Tag: Christian books

Evaluating the Past and Planning for the Future

Today I’m wearing my Analyzing/Forecasting hat.

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Larry has finished compiling 2014 book sales data from the careful records he keeps throughout the year. He lays before me a stack of neatly-columned reports. Now I take a deep breath, find my Financial Analysis hat, dust it off (most of the time I leave this side of the business to Larry) and sit down to focus on the telling numbers.

Each author will receive a statement (usually accompanied by a check) listing how many of their books sold last year, how many were returned, how many were given away as samples and review copies, the gross and net income we received for those sales, and the amount of the author’s royalties for 2014. I read through each line of these reports before they are sent to our authors.

In addition, Larry has print-outs for me of income, expenses, inventory, etc. I look these over, too, and bring my questions back to him. He patiently provides answers and makes adjustments where needed.

I’ll be glad to get back to the creative side of publishing. But I know that looking at these numbers and columns and net sums, is critical. Trends jump off the page at me and color my thinking about future decisions for Cladach.

First, I thank the Lord for the thousands of copies of Cladach books sold in 2014. They sold through online retailers, wholesalers, events, bookstores, our website, and through the efforts of the authors. From our warehouse we send out varying quantities of paperback books almost every day. We love sending them out to reach buyers and readers, because that means they will minister to people, encourage them, instruct them, inspire them, help them see God at work in our world, help them experience Him more.

Then, I bring to the Lord our successes and our failures, and lay them at His feet. We have prayed over the acquisition, development, production, and marketing of each book. We are human, though, and make mistakes. Some of our titles have kept up regular demand and sales for years. A few have struggled to earn back the money we put into producing them. Most of the latter are excellent works by talented and sincere authors. Somehow, though, a few of those haven’t “grabbed readers.” We will keep trying, because we believe in these titles and these authors.

Next, I acknowledge the trends: For instance, with fiction titles, generally more e-books sell than paperback books. With all our titles, the more the author is active in marketing their books and connecting with readers, the more their books sell. Authors who have a “platform,” ministry, are well-known as an expert in their field, have several books published, and are active daily in some aspect of marketing their books — their books sell the most copies. This has to influence my decisions in acquiring future titles/authors.

It’s interesting to see how different books sell better through different sales channels. Some sell consistently through wholesalers, others simply don’t, but they sell well on Amazon. Some titles we mostly sell directly to the authors, who have ways of selling direct to customers. We give authors a generous discount, so they can actually make a lot more money on these sales than they can make with royalty income from Cladach’s sales. It’s a win-win, and most importantly, hope-giving books reach readers.

Perhaps I’ll share more trends in future posts. For now, I’ll hand the data/reports back to Larry and give attention to things I enjoy more: words, ideas, design, promotions, and the people behind the numbers. … I have a hat for that!

Holding Out Jesus

Chapel in Brittany

The Chapel we visited in Brittany

A few years ago my husband and son and I were traveling through several regions of France. We spent one night in a farm house on the edge of a misty, green village of Brittany. We had walked through grand cathedrals in large cities. But here our host gave us the opportunity for a private tour of a small, rustic local chapel.

A diminutive, sweatered Breton woman took us into the dimly-lit chapel. She explained in detail the colorful stained-glass windows made in centuries past by artisans from Italy, Spain, and Germany. (Our son spoke French, and so through him we could understand and communicate with our guide.) Each window told a story from the Bible and church history for the country parishioners who, in olden days, could not read the scriptures for themselves.

You could tell the historic chapel — still very much in use today — was built by Breton ship builders, our guide explained as we walked down the narrow nave, because the ceiling was curved and ribbed like the hull of a ship. Traditional craftsmanship also showed in the wooden carvings — displayed high above the chancel — representing the Trinity and each of the apostles.

Inside a village chapel in Brittany

Inside the village chapel we visited in Brittany

Surrounded by such reverential art, my eyes were drawn again and again to one particular piece — a wooden carving of “God the Father.” How had the artisans captured such a look of love, such a demeanor of all-power, all-knowing, undauntable gladness? He was depicted sitting on his throne. His arms were outstretched and holding in front of him Jesus, also carved in wood, but in a smaller scale.

The devout Breton woodcarvers depicted the Father holding Jesus out to the world, offering the supreme Gift. I could almost hear the voice from Heaven say, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased” (Matthew 3:17).

