Life in Publishing: Changes and a Big Reveal

The only constant is change, and nowhere is that more true than in Christian publishing. My newsflash: In a couple of weeks, my freelance contract with Authentic Media for commissioning/acquiring great Christian titles is coming to an end as they narrow their focus primarily to children’s books, Bibles, and DVDs.

image001When Rob Bootes from Koorong, Authentic’s Australian parent company, came to me four years ago asking if I wanted to join the team, I said no – being an editor was in the past, I thought, for I wanted to be a writer. A few months later he got in touch with a different proposal, and on a whim I said yes to one day a week consulting as a commissioning editor/publisher – for three months! Crazy me; I so got the timing wrong. It’s been a fab four years as I’ve worked on such amazing books as, in the early days, How to Like Paul Again by Conrad Gempf and Am I Beautiful? by Chine Mbubaegbu, and more recently Digging for Diamonds by Cathy Madavan and the forthcoming The Only Way is Ethics series by Sean Doherty.

I’ve seen in these four years that I don’t have to approach my life-with-words in a black-and-while either/or way; it can be a both/and prospect of being a writer and an editor – the two roles feed each other creatively. Although I’m sad to say goodbye from an editorial point of view, I’m thrilled that my association with Authentic will continue with me as an author.

For as many of you know, Authentic are publishing my first book this autumn – woo hoo! Here with my Big Reveal (well, some of you have seen this already), is my fabulous wonderful cover. I hope you love it as much as I do. Writing for Authentic has been a dream process, as it’s been a team effort with Steve Mitchell, Kate Beaton, Lawrie Stenhouse, Liz Williams, and Becky Fawcett on the Authentic side, and Jennie Pollock as my freelance editor. (Liz and Malcolm Down are no longer with Authentic either, as the narrowing of the focus included the elimination of their jobs too.)

findingmyself_cover_vivianhansenSteve Mitchell, managing director, believed in me as an author, and last autumn took a punt in signing me up for my first book. (I recount my Tangled Writing Journey [yes, it deserves capital letters] here if you’d like to read the background.) With his over twenty years in Christian retail, and with my over two decades’ experience as an editor, we worked together to come up with what we hope will be a cracking good read. I wanted to write a devotional or a memoir; he suggested instead that I focus on my unique angle. Write, he said, about being an American in the UK, and while doing so I should incorporate my story and the spiritual insights I’ve gleaned with my cultural observations about this small island. There’s even a chapter about plumbing.

My publisher likes to say that Finding Myself in Britain: Our Search for Faith, Home & True Identity is a bit like Michele Guinness meets Bill Bryson. I love that characterization, not least because Michele is one of my heroes, a magnificent writer and speaker who humbled me with her foreword. Here’s a bit of what she says:

There were moments when Amy’s honesty and pain choked me, others when she made me laugh out loud. From toilets to tea and tennis, drizzle to driving, reserve to religious observance, sarcasm to self-deprecation, queuing to cricket, not to mention language, class, and vicarage oddities, it’s all there – the British foibles that make other nations think us bizarre… Yet in Amy’s gentle hands it’s a revelation – funny, challenging, surprising, chastening, and cheering.

Yes, I’m excited about finally being a Proper Author who has written a book. Look for the finished product in October, from bookshops or from here at my website (or at the big online retailer for pre-pub orders). I owe so much not only to the Authentic team but to my editorial friends and encouragers.

So although I’ll no longer be commissioning for Authentic, I’ll work with them on the launch and marketing of Finding Myself in Britain. I think back to a decade ago, when I went through what felt like a massive redundancy when Zondervan eliminated my editorial job. At the time my world was rocked, for so much of my identity was intertwined with my role. I’ve now seen how the Lord has worked through the years, honing me as he’s helped me pursue my deep desires such as writing. And how he’s even “enlarged my territories” (if I can use the Jabez language without anyone cringing too much). I trust that he’ll use this present change for my growth and flourishing – but I am making sure I take the time to grieve the passing of the season, as is right and proper to do.

Yet I also know that losing my contractual freelance work might just be the boot-to-bum that I need to pursue some other dreams – such as a master’s in Christian spirituality. Watch this space!

8 Responses

  1. Dave Lambert

    Congrats, Amy! Can’t wait to read it, and hope it’s a big success. Planning to write full-time from this point on, or looking for something to replace the Authentic job?

    1. Dave, thanks! I’d love to write full-time if I could make it work financially. I’m also looking seriously into a part-time masters in Christian spirituality from the University of London. (If you have extra book doctor projects or co-writing let me know…)

  2. Malc Aspey

    Hi Amy, can’t wait to read the book. As a fellow vicars wife it will be exciting to read of your experiences, especially with the plumbing, and of course your cultural challenges! I pray God will bless you in this Life in Publishing

  3. Sue Cherry

    God’s plans Amy, God’s plans.

    I’ve ordered one copy of your book but I’m now considering upping that order as there are a couple of VWs that I think would love to read about your experiences. Not long now!!

  4. Hi Amy,

    I saw your link to this post on the ACW Facebook page.

    The book sounds fascinating, and it’s gone into my Wish List on a certain website.

    Just one question, though: if Authentic are narrowing their list in the way you describe, will a book like yours, which doesn’t fall within the remaining categories, get good promotion?

  5. Thanks to you all for your amazing encouragement. Sue, wow – humbled to think you’re buying it for friends. I’ll be selling it through my website (which is currently being redesigned) and will be happy to give you a discount, if you haven’t already ordered.

    Good question, Dave. Changes at publishers always make authors really uncomfortable. As an editor I’ve seen what can happen – even when, for instance, I took over from another editor who went on maternity leave. Publishing is so relationship-based. Thankfully the team at Authentic has narrowed their focus, and not stopped all together (and no sales or marketing jobs were eliminated). So although they’re not commissioning new adult Christian books, they will fully support the books they’ve got in the system. Such as the amazing one I’m working on today, The Only Way is Ethics by Sean Doherty.

  6. Pingback : Warning: Change Ahead – Encouragement for Writers | Amy Boucher Pye

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