Gempf, ready to give out the 200 copies of his book.

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?

2014-06-02 12.00.08I learned some other things too… Such as how to engage the audience by master speakers Conrad and Bob (not, of course, that I can replicate!).

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?

6 Responses

  1. Pam Burke

    It always makes me look twice when I see ACW, because I am a dedicated member of the AWC, The Association of Women Contractors. An industry event helps you get fresh ideas, recharge, and build relationships. So be it Christian Writers or Construction Workers it is valuable to devote time to welcoming new people to our industries and share what we have learned along the way. And I will never like a full English breakfast.

  2. What a brilliant summary of an excellent, if hectic, few days, Amy. As one of the ACW authors you so kindly mentioned, I described my return home as elated but exhausted. Jet-lagged from the travelling; talked out being an introvert in an extrovert environment; but utterly inspired by the wonderful fellowship, worship, seminars and talks. And I even managed the full English breakfast! See you again next year?

  3. So agree, Pam – and wow, I love how close our acronyms are! I’ll think of you lovely women contractors, blazing trails in often men-heavy fields, now when I see ACW. Mel, I’m with you on the introvert/extravert thing; am trying not to talk today, but happily processing the fabulous conversations, so grateful to have been in this industry over the years that a retreat like this is a happy reunion. Full English or not!

  4. As a Bookseller, CRT was excellent as an opportunity to meet in one space authors, publishers, suppliers, distributors and of course booksellers. It was great to understand that we are “Partners in the gospel” Philippians 1:5 and share with each other the highs and lows in the book trade.
    Sheridan Voisey was outstanding – the best talk of CRT “Committed to suceed” straight out of Deuteronomy 8:2-8

  5. Pingback : And the winners are… #CRT14: Congratulations to all this year’s award winners! | The Christian Bookshops Blog

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