Christian Communicator, Advanced Christian Writer, and Church Libraries. Plus she organizes the Write-to-Publish Conference in Wheaton, Illinois, every year and teaches at writers’ conferences and seminars around the world. We were roommates at the LittWorld 2004 conference in the Philippines, sponsored by Media Associates International for Christian writers and publishers from the majority world.
Lin, how did you first get involved with MAI?
LIN JOHNSON: Because of my teaching experience and interest in training writers, someone suggested I contact John Maust, president of MAI. We met for lunch to get acquainted, but he wanted me to attend a LittWorld conference first before considering me for teaching. We kept in touch; and two years later, I was able to attend the conference in the Philippines, where I took appointments and talked with conferees about writing and publishing.
HARDY: What most impressed you at that first conference, and how have you stayed involved?
JOHNSON: I was shocked to discover how few books outside the United States and Great Britain are written by local authors. Instead, publishing houses buy the rights to publish American and British books, even though they don’t speak to their cultures, for the most part. However, I was impressed by the passion of the speakers and conferees to make Christian literature available in their countries in spite of great obstacles.
As a result of attending that conference, the manager of Uzima Publishing House in Nairobi, Kenya, asked me to teach a one-week seminar on book writing the next year. At the time, I had no desire to go to Africa. But I politely said I’d pray about it and look at my schedule; within a week, God had changed my heart and I was excited to go. It turned out to be the best investment I’ve made for God’s Kingdom so far. It was exciting to see of the books from that seminar in published form at LittWorld last year.
I’ve been on faculty of both LittWorld conferences since then, meeting one-on-one with conferees, teaching, and answering questions about writing and publishing. I still e-mail people I’ve met there, and both times I’ve received invitations to teach in other countries.
All these experiences stretched me spiritually; I had to lean on God more and witnessed His power in ways beyond my expectations. I’ve met some amazing people who share my passion for publishing Christian literature. They also opened my eyes to the great need for developing writers around the world who can write culturally relevant literature for their countries.
HARDY: You have tried to create a connection between Write-to-Publish (WTP) and LittWorld. How has that worked?
JOHNSON: John Maust has spoken at WTP about what MAI is doing to train writers. When he brought bookmarks with prayer requests for specific people and countries, so many conferees wanted to take them that he had to send over more the next day.
Because I can’t afford to pay my way to LittWorld conferences, WTP attendees have supported me with their money, as well as prayer.
Last year, I donated a few dozen CDs of WTP classes for MAI to sell for a low price to extend their teaching ministry. They sold out, and I wished I had taken more.
HARDY: That’s wonderful! Do internationals ever attend Write-to-publish?
|Godwin and other Litt-World students|
Last year, I met Godwin from Nigeria, who wanted to attend WTP this year. I offered to let him attend for free if he paid airfare. However, he wasn’t able to get a visa to come.
HARDY: What could an international fiction writer expect to get out of such a conference?
|One-on-one appointments at WTP|
Through the free manuscript evaluations, one-on-one appointments with faculty members, and critique groups, writers can get valuable feedback on their stories to make them more marketable.
HARDY: International fiction writers are often trying to break into the U.S. market because it is so much larger. Do you have any suggestions for them?
JOHNSON: Study the markets first. Start with buying a copy of the Christian Writers’ Market Guide by Sally Stuart. (It’s available on amazon.com and other sites, including www.writetopublish.com.) This book lists all the publishing houses and magazines that are looking for submissions, along with enough information to determine if they are possible markets for the kind of fiction a writer is doing. Then read the writers’ guidelines on the publishers’/publications’ Web sites and study the kinds of books or articles they publish. (Book houses list their entire lines on their Web sites, and many magazines post at least some, if not all, of their issues online.)
Also, try to read a variety of American novels to get a feel for what is being published. But don’t try to imitate them. Remember, Americans are interested in reading about people in other cultures, so set your novel or short story in your country and help us get acquainted with people there through your characters and plot.
Hardy: Thank you for sharing with us today, Lin. May God continue to bless you, Write-to-publish and this unique link with Christian writers from all over the world.
LeAnne Hardy has lived in six countries on four continents. Her books for young people come out of her cross-cultural experiences and her passion to use story to convey spiritual truths in a form that will impact lives. Visit her at www.leannehardy.net .