Places I Didn’t Want to Go!

A letter we got last week about THE SHACK, said this: “(Your book) took me places I really did not want to go; but having made the journey, would not have missed it for the world.” What a great observation!

Doesn’t that describe the ways in which Father works. Follow your own agenda and desires and you end up shipwrecked in the consequences of your own selfish independence. Follow Father, even though it’s scary and uncertain, and you’ll end up smack dab in the middle of his life in situations beyond your wildest considerations! That expresses so well the last decade and a half of my life. God has put me in places I’d never choose to go, and then in the middle of it, he just overwhelms you with the wonder of himself!

Specifically that’s been true of this marvelous story called THE SHACK. I know some of you are probably tired of hearing about this book, but others have been praying with us about this over the past two years and are interested in the back story of this increasing tsunami! It is the craziest story I’ve ever been part of and now starting to draw some major attention. As many of you know this little book appeared in my inbox nearly three years ago. I loved it when I read it and encouraged the author to get it into print.

The author, Paul Young, didn’t want to do much with it. He’d written it for his kids and thought he’d share it with a few friends. But myself and others saw something in this story that begged to touch the world. Brad, my God Journey co-host, and I helped Paul ready the book for publication and I took it to a number of publishers with whom I’ve had working relationships. All turned it down for reasons I could not understand—until yesterday! In an exchange with a publisher on an unrelated matter, THE SHACK came up. This editor had been one of those to whom I’d submitted THE SHACK for publication. They had passed on it, and this was her explanation:

It’s tough to talk publishers into doing something unusual. I call it the Catch 22 of publishing. If somebody has done something like it, then we can’t do it. If nobody has done something like it, then we can’t do it. I’m speaking not just of of our house… but every house I know. Sometimes it takes the people closest to the project to launch it.

That explains a lot about the lack of creativity in Christian publishing today and why it has been so frustrating over the years to get them to think outside the box. Finally, as many of you know, Brad and I formed a publishing company,Windblown Media, and printed THE SHACK last May. What began as slow, lapping waves on the shore is now swelling into a rising tsunami. Here’s how one of the top media consultants in Christian publishing recently wrote this to Publisher’s Weekly:

I’m not sure if The Shack by William Paul Young is on your radar yet or not. It’s becoming an independent press (Windblown Media) runaway best-seller. Here’s the scoop:

Windblown did a soft-launch on May 1, 2007 just on their company website. They sold 10,000 (paperback) just on their website from May 1 to the end of August. It wasn’t on Amazon or in stores unless stores heard of the book from readers and ordered it through their site.

September 1st they hard launched at retail via Ingram for national distribution. They sold 22,000 copies from Sept 1 to the end of the first week of November. They just took delivery of a 50,000 third printing, and in two weeks have sold over 20,000 of that print run including orders for over 7,000 copies just yesterday.

They’ve ordered an immediate 4th printing of 25,000 to get them through Christmas. Windblown is also now launching the hardcover edition with a small 3,500 print run, available now for Christmas sales.

The cool news: They’ve spent only $200 on marketing. The rest is all word of mouth.

But there’s more. I got this report from my partner Brad today, who is the President of Windblown and the one behind order fulfillment:

As of December THE SHACK has jumped up to #19 of ALL books being sold at Ingram. We just beat out I AM LEGEND—that has $$millions of dollars ramping up their marketing machine. We’re just 5-6 steps down from THE SECRET, which was last year’s word of mouth phenomenon. There’s maybe only 4-5 paperback in the whole top 25—most Everything else is hardcovers.

Just today we sold over 12,000 books with new orders from major bookstore chains, who want to display it prominently on their front tables. One buyer asked us about our advertising campaign behind the book. We laughed. We can’t keep up with sales now, why would we advertise? Daily we hear from people who feel their spiritual lives have been rescued from anger, doubt and frustration toward God and renewed a relationship of love with him. We’re hearing from celebrities who love this book and are endorsing it to their fans. We’re hearing from theologians of every stripe, some who want to use the book in seminary classes on God and suffering. We’ve also been contacted by major movie studios about purchasing the movie rights. We’re not selling those, by the way. The dream from the beginning was to make this into a general-release feature film that would offer our culture a view of God that religion has totally obscured. It looks like now we’ll get that chance.

And we hear from authors who want to work with Windblown Media or those who want to know the ‘secret of our publishing success.’ We laugh. There is no secret. We did everything wrong with this book. We were just three brothers that wanted to take something we considered a gift from the heart of our Father and make it available to folks . The power of the story itself has swept people up with it. After reading it, many order cases to give to friends. So many people have blogged about it, and recommended it to their friends, that it just keeps growing by word of mouth.

