“The only real mistake is the one we learn nothing from.”
Learning from failure within Christian publishing was the topic of one session at LittWorld. Ramon Rocha III, MAI’s director of publisher training, moderated a discussion between four notable publishers from different countries.
Panellist Tony Collins of Lion Hudson plc (right in above photo) in the UK spoke about his attempt to publish a magazine for the Church of England. “I thought I had everything figured out in terms of subscription, marketing and infrastructure, but it turned out that I failed spectacularly . . . What I didn’t reckon with was that while church members were loyal to the Church, they were not loyal to Anglicanism. The leaders I spoke with believed in the unity of the Church, but members had their allegiances,” Collins recalled. He had to sell his house to pay off the debt he incurred from the magazine’s failure.
Buma Kor, a publisher and book consultant from Cameroon, described a bad experience with a writer. Kor had hired the writer to work on a mathematics textbook and invested a lot of money in its publication. Without Kor’s permission, the author reprinted the book in Nigeria and offered it at a lower cost than the original. The matter was brought before the police, who stopped the illegal sale of reprinted copies. Kor could have taken the writer to court but declined because of his Christian beliefs.
The experience was helpful to Kor, who says that he will never again hire a writer without detailed terms of agreement. “I have been a publisher for many years, but I am still a beginner,” he admits.
Anna Shirochenskaya of Triad Christian Publishing in Russia and Yna Reyes of OMF Lit in the Philippines were also panelists. Audience members opened up as well, speaking of their own failures and the lessons they learned.
What have you learned from your failures?