Millions have been impacted by the words of Jesus Calling. Now, 10 years later, Sarah Young returns with her first new 365-day devotional entitled Jesus Always; based on her exploration of the promises of joy in Scripture. Take a peek behind the scenes to hear how Jesus Always came to life.
Jennifer Gott: Sometimes joy feels like it’s out of reach, it does for me, anyway. Being reminded that the full message of the Gospel is joy, is a really wonderful thing to be able to take in every day as you read a devotion.
Narrator: Welcome to the Experience Jesus Calling Podcast. Sarah Young, the author of Jesus Calling, has written a new 365-day devotion called Jesus Always. This book is the first full year devotion Sarah has written in over 10 years and has been highly anticipated by readers of Jesus Calling. Today, we talk to some of the people involved behind the scenes in this four-year process of bringing Sarah’s latest writings to life, through the pages of Jesus Always.
Meet The Team
Laura Minchew: My name is Laura Minchew, I am the Senior Vice President and Publisher of the Specialty Publishing Division at Harper Collins Christian. I oversee the Gift Division as well as Children’s Publishing and New Media.
Laura: Sarah Young is a remarkable woman, she is truly a godly woman who bathes everything that she writes in prayer and scripture. Before she writes a word, she gets up in the morning, and has time with the Lord, a lot of time in scripture, she memorizes scripture, she prays for people, and then she’ll look at writing the book. She doesn’t let the deadline get ahead of what’s most important and that’s time with the Lord before she writes.
Jennifer: My name is Jennifer Gott, and I am Senior Editor of Children’s and Gift Books at Harper Collins Christian Publishing. I’ve been here for about 5 years, and I’ve worked in the Christian publishing industry for almost 20 years.
Jennifer: The last 365 Sarah has written was Jesus Calling and that was close to 12 years ago. So for her to write another 365 was a big commitment in terms of time, and also spiritually draining for her. And we had been talking about different title options, and we really felt that Jesus Always was the best word to communicate what she was trying to share with this book; which is this Joy in the Lord—always.
Laura: Sarah has struggled with pretty extreme health issues the entire time I’ve known her. From chronic fatigue to vertigo to really being bound to stay in her own home, and to be able to stop and write the way that she’s written, I think is truly remarkable. But it also brings her writing from a place that people who are struggling, who feel pain, who feel disappointment, they totally relate to how Sarah’s feeling. In one of her books, in the intro, she said, “had I been healthier, I might have been able to write a different book, but I would not have been able to write this book.”
In one of her books, in the intro, she said, “had I been healthier, I might have been able to write a different book, but I would not have been able to write this book.”
Jennifer: So Sarah started writing, and during the course of that time she would send me batches of entries, and she wrote them as topics came to her, as scripture sort of was like maybe more in her heart or something she was focusing on more at that time. So, they weren’t in any kind of order.
Jennifer: After a book has been edited and the text is at a place where we want the message to be, we refine all the words, we then send it through several rounds of editing for detail, for errors, to check scripture, it goes to a copy editor who carefully reads it and does fact checking against scripture, word for word. We then work on a layout with our design team to come up with a beautiful page design; the text gets flowed in, and then at that point it goes through three different proofreaders. I read it again, Sarah reads it again, our publisher reads it again; we make sure that everybody is happy with where it is at that point.
Adam Hill: I’m Adam Hill, I’m the Product Development Director here for Specialty Publishing at Harper Collins Christian with Thomas Nelson.
Adam: When we’ve got a new title coming up, or a new author that we’re excited about, I’ll spend a lot of time delving into their look, their vibe, the aesthetic that they have on their website, or existing books that they’ve already done. So, we’ll take and sort of make a dossier on the new project, and then we go from there.
Adam: With Jesus Always, we had the benefit of having an established brand, and established look.
The Jesus Always Process
Jennifer: Sarah speaks into the cover and interior design quite a lot. She very much trusts our team and she is always excited when we bring new ideas to her, but she did have thoughts and input on how she wanted it to look. We had really been leaning towards purple for this book, because it is such a beautiful, rich and royal color, and I don’t know, I feel like it really connotes Jesus. So she has been very involved and really enjoys seeing the various iterations as we go through the design process.
We had really been leaning towards purple for this book, because it is such a beautiful, rich and royal color, and I don’t know, I feel like it really connotes Jesus.
Adam: So then we started making all these different comps and we started gluing it onto the book, and these look awful, if you showed somebody this they’d be like “that’s not it, that’s not it at all.” Then Jennifer and I worked through all the files and got everything to where every little piece was where it needed to go. There was like a midnight run over here to approve files one night, we did everything we could do to just keep the project rolling, keep it going and then we finally got the finished sample of what it was going to look like and our breath was taken away.
Jennifer: After it has been proofread and everybody has signed off, and we’ve read it so many times, we then send it off to our printer, and they go to work laying out initial proofs. We get something called wet-proofs in the mail and go through page by page and make sure everything is where it is supposed to be.
Jennifer: Then we get sheets that have all of our metallic inks, things like that, that are color correct, so we can confirm everything is exactly the way it’s supposed to be, same thing with the cover wraps, we sign off on everything and then, we wait.
Jennifer: So when we finally get an advance copy of this it is a very exciting day, because a lot of months of work is finally in our hands.
Adam: I think it’s a very dramatic book cover, I think it has an emotional resonance, I think when you see it it moves, I think it has a dimension to it that is tactile and immersive. When you see the chalice and the way it has reacted to the printing on the foil paper, it has a almost cinematic quality and it feels like you can reach in there and reach into the story.
