Evangelical Christian Publishers Association's Damage Control

Michael Covington, Director of Information and Education for the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association, is taking care of damage control after the disastrous turnout for the under-promoted Christian Book Expo.

Mr. Covington has been kind enough to comment on my post Christian Book Expo Held in Secret to correct some misconceptions.

“@CBE2009 was started two months ago and has nearly 1000 followers and was receiving quite a few re-tweets with daily contests leading up to the event. We had fan and group pages on Facebook, LinkedIn and Plaxo. As for blogs, we haven’t counted yet but more than 100 authors and publishers blogged about the event, many with multiple comment strings attached.”

There were banner ads on the net and promotions from Zondervan and a couple of authors. Radio, often overlooked in these sorts of things, was also utilized.

Covington reveals a key to the lack of attendees when he says, “we were hopeful that publishers who were already utilizing mass forms of media in the region would use the time to tell folks about CBE, we do not know to what degree that took place at this time.” Hoping that someone else will do your work for you and having no means to measure that work is not a good plan.

Fifteen hundred people showed for the Christian Book Expo held at the Dallas Convention Center. The population of Dallas is over one million; the metropolatin area, over five million. For an event like this, you could bet good money people would drive from Houston, San Antonio, Austin, Waco, Lubbock and Odessa/Midland.

I compared the attendance of the expo to the average attendance of a West Texas Writers meeting. The event brought in about .oo125 % of the population of Dallas alone. WTW brings in the same percentage of the population of Midland.

Midland literary events similar to the expo pull in crowds many times the size of the attendance at WTW. By these measures any literary event in Midland can be assumed to outperform the Christian Book Expo.

The diminutive attendance at the expo led Heidi MacDonald of The Beat to wonder if another literary industry, comics, is leading a charmed life. The idea of comics as recession proof is being tested by our changing economy, but this year’s San Diego Comic-Con is already sold out.

“The Christian book market has been one of the fastest growing and stable over the last decade or so; bestseller sales dwarf those of comics bestsellers. Yet people will flood out to see the authors of periodicals that sell barely 10,000 copies a month. Interesting.”

Interesting, yes; but do not worry, Ms. MacDonald. The con was well promoted.

Perhaps I’m being harsh. Perhaps the 230+ authors at the Christian Book Expo will forgive the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association for wasting their time and resources. One thing is for sure: the Association has a mess to clear away.

Mr. Covington was not only professional and kind in his response to my previous post; but he followed me on Twitter, allowing me to stay updated on future developments. I hope the ECPA knows the calibre of man they have working for them. They’re going to need him.

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About James A Woods
Freelance Writer, Constant Learner, Family Man

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