Meet the Team: Warren Benson
By Warren Benson
Warren Benson is the co-owner of Word Alive Press and has been working in the publishing and distribution industry for 23 years. Today he joins us on the blog to share a bit more about the industry as a whole—and a bit about himself, too!
WAP: How long have you been working in the industry for?
WB: I started in 1992. I went away with my wife for a weekend of prayer and seeking the Lord for direction in my life. What I discerned from this weekend was that I was to pursue a business that had eternal implications. I didn’t know what this meant fully at the time but not long after, I was reading a mission statement of a book distributor/publisher, and I realized that this could fit with my calling, and was hired shortly after.
WAP: How has the industry changed over the years?
WB: Wow, in many ways. Here are a couple:
1) The industry has moved to embrace self- or partnership publishing. What I mean is that this is now considered a positive option to the traditional publisher, proving you as an author can have a market and platform. 15 years ago, anything other than traditional publishing was seen as a negative. Now, if you work hard and partner with the right company you can see your dream happen.
2) Over the years I have seen the change in the type and depth of what sells in the industry and what people are reading: the product mix at retail and the shift. To me this is a reflection of what is happening in the church at large. I see publishing and the selling of books as a “trickle down” of what is going on in the local congregation, both the good and bad.
If you are growing in the Lord you cannot help but consume resources. 20-plus years ago the bookstore was built on the Reference Wall. The store had its pastors and people who were serious about their faith. People were reading this type of book and doing deep studies. Then we moved to “thoughtful books”, less heavy but still full of deep truths. Then the advent of “Christian Living” was the main stay. I think it was Janette Oke and the Love Comes Softly series that showed people that Truth could be delivered in a story format, and then Christian Fiction was the main seller. Today the fastest growing section in a CBA store is the “Family friendly DVD”. As you can see this is a simplification of truth on a downward direction. I will let you decide on what this means for you personally.
WAP: What do you like best about working in publishing?
WB: Working with authors, publishers, bookstore owners and distributors: all of us who have a passion to pass along truth and make an impact in peoples’ lives. I love to see the Lord take hold of a book and use it to change people. I have been privileged to be a part of a few titles that has done this in a big way. The Left Behind Series and The Prayer of Jabez come to mind.
WAP: What is some advice you have for authors who are considering publishing their books?
WB: Be true to what you feel the Lord had asked of you. Other than that, seek out the best publisher that can help you get distribution. This is the real truth of the market. If you don’t have distribution then you are at the biggest disadvantage in our industry.
WAP: Tell us something about yourself that people find surprising.
WB: I was not a book reader growing up. The only book I can remembering reading by choice was Robinson Crusoe. Then I bought the book The Prayer Factor by Sammy Tippet, published by Moody Press in the Treasure House in Newmarket Ontario. This book made such an impact on me that this set me off on a life time of reading and seeking.
WAP: What is your all-time favorite book?
WB: So hard to answer. Maybe Celebration of the Disciplines by Robert Foster. One book I refer to all the time is An Unstoppable Force by Erwin Raphael McMannus. Chapter 2, called “Momentum”, is worth the cost of the book. I also still read the early Max Lucado, Six Hours One Friday.
WAP: If you could meet any historical figure, living or dead, who would it be and why?
WB: Enoch. He was one of only two people who was taken to be with the Lord before dying. He was also an eye witness to what really went on in Ancient times. Have you ever read the Book of Enoch? It is worth your time to stretch you perspective.
About this Contributor:
Warren Benson is the co-owner of Word Alive Press and has been working in the publishing and distribution industry for 23 years.