The Land of Possibilities
These entries about the Writing Life will be on hold for a few days. Early tomorrow morning I’m headed to the mile-high city, Denver, for the International Christian Retail Show (formerly called the Christian Booksellers Association trade show). For years, most of us have been calling it CBA. Thousands of retailers from around the world will gather for the largest Christian trade show in the U.S. If you don’t know, a trade show means that it is closed to the general public and you need a badge or entrance to get inside the exhibit area. Just to get an idea of the size of the event, you can follow this link.
If you take a seat near the main entrance of the show and keep your eyes open, you can easily see some of the leaders in the industry pass right in front of you. It’s easy to become star-struck with the various bestselling authors or be caught into all of the hoopla and attention making devices that are used to call attention to different products. The show is much more than books but anything that is sold inside a Christian bookstore. After going to this event for a number of years, I’ve tried to learn to keep focused on the people and the possibilities. The gathering is a remarkable group of people collected into a single location. It many ways it is like attending an annual reunion where you see long-term friends and get to greet many new ones.
If you let yourself, it’s easy to feel quite overwhelmed and small at such an event. Meetings are in full motion throughout the exhibit hall and in meeting rooms around the convention and in different hotels. Some events are invitation only while others are open to anyone attending the show. New products are introduced left and right to retailers. Some books are shipped into the show directly from the printer and arrive at the last minute. Others are still being created and only a book cover or “mock-up” of the cover will be shown to the retailers. In the middle of thousands of these promotions and new products, it’s easy to feel like your book isn’t getting much attention. And in reality, it might not be getting much attention at this event. Not every book or every author is treated equally in such a setting and the disparity between the bestselling authors and the rising stars and the want-to-be authors is never more clear.
Yet each person is special in the eyes of God. Each person at the show has something to contribute to your life and your learning experience—if you are open to the possible exchange. It may be on a shuttle back to the hotel or it may be simply walking around the trade show. I hope to get off one entry about the Writing Life when I’m in Denver—but I’ll have to see how it goes. From my past experience, I know these events are loaded with activity. If it doesn’t happen, you’ll know the reason. I’m off to the land of possibilities.