Christian Retailing

Why readers crave more from Elizabeth George Print Email
Written by Ann Byle   
Thursday, 16 January 2014 01:15 PM America/New_York

AWomansWalkWithGod‘Receptive and supportive’ Christian retailers extend best-selling author’s writing and teaching ministry

Elizabeth George remembers the early years of her walk with Christ, a journey that began when she was 28. She’d been married eight years and a mom of five when she and her husband, Jim, accepted Christ.

One morning each week she would visit the Christian bookstore in the Van Nuys area of Los Angeles. She’d wander the store looking at the new books, peering into the volumes that filled the shelves, opening and reading children’s books. 

“Those books really fed me,” said George in a recent interview with Christian Retailing. “As a new believer who had never bought a Bible, what would I have done without them? Then when I needed a study Bible, what would I have done if they hadn’t showed me just the right Bible to buy? It was truly like going to the well.”

Now Christian retailers are selling George’s books by the thousands, helping vault sales to nearly 8 million copies of her roughly 80 books. That number jumps to  8.2 million when combined with sales of books co-written with husband Jim George.

“If we didn’t have help from Christian retailing, we’d be in trouble,” said Elizabeth George. “My husband and I are teachers and writers, but we don’t know the first thing about the retail process. We have a Facebook page and blog and tweet, but that’s not the same as Christian retailers reaching out to people who are looking for our books.”

George’s first book, Loving God With All Your Mind, came out in 1995 and is still among her top 10 best-sellers. A Woman After God’s Own Heart, her third book published in the 1990s, is still her best-selling title. Her books have sold well over 1 million copies since 2011 alone, with her husband selling nearly 250,000 copies during that same period.

Elizabeth George’s books include A Wife After God’s Own Heart, Raising a Daughter After God’s Own Heart and Beautiful in God’s Eyes. She and Jim have written A Couple After God’s Own Heart, with his own books including A Man After God’s Own Heart, A Leader After God’s Own Heart, and A Husband After God’s Own Heart.

“Key CBA retailers and independent bookstores have been extremely receptive and supportive of Elizabeth and Jim for many years,” said Brad Moses, vice president of sales for Harvest House Publishers, the Georges’ publisher since the beginning. “The key has been the quality and integrity of the books. Elizabeth is trusted for expert and godly advice in all her work. The same holds true for Jim.”

Harvest House is releasing Elizabeth’s two new books in February: Beautiful in God’s Eyes for Young Women: Looking Good From the Inside Out, based on Proverbs 31, and a refreshed edition of A Woman’s Walk With God: Growing in the Fruit of the Spirit. The original book has sold more than a quarter-million copies; the new edition includes a study guide and updated material.

Elizabeth George’s journey to best-selling status began by simply following God. Soon after Jim and Elizabeth’s conversion, Jim was in seminary and soon Elizabeth became a pastor’s wife. Then their church, Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, Calif. (pastored by John MacArthur), started a women’s ministry. Elizabeth began teaching and creating study curriculum for women’s Bible studies, usually in 12-week segments. The church began recording her teachings on cassette tapes and bound the study materials in book form, making both available in the church bookstore.

Enter Harvest House Senior Editor Steve Miller. He and his wife had attended Grace Community before they moved to Oregon where Miller joined the editorial staff at Harvest House. During a return visit to the church at Thanksgiving in 1992, Miller purchased several cassettes of Elizabeth’s Bible studies. During Christmas that year, Miller met with the Georges to see if Elizabeth might consider writing books. Jim was serving on The Master’s Seminary staff.

“It was in that tiny, cramped office [at the seminary]—with prayer asking for God’s leading—that the first steps were taken toward Elizabeth’s writing ministry,” Miller said.

Elizabeth recalls that first meeting. 

“I was thinking, ‘No way, no how,’ but I’d read enough of Proverbs, so I just said, ‘No.’ But they suggested that we pray about it. Jim is a man of wisdom. He said, ‘I think this is a door only God can open, and I think you should step through it. This is a new way to minister to women,’ ” Elizabeth said.

Through her Bible studies and books, she has now touched millions and has branched out into books for teens and tweens. Among the most popular is A Young Woman After God’s Own Heart, released in 2003 for teen girls. She followed it with A Girl After God’s Own Heart for tweens and myriad other books for younger readers.

Miller, who has remained George’s editor through the years, credits her fervent love for God and His Word that impacts everything she writes. 

“Readers appreciate Elizabeth’s dedication to handling God’s Word carefully and her friendly writing style—she genuinely cares about her audience. She’s also earnest about keeping the message simple and clear,” Miller said. 

The Georges have remained dedicated to reaching out to churches and working with retailers to support local events, though Elizabeth will reduce her engagements in 2014. She and her husband enjoy their eight grandchildren, splitting their time between Washington state and Hawaii. 

They are currently working on a companion project: A Young Woman’s Guide to Discovering Her Bible and A Young Man’s Guide to Discovering His Bible, both to be released later this year. Elizabeth is also refreshing Life Management for Busy Women with new information and a study guide.

Christian retailers continue to play a key role in Elizabeth’s ministry.

“Through the years Elizabeth and Harvest House have received many letters from women whose lives were changed as a result of reading her books,” said Miller. “Every retailer who carries her books is a key link in making that possible, and we thank them for their role in extending her ministry. Given the many past books that readers will share with others and the future books yet to come, we expect God is going to continue doing great things.”