Jerry Jenkins Dissolves Christian Writers Guild
Jerry B. Jenkins, who amassed a fortune as co-author of the Left Behind series, and used some of the money to help Christian writers, has abandoned his efforts. He is closing down the Christian Writers Guild.
Jenkins bought Christian Writer’s Guild from Norman Rohrer who retired after nearly 38 years of success. Rohrer was a well-known Christian writer who founded the school and gave it his personal attention for nearly four decades before the rise of the Internet. He ran the same advertisement for years in all the Christian magazines under the heading, “I Fire Christian Writers,” and he trained and encouraged thousands of them.
At the time of the sale to Jenkins in 2001, Rohrer said, “I feel moments of loss over the sale of the Guild, but I can’t think of anyone I rather have take the reins. Jerry is well equipped emotionally and professionally to expand and add a new dimension to the Guild.”
In a terse 189 word public statement, Jenkins said he was shutting down the guild immediately and reassured people who paid thousands of dollars for training that they would get promised benefits.
Jenkins claimed noble reasons for purchasing Rohrer’s school, but he charged premium prices to nascent Christian writers. Few could get traditional publishing contracts, however, and that is the reason Jenkins gave for starting a vanity publishing house for his students, who paid up to $10,000 to have their book published by him. Before starting his own vanity publishing imprint, Christian Writers Guild Press (CWGP), he was staunchly against such publishing operations.
Jenkins received much criticism for his about-face on vanity publishing. Melanie Rose, writing on the Writer Beware website said, “Jerry B. Jenkins ought to be profoundly ashamed of himself. I am an independently-published author, and it makes my skin crawl to hear of this kind of advantage being taken of people who don’t realize they’re being taken in. Do your research first.”
Some people continue to defend Jenkins as he closes down his online writing school. Dennis E. Hensley, Taylor University’s director of professional writing, told Christianity Today, “I assure any who seek my take on this that Jerry will always do the honorable thing, even to the detriment of his own finances or personal time.”
Christian Writer’s Guild has been reconstituted as BelieversTrust, a nonprofit associated with the for-profit BelieversGroup. BelieversGroup owns BelieversPress, one of the many New Vanity Press (NVP) companies I warn people about in my book, The Self-Publishing Trap: Discover the Difference Between Self-Publishing Scams, Traditional and Indie Publishing. Currently, BelieversPress charges up to $6,000 per book for publishing services.
BelieversTrust is run by former Christian Writer’s Guild President Dave Sheets, who left the Jenkins company in October. Also, Julie Boynton, former marketing coordinator for Christian Writer’s Guild, is part of the new operation. Jenkins had contracted out manuscript evaluation services to a third-party, Word Weavers, and after parting ways with Jenkins last year, Eva Marie Everson, the owner, sought an alliance with the company now known as BelieversGroup. From a personnel standpoint, it appears that the Christian Writer’s Guild may have left Jenkins rather than Jenkins leaving it.
Sheets told Publishers Weekly, “I needed to take publishing services in a different direction.” He told Publishers Weekly that the arrangement of services under the BelieversGroup umbrella was a matter of rebranding to clarify what the group offered. Earlier business iterations, including Believers Press and 1Source, will fade, he said in the interview.
Christian writers need continued warnings about Christian Writers Guild and BelieversGroup-type companies. Excellent training for writers is available at Community Colleges and State and Christian Universities for hundreds of dollars per course, not thousands of dollars. The ideal is to learn the fundamentals of writing and then bring your faith to it. Companies like Christian Writers Guild or BelieversTrust offer little value, especially for the price. The New Vanity Press, like BelieversPress and many others, sell services, not books. There is no reason for Christian authors to pay outrageous fees for those services just because they are touted by companies who brand themselves as serving the Christian community.
Published on: Nov 15, 2014