Jennifer: What it means is that we have a beautiful book that is lovely to hold and it’s something that hopefully goes into your purse, it goes into your briefcase, it’s on your nightstand, and it’s something that you enjoy looking at for 365 days of the year and that it conveys the message in the best way possible.
Jennifer: I just know that there are millions of lives and hearts that are going to be changed by this.
Putting It All Together
Tom Knight: My name is Tom Knight, I oversee the sales group here at Harper Collins Christian Publishing.
Tom: I don’t think you can walk the halls or talk to somebody around here for more than 5 minutes without hearing Jesus Calling or Sarah Young, come up. It’s that ingrained in our company.
Tom: When we first heard about Jesus Always and that this was the new, the first 365-devotional since Jesus Calling, just the excitement level around the company, you could just feel it in the air.
Kevin Hyer: I’m Kevin Hyer, I’m a Key Accounts Manager for Harper Collins Christian Publishing, and I’ve been with the company about 4 years.
Kevin: Once we first found out that we were gonna be coming out with Jesus Always, of course as sales reps we’re immediately excited. But it’s one of those books you tell accounts about it and they’re just smiling from ear to ear. Their enthusiasm is matching yours, so they’ve been waiting for this for quite awhile, as have their consumers, so we’ve had a great, very strong response to it.
Tom: As we’ve taken it out, it’s been just received extremely well. I can’t recall a book that in my time here, that’s been so well received. People are excited about this. They’re looking forward to it, we’ve already had so many requests for early release copies of it; give us a week of devotionals that we can work with and do different things, and as we take it out there-the excitement is as high as anything we’ve ever had.
I can’t recall a book that in my time here, that’s been so well received.
Jennifer: There’s sort of just like like this hum of excitement as they’re preparing samplers for people, talking about campaigns with different stores, pre-orders, things like that, it’s really fun to watch and see all the great ideas they’re coming up with in order to launch a book.
Mandy Mullinix: My name is Mandy Mullinix, I’m the Marketing Manager for Gift Books and Devotionals.
Mandy: I have had the privilege of being Sarah Young’s Social Media Manager for the last 5 years.
Mandy: I think a lot of people are really in need of some joy. When you turn on the media today, it’s dark. Even social media, it can get dark, especially in an election year. And that’s something we’ve tried to do on our Facebook page, and Instagram and Twitter, is be that little ray of hope, of joy and sunshine in people’s day, where they can feel encouraged.
Mandy: A lot of people that I hear from on Facebook like having a year in their devotional life, and so we’re really hoping that 2017 will be the year of Jesus Always where people start that at the first of the year and go all the way through it.
Laura: Jesus Always is going to be a treasure. It is something that people are absolutely going to find so much hope and encouragement and just joy in reading.
Jennifer: Sarah has been focused on the idea of joy, and joy in the Lord, like that deep kind of gladness that is only found in the Lord, more than happiness, not fleeting, but that true joy. And she has been focused on that in her prayer and in her scripture reading, and that has been the focus of her writing for Jesus Always. And it has been a delight for me to be reading through this manuscript and seeing this consistent message of joy, that Jesus is always with us, and that joy, even amidst turmoil, which we are in tumultuous times right now, that that joy is abiding, and it is always with us.
Narrator: Jesus Always comes from the heart of Sarah Young. As Sarah says herself in the introduction of the book: “Jesus Always is designed to increase your Joy and strengthen your relationship with Jesus. If you belong to Him, your story has an indescribably happy ending, no matter what is happening in your life.” If you’d like to find out more about Jesus Always, be sure to visit JesusCalling.com/JesusAlways.
Narrator: Next time on the Experience Jesus Calling podcast, we hear from Kristianne Stewart, the founder of Compassion That Compels. Kristianne’s burden for women dealing with cancer began with the diagnoses of each of her sisters-in-law. As she walked through their individual battles with the disease, she began to see the need for tangible items of hope and encouragement for women everywhere as they face their own cancer diagnoses.
Kristianne: Whenever I have the privilege of personally delivering a Compassion bag, I think my knees have hit linoleum floor a thousand times in the past 3 years.
What I like to say before I start any prayer is, “You are never alone. God loves you and He sees you. Your hope in this storm, it’s an anchor to your soul. Cast that anchor through faith to the heights of heaven and don’t ever, ever let it be cast into the depths of despair called cancer, because that hope will anchor you through everything.
Narrator: Our featured passage for today’s show comes from the April 12th entry of the Jesus Always audiobook:
Your relationship with Me transcends all your circumstances. This is why you can praise Me and enjoy My Presence in the midst of the darkest difficulties. To find Me in such times, you have to really exert your faith; but I am always near.
As a Christian, you live on two planes simultaneously: the natural world, where adverse situations abound; and the supernatural world, where I reign supreme. Your trust-muscles empower you to experience My Presence even in your hardest times. In fact, trials can both strengthen your faith and help you discern how much you actually trust Me.
I want you to work on strengthening your trust- muscles. One way is to fill your mind and heart with Scripture. Another is to seek My Face continually. Instead of getting stuck in introspection, turn your thoughts toward Me. Make it a practice to affirm your faith in Me frequently, whether you’re feeling confident or inadequate. Remember that your adequacy rests in your relationship with Me. I make you ready for anything and equal to anything by infusing inner strength into you!
Narrator: Hear more great stories about the impact Jesus Calling is having all over the world.
Be sure to subscribe to the Jesus Calling Podcast on iTunes. We value your reviews and comments so we can reach even more people with the message of Jesus Calling. And if you have your own story to share, we’d love to hear from you. Visit JesusCalling.com to share your story today.