This past weekend, I had the privilege of spending time at Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild conference called Writing for the Soul. This is a first rate conference and my second time attending. As was the case last year, I was extremely impressed with the quality of the faculty and the speakers. Jerry is on record as saying that he wants the conference to be known as one of the highest quality events on the calendar, and it showed. The conference featured keynote speakers Liz Curtis Higgs, James MacDonald, and Steven James, as well as a cast of industry professionals teaching writers how to become published authors. I would highly recommend for anyone thinking of attending a writer’s event.
The purpose of the Guild is to train writers how to become authors. This is in their DNA. They offer three courses that take a new writer through training and mentoring, with the intent that they are ready to present their writing to agents and editors. I don’t know of any other programs quite like it.
A few weeks ago, Jerry announced a new, advanced course called PUBLISHED. This ‘masters level’ type course adds a fourth layer to his already successful program…with a new twist. For writers who finish the course, and follow their mentoring, the Christian Writers Guild will provide the author services (editing, typesetting, design, etc.) that it takes to craft a quality book for market. The new publishing initiative is called Christian Writers Guild Publishing (CWGP), and takes the best of both traditional and self publishing and combines them in a model Jerry calls ‘come-alongside publishing.’
Unfortunately, as often happens in Christian community, the idea was blasted from a number of sides. Jerry had been on record earlier in his career as being against self publishing (see his announcement for his own admission to this), and many looked at this new initiative as an attempt to cash in on self publishing. It’s too bad that people have chosen to attack what is being offered without understanding the full picture, which is still evolving.
In a Q&A session, Jerry shared that the Writers Guild has always been a labor of love, and struggles to break even every year. This new teaching program is not about making money, but about providing opportunity for writers. He said that that his most recent experience has shown that 1 in 1000 writers makes it to a traditional publishing contract, and that many of the students in the Guild program have publishable material, but for whatever reason, can’t get the traditional deal. It is for these students, that this new program is built. PUBLISHED is not for everyone.
I applaud the commitment Jerry has to writers. I hope this new initiative creates opportunities for Christian writers, and give their voices a chance to be published. As with all new things, there are most definitely going to be changes and updates to the program as it matures. Jerry made a point of telling the conference attendees that the program ‘isn’t for everyone,’ but will be a good fit for some.
I am pretty sure the program will eventually include a robust set of marketing and publicity tools, eBook conversion and distribution to retail, even though the current information doesn’t include this.
I would love to hear what you think about it!