Occasionally, writers, both beginning and seasoned, will donate a portion of their work. Some writers forgo payment in order to build their publishing credits. Others desire to give back to their communities. Several view it as a “tithing” of their talents. This is a tale of two writers who give back: one self-published and the other traditionally published. Their stories vary, but each writer is making sacrificial choices to build up God’s kingdom.
Janice D. Green
Janice Green, a retired school librarian and hand appliqué quilter, desired to write children’s Bible storybooks. Initially she began writing a Bible storybook, using an ABC format. Overwhelmed by the vast number of stories to choose from, Janice narrowed it down to one story—God’s creation of the world.
She says, “I planned to use quilted illustrations from the very beginning. I have a vision of children sleeping under quilts with Bible story pictures on them, and asking to hear the stories at bedtime. I could use this book to test the waters. ”
Janice persevered. Finally, in 2011, Janice self-published her first book, The Creation. She learned many things during her first publication.
“When I published The Creation I followed the advice of a well-intentioned friend and ordered over 2,000 copies to get a better per-copy price,” Janice says. “What I didn’t understand was how difficult it is to get self-published books into Christian bookstores. And, I totally underestimated the importance of expensive publicity. I still have about 1,300 copies stored under my bed and under the bed in my guest bedroom.”
Eager to get her book about God’s amazing creation into the little hands of children, Janice made a sacrificial decision. She says, “I would rather see these books in the hands of children whose parents can’t afford to buy them, than under my beds. I have sold cases (62 books) at ridiculously low prices to several groups who were going on mission trips. Because of my shallow pockets coupled with SC sales tax laws, I cannot afford to ‘give’ them away or I have to pay sales tax on each book. But if I sell them, the sales tax is based on the price we agree upon.”
Janice’s books are making their way across the country. One case of books went to Red Bird Mission in Kentucky with a team of volunteer workers from Bennettsville, SC. Another case went to Helping Hands Ministry in McAllen, Texas. Several books traveled to a VBS in one of the poorest areas of western North Carolina, and more arrived at a large VBS mission near Janice’s home. She has also supplied several copies for fundraisers and for a children’s hospital.
A missionary, while on a trip to Vermont, witnessed children receiving Janice’s books. “Many of the children in the rural area, where we served, knew nothing about Jesus Christ. Most had never heard of a Bible. Eager to learn more about God, they were thrilled to receive Janice’s book. The children were amazed we cared enough to bring each of them a brand new book.”
Janice says she learned a great deal from her first publishing experience and did things a bit differently with her second book, The First Christmas. It released in 2012, as a print-on-demand book.
“It didn’t require as much up-front investment, and I don’t need to store them under my beds,” Janice says. “I did not create quilted illustrations for my second book. My illustrator, Violet Vandor, is from Romania, and I am thrilled with her illustrations.”
However, because this book is print-on-demand, Janice can’t be as liberal with greatly reduced prices. Knowing her books are making a difference is a blessing. There are other blessings as well. Often, when Janice has given The Creation at reduced prices for missions, VBS and Mission Team volunteers purchase additional copies at full price for their own children.
Soraya D. Coffelt
The second writer, Soraya D. Coffelt, is a lawyer and former judge. While serving in children’s ministry for over fifteen years, Soraya discovered a love for sharing the gospel with children.
Her first book, It’s Not About You, Mr. Santa Claus, was originally written as a play for her church. One of Soraya’s two sons played a young boy who writes a letter to Santa and narrates the story of Jesus’s birth.
Soraya thought about self-publishing but found an agent (Ms. Karen Hardin of Priority PR Group & Literary Agency) who located a publisher. James Morgan Publishing released the book in November 2014. Two more of Soraya’s books are slated for release in 2015.
One unique aspect of Soraya’s book sales is that all proceeds will go to a nonprofit foundation Soraya formed. Her foundation, As the Stars of the Sky Foundation, Inc., seeks to help meet the needs of children in the US and around the world. Soraya’s missionary work in Honduras and the Amazon River region of Peru prompted the foundation’s creation.
Janice and Soraya are two writers who have a heart for building God’s kingdom. Each goes about it differently but has the same purpose in mind.
What about you, dear writer? How are you giving back and building up God’s kingdom?
Encouraging others is Sally Matheny’s mission in life. She enjoys “reflecting on ordinary life under God’s extraordinary Light.” A member of SCBWI and ACW, her articles have appeared in children’s magazines such as Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse Jr., Cobblestone’s Appleseeds, and in the international devotional Keys for Kids. Sally also writes articles on parenting, homeschooling, and Christian living for on-line publications as well as print publications such as Practical Homeschooling, The Greenhouse Report, and Homeschooling Today. One of Sally’s most rewarding projects was writing Who is Jesus?, a VBS evangelism curriculum for missionaries introducing Jesus to children. A former public school teacher, with a M.Ed., Sally has homeschooled for over 15 years. Married for over twenty-five years, she and her husband make their home in western North Carolina. Their greatest blessings are their two daughters and one son. Find encouragement from Sally on her blog: http://www.sallymatheny.blogspot.com/ and Twitter: @sally_matheny.