A lot of Christian authors are fretting about Family Christian Stores filing Chapter 11 bankruptcy and what it could mean for the Christian publishing industry.
I'll admit it's scary. The store's financial crisis means publishers won't get paid. As a result, publishers will suffer financially and may be reluctant to take a risk on a new author. Exisiting authors may receive less money for contracts than they received in the past because the money isn't there.
And so, the doors, which may have opened more easily for unpublished authors, could now be slamming shut.
But that's no reason to stop writing.
Especially if God called you as His scribe.
Many are called to preach, but they don't get paid to do it.
Many are called to sing, but they don't have contracts, and yet they sing every week in their worship services to the glory of God.
Many are called to teach, but volunteer their time in Sunday School.
I'm not saying that all writers should be glad to give their work away. But the reality is, not everyone is chosen to have a full-time paid writing life. Most writers are bi-vocational. And a lot of musicians, preachers and teachers are, too.
We can't peer into the future and know what will happen in the publishing industry. Publishers themselves are a bit in the dark.
There's only one thing I can guarantee: nothing is for certain.
And yet, I don't think there's been a better time to be a writer. A mere 20 years ago, writers couldn't find the audiences that we have access to now via the Internet. Blogging wasn't a "thing" until the late 90s, and even then, many folks had no clue what it was. (I'm happy to say I did.)
Now, via our blogs and social media, we write and publish our thoughts immediately. I feel giddy thinking about it. What do you suppose Shakespeare or Hemingway would have blogged about? Just think of the tools we have that they never dreamed of.
As never before, we have a global reach as writers. People in far away countries have read my books. I don't think it would have happened so quickly 10 or 20 years ago.
God placed us in this world for such a time as this. And we can trust Him with our call. We may not get to do the things we want, but we will definitely get to do the things He's created us for if we obey. We may never be interviewed on CNN or have our books listed in Publisher's Weekly, but that's okay. Because what really matters is that we're listed in the Lamb's Book of Life, and that those we write for have the chance to consider their place in its pages, too.
The devil would love nothing more than to silence you. Don't let him win. His voices aren't quitting. They continue to churn out filth and drivel in every language. And they take no shame in spewing their message via self-publishing.
Self-publishing is a viable option. I repeat. Do not be ashamed to self-publish. It's here to stay. It's not going away. It's just too easy now. (Having said that, do NOT publish until your work is pristine. I'll blog more about self-publishing later.)
I predict that traditional publishers will look at those who self-publish successfully, as much as they look at social media credentials and talent, when considering a contract.
Where it used to be considered unprofessional to self-publish, if you do it right and you're successful, it's now considered admirable. It shows you have the stick-to-it-ness and work ethic needed for a good author to be successful.
However, the irony is this: if you're self-publishing successfully, why would you want to go the traditional route? (More about this later, too.) And herein is why publishing companies are in a bit of a quandary, wanting to play it safe (I don't blame them), and afraid to take risks on new voices.
As Christian authors, our art has a different purpose than writing for our own pleasure or the pleasure of our readers. When we write, we also write for HIS pleasure and HIS purpose. What an extraordinary thought. If the only audience we have is the audience of THE ONE, isn't that all that matters?
When I think how our Christian brothers and sisters are struggling, suffering and dying under the oppression of ISIS, the perils of the Christian publishing industry in the United States pale in comparison, do they not?
One day we will face our Lord on the other side of eternity, and He's not going to ask us why we didn't make the best-seller's list. But we will give an account for how we used our gifts to reach a lost and dying world (Matthew 25:14-30).
Just because you're not published with a traditional company doesn't mean your writing doesn't count. If you don't have an agent, that doesn't mean your writing isn't legitimate in God's eyes.
Keep writing. Lives are at stake. It's not about ego or pleasure. As a Christian author, it's about redeeming the time we've been given to share the most important message of all: God's grace and His soon and coming return.
What will you do today to fulfill the call?
Karla Akins is the author of The Pastor's Wife Wears Biker Boots and narrative biographies for children. She currently serves as Vice President of ACFW-Indiana.
When she's not writing you can find her on her motorcycle looking for treasure.
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