IVP - Behind the Books - A Pleasant Byproduct of Publishing

October 5, 2007

A Pleasant Byproduct of Publishing

A pleasant byproduct of publishing is the relationships that you cultivate. Coworkers, authors, readers, booksellers and vendors become not just links in your network or items on your task list but people you enjoy seeing and hearing from.

Most of my Facebook friends, I've noticed, are people I've encountered through my work as an editor; you can argue that "Facebook friend" is not a real category of friendship, but I think that's only because as a culture we've not lived online long enough to define what virtual friendship really is. In any event, those friends I've made through my industry have their own potential beyond mere social utility; they become people I can count on seeing when I travel to an unfamiliar place, people whose private reflections often seem to follow the same orbit as mine, people with whom I can commisserate and celebrate as the occasion allows.

One of my authors, in an odd but welcome kind of boundary-blurring, came to see me in a play at my church. As a result she's seen where I worship and gotten a sense of what I'm like outside the office. Another author I'm working with, as it turns out, used to work at my church. Finding that out has changed the dynamic of our working relationship; he's the first author I've worked with to find and make use of my home phone number, which means he's the only one to have heard my highly unprofessional answering machine message.

Some of the authors I've worked with I've gone on to work with again and again, changing our relationship from what could have been merely contractual and transactional to something living and dynamic. I celebrated with Lynne Baab, author of three IVP Books and a LifeGuide Bible study, when she left the United States to take a teaching position in New Zealand. I told her to keep an ear out for Neil Finn and his band Crowded House, who have made some of my favorite music of all time. Since moving she's sent me a number of articles about the comings and goings of the band, and today introduced me to Liam Finn, son of Neil and rising star in pop music from Down Under. Since then I've heard from another new friend (who works for another publisher) how much she's enjoying one of Lynne's books. It's a small world after all.

I guess I'm feeling sentimental today, what with all the pleasant surprises I've received recently from these various corners of my profession and with the forthcoming opportunity to see some such friends at a conference later this week. Thomas Merton, who is known best as a cloistered monk, broke from our preconceptions of such a calling to challenge his readers to "not flee to solitude from the community. Find God first in the community,then He will lead you to solitude." Our best experiences of solitude--even as we write, edit or even simply read--are set, Merton would suggest, against a backdrop with relationships in place, serving as the body of Christ for one another. I'm glad for the happy paradox that the otherwise solitary nature of my work--reading, writing and editing--has generated such pleasant byproducts.

Posted by Dave Zimmerman at October 5, 2007 8:40 AM Bookmark and Share


Nice post! I completely agree, even though I have never worked at your church. Sorry.

Comment by: thom at October 5, 2007 3:10 PM

Looks like you and I were on the same page this week! (Okay, so I was about three days behind you.)

Comment by: L.L. Barkat at October 9, 2007 8:22 PM

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