JANET EVANS is another person I met online via the Christian Authors, Booksellers and Publishers facebook group — and she’s my kind of publisher: not satisfied with the usual round of advance info sheets, catalogues, emails or press releases, she posted an invitation on the Support your local Christian Bookshop group wall:
Any bookshops who have not already received a free sample pack of Christian youth fiction books from Dernier Publishing, get in touch and we’ll send you one! More info: www.dernierpublishing.com or find our FB page and contact us there!
“Yes, please,” I said — and within a couple of days an attractively packaged little bundle of books arrived tied up with a red ribbon. I’ll tell you more about them another time; for the moment, I’ll simply say this: if you’re a bookseller who has yet to respond, what are you waiting for? You won’t be disappointed.
I invited Janet to tell us more:
I’m nervous about writing this, it makes it sound like I have delusions of grandeur. “Oh yes, I started a new publishing company, for Christian youth fiction, you know.”
Mm. Well, if you’re still reading this, let me assure you that it’s only me, not to worry, it may be slightly embarrassing, but it’s true!
You know how an idea won’t go away? At first I ignored the call, it seemed too ridiculous (having three children and been in youth work since I can remember, I saw the need, I just didn’t think I could do it), but then a few years ago, my husband died, suddenly. The stark realisation hit me that none of us know how long we have on this earth… if the Lord had called me to publish youth fiction, then I’d better get on with it.
So I gradually got myself, and the business, together: Dernier Publishing was born.
Having started with two of my own books (just to make sure I didn’t ruin anyone else’s great stories while on that sharp learning curve), last autumn we released Beech Bank Girls, a brilliant chick-lit novel by Eleanor Watkins, a respected name in youth fiction. Now, nearly a year later, we have six books out, for 8-11s and 12 +, with three wonderful authors on our books and more in the pipeline! When I look back at how far we have come, I can scarcely believe what the Lord has done; it’s nothing short of a miracle, and by His grace alone … well, that grace does include an exceptionally gracious and wonderful team of people, including editors, production, design, IT and many more, for whose input I am extremely grateful.
So what’s so amazing about youth fiction? (I’m assuming you haven’t read our books… :)) Well, for one thing, since Harry Potter burst on the scene, children are reading. According to an article in the Bookseller.com, 75% of children read for pleasure. That’s a lot of kids. Plus, Jesus told stories! Not fibs of course, not that kind of story-telling! He told stories to illustrate a truth. All were rooted in the culture he lived in at the time – farmers and seeds, bread and yeast, a Samaritan who was kind to a stranger. People could understand what Jesus was talking about because his stories made things “come to life”. That’s the aim of our books! One girl wrote to tell me that The Treasure Hunt (mystery adventure involving four Christian kids) was the best book she had ever read. Another 12-year-old recently came to know the Lord after reading our books. They loved our books, because they spoke to them, just where they are.
We can not overestimate the power of good stories to make kids think, to sow seeds and even change lives, and everyone can be involved; you don’t have to be a youth worker to give a child a present! (By the way, buy with confidence, we only produce excellent, fun, exciting novels; nothing threatening, cringy, preachy or boring.)
We also produce posters and prayer booklets – you can find them all on our website, www.dernierpublishing.com. And of course, you can buy our books from good bookshops everywhere! (Kingsway and Gazelle distribute for us.)
However, we only have a small window of opportunity before our children, grandchildren, neighbours’ and colleagues’ children, well, all children, grow up… freedom of speech is being eroded in our land too. Who knows how long we will still be able to freely distribute books to children that state that Jesus Christ is the only way? Our aim is to produce as many books as we can, while we can, to encourage and inspire young people in their faith and show non-church kids what they are missing. Every now and then we hear more depressing statistics about young people leaving the church; anything we can do to show them that it’s great to be a Christian has got to be good and according to Gavin Calver of Youth for Christ, three out of four committed Christians come to faith before they are 20, so we can’t afford to be complacent.
Our children’s faith is priceless. One day “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord.” We so want our kids to be there.
Beech Bank Girls 2: Making a Difference
Dernier Publishing, October 1st, 2010
PO Box 403
Tonbridge TN9 9BJ