As you read this, I am in the bustling city of Accra, Ghana in West Africa taking part in four days of training for Ghanaian publishers, August 20-23, conducted by Media Associates International (www.littworld.org). International publishing guru Ramon Rocha and I are participating in seminars on a wide range of topics. My little secret is that I learn and am blessed far beyond what I carry from home in the U.S. We would appreciate your prayers that our presentations are well received and they we rely on God’s wisdom rather than our own.
Last fall, I had the privilege to present material at the tri-annual LittWorld conference in Nairobi, Kenya…hosting 200 people from 50 countries. (Even Mongolia was represented.)
On the flight over, one of the in-flight movies was The Social Network, a drama that traced the beginnings of Facebook from 2003. What started as a college website with less than honorable intentions now has 1.1 billion (that’s a “b”) registered users worldwide…about one in six humans on the earth.
During the Nairobi LittWorld, every publisher acknowledged the importance of Facebook to their marketing efforts. A writer from a Muslim country spoke about how it is the pivotal communication mechanism for Christians in difficult areas. There are significant social media ministries into areas that are otherwise closed to the Gospel. Years ago we had short-wave radio for Christian messages to closed or difficult areas, now we have that and have added Facebook and Twitter.
We are currently in the middle of the most significant revolution in publishing since the invention of the printing press. Digital distribution of written content has wiped away country borders and made materials available in areas where there is no bookstore or library. Authors must communicate with their readers.
If global ministry is part of your DNA, bring that to your writing…you never know where your words will end up. There is little or nothing stopping a message from going viral globally, which is a bit of a problem for publishers who have limited territorial rights. This is why there are so many legal issues in publishing these days. Contracts (especially older ones) are struggling to catch up with technological advances.
Certainly, there are less-than-good uses of the web and social networking structures, but it is also wide open to be used for the Good News. Let’s take advantage of it.
I’ve thought about this a bit, Dan. I’m an engineer with a company based out of Germany. I’ve got to spend some time there over the last year. What I found was a beautiful country, friendly people, rich history, and almost a complete abandonment of faith. I did find one Christian books store and even spotted the names of a few friends, their work translated to German. For the most part, though, Christianity was viewed as a part of their history and not pertinent to the current culture. My question is, how succesful can an American fiction writer hope to be internationally? Let’s face it, we don’t get out much. We write for an American audience because that’s what most of us know. How do we make our fiction attractive to a foreign audience?
You make some great points. We finally have the ability to communicate to the world, even to some of the darkest places, spiritually speaking. So what are we saying to them? And are we listening in return? I’m overwhelmed by the possibilities the Internet grants us–and the troubles it brings. Thank God that He is in control and can use all things for his glory. I have no idea what my role is in this new international communication, though I’d feel honored to have one. Right now, my job is to pray. Bless you and your efforts in Ghana.
It was an enormous pleasure to participate with you at Littworld 2012 in Nairobi and to see that you are in Ghana now; greetings to Laurence Dharmani and other MAI friends. What a delight to see you joining forces with SLA. You’ve made great points. Since I write international intrigue, I personally receive at least as much fan mail from international readers than stateside and can say that most have read my titles (Afghanistan, Guatemala, Democratic Republic of Congo, Bolivia, Colombia, Panama)by ereader or Kindle app on computer or Ipad. This is an exciting era for global Christian writing/publishing. As cell-phone and FaceBook are erasing international borders, so electronic books are erasing the barriers of transporting paper volumes across often hostile borders that have kept books far too expensive for average developing world readers. Now even village schools have solar-power computers and cell-phone internet service, meaning electronic books are reaching where paper can’t. Both in thinking globally as western Christian authors and in raising up regional Christian authors as MAI does, we as a body of Christ have a never-before opportunity in reaching a global population with the power of the written word. May God bless you as you teach in Ghana and with your new position at SLA.
I appreciated this blog entry, Dan, especially since I used to work in shortwave radio, which is still effective in some parts of the world. It is also exciting to see how God is using Facebook for His purposes even though it was born out of a not-so-holy motive. Thought-provoking comments in response, too.
Thank you for your post, Dan, it’s truly inspiring. I’ve shared the link to this post with a group of Australasian Christian writers, and this is what I said to them as an intro to your post:
“Now more than ever is a time to think how our words can be used as evangelistic tools in the remotest parts of the word, thanks in part to social media. For the novelists among us, the power of story can truly be life-changing.
In many respects, the current Christian fiction trade was birthed out of the US but was almost immediately available to us here Down Under. I remember reading Frank Peretti’s books only a year after they were released. Janette Oke’s books were sought after as soon as they were published. So too were Bodie & Brock Thoene’s, among others. But did the US authors know that? No. Not until the internet connected us in chat room conversation and by email did they become aware of the fact that their words were being read on the other side of the planet. On printed paper, yes, but still being read in a part of the world they had never seen. Impacting our lives. Inspiring us to become novelists ourselves and tell the stories God gives us. Yet even today, authors in the US are still amazed at the thought of their novels being read here.
And now, because of social media and the barriers it breaks through, the same can be said for what we publish from here, going out to readers in the remotest parts of the earth.”
The part of your post that spoke the most to me was this: “We are currently in the middle of the most significant revolution in publishing since the invention of the printing press. Digital distribution of written content has wiped away country borders and made materials available in areas where there is no bookstore or library. Authors must communicate with their readers. If global ministry is part of your DNA, bring that to your writing…you never know where your words will end up.”
Thank you Dan, we are now aware of one of the most important benefits of digital publishing. To go into all the world.