One weekend in the middle of August I got to experience my first Writers’ Retreat! I was actually planning to take a short time away ‘just for me’ at a lovely Christian retreat centre I had been to a few years before. But before I’d got around to booking, my husband alerted me to the fact that they were actually running a special course for writers. I rather excitedly, and a little nervously, signed myself up, wondering what to expect.
The retreat centre was lovely and the staff were very friendly. If anyone’s interested I can highly recommend The Greenhouse Christian Centre in Dorset.
There were eight of us on the course all together, with another lady joining us just for the Saturday. It was interesting to see that we were all interested in writing different kinds of books: theology, apologetics, murder mystery, children’s books, historical fiction and semi-biography. I’m still not quite sure which genre my book falls into: Christian contemporary / semi-historical, cross-cultural romance fiction??!
The course was run by two lovely and experienced leaders: one an editor, the other a children’s author. We discussed such topics as creating characters and building plot structure, but it was the insights into the world of traditional Christian publishing in the UK which was most interesting to me. I have to say, it was also rather discouraging! The average writer only earns about £6,000 a year. They can expect to sell about 3,000 copies of their book, but will only receive about 50p of the sale of each copy. Considering how long it takes to write a decent sized novel, that really didn’t sound like very much! I decided to put plans for our amazing family holiday, touring across the Western United States and showing our kids the Grand Canyon, on hold for a bit longer!
One takeaway was how we should try to support our local Christian bookstores if we’re fortunate to have one in our home town, rather than trying to buy everything online.
However, I have to admit that I am drawn more and more to the world of self-publishing. It seems that the shape of traditional publishing is changing in such a way that it’s no longer viable as a source of income for most writers. Yes, self-published authors need to be more business savvy and do all their own marketing, but then it sounds like traditionally-published authors can’t just sit back and expect the publishing house to do all that for them either.
If you have any thoughts on self-publishing versus traditional publishing do let me know in the comments below, or email me via the contact page. I’d love to hear your thoughts!
It wasn’t all doom and gloom! I did enjoy an extra night at the retreat centre, and a run along the beach on the Sunday afternoon. But for now I’m just concentrating on getting my book finished and enjoying the process of writing itself, whether or not anyone’s ever going to read it!