It is all just beyond us to comprehend, and almost beyond us to keep up with it. To all those who have prayed with us, and helped pass it along, please know how deeply grateful we are for your participation in this process.

i know this is long, but it’s a story we wanted to tell. Remember the top-tier media consultant I referred to earlier, he wrote us a note last week that blew me away:

“Not by might or by power, but by my Spirit says the Lord.”
You may see this only once or twice in your lifetime.
It is unique, in the full sense of that word.

When I read that, I sat back overwhelmed. It’s true, you know. You couldn’t orchestrate something like this if you tried. And tere are hundreds of multi-million dollar publishers who try every year to do just that with all their demographic surveys and business expertise. This is not our deal. This is God’s gift. We’ve simply been asked to be it’s steward—keeping the message clear, the story available and our hands open before him. Which is what we’re trying to do!

When the idea of publishing this book ourselves came up, I was the one most dead-set against it. We’ll never be able to do it justice, I thought, and there were so many things we didn’t know about getting this book out there. Trying to find the time, the energy and the resources to do it, just wasn’t in my thinking. But one small, gentle step at a time, Father took me places I didn’t want to go.

And now, I wouldn’t trade it for the world!

Share this Post!

Related post

20 Comments
  1. kent December 4, 2007 at 7:33 pm

    Wayne, from the first time I read this book I knew in my spirit there was something so special about it. Then the first conversations with some friends I had shared it with began to happen, it just became more clear that Father was doing something so deep in other people’s hearts with it also. You know my story with my daughter and how I wondered if she would survive the ordeal she was caught up in when you sent it to me thinking it might help me in the place of fear I found myself at that time, attempting to help her find her way through. I have never been so overwhelmed by Father and his care and love for us all. This has been the most life changing period in my life beginning with the most scary experience I had ever faced and The Shack has been such a big part of it all. I’m still today having so much fun with this book. The places that have been touched by the ripples created by this book still just amaze me. I’m living in awe of the mysterious ways in which God enters into our lives to redeem them and set us free.

    Thanks for sharing this. I never get tired of hearing these stories.

  2. Dave A. December 4, 2007 at 8:13 pm

    Kent said: “I never get tired of hearing these stories” Me too!

    Geesh I get teary-eyed reading these reports. It’s been wonderful seeing God being the marketer of this and “publishing” it into the hearts of so many.

  3. todd December 4, 2007 at 8:52 pm

    I had the privilege of visiting with Paul the other week. As we were e-mailing back and forth, I recalled an interview he did with a Canadian radio broadcaster who jokingly/yet seriously said, “Man, you guys suck at advertising.”

    But I’d beg to differ. It seems from all the stories I’ve heard, blog pages I’ve read, and after reading the book myself….I’d say it looks like you entrusted this whole deal to God and he took care of it quite nicely.

    Almost everyone I’ve read about has fallen apart (in a good way) during different parts of the book (myself included).

    I’m so glad and rejoice with you all that this thing is taking off so wonderfully. Praise Father, Son, and Holy Spirit!!!

  4. kent December 4, 2007 at 10:33 pm

    Wayne, from the first time I read this book I knew in my spirit there was something so special about it. Then the first conversations with some friends I had shared it with began to happen, it just became more clear that Father was doing something so deep in other people’s hearts with it also. You know my story with my daughter and how I wondered if she would survive the ordeal she was caught up in when you sent it to me thinking it might help me in the place of fear I found myself at that time, attempting to help her find her way through. I have never been so overwhelmed by Father and his care and love for us all. This has been the most life changing period in my life beginning with the most scary experience I had ever faced and The Shack has been such a big part of it all. I’m still today having so much fun with this book. The places that have been touched by the ripples created by this book still just amaze me. I’m living in awe of the mysterious ways in which God enters into our lives to redeem them and set us free.

    Thanks for sharing this. I never get tired of hearing these stories.

  5. Dave A. December 4, 2007 at 11:13 pm

    Kent said: “I never get tired of hearing these stories” Me too!

    Geesh I get teary-eyed reading these reports. It’s been wonderful seeing God being the marketer of this and “publishing” it into the hearts of so many.

  6. todd December 4, 2007 at 11:52 pm

    I had the privilege of visiting with Paul the other week. As we were e-mailing back and forth, I recalled an interview he did with a Canadian radio broadcaster who jokingly/yet seriously said, “Man, you guys suck at advertising.”

    But I’d beg to differ. It seems from all the stories I’ve heard, blog pages I’ve read, and after reading the book myself….I’d say it looks like you entrusted this whole deal to God and he took care of it quite nicely.

