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Ava Pennington

Author, Ava Pennington

Hello from sunny Florida! Ava Pennington, CAN Secretary here, trying to get organized after a hectic week.

The 2012 International Christian Retail Show (ICRS) is over. Three jam-packed days of everything related to Christian publishing. Hundreds of booths filled with books, gift items, cards, church supplies, home decor, toys—even a “Jesus Toast Toaster,” (the less said about that one, the better!)

But why did I go? I didn’t carve three days out of my schedule—four, if you count the AWSA Banquet—to window-shop  in a mega-Christian version of Walmart.


I attended ICRS for several reasons:

  1. To market my books to Christian bookstores representatives.

There, I’ve said it. Sorry if that sounds shallow, but as an author, I need to take advantage of every opportunity to market my books. I signed copies of my co-authored book, Do You Love Me More? at the Standard Publishing booth. I also had the opportunity to introduce my books during the CAN presentations in Town Center, which leads me to the second reason…

      2. To support my fellow Christian authors.

The Christian Authors Network (CAN) offered two presentations for bookstore representatives to demonstrate how we can partner with them for store events. We also conducted 4 drawings of CAN-authored books, valued at $600 per drawing. Thanks to our generous CAN members, we were able to give away a total of $2400 of books! Those four bookstore owners now have an opportunity to personally enjoy our books and hopefully order them for their stores.

I also attended fellow authors’ book signings (and brought home lots of great new reads). It’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it! 🙂

     3. To support the Christian publishing industry.

As we’ve all heard many times, the Christian publishing industry is in transition. It’s easy to complain about the present compared to the “good ol’ days,” but that isn’t going to help any of us.

One CAN writer-friend took the time to walk through the entire ICRS exhibit hall, praying for each represented company. She so convicted me as I saw her that I also began praying for the publishers and stores, for the authors and vendors. After all, Christian publishing is not just a “business”—it’s a business whose results will last for eternity.

   4. To network with other authors.

I belong to several Christian publishing organizations, including CAN, and participate in the various Loops, but there’s nothing like face-to-face contact.

This year at ICRS, I fellowshipped with old friends and met new friends. We connected over a common bond: our desire to use the gifts God has given us for His glory and for the good of His people. And we had a blast, too!

    5. To meet with publishing professionals.

ICRS provided me a terrific opportunity to meet with not just editors, but also sales and marketing staff. I was able to personally thank the people who are working hard to promote my books.

While I had several planned appointments with editors, God also graciously permitted a few additional divine appointments. The result? Well, I’m not free to discuss those just yet… 🙂

So, now what?

Now it’s time for me to review the umpteen business cards I collected, try to decipher my scribbled notes, and plan appropriate follow-up with editors for a new project or two…or three.

I’ll also be meeting with the other CAN Board members to discuss how we’ll pursue new promotional opportunities on behalf of our CAN authors.

Finally, I will continue to pray for the Christian publishing industry—publishers and authors, bookstores and vendors—as we seek to impact this world for Christ.

Were you at ICRS? Why did you attend…and what are you doing now that it’s over?

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About Ava Pennington

Ava Pennington is an author and speaker. She also teaches a weekly Bible Study Fellowship class. Her book, Daily Reflections on the Names of God: A Devotional, is published by Revell Books and endorsed by Kay Arthur, founder of Precepts Ministries. For more information, visit Ava’s website: www.AvaPennington.com

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