In This Issue:
< Training: The plumbline of effective publishing
< Pray: Workshop to equip new publishers in Nairobi
< International Publishing News and Views
< Letter from a Trainer
< Evernote: A writer's scrapbook
< An Unfading Vision
"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation," said Aristotle. At MAI, we aim to help Christians in publishing achieve excellence. As such, we have no better resource than our trainers. These men and women set standards in publishing and then sacrifice time and money to encourage and equip others worldwide.
In this issue, we invite you to step into the shoes of two of our most talented trainers, hailing from the U.K. and West Africa. May they inspire you to pass on your skills in creating and producing the written word.
-Dawn Herzog Jewell, editor
Training: The plumbline of successful publishing
Since retiring from
Lion Hudson plc in the UK, Tony Wales has focused on equipping and encouraging Christian publishers around the globe. He shared these insights on training with MAI’s Dawn Jewell.
Q: What does being an effective trainer look like?
I’ve found it most important to help people understand their own situation more clearly.
For example, I involve the staff by developing a situational analysis with them (the classic S.W.O.T: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats), using a blank flip chart. I don’t presume anything; they have to articulate it. Just that exercise makes their situation clearer to them. After identifying key issues, I help them prioritize actions for the coming 1 to 3 years.
Q: What are your biggest challenges as a trainer?
I want to listen and observe so I can be an enabler, not a lecturer. Sometimes people hope I will deliver answers from a mountain like Moses did!
Another challenge is helping publishers identify potential hazards. For example, analysis helped one publisher realize he needed to set up a more concerted sales program. Another publisher wanting to start an independent company needed to rethink what kind of publishing would be self-sustaining and have both local and global impact.
Q: You equip Christian publishers in many countries where war, poverty and persecution are realities. Is the goal self-sustainability?
Yes, within the borders of realism. I want people to avoid the trap of dependency. Even though subsidy was born with good intentions, it is unreliable. The tap can be turned off at any time.
For example, after Communism’s collapse in Europe, generous
financial help from the West enabled one publisher to develop a steady output of Christian books. Now the former donors are reducing their aid and the publisher must completely rethink the business. It has been a sudden and difficult wake-up call.
Q: How else do you try to help publishers succeed?
I use the four-legged table analogy. You must care for each leg: the editor and writer; finances; sales and marketing; and distribution. If one leg is longer than the others, the table is unbalanced and strains the whole infrastructure.
Q: Is there any particular verse that has guided you in training/consulting?
I encouraged publishers in Serbia with Zechariah 4:10, which recounts how Zerubbabel used a tiny tool, a plumbline, to rebuild the temple and lay the foundation of Jerusalem. Though publishers’ work appears insignificant, I believe it can lay new foundations. The Gospel transforms countries with even the smallest tool—books.
By Jennifer Lewis, former MAI intern
Photo above courtesy Nicholas Raus
Pray: Workshop to equip new publishers in Nairobi
MAI trainer Tony Wales will lead a two-day course, “An Introduction to Publishing” in Nairobi, Kenya, February 15 and 16, organized by the new Publishing Institute of Africa, founded by Barine Kirime. Barine and Wambura Kimunyu will also teach sessions in the course.
- That the Lord brings delegates who will help publish needed books
- For the preparation and leading of workshop facilitators
- For the development of the newly formed Publishing Institute of Africa
International Publishing News and Views
Publishing Perspectives glean
a comprehensive look at global publishing from top industry members. Surf the site to find news updates, discussion boards, expert advice, potential publishing contacts and more. Or subscribe to a daily e-newsletter to stay on top of upcoming trends. Stay well informed on topics like the desirability of e-books, techniques to develop vertical markets, and the problems facing independent bookstores. The site is designed to help you succeed in the ever-changing publishing world no matter your role in it. Also now available in French as
Letter from a Trainer
The ministry of training writers extends long after a workshop is finished. Corresponding with trainees is critical for encouraging them to pen words consistently amidst life's daily demands. After Lawrence Darmani, MAI’s Africa Regional Trainer, met with writers in Zimbabwe, he sent this compelling email.
Greetings from Ghana. Some three weeks have passed since we were together talking about producing quality Christian literature for the Church. I pray that the Lord will grant you renewed courage to do this.
Writing has a fun side but it is hard work. The more you work at producing sentences and paragraphs, the more you conquer the tendency not to write. By now you should have written the first draft!
You are all busy people, but being productively busy sharpens us to be good vessels for ministry. God never calls "unbusy" people, but when He calls busy people He equips us for good work.
I told you I'm writing a series of novels. Every time I sit down to write I find something
to write! But if I allow a few days to lapse, I lose track. Remember the “well" we talked about. Go to the well every morning and there will be water to fetch. Visit with your project regularly, daily if possible, and write something—even if for a few minutes. Before you know it, you will be writing for a longer period and certainly produce something.
Let me say it again: in your first drafts—just keep writing even if you think it is "rubbish." It is easier to work on “rubbish" than nothing! It is easier to steer a moving vehicle than a stationary one.
One day my father and I went to the farm late in the day and cleared some weeds for a short time. Then he asked me, "Tomorrow when we come back shall we start all over?" He confirmed that we would continue, not begin anew. Likewise, every page you write is bringing you to the end of your project.
God willing, next year, the projects you finish will be among those launched [as books]. Above all, remember how your book will become a source of growth for members of the Church.
Blessings to you all.
A writer's scrapbook
Every writer knows the importance of jotting down ideas as they occur and quotes as they are found, before memory fails.
For a computer user there is a simple and powerful utility which performs this function, plus more. The basic free version of
includes software for note taking. In this case a “note” can be typed or copied text, a webpage, a photograph, a voice memo or a handwritten “ink” note entered through the computer’s camera. Notes can then be arranged into folders, edited, given comments, searched and exported. Versions exist for Windows and Mac.
These features alone would be great, but Evernote can also link these notes to a dedicated and password-protected web page, which can be accessed anywhere. Furthermore, if the user has an iPod, Blackberry or other mobile platform, the connections continue. A technologically-equipped writer can enter notes on the move or at the desk, knowing that all the files will be synchronized, and then may be accessed at any point.
Ian Darke, MAI Regional Trainer for Latin America
An Unfading Vision
An Unfading Vision is the inspiring story of the late Edward England’s journey in Christian publishing. Even if you are not a publisher, editor or writer yourself, you will witness through England’s life the incredible power of the written word to reach the nations.
Know someone considering a career in Christian publishing or writing? This is the perfect gift.