    Almost everyone I’ve read about has fallen apart (in a good way) during different parts of the book (myself included).

    I’m so glad and rejoice with you all that this thing is taking off so wonderfully. Praise Father, Son, and Holy Spirit!!!

  7. Dave December 5, 2007 at 9:51 am

    As of this morning (12/5/07) it’s number 35 of bestsellers on Amazon in the “Christianity” category…

    Bestsellers in Books: Any Category > Books > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity

    Just one step below Joel Osteen’s “Become a Better You” (which by the way isn’t on my Christmas list).

  8. Dave December 5, 2007 at 9:56 am

    and – 3 steps below Warren’s “Purpose Driven Life” (also not on my Christmas list).

    “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” which is also in this category, is listed as number 12… so go figure how they categorize things. Also I see “Become a Better You” is also listed in the number 4 spot(?).

    But who’s counting. No census taking going on here, Papa, really. 🙂

  9. Dave December 5, 2007 at 12:51 pm

    As of this morning (12/5/07) it’s number 35 of bestsellers on Amazon in the “Christianity” category…

    Bestsellers in Books: Any Category > Books > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity

    Just one step below Joel Osteen’s “Become a Better You” (which by the way isn’t on my Christmas list).

  10. Dave December 5, 2007 at 12:56 pm

    and – 3 steps below Warren’s “Purpose Driven Life” (also not on my Christmas list).

    “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” which is also in this category, is listed as number 12… so go figure how they categorize things. Also I see “Become a Better You” is also listed in the number 4 spot(?).

    But who’s counting. No census taking going on here, Papa, really. 🙂

  11. Mary December 5, 2007 at 1:59 pm

    WOW!! That is such wonderful news! I LOVED The Shack! It is so amazing to see what God does when we get out of the way and just let Him! Very exciting!

  12. Mary December 5, 2007 at 4:59 pm

    WOW!! That is such wonderful news! I LOVED The Shack! It is so amazing to see what God does when we get out of the way and just let Him! Very exciting!

  13. Jon December 6, 2007 at 7:27 am

    Does Brad get any sleep these days? Or is he working on a 36hr day.. Good for you guys…

  14. Jon December 6, 2007 at 10:27 am

    Does Brad get any sleep these days? Or is he working on a 36hr day.. Good for you guys…

  15. James December 6, 2007 at 11:40 am

    As a person who loves making music, and went to school to be a writer, this speaks to me at a significant level. To think that a man started by merely wanting to share truth with his friends and family–and was serious enough to put real life into it.

    It gives me courage to put the truth first, and let Father decide whether anyone but He and I should count it a success.

  16. James December 6, 2007 at 2:40 pm

    As a person who loves making music, and went to school to be a writer, this speaks to me at a significant level. To think that a man started by merely wanting to share truth with his friends and family–and was serious enough to put real life into it.

    It gives me courage to put the truth first, and let Father decide whether anyone but He and I should count it a success.

  17. Phil Weingart December 6, 2007 at 3:50 pm

    Tremendous story, Wayne. You’re the right man for the job. God is greater than we can imagine.

  18. Phil Weingart December 6, 2007 at 6:50 pm

    Tremendous story, Wayne. You’re the right man for the job. God is greater than we can imagine.

  19. Dena December 13, 2007 at 10:27 pm

    Wayne, your book, “So You Don’t Want to go to Church Anymore” launched us into a paradigm shift — we knew we would never the be same, after the first chapter. And your recommendation to read “The Shack” has been an incredible altercation with the Living God. WHAT a wild ride!!! AND, both books brought two new friends into my life…! I love watching what God is doing. God is so much MORE than we have dared to believe…! Thank you for your faithfulness in sharing what He’s shown you. Keep walking – no running. He’s with you. BLESS you!!! Shalom, Dena “The unanswered questions aren’t nearly as dangerous as the unquestioned answers.”

  20. Dena December 14, 2007 at 1:27 am

    Wayne, your book, “So You Don’t Want to go to Church Anymore” launched us into a paradigm shift — we knew we would never the be same, after the first chapter. And your recommendation to read “The Shack” has been an incredible altercation with the Living God. WHAT a wild ride!!! AND, both books brought two new friends into my life…! I love watching what God is doing. God is so much MORE than we have dared to believe…! Thank you for your faithfulness in sharing what He’s shown you. Keep walking – no running. He’s with you. BLESS you!!! Shalom, Dena “The unanswered questions aren’t nearly as dangerous as the unquestioned answers.”

Comments are closed.