Are celebrity Christian book endorsements genuine? “No”, replies an editor

Are Celebrity Christian Book Recommendations Genuine No, Says Editor

It is a stone in the pond that threw Katelyn Beaty, writer and publishing director in a Christian house. She denounces a practice bordering on self-esteem and consisting in recommending a Christian book even before it is written in order to sell it, which penalizes authors who cannot present famous guarantees.

Imagine a distraught translator faced with a work that he finds unfairly praised, "readers" note and relay an article by stopping at the title to prevent genuine exchanges. In the religious realm, imagine a call to approve a sermon before you even hear it. Yet this is what is practiced in the middle of Christian publishing, according to Beaty, who specifies that she herself endorsed works with a grimace.

In an opinion piece published by Christianity Today on March 6, the publishing director at Brazos Press, a subsidiary of Baker Publishing Group, claims to review many book proposals each week and that authors "always add a list of confirmed or potential supporters" in addition to elements such as samples of what they plan to publish, their biography or even statistics on the frequentation of their sites, which gives an idea of ​​their potential on the market.

But, points out Beaty, these recommendations are "a strange detail, because most non-fiction books are not yet written when the author signs a contract with a publisher". Is it moral to endorse a work that does not exist in order to help promote it? It is, in any case, the practice of publishing houses, Christian or not: "It is a question of knowing who you know", and the content matters less.

More so, Beaty claims that "denominational editors write a recommendation for a celebrity who doesn't have time to write it themselves."

She explains that, in this case, a member of the publishing team, wanting to see the name of a celebrity on an upcoming title, will contact that person or their team and say:

"We know you are very busy because you are very important and clearly called to do great things for God, so you probably won't have time to read this book. But we would be very honored to have your support. Could you say something like this? [fill in approval]."

A winning approach, because the celebrity or his assistant then signs the text or modifies it before publication. The more or less underlying reasoning is that the endorsement provided by the celebrity will attract the confidence of those who appreciate it and encourage them to buy with their eyes closed. "This principle takes on a spiritual dimension in Christian publishing, where people who support a book can provide theological support for someone's work," Beaty warns.

When celebrities withdraw their bail

The editor refers to the recent controversy regarding the publication of an excerpt by The Gospel Coalition from the book "Beautiful Union: How God's Vision for Sex Points Us to the Good, Unlocks the True, and (Sort of) Explains Everything" , in which the author, Joshua Ryan Butler, compared the union of Christ and the Church in Christian theology to sexual penetration.

As the reviews rained down, celebrities who had recommended the book panicked. Dennae Pierre, head of evangelical organizations, and Rich Villodas, a pastor, have publicly recanted. The former said she wrote her review "based on training Josh provided to local pastors" and only skimmed the book briefly; the second that a mutual friend had invited him to support the book of which he only read 25% to 30%.

What to question about their moral reliability. According to Beaty, endorsements can also help those who sign them, because "endorsements mean the approver is someone important, after all; regular people don't approve books." And the more the book is sold, the more the deposit is valued.

Jean Sarpedon

Image credit: Shutterstock/ GNT STUDIO

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