Why would I travel so far to attend Glorieta Christian Writer’s Conference?
Firstly Australia is a big country with a small population (20 million). We only have 8 major cities and some of those aren’t very major when you compare them to US cities. Therefore we cannot support a large publishing industry. As an example of how Australia having a small population impacts things consider this. Australia also cannot support a big TV industry. This was very noticeable when Steve Irwin died. I do not have pay TV. Most of my friends do not have pay TV because it is not worth the expense for the few extra channels you get. Here, near Melbourne, we have 5 free to air channels which is all we watch. Steve Irwin has done a few customs adverts but his show “Crocodile Hunter” is on pay TV and I’ve never seen it, most of my friends have never seen it. This is why when he died the reaction in America was far greater than in Australia.
Secondly Australia does not have a strong Christian heritage like America does. In a previous post I mentioned that I went to Terry Whalin’s comprehensive class at the conference. I also bought his book, Book Proposals That Sell. In his chapter, “How do you follow the trends in publishing” he writes “Trend #2: The Distinction Between Religious Publishers and General Market Publishers Continues To Blur”. This trend is not happening in Australia at this time. They say that trends in America take 10 years to hit Australia but I’m thinking this one may take even longer than that. I was in Borders in one of the airports while I was in the US there were two bays full of Christian books which I found amazing. I also saw Christian books and music in Target! In Australia very rarely can you buy a Christian book anywhere apart from a Christian bookshop and lots of towns don’t have Christian bookshops. I live an hour away from my nearest one.
When an Australian Christian author has a new book published the first thing I do is check out who the publisher is. What I’ve found is that if it is a well-known pastor/speaker the book will have been published in the US or UK or both. If it is an unknown person it will be either self-published or vanity published. (Though I did find one recently that was published in Italy! Apparently the author speaks in the UK and Europe.) Some of our church denominations and para-church organizations have publishing departments which they use to produce their own Bible study material, children’s material etc. They will publish a book if it is by someone well-known in their denomination. (I’m not well-known!) One denomination I know produces calendars each year to raise their finances some they can publish other resources.
Thirdly in Christian circles in Australia it is not unusual to hear about pastors attending conferences in the US or UK. Often these pastors are from one of the larger churches and their church is helping finance the trip. While I was in the US I heard about some members of a church music team that attended the Hillsong conference in Australia. So travelling half way across the world to attend a conference is not that unusual though I must say I haven’t heard of anyone else doing it to attend a writer’s conference! When I told my Australian friends what I was doing the common response was, “Oh really”, registering slight surprise.
Fourthly (for all the reasons already mentioned) there just aren’t these types of conferences in Australia.
And finally the main reason I went to the conference was that I felt God wanted me to go.