In 2005 my friend Pat Patterson coaxed me into riding with him to the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference. I didn’t want to go. I’d been writing since high school, had a degree in English with an emphasis in journalism, and read general market fiction. The thought of spending almost a week with “Christian” authors sounded like a big yawn. But Pat wanted a wing man, so I went.
During the first night’s opening session Alton Gansky made a comment that stuck with me. Al said, “The thing you write might never make its way onto the shelf of a bookstore. It might never make it into print. It might only be for the person sitting next to you.” I wrote that down in my prayer journal. (Did I mention that I became a Christian around the age of 10 and became the thousandth member of St. Marks United Methodist Church?)
That week I learned more about writing than I had in thirty years of freelancing. Turns out Christians at writers conferences learn the craft. But could they write? That was my question.
Later that year Cindy Sproles and I built a website and began posting devotions online. Hers at first. Then a few of mine. Then those of other writers. Back then, before the days of blogging, getting a devotion published anywhere was tough. Each year Cindy and I would return to Blue Ridge, read devotional submissions, select the best, work with writers to make good … great, and post them on ChristianDevotions.US. This was the start of Christian Devotions Ministries.
In the spring of 2009 CDM published its first book: Spirit & Heart: A Devotional Journey . The book was a compilation of thirty devotions selected from the website. During the production process I discovered how to publish print books on demand. We used Spirit & Heart: A Devotional Journey as a training tool at writers’ conferences. When a writer struggled with our Hook-Book-Look-Took devotion-writing format, we’d open that little devotional book and walk them through the devotion formula. Spirit & Heart became our first “blessed seller.”
The Great Recession ended in June 2009, but by then the Christian publishing industry was in a downward spiral. Editors were being laid off, book contracts cancelled, houses merging or folding. You can guess what happened next. Authors began asking if we could publish their books. We said, “No. If we did, there’s a good chance we’ll mess it up and then you’ll be upset with us.” Some pleaded with us to try, anyway.
Around the same time we noticed another trend developing. Self-publishing firms were preying on authors and charging thousands of dollars to publish a single book that almost everyone (but the author) knew would only sell a few hundred copies. It wasn’t our business if an author wanted to blow that kind of money, but Cindy and I felt like something needed to be done.
So we said “yes” to a few authors and began publishing devotional books. Things went well for a while. We hit the market just as the ebook trend took off. Our small books sold and we began paying royalties. Authors asked us to publish their fiction. We said no. Larger publishers continued to lay off staff, cancel book contracts, merge … We reluctantly agreed to try our hand at fiction. Suddenly authors expected us to actually sell books.
This was a change for us. Before, we always made sure the author knew there were no guarantees. We were giving them and their book an opportunity to succeed at our expense. Still, we plugged along. God blessed our work. Copies sold. Checks went out monthly. (Yes, we issue royalty checks monthly. We believe writing is a business and the laborer deserves his or her wages promptly.) In fact, we were publishing so many books under our nonprofit ministry, we decided to create a new company: Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas.
A few things you should know about LPC.
First, we do not call ourselves a “Christian” publishing company. Some call America a Christian nation, but many Christians would claim that America is far from the ideals Christ set forth. A company will often stick a fish on its business card to signify it’s a Christian company, but who can know the heart of its owners and staff? Only an individual can become a Christian, not a company. At LPC, we try to honor God in all we do, but even Paul and Peter disagreed over actions and attitudes. Thus, our aim is to allow God’s Spirit to be expressed through the words of our authors. We leave the labeling of our efforts and products to others.
Our primary mission in fiction is to reach readers outside the walls of the church. This is hard work. It demands authors who can relate to the general public through vivid, powerful stories that do not preach, and yet remain pure and unoffensive. We may not always succeed, but that’s our goal. Our Christian Living and devotional books seek to build up the Church and challenge readers to grow spiritually.
If you’re a reader, I would ask that you consider purchasing a few LPC books. Bookselling is a tough business. It’s certainly much harder now than when we started. But maybe that’s why God called us into this work. Perhaps he needed hard-headed people who would advance even when the landscape looks bleak.
Should you purchase one of our books and find it worth your investment, please consider posting a review on Amazon. Reviews sell books. Word-of-mouth sells books.
Feel free to share your comments on our vision. We love hearing from fans, followers, and those who disagree with us. It keeps us humble 🙂
Eddie Jones | Founder, CEO
Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas