Tuesday, June 29, 2004

June 29, 2004

More from the CBA convention in Atlanta … 1) Late yesterday afternoon I boarded the bus for the ride back to my hotel. As I found a seat, a woman came down the aisle handing out postcards. “I’m the author and the PR person,” she said. Turns out she was telling the truth. Her name is Marsha Marks and she was advertising her own book—something all authors do, thought usually not like this. She is a flight attendant and an author. Her book is called, “If I Ignore It, It will Go Away,” subtitled, “And Other Lies I Thought Were True.” The back of the postcard offers three sample lies: “Lie # 1: “My husband will love my advice.” Lie # 2: “I will never argue with my kids.” Lie # 3: “You can’t burn hard-boiled eggs.” I have no idea if the book is good or not, but she was perky and bold, two admirable qualities in an author, and she obviously believes in what she wrote. I thought she was going to ride back to the hotel with us, but she hopped off just as the bus was leaving. She scurried back to the convention center, presumably to hand out more cards. 2) The amount of Christian media at the convention seems lower than in past years. Moody radio is broadcasting from the convention, and so is American Family Radio, plus several local stations. Some interview programs will tape a whole year’s worth of interviews this week. They line up the authors back to back to back. The woman who interviewed me yesterday had just finished with Joel Osteen from Houston. Michael Evans came right after me. When I walked past their broadcast area today, she was interviewing Tim LaHaye. 3) I talked for a while with Teresa Evenson, head of PR at Harvest House Publishers. She’s widely considered one of the best in the business. Last night she did a seminar on how authors can do more effective interviews. Lots of it is commonsense stuff, such as boiling down your book to three key points that you can explain in three sentences. She showed me a handout that said something like, “If you haven’t changed your wardrobe or your hairstyle in five years, you are probably in need of a makeover.” Without being overly specific, I have seen a few people at CBA who could use that advice. But, then, who knows? Someone might say that about me. 4) About 12 years ago (before I began writing books), Greg Thornton of Moody Press told me that Christian publishing is a media-driven business. That’s truer today than it was then. If you check the bestseller lists, many of the books are either written by people with media ministries or are books promoted by media ministries. There are numerous exceptions every year, but the general principle holds true. 5) I saw a man wearing a helmet with horns coming out of the sides. I couldn’t decide if he was a Roman soldier or a soldier from the army of the Antichrist. 6) My peronal favorite in the most surprising new book category: I was strolling through the aisles when I came to the Herald Press booth. As I studied their display of new titles, I noticed a thick hardback book that looked like a seminary textbook. Building on the Gospel Foundation is over 900 pages long. The subtitle is the part that really caught my eye: “The Mennonites of Franklin County, Pennsylvania and Washington County, Maryland, 1730-1970.” According to Amazon.com, the book retails for $49.99. Obviously this highly academic book is aimed at a fairly narrow market share. But I have to give the publisher credit because they put the book out front, on the main display, as one of their big items for the year. God bless’ em. I don’t think think Rick Warren has anything to be worried about, but Herald Press has wrapped up the Mennonite market in Franklin Country, PA and Washington County, MD. 7) Just before I left the convention, I met C. J. Mahaney, pastor of the remarkable Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Maryland. He has just released a new book called Sex, Romance and the Glory of God. He gets props for the title—plus it’s a very good read. We talked about writing for a bit and then our discussion turned to the Chicago Cubs. C. J. is a cool guy and I can see why thousands of people come to hear him preach every week. 8) On my flight back to Chicago this afternoon, I sat next to a young mother and her 2-year-old son. Her husband works for Tyndale Press so she and her son David attended the convention yesterday and today. The big highlight: Meeting Larry the Cucumber at the Veggie Tales booth. The little boy was giggling about it, which made the trip back home enjoyable for all of us. So I met Max Lucado and David met Larry the Cucumber. That’s what CBA is all about.

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