Grassroots Novelist Keeps Dream Alive

Grassroots Novelist Keeps Dream Alive

Were we in the “good old days” of Christian retailing, right now booksellers, publishers, authors, agents and others would be preparing for the annual International Christian Retailing Show (ICRS) in early July at a major convention center.

Crowds of 12,000 to 15,000 would be expected, a magnet for national media coverage and book signings by household names.

Alas, ICRS no longer exists. Nor does the sponsoring Christian Booksellers Association. CBA cratered five years ago, not long after the demise of the top two Christian retailing chains.

Still, I confess to a bit of excitement that relates to the industry’s heydays. I refer to the release this week of a novel by Creston Mapes, a friend who in my estimation has rightfully earned his acclaim as a top Christian fiction writer.

Celebrity Pastor Great Read

Celebrity Pastor: A Novel of Suspense by Creston Mapes I have more than a passing interest in Celebrity Pastor, since I read an advance copy and wrote this endorsement: “In recent years, numerous megachurch pastors have crashed and burned, which makes the narrative of Celebrity Pastor all too real.

Creston Mapes’s latest novel crackles with intensity; it’s the kind of book you want to read in one sitting if possible. Not just because it’s so engaging, but because it can make each of us examine our susceptibility to the riches of this world. That’s why you shouldn’t skip the discussion questions at the end.”

Our friendship goes back to 2005, when Creston and I met at a writers conference in a suburb of Atlanta. I had no idea we would cross paths again two months later at ICRS in Denver.

“What are you doing here?” I asked, surprised to see him.

“Promoting my book,” Creston replied, handing me a copy of Dark Star: Confessions of a Rock Idol.

That launched me into fandom of Creston’s writing. The only book of his I’ve not read during the past two decades is the sixth in his “Signs of Life” series. You can read about all of his works here.

While Creston’s earlier work was released in the past by a couple major Christian publishers, his career path today is that of independently published author.

A Tough Road

There is no shame in that. Some fine authors have followed a similar path amid the downturn of books and retailing. When authors like John Grisham struggle to sell many copies, it’s a sign that it’s pretty tough out there for writers (and editors).

I know. I last signed a contract for a royalty-paying book project 13 years ago. Ever since, the books I have worked on have mostly been some form of self-publishing endeavor.

Grassroots Novelist Keeps Dream Alive blog post by Ken Walker Writer. Pictured: A set of fancy writing pens.One author whose book I did a developmental edit and major rewrite on in 2022 did find a traditional publisher, but the deal included an advance of zero.

While the state of publishing is such that it’s hard to imagine many books creating “buzz,” a persevering novelist like Creston have forged their own path. He has done all kinds of grassroots marketing, including offering Kindle copies of some of his novels for 99 cents to help build a following.

That has led to him achieving Amazon bestseller status on several occasions and one novel (Nobody) getting optioned as a major motion picture. One of his books earned a cover endorsement from mega-selling author Jerry Jenkins of “Left Behind” fame. Jerry is also the father of Dallas Jenkins, creator and producer of The Chosen TV series.

Yet it’s not the money or fame that keeps Creston writing. It’s a love of his craft and the chance to affect lives, one reader at a time. Keep going, buddy.

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