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Trainer Network

October- November 2007

- 10/01/07  

Trainer Network October- November 2007
 
Do’s and Don’t’s in Publishing
By Voicu Bojan
 
There’s something crazy about being in the book business today. The world moves ahead at a very fast pace. But reading entails slowing down, going against the tide. The wise man warns us, “Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body” (Eccl. 12:12).
 
In post-Christian Europe, publishing books with Christian content is a great risk and an act of courage. Trying to sell Christian titles to a general market may seem almost suicidal. But as a small, independent publisher, we have been doing this in Romania for 15 years. We don’t regret anything, but we have made many mistakes. Here are 10 lessons we’ve learned.
 
  1. Don’t forget to define your framework and limits. Do create a mission statement. Knowing your audience is crucial. Create an identity.
  2. Don’t betray your readers. This creates long-term confusion. Do stick to your vision; be faithful to your audience. Within certain limits, try to meet their expectations. But sometimes surprise them!
  3. Don’t neglect to watch the trends of the book market. Do inform yourself and others via contact with media, local bookstores, the Internet, book fairs, and the market in general.
  4. Don’t stay comfortable. To me, Christian publishing is 30 percent mission and 70 percent business. Do stop selling mild Christian titles to lukewarm Christians! Break this ghetto culture and take the risks of aiming to touch the general market. “Fear not!” is an order, not a request.
  5. Don’t publish a boring title for the sake of immediate profit. This affects you for the long term. Do select only the right titles for your audience. Small decisions can have great consequences.
  6. Don’t succumb to market pressure to publish many books. Do aim for impact, not quantity. Better to do a few books, but make sure they are significant titles. Publish the books you really believe in.
  7. Don’t compromise quality when it comes to translations, photos, covers or design. Do work with professionals – translators, editors and designers. Create a unique, quality product you are proud of.
  8. Don’t depend on bestsellers. They can be dangerous. Like in tennis, you may score well or barely win a set, but then you allow yourself a moment of relaxation. Don’t get caught off guard. Do make sure you keep enough cash in your purse for the gray days. They will surely come.
  9. Don’t jump to print thousands in the second printrun, which is the most dangerous. Do gather from your clients all information about possible returns. Make sure you have a strong request for that title. Be cautious.
  10. Don’t forget to keep watch around you, mostly on your competition. Do know your position in the market. But try not to be influenced by what others are doing. Follow your vision and instincts, your own way.
 
Going back to Ecclesiastes, there’s a time for everything and for every book, its season. Fear not, keep going, we have the perfect backup – God, the Creator of everything.
 
Voicu Bojan is founder and publisher of Aqua Forte Publishing  in Romania. He is also an avid photographer. One of his photos recently won a top prize for National Geographic Romania.
 
Put Down the Pen
Remember this when you face a tight writing deadline: Excessive tinkering and revising can weaken your writing. For one thing, your first draft might lose emotional punch as you water it down. Worse, too much tweaking of content will sap your creativity. Remember: Only the finished product counts. Working on a document for 10 hours instead of one hour will not guarantee that the end result will be 10 times more valuable. Focus on the task and not on the clock.
 
--Adapted from “You Can Write Well Under Pressure,” Bill Lampton www.championshipcommunication.com). Reprinted from Communication Briefings (www.briefings.com); March 2007; phone: 703-518-2343.
 
Resource Tool: Your Guide to Creating a Christian Writer Group
“Writing is, for most people, a solitary occupation. Those who don’t write often misunderstand the difficulty of capturing on the page that first shining vision, the hard work, the dedication of time and mind-space, the belief that this is service to God and not just self-indulgence, the pain of rejection, the thrill of acceptance, the small rewards and the toughness of the competition, the fear even for experienced writers that the next piece will not be good enough, and the moments of delight when the words sing from the page.
 
“It is a joy to get together occasionally with other writers who understand these things, who support us when the going is tough and rejoice with us unselfishly when we succeed. It’s an opportunity, too, for sharing information about new openings for writing, for pooling expertise and raising our personal standards of excellence for the glory of God. In a small group, individual questions and needs can be met in detail. A writer group is a fellowship of friends who sustain each other through prayer and companionship.
 
“National groups and conferences can provide events with top-class speakers, valuable publications, and a network of advisers. But this cannot achieve all that is possible for a group of companions who meet regularly, who know each other personally, who can track the ups and downs of each other’s pilgrimage and offer their care and prayer.”
 
The above excerpt is from author Faye Sampson’s Your Guide to Creating a Christian Writer Group, just published by MAI. This booklet offers practical pointers for creating an effective writer group that spurs its members to better writing through regular gatherings, encouragement and support. You’ll also glean from leaders of writer groups in Trinidad, Kenya, the Philippines and Ghana. Available in English only from MAI, paperback, 36 pp., $4.00/£2.00 plus shipping. Inquire about quantity discounts.
 
Order online, or call +1.630.260.9063.