Book 5: Media Post 2 (Scroll down to Post 1)
Everyone who aspires to write a book knows the challenge of finding a publisher. Every publisher knows the challenge of finding manuscripts that will pay their way. Probably fewer than one in a thousand manuscripts find a publisher; and less than one in a thousand published books earn significant money. How then did an obscure executive of a small denomination latch onto five publishers and see a bunch of books into print? Certainly neither my scholarship nor literary skill can account for it. My success resulted from providential timing and my niche interests.
I came to Chicago in the early ‘60s just as the Christian camping movement was transitioning from mostly adult-oriented Bible conferences to youth camps. Evangelical publishers listed practically no youth camp literature, and though the American Camping Association offered excellent resources, the theological mindset of traditional Christian leaders called for materials aligned with Christian camping distinctives.
And another factor: Christian camping had no national voice to coordinate leadership resource development. I came on the scene just as Christian Camping International (CCI) was forming. As camping director for our denomination with its strong Bible camp tradition, I became part of the founding committee and the resources sub-committee.
My first book, Camping Guideposts, had recently appeared as the first Christian camping handbook in the general market. When the limited first press run sold out quickly, Moody Press picked up the book, identifying me nationally with the new youth camping movement. Excellent books by Joy MacKay of Cedarville College and Free Methodist Christian Education leaders Floyd and Pauline Todd soon appeared, but my proximity to Wheaton College, where CCI organizing meetings were held gave me a leg up.
My lifelong passion for camping and the outdoors was well known. Writing camping literature was in line with my professional duties. Providence allowed me to write Camping Guideposts, which sold widely. Participation in CCI conference across America and Canada gave me broad exposure. And none of this was of my doing. Book assignments came.
Bob Kobeilush, President of CCI, wrote in his Foreword to Christian Camping Today that Lloyd Mattson had published more words about Christian camping than any person who ever lived. That may even be true.
How Many Books?
How many books have you written? That question comes often and my answer is always the same: I don’t know; I haven’t kept count. What books should I count? I have authored, co-authored, ghost-authored, and crutch-authored more titles than I can remember. That’s not a big deal; it’s just what I did as a journeyman editor-writer lacking in technical training but genetically disposed to writing. Most books came and went without stirring much fuss.
Curious to learn what was still out there, I googled Lloyd Mattson Books and found 19 different titles on Amazon.com and its used-book minions. Some titles listed for one dollar (sellers scrounge free books and make a buck on shipping). Other titles, considered rare, bore ridiculous price tags. Books we gave away by the thousands were respectably priced.
I came across a small book I had forgotten and got credit for a book on Cuba I never wrote, co-authored by a woman I never met. Readers must be hanging on to Night Watch; it appeared on no list.
The 19 titles included Camping Guideposts, my first book. It lived through many editions, six publishers, and over 100,000 copies, about 40 percent of my gross book output. River City Press keeps it alive as Christian Camping Today.
I have no idea how many books translators distributed in Spanish, Portuguese, Korean, Chinese, Afrikaner, and possibly others. I granted mission agencies blanket permission to translate anything I wrote.
Then there were about ten books I helped camps, missions, and individuals produce. Some I helped build from scratch; some I virtually wrote; some just needed editing. And I contributed chapters to several textbooks. I agree with the sage of scripture: of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the flesh. Ecclesiastes 12:12.