Why I Love Independent Publishing
Everybody has things that they think are good and that they want to do. You might want to do a charity, or help someone, or do something kind for somebody else. In those cases, you always wonder, “what if it’s not good enough? What if the quality of the work is not great?”
I have work of such low quality. There’s a shelf in my office that holds all of the books I’ve written. The bottom shelf, my earliest work, hold few things I’m proud to show off. And yet at least once or twice a week I’ll get a comment from someone, often someone not from our church, who gets hold of that content and talks about how meaningful it has been. Our books on ecology, on giving, and on creation (just to name a few) were all made on our photocopier and squared with paper cutters.
The truth is, the stuff you do matters, and the benefits of making something last longer than you think. That’s why I’m a big fan of making artifacts. Once you’ve got a thing that you can pass out to someone, it finds it way around to everyone else. That’s why I love things like church worship CDs. Of course, sometimes you get bummed out because the end result is not as good as you wanted, or it turns out kind of ugly, or your thinking wasn’t as refined. Then, if you’re foolish enough to you compare yourself with some superpastor somewhere else, you feel totally discouraged. But the truth is, if you just keep making stuff, it gets better. Your thinking becomes sharper.
And, of course, there are some things on my bookshelf of which I’m super proud. Even if the material is obscure and only meaningful to a handful of others (like, for example, Nativity and Kingdom), I really enjoy both creating and exploring work like this and wish more people were making it.
In fact, some of my favorite books are the result of amateur authors and indy publishing. Derek Webster’s brilliant parables in “The Abbot and the Dwarf”, for example, or Casey Treat’s “Renewing the Mind” are books for which there is no substantial market, but have had a profound impact on my ministry. I think about Kester Brewin’s book which compares discipleship to piracy, or “The Book of Mortification and Woe” which is printed in the author’s blood, and I am thankful for the passion and creativity of people out there who care as much about their ideas as I do. There’s just something so provocative about that stuff. It may be that not a lot of people care about it at scale, but it can have such a profound impact on who we are, how we think, and how we’re formed and shaped that I think they’re worth doing.