Truly, God offers us his Christ to become our savior, our sacrificial lamb, our friend, our example, our victory, our hope, our way to eternal life.

We receive him. He changes us. And we begin to ask, “What should we do about a lost and dying world?”

The Father answers, “Show them Jesus. Hold him out for the world to see.”

Who is this Jesus we are to show the world? He’s not a statue for us to display. “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation” (Col. 1:15, NRSV). He came to earth as a helpless baby, lived an earthly life, and suffered death for us in order to give us the gift of his life, his Spirit, his indwelling presence.

“He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross” (Col. 1:18-20, NRSV).

I pray, “Father, fill us with your love, your power and your joy that we may hold Jesus out to a needy world through our faith, our words, and our actions.”

And that must be the underlying reason we publish books and hold them out to the world. To show them Jesus.

Running the Race ~ Writing for the Lord

A line-up of Cladach authors

Cladach’s Talented and Dedicated Authors

What makes a good author?

A good author is someone who has a burning desire to communicate through written expression, will pay the price to learn the craft of writing, will apply themselves to the process of writing, and will always keep their readers in mind. A good Christian writer loves the Lord, loves words, and loves people.

They can clearly answer the reporter’s questions:

Who: They know for Whom and to whom they are writing.

What: They have a clear focus and plan for what they are writing.

Where: They have a place to write and regularly “apply the seat of their pants to the seat of the chair” with pencil in hand or hands on keyboard.

When: They have a regular time to write and also have learned to snatch the moments and ideas as they come.

Why: They know why they are writing. A writer’s motives may vary: money (dream on), fame (rare and elusive), satisfaction, to scratch the itch (they can’t not write),…  Or, they relate to what the Olympic runner, Eric Liddell ‘s character said in Chariots of Fire: “God made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure.”

If God has truly gifted these writers to write for Him, then their writings will give pleasure to readers also. From their writings readers will gain inspiration, courage, hope, understanding, insight, help.

These Christian writers have taken to heart Hebrews 12:1-2.

Cladach Authors Reflect the Body of Christ

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Cladach authors come from various streams of the body of Christ:

Baptist, Nazarene, Evangelical Presbyterian, Anglican, Vineyard, Christian Church,  Assembly of God, Salvation Army, Messianic, Orthodox, Catholic, Evangelical Free, etc.

We seek to have agreement on the essentials of the Faith, liberty in non-essentials, and in all things love!

Do you follow Wesley? Calvin? Wimber? Jonathan Edwards? Phineas Bresee? Phoebe Palmer? Catherine Booth? The Early Church Fathers?

I wonder how our perspective might change if we were allowed a glimpse of all those men and women in fellowship together in Heaven and praising God before His glorious throne?

“They will know we are Christians by our …” Denominational affiliation? Theological distinctives? Form of government? Church buildings? Politics?

No.

“They will know we are Christians by our love.”

That doesn’t mean I don’t think theology is important. I do. I study it; I listen for it in sermons I hear and books I read.

But I find it interesting that we tend to believe, sometimes fiercely, the theological slant of the particular tribe or camp into which we were born, or where we first came into the Faith and received teaching, or where we found soul refuge, acceptance and belonging.

What is a “Christian Book”?

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A book isn’t created in God’s image, can’t commit sin, exercise free will, or be saved and sanctified. But it can portray the results of sin, describe grace, and be used by God.

A book is paper printed on and bound together into a volume for reading. Or a digital file stored in a computer database or hand-held device for reading on a screen. Or, perhaps, a recording of written material into sound bytes for listening. Books come in many forms. And there’s nothing intrinsically “Christian” about the forms.

The person who envisions, experiences, writes, edits, and/or publishes a book, however, may certainly be Christian. If a believer in—and follower of—Jesus Christ writes a book, I believe that will be a “Christian book.” That book will be written from a mind that is being renewed, a mind that seeks to view the world as the Bible views it and as the living Word, Jesus, views it; it will be written out of a heart that is stone made flesh, set on and responsive to the Redeemer-King; written from a soul that is being restored according to the holy Creator’s plan.

I haven’t found a perfect book yet, or a perfect person. But I’ve known Christians whose lives ring true, and I’ve read books that ring true.