CWCO 2009 Monday: Workshops and Mission Statements


If you logged on today expecting to see the regular “Miracle Monday” feature, this might be a bit of a shock on your system … All this week, EMN will be featuring an overview of the Catholic Writers’ Conference Online, which is a joint effort of the the Catholic Writer’s Guild and the Extraordinary Moms Network.

Today’s sessions are dedicated to introducing the online workshops that are being held this week. These are run much like online college classes — the lessons are posted for you to work through and post your comments and/or homework. The leader checks in throughout the day to respond to any questions you might have. This year we are offering the following workshops:

“Creative Calisthenics” with Terri Main
“Description and Setting” with Kim Richards
“Dialogue” with Devon Ellington
“Everything by Writing” with Sue Lick
“Generating Ideas for Fiction” with Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff
“How to Sell Yourself” with VS Grenier
“Humor Writing” with Ron Berry
“Publisher-Quality Manuscripts” with Frank Creed
“Query Letters that Sell” with Melanie Rigney
“What Editors Want” with Lea Schizas
“Worldbuilding” with Karina Fabian
“Writing the Short Screenplay” with Kristen Johnson

Finally, if you are one of the lucky few who are able to pitch a book idea to one of the real, live editors who will be joining us on Thursday … I have a chat scheduled this morning to offer you a few pointers!  (If you missed it, the chats are available for viewing in the workshop forum section of the website until the end of the conference.) 

The reality is that a book must be sold several times over before it ever reaches the customer. The author has to sell it to an editor, who must sell it to the publisher and marketing staff, who must sell it to the “gatekeepers” (store owners and/or buyers), who in turn sell it to the customer. It’s a tough market out there, and even very good books have been known to slip through the cracks simply because the “sale” failed at some point along the way.

One of the most important things any author can do is make sure the marriage between his book and the house who publishes it is a good one. To do that, you must do your homework and figure out where your book “fits” best.  Each publishing house has a particular “voice,” a distinctive point of view that is best expressed through their corporate mission statement.  

Why do publishing houses need mission statements? Here’s one excellent explanation from Michael Hyatt, President of Thomas Nelson Publishing. Someday when I grow up, I’d like to work for this guy. Bottom line: We need them to give us the “light at the end of the tunnel,” so we know how we fit in the great cosmos of the publishing world … and when we are accomplishing our corporate goals, individually and as a team.

Christian publishers distinguish themselves from other kinds of publishing in their desire to contribute meaningfully to the spiritual lives of others. Our brothers and sisters in Christ are our primary customers, service providers, and (not to put too fine a point on it) the reason we’re around in the first place.

In preparation for this, I gathered information from the publishers who will be represented for the conference, to give attendees an idea of the distinctive “voices” of each house. This information was gathered from editors, publishing websites and the  CPA website

The following are the mission statements of the book publishing houses represented at the conference:

Ascension Press

Ascension Press is a publishing house that has built a solid reputation for creating popular faith formation programs and Catholic books in the areas of scripture study, theology of the body, catechesis, inspiration, and evangelization. Ascension is a leading source for materials on Catholic Bible study with The Great Adventure Catholic Bible study program. Ascension is also known as a leading publisher of materials on Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. (CPA website).

Ignatius Press

Among largest U.S. publishers and distributors of Catholic books, magazines, videos and music; primary publisher in U.S. of Pope Benedict XVI’s books. (Ignatius website.)

Loyola Press

Our mission as a company is to nurture a lived faith through building relevant and enduring bridges between our 2000-year-old Catholic faith and the needs and desires of today’s spiritual seekers. As an apostolate of the Chicago Province of the Society of Jesus (commonly known as the Jesuits), Loyola Press embraces the Jesuit passion for helping people to find God in all things. We continue the Jesuit tradition of service through the printed word and by being “people for others.”

