Thursday, July 13, 2006

Report from the Convention

Howdy, BGs, once again from California. Got home yesterday afternoon.

Monday afternoon at the convention I signed copies of Web of Lies and ARCs (advanced reader copies) of Violet Dawn at the Zondervan booth. Went through 100 of each in about an hour. I made sure to stand in a few other suspense authors’ lines to get their books.
T.L. (Tony) Hines and Robin Parrish signed together in the Baker booth (their publisher is Bethany) on Tuesday. I already had a copy of Tony’s new book, Waking Lazarus, which we’ve talked about here on Forensics and Faith. But I’ve been interested to read Relentless, Robin’s much-talked-about debut, which just released. Robin is editor of Infuze Magazine. (If you aren’t a subscriber to this magazine, you should be.) After I’ve read Relentless, I hope to talk about it here.

The convention floor seemed quieter this year. There seemed to be lots of wide spaces between booths. Every year attendance shrinks a little. In years past a lot of buying went on at the convention. But now, with sales reps calling regularly on booksellers, there is little actual buying of books. There are numerous workshops for booksellers to attend, but with the number of stores shrinking and budgets tight, many booksellers can’t justify the cost to attend. Actual numbers of attendees will probably be announced in the next Christian Retailing magazine, and I’ll pass that along.

Couple of interesting things at Zondervan to tell you. First, the company has a new logo—a very contemporary looking block Z in gold. This comes on the company’s 75th anniversary. The logo was revealed at the show, and isn’t on the Z Web site yet (or I’d show you a picture). I talked to Bill Oechsler, VP of Marketing, who’s been at Z for nine months. He told me the amazing story of this logo and the process used to create it. The project began at the end of March. That’s doggone quick to come up with something as important as a new company icon. This couldn’t have happened if Z didn’t already have a firm understanding of what the company is about and a large base of data about their products and market.

Hanon-McKendry, brand consultants to many companies, including faith-based organizations such as Focus on the Family and Promise Keepers, was hired to create the logo. Bill O. pulled together a seven-member team of Zondervan folks who could make decisions and see the project to fruition. Along with the logo came Zondervan’s new tagline, “Live life inspired.” In everything the company does, Bill told me, be it produce books and Bibles, in their marketing, in company meetings—anything—Zondervan seeks to offer a “transformational Christian experience.” The mission statement of Z has essentially remained the same: “It’s our mission to be the leading Christian communications company meeting the needs of people with resources that glorify Jesus Christ and promote biblical principles.”

The top gold bar in the “Z” represents God, the bottom gold bar—just a smidgen shorter than the top one—represents man, made in God’s image but not equal with God. The thicker, angled bar in the middle represents Jesus, connecting the two. When you turn the logo sideways it looks like stacked books, with the middle one leaning a bit.

Tuesday night—my last night in Denver—Z authors and certain retailers and media folks were invited to a special 75th anniversary reception at the stunning governor’s mansion. (This is not the governor’s residence. But, according to a photographer I spoke with, it’s rarely used for parties and such. I don’t know how it came about that Zondervan was able to use the house.) Each attendee was given a beautiful, tall champagne-type glass with the new Z logo. (Although the glasses used to serve drinks were filled with sparkling apple cider, not champagne.)

Marketing-minded as I am, I found it very interesting to learn the inside scoop about the new logo and tagline “Live life inspired”--or “themeline,” as it was called in the daily magazine printed at the convention. A logo and tagline represent the foundation of any company—what it stands for, what it does, what it hopes to accomplish in the world. I’m happy to be published by a company that is secure in its understanding of its goals and mission. This is important for me to understand as a Z author, because I know each of my novels must be in line with what the company is all about.

Tomorrow—the latest (and some inside scoop) on Zondervan’s upcoming “Inspired by the Bible Experience” audio Bible. This is one incredible project!


Cindy Thomson said...

I'm usually a lurker on this blog, but I wanted to say that I just returned from ICRS too. It was my first time and I signed copies of my novel, Brigid of Ireland.

Even though it was my first time, I was thinking it was a little a quiet also--not as crazy as people had described it to me.

It was so great to meet so many people I'd previously only talked to via e-mail (including my publisher's staff.)

I was hoping to meet you at the ACFW breakfast, but I hear you slept in! Really, I understand. Couldn't make it to your booksigning, but I'm happy (though not surprised) that it went well.

Many blessings!

sbaar said...

Hi Brandilyn,
I think this is the first time I've commented on your blog, so I'm sorry I have to edit it. :) the VP of Marketing is Bill, not Bob. Just didn't want you to mix up the names and be embarrassed (though if you can survive green sequins, you can survive anything!). Have a wonderful day!

Tina said...

I enjoy these insider looks at the writing business. That new Zondervan logo sounds cool--with a great meaning behind it. I can't wait to see it.

C.J. Darlington said...

By the way, Relentless is worth the hype. I recently read it and reviewed it for Infuze (the review can be read at Crosswalk today by following this link:

Amazing stuff.

Kristy Dykes said...

I like to read about inside stuff. Thanks for sharing.

Stuart said...

Glad to hear your time at ICRS went well! And thanks for sharing the inside scoop, very interesting. :)

Audra said...

I love the info. behind the creation of the new logo. Thanks for sharing. :)

Victoria Gaines said...

Hi Brandilyn! Thanks for the fun and informative post. Always enjoy getting the inside scoop on things. God bless you!

~ Brandilyn Collins said...

Sarah, thank you. I thought you were crazy until I looked again at Bill's card, and then at my post. Sure enough, mea culpa. Sorry to the folks at Z, and mostly to Bill (esp. after our great conversation!) His name has been fixed on the post.

Sally Bradley said...

Brandilyn, I love these sneak peakes! A question about the copies you sign--does the publisher provide those as a marketing effort or are they being sold?

Bonnie Calhoun said...

Wow, you really had a great time this trip. That was really informative to us, your readers. Thanks for sharing.

But I'm glad you're home. We can get back to some lessons...LOL!

~ Brandilyn Collins said...

Sally, the publisher provides copies of the books free to the booksellers at the convention. The more a bookseller knows about a book and its author, the more likely that person is to "hand sell" the book to a browsing customer.

Dineen A. Miller said...

Wow, the logo sounds great! I love it when "intelligent" marketing and "meaningful" design mix. Can't wait to see the new logo. From the way you described it, it sounds fantastic and the tagline is perfect.