|By the Book: Called to boldly ‘live out their faith’|
|Written by Ken Walker|
|Monday, 05 August 2013 04:50 PM America/New_York|
‘Manly’ books appeal to men from all walks of life—from battlefields to business
Men’s books represent but a sliver of overall sales in the Christian market, but the wealth of forthcoming titles demonstrates publishers’ belief in the genre’s viability.
“Men have demonstrated they will indeed buy a book if it addresses a felt need in their lives,” said Joey Paul, executive editor of the FaithWords imprint of Hachette Book Group.
Nick Harrison, senior editor at Harvest House Publishers, recalls meeting such a need. An insurance man visited Harrison recently to tell of buying 100 copies of the gift edition of One Minute Prayers for Men. As a result, he formed authentic relationships with many prospective clients, not to mention his coffeehouse barista.
“It’s the kind of story that tells me we’re doing things right in publishing the books we do,” Harrison said. “Men from all walks of life are hurting, including Christian men.”
Men are always interested in practical books that make an impact, said Tracy Danz, vice president and publisher of Zondervan Trade Books. He lists Zondervan’s October release, Fight by Craig Groeschel, and January’s Bad Dads of the Bible by Roland Warren as examples.
One of the newer Christian publishers targets men with five of its 40 annual titles. The newest release this month from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas is Up by Bob Ravener, executive vice president for Dollar General Corp.
Acquisition Editor Eddie Jones said that Up will appeal to men by illuminating such values as hard work, resilience and creativity in a culture that glorifies posturing and good looks.
Ironically, Jones sees unemployment as a primary reason why men are reading more. In the past, men may have been busy reading reports, spreadsheets and manuals for work, but in unemployment, many have more time to read books. With nonfiction, Jones thinks men are seeking help in finding employment, God’s call on their lives and significance in a culture that discounts their worth.
“As more men find themselves outsourced, out of work and shoved to the end of the bench, books of this nature will continue to find male readers,” the Lighthouse editor said.
While lagging far behind women’s nonfiction in sales, men’s books have produced a number of classics, such as John Eldredge’s Wild at Heart, Stu Weber’s Tender Warrior and Point Man by Steve Farrar.
More recently, B&H Books’ The Resolution for Men by Stephen and Alex Kendrick—spawned by their hit film Courageous—boosted category sales last year by 47%.
Harvest House also sees considerable potential in men’s books. In addition to August’s With Dad on a Deer Stand by Steve Chapman and this month’s In It to Win It by Steve Lawson, the publisher releases An Old Guy’s Guide to Living Young by Bob Barnes in October.
Thomas Nelson has three upcoming men’s books, starting with an updated version of The Book of Man by former U.S. Education Secretary William Bennett (October).
It follows in November with Mansfield’s Book of Manly Men by best-selling author Stephen Mansfield and retired Lt. Gen. William Boykin. They examine manly virtues through the lives of such leaders as George Washington.
On a lighter note, January brings The Dude’s Guide to Manhood by Darrin Patrick.
Among other forthcoming material is Know When to Hold ‘Em by John Blase (Abingdon Press, Oct. 1). Subtitled “The High Stakes Game of Fatherhood,” the author encourages fathers to become adventurers and risk-takers.
In How God Makes Men (WaterBrook Press, Nov. 5), men’s ministry leader Patrick Morley reviews 10 key principles that emerge from epic stories of men.
The Baker Books division of Baker Publishing Group releases two men’s titles in October. Gen. Rich Lynch teams with Mark Dagostino for Adapt or Die, a review of leadership principles taken from the battlefield and business, while human rights leader Bob Fu exhorts men to take a stand for their faith in God’s Double Agent.
With many an eye trained on the military, No Place to Hide (Zondervan, February 2014), brain surgeon W. Lee Warren relates how he discovered meaning amid the carnage of war in Iraq.
Though not in the military, anti-human-trafficking activist Danny Smith is nonetheless engaged in battle. He shares his own life-threatening experiences in Shouting Into the Silence: One Man’s Fight for the World’s Forgotten (Lion Books/Kregel, Sept. 1).
Tullian Tchividjian, best-selling author and pastor, discusses freedom from failure, fear and guilt in One Way Love (David C Cook, Oct. 1), while Pastor David Jeremiah encourages men to deal with their fears in What Are You Afraid Of? (Tyndale, Oct. 13). Church planter Kevin Myers, along with best-seller leadership author John C. Maxwell, relates how a personal “train wreck” turned his life around in Home Run (FaithWords, February 2014).
Additionally, three devotionals are among the new titles that will find male audiences.
In 40 Days of Grace: Discovering God’s Liberating Love (Monarch Books/Kregel Publications, Sept. 1), ministry leader Rich Miller discusses sexual freedom. Kingdom Man Devotional (Tyndale House Publishers, Oct. 13) is based on Pastor Tony Evans’ 2012 preaching series, and Stand Firm: Let Nothing Move You (B&H Books, Oct. 15) aims to equip men as leaders in their homes, churches and communities.
Because men’s titles often don’t sell in great numbers, Harvest House Senior Editor Steve Miller thinks retailers may overlook their possibilities. They need to take into account the Christian Living crossover effect, said Miller, who lists such examples as The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren and Experiencing God by Henry Blackaby.
Danz sees year-round potential in men’s books, with small groups and reading groups always looking for new material. Given this search, the Zondervan executive encourages Christian retailers to ask male staffers or pastors what books have affected them most.
“Collect all of those titles onto one table,” Danz said. “Make a note on the table of how these titles were selected. Male consumers trust recommendations.”
FaithWords’ Paul suggests tying promotional opportunities to seasons, such as fall for football and winter for hockey and basketball, and such labeling as “sports biographies” or “marriage books for men.”
Don Pape, vice president of trade publishing for David C Cook, said training store staff is also helpful.
As an example, while America’s recent wars have produced popular books, wise retailers can use these to introduce customers to past men of faith like Adoniram Judson and Dietrich Bonhoeffer, he said.
“I think men want to be called out, challenged and provoked,” Pape said. “Men’s materials can’t be passive. Invite men to live out their faith—to be bold and radical.”