The Jesuits, founded by St. Ignatius of Loyola in 1540, have had a long and significant history of service to education, beginning with their first school in Messina, Sicily, in 1548. Today Jesuit institutions of learning are located throughout the world. The Jesuits also have had a long-standing commitment to evangelization and faith formation, resulting from St. Ignatius’s original purpose of “helping souls.” We at Loyola Press continue this tradition by inspiring individuals to be conscious of God’s work in their everyday lives and helping them respond to this awareness through their daily decisions and actions.

Our Sunday Visitor
(Submitted by Jackie Lindsey)

Our mission is to serve the Church by providing Catholics with materials that will strengthen their relationship with Christ, deepen their commitment to the Church and help them to see the world through the eyes of faith. We accomplish this by producing high-quality and trustworthy resources that are engaged with the contemporary world and faithful to what the Church teaches.
We are committed to serving our customers with integrity and efficiency, to responding quickly to both opportunities and needs, and to upholding and expanding the reputation of Our Sunday Visitor as a premier provider of Catholic products and services.

Pauline Books and Media
(CPA website)

Pauline Books & Media is the publishing house of the Daughters of St. Paul, an international congregation of women religious who serve the Church with the communications media, producing books and CDs. The Daughters of St. Paul operate eighteen bookstores in the U.S. and Toronto, Canada. Visit our website,, to access our online catalog. Resources for Spanish-speaking Catholics are available at

Saint Anthony Messenger Press
(SAMP website)

St. Anthony Messenger Press, Servant Books and Franciscan Communications seek to spread the Word that is Jesus Christ in the style of Saints Francis, Clare and Anthony. Through print and electronic media marketed in North America and worldwide, we endeavor to evangelize, inspire and inform those who search for God and desire a richer Catholic, Christian, human life. Our efforts help support the life, ministries, and charities of the Franciscan Friars of St. John the Baptist Province, who sponsor our work.

Servant Books
(Servant website)

Servant Books is dedicated to publishing books that spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ, help Christians to live in accordance with that Gospel, promote renewal in the Church and bear witness to Christian unity. Servant Books—Nourishing the Christian Mind, Strengthening the Christian Heart.

Twenty-Third Publications
(23rd Publications website)

Twenty-Third Publications,
founded in the spirit of Pope John XXIII,
is dedicated to producing publications that educate and empower
all members of the Catholic Church
and, in particular, the pastors and lay leaders.
The company focuses on parish life and ministry
as its primary market,
including pastors, deacons, directors of faith formation, catechists, teachers, RCIA teams
and average, everyday Catholics.
Twenty-Third Publications
supports the professional growth and lifelong learning
of its employees and associates
and seeks to help them make an ever greater contribution
to both the company and the church.
Those who work for Twenty-Third Publications
share a strong passion for publishing.
A Leader Among Leaders
Twenty-Third Publications was the first publisher after the Council
to endorse and support the vocation of the laity,
the first to publish a magazine for catechist formation,
Religion Teachers Journal
and a magazine for parish leaders.
Today’s Parish Minister.
Twenty-Third was an early leader in developing
resources for personal spirituality,
works related to Catholic social teaching,
academic titles for introductory theology coursework,
and booklets for parish use in Advent and Lent.

In keeping with this trend,
today we are proud to be the first to publicize
the concept of Whole Community Catechesis.
We are the first to produce a comprehensive, systematic presentation
of the Catholic faith for adults
through The Growing Faith Project.
We are the first to publish a teacher and catechist formation program
in partnership with Loyola University New Orleans
and in league with other national partners
Into the Fields:
Forming Teachers and Catechists for the Whole Community
which provides spiritual exercises,
the entire content of the faith
and skills for teaching that work in real classrooms.
And we are the first publisher of our kind
to form a cooperative partnership
with a Catholic curriculum publisher
Harcourt Religion Publishers.
The Ultimate Purpose
In all of this we are proclaiming that the church on earth
is God’s own people.
In all of this,
we are reading the signs of the times
and responding to the charge and the task
to be disciples together in the world.


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