Some Thoughts on Partnership in Christian Publishing?

Frank Peretti? Who
had ever heard of him before This Present Darkness?

In the early or
mid-seventies, Kenneth Tyndale’s Living Bible found no publisher
willing to take a chance. If my memory serves me correctly, he shopped that
manuscript around to 5 or 6 publishers. He finally had to become his own
publisher. That’s why to this day Tyndale Publishers stays opened to writers
that can’t find a publisher (at least in theory).

Why would any
author–who writes an important book, who works hard to get it into the hands
of readers, and who develops some sort of platform on his/her own–want to
share that with a publisher whose “platform” policy makes it clear
that they are unwilling to invest or risk anything, with that author? Who needs
fair-weather friends? I do not fully understand publishing, but common sense
begs the question: what use is a publisher to an already popular and successful
author? All she needs at that point is a reprographics company who can keep up
with demand.

Lottery winners are
smart not to trust new found friends. They do best to trust their instincts and
the loyal friends who were with them from the start.

The Christian
writer and publisher must remain open to other considerations that secular
publishers need not consider–God’s will for effective ministry and for
building the body of Christ. We will be held responsible for more than the
bottom line. How much of our “business” is sensitive to the needs of
ministry and guidance of the Holy Spirit? God uses the little known and
despised things to confound the wise. He often raises up the least likely. We
look on the outside. He looks on the inside. He purposely counters our too
often worldly perspectives. Therefore, if we don’t want to miss what He is
doing, we need to stay sensitive to his leading, as well as to our formulas for
success. He may choose to bypass them (as in The
and  many other titles that
surprised those who had their eyes on the bottom line).

Fortunately for us,
many of the greatest authors in literature had publishers that knew that
writers write and publishers market–its a partnership. The great publishing
houses became such because they knew that first books were investments. Author
and publisher needed each other. They took chances together in order to impact
their world, because they believed in the message. And each had his own
responsibilities and expertise. They were co-workers.

An increasing
number of today’s publishers appear to want a guaranteed return on someone
else’s investment. They may be unaware of publishing history. Some
publishers know better and continue to believe that important books remain to
be written and discovered. And occasionally a receptive publisher connects with a potentially
great writer and together they make history. However, that becomes increasingly rare when publishers set policies that exclude new manuscript submissions unless they come through agents.  I don’t have the solution. Publishers have their own challenges.
More could be said on this, but perhaps someone more qualified could take up the challenge.

My guess is that if
the current publishing trend continues, more and more authors will find
alternate ways to publish and connect with readers. I’ve heard it said that
“the internet eliminates geography.”Social networking
is the new town center. After all, word of mouth has always been and will
continue to be the most effective form of advertising.


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