A Day at the CBA

Colorado Convention CenterLast week, I was given the opportunity to do a book signing at the Christian Bookseller’s Association (CBA) International Christian Retail Show, held July 9-13 at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver. I recently authored a book, Alone With God, and had it and an accompanying journal published through JourneyForth, a division of Bob Jones University Press.

The CBA is the trade association for the Christian retail channel, serving the interests and meeting the needs of nearly 2,300 member Christian stores. These stores provide Bibles, Christian books, curriculum, apparel, music, videos, gifts, greeting cards, children’s resources, and other materials. Guesstimated attendance at the convention was 10,000.

A book signing is a chance to give your book away to potential buyers. Throughout the conference, hundreds of authors were present to spend one hour signing as many books as they possibly could. I was scheduled for Tuesday morning at 11 a.m. and signed 250 books in an hour. It was a lot of fun! I noticed a couple of things. Many people admit to struggling in the area of their daily devotions, and it seemed as though they were truly interested. Others were obviously interested in a free book, and that was it. “Just sign your name.” Others were simply filling their suitcase with freebies to sell online. Amazon’s link to my book now has several “used” copies for sale. Regardless, I found it helpful to have something that summed up my thoughts and philosophy on the private life in one neat little package.

After my signing, Jen and I wandered through the 450-plus exhibits and picked up our share of free wares–47 free books in all. I went through my stack at home and found six I thought would be worth reading. I will post another article soon about the side of CBA that turned my stomach. The pictures will say it all.

I thought I’d share some of the opportunities I had during the day. It was truly a unique experience for me.

Across the aisle from us was the Christianity Today (CT) booth. Liz Curtis Higgs, author of Bad Girls of the Bible, was signing her new book. The day before, J.I. Packer was there signing his new one. Late in the day on Tuesday, Mark Galli, managing editor of CT, was signing Jesus Mean and Wild. I didn’t dare get close.
Two Theological HeavyweightsI personally thanked Bob the Builder for getting us through two boys and sticking with it while our youngest two go through that stage.
Jay and RC Sproul
One of the highlights of my day was conversing with R.C. Sproul. He was signing a new book on worship. They informed me that Ligonier has just launched the Reformation Trust. From their website:

Reformation Trust Publishing, a new book publishing imprint, will produce theologically solid, practical books true to the historic Christian faith from Dr. R.C. Sproul and the best of today’s contemporary authors and theologians. An imprint of Ligonier Ministries, Reformation Trust will publish Dr. Sproul’s newest title on principles of worship, A Taste of Heaven: Worship in the Light of Eternity, this month. Next in line to release this fall is Foundations of Grace, by Dr. Steve Lawson. This book is the first in a series of five titled A Long Line of Godly Men, which will trace the unbroken line of men throughout history who have taught the foundational truths of God’s sovereign grace.

I am currently reading Lawson’s book on preaching. The guys working the booth told me that Lawson walked into their office with an idea for a book or two and walked out with 11 contracts. As always, look for some good stuff from Ligonier.
Jason with Tim LaHaye and Jerry JenkinsNo day is complete at CBA without a picture with Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins. Tim’s sister is a member of our church and works as a volunteer secretary in our church office. He was signing (actually stamping) his latest book The Rapture. Tim has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and is endeavoring to slow down, but he still does prophecy conferences every other weekend and is currently writing five other books.
Jay and Eric
It was good to meet some of my SI contacts at the various publishers. Barnabus Piper works with us at Crossway Books, and Eric Anest is our contact at Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing (P&R). Here is a picture of Eric, BJU grad and SI member, in the midst of working hard at his booth.
Jennifer Janz and Martha PeaceWhile at the P&R booth, we stumbled upon one of my wife’s heroes, Martha Peace. She authored The Excellent Wife back in 1999. My wife’s copy of that book is dog-eared, falling apart at the binding, and covered with notes. And, might I add, she is a great example of what that book teaches.

Martha told us the story of how so many publishers had turned her down because her book was too deep and needed more stories. They recommended that she split the book into five different books. Unwilling to do so, she found a small publisher, Focus Publishing, who took her project. To this date, the book has sold 300,000 copies. She has just written a new book titled Damsels in Distress: Biblical Solutions for Problems Women Face.
Kirk Cameron
And the day just wouldn’t have been complete without getting a picture of the evangelism machine himself, Kirk Cameron!

It was a pleasure to spend the day with some of the staff of BJU Press. Nancy Lohr (editor of my book) and Suzette Jordan, the acquisitions editors for JourneyForth, were there.
 JoEllen DeLuca has overseen the marketing of the book. I called them “Ladies in Black.” One other author, Betty Henderson from Indianapolis, was there signing her book. She just wrote her first book, A Woman of Prayer. We shared “birthing” stories of our first major writing project.
The Women In Black
Over the course of the last year, I have heard several myths about BJU Press. The first one was that BJU Press does not pay any royalties for books published through them. This is untrue. They do pay royalties for projects.  They have different rates for different divisions, but they are competitive.  The other thing I heard was that they don’t put any money into marketing. This is untrue as well. When I arrived at the CBA convention, my book was advertised on a full-page in the daily newspaper for the convention. Aspiring Retail also carried it. They sent a postcard marketing my book to 4,000 Christian camps. I could go on and on, but suffice it to say that if you’re looking for a good, conservative publisher, BJU Press is a great option. They publish about 15 titles a year; half are for adults, and half are for children.

And yes, I talked to Randy Alcorn. We had a pleasant exchange